The Worst Ways to Die in Space, According to the Movies
By Jacob Hall
Space. The final frontier. The setting of countless science fiction movies, the host of a thousand amazing cinematic adventures. A place of infinite discovery and majesty, where mankind can truly explore the great unknown.
And it's also a place where it's really, really easy to die.
We don't know if anyone dies in Gravity (yet), but we wouldn't wish that movie's characters to go like these folks did.... Spoilers!
The Victim: Hugo Drax The Death: It's one thing to die by being flung into the cold vacuum of outer space, but it's another thing altogether when the one doing to the flinging is James Bond. In one of the weirdest (and worst) 007 movies, evil megalomaniac Hugo Drax is dying from a poisonous dart to the chest and a smug James Bond tells him "One giant step for mankind, Drax" before opening the airlock and letting space finish the job.
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
The Victim: Spock
The Death: You know the scene (and you've probably cried through it). The villainous Khan has been defeated, but the Enterprise has to escape the blast radius of his Genesis device. With the warp core down, there is only one thing to do: Spock has enter the radiation-filled engine room and fix it manually. His actions save the ship and his friends, but the radiation is too much. We're still not over this one.
The Victim: Max Lennert The Death: Every death here is crazy, but one stands out above all of the others. Max Lennert was just your average, heavyset oil refinery worker until he got called into outer space to land on a massive asteroid, drill to its core and drop a nuke into it to save the earth from total destruction. He dies a hero's death, with his drilling vehicle hitting a gas pocket and blowing him into space, never to be seen again. Least he went out with a bang.
The Victim: The Newborn The Death: A half-alien, half-human hybrid creature made from Ellen Ripley's DNA, the Newborn is the "final boss" of Alien: Resurrection and one of the worst things to happen to the franchise. However, it's almost worth existing for its insane demise. In the climax, the Newborn gets sucked against a hole Ripley creates in the ship…then torn open and sucked out, insides first. In space, no one can hear you scream indeed.
2001: A Space Odyssey
The Victim: Frank Poole The Death: If you want to survive your trip to Jupiter, do not piss off your ship's computer. Astronaut Frank Poole makes that mistake and he dies so quickly that he doesn't even live long enough to regret it. After our heroes question whether or not HAL 9000 is performing his proper functions, Poole embarks on a routine spacewalk to repair some damage to the ship. HAL cuts off his oxygen hose and lets him drift into the inky blackness.
The Black Hole
The Victim: Dr. Hans Reinhardt The Death: Does Dr. Hans Reinhardt actually die at the end? It's not entirely clear, but something weird and horrible happens to him. After lobotomizing his own crew, the mad scientist succeeds in traveling through a black hole. What's on the other end goes beyond bizarre: Dr. Reinhardt has merged with his robot Maximilian and stands over over a hellish landscape populated by robed figures. It doesn't make any sense, but it sure is memorable.
The Victim: Hari/Rheya The Death: In Andrei Tarkovsky's 1972 masterpiece and Steven Soderbergh's excellent 2002 remake, a scientist learns that the planet Solaris can re-create your greatest desires and fears. In his case, his long-dead wife. First, he launches her into space out of fear. Then, she kills herself by drinking liquid oxygen. But she still comes back. Finally, she has herself destroyed with the help of a fellow scientist's technology, making her one of the few sci-fi characters to die three times.
The Victim: Adrienne The Death: Jason Voorhees, unkillable on Earth, finds himself cryogenically frozen and reanimated in the distant future, where he proves unkillable in space. When a spaceship full of horny scientists and soldiers discover his corpse, a young intern is assigned to perform the autopsy. Alas, she becomes a victim of the hockey-masked killer, who freezes her face with liquid nitrogen and smashes it on a counter, breaking her head into a hundred little pieces.
The Victim: Searle The Death: If there's one thing the movies have taught us, it's that space makes people go a little crazy. In Sunshine, ship psychiatrist Dr. Searle has the creepiest demise of his whole crew. Staying onboard the long-lost Icarus I to allow the crew of the Icarus II to complete their mission to re-ignite the dying sun, the unhinged Searle goes to the solar observation room and turns viewing opacity up. He's instantly killed by the universe's worst sunburn.
The Victim: The entire crew of the Event Horizon The Death: It seems that their experimental gravity drive didn't just transport them across the galaxy -- it sent them into an alternate dimension of "pure chaos." In other words, their spaceship took them to Hell, where everyone went insane and murdered each other. By time the rescue team shows up, the crew is long dead, but we see what they went through--some of the most disturbing images ever in a sci-fi movie.
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