Damsel in distress getting killed

You know the scene. The hero confronts the villain. The damsel in distress is…well, in distress. Maybe she’s tied down to the train tracks, or she’s being lowered into a pit of acid, or maybe she’s on a complicated industrial machine which will purée her. Whatever the setup, the hero must act swiftly to save her life. There’s always a lot of attempted drama and exciting music, with the camera switching from the impeding doom to the handsome hero doing his thing. The cutting will get faster as the danger gets closer and closer. Will his true love make it through the day? Will the hero save the day? Will he? Huh? Huh? Of course he will. I’ve never seen a movie where he doesn’t.

So that brings up my question: is there a movie where the damsel in distress bites it? Just once I’d like to see the industrial saw lop her head off, with the music ending abruptly as her lifeless body falls onto the floor. It’d be sublime.

It isn’t a movie, but the common example that comes to mind hails from an issue of The Amazing Spiderman.

Spiderman’s then-girlfriend, Gwen Stacy, gets kidnapped by the Green Goblin and brought to a tower on the Brooklyn Bridge. When Spiderman arrives Green Goblin chucks her over the edge. Spiderman shoots a web-thingy towards Gwen and manages to grab her by the leg… at which point the sudden deceleration snaps her neck. :frowning:

Cliffhanger. Though it’s in the very beginning you do have the typical ‘hero’ set up. Buckles breaking rope coming lose hero slides out on her line and barely catches her before she falls to her death…then she slides out of his grip and falls.

The original THE HITCHER- I don’t know about the remake.


The princess has been sent out to be the latest virgin sacrifice for the dragon, and our hero tries to rescue her. During a battle with the villain, who is determined that this sacrifice go through as planned for the sake of the kingdom, the princess is freed from her chains. “Run!” shouts our hero…

and the princess heads straight for the dragon’s lair, where she is killed by the dragon’s hatchlings. She is also determined to sacrifice herself.

I came in here to post that one! I think this is also what inspired the scene from the first Spiderman movie, but unlike Gwen Stacy, Mary-Jane survives. Kind of ironic, since I’m pretty sure the comic writers killed Gwen to make more room for the Spidey-MJ relationship.

For me, the awesome thing about that comic is that they actually get the physics right. It’s true what they say, it’s not the fall that kills you, it’s the sudden stop at the end. Or rather, it’s the suddenness of the stop at the end. I can’t count the number of comics where someone falls from a great height only to be caught by the hero an inch before they hit the ground. Just once I would like to hear Superman say “Yeah, I could catch that falling baby, but there isn’t room left to decelerate him before impact.” Splat! :stuck_out_tongue:

Buckaroo Bonzai: [spoiler]Buckaroo rescues Penny Priddy from the evil Red Lectroids and otherwise saves the day, only to learn that Penny did not survive her injuries.

However, the good Black Lectroids bring her back to life, commenting “so what? Biiig deal.”[/spoiler]

At the end of the first season of 24, Jack Bauer’s wife Terri is killed by CTU mole Nina Myers (a terrorist double agent and Jack’s one-time lover) after a horrible day of being kidnapped, rescued, kidnapped again, being stricken with amnesia, and rescued again.

There’s GOLDFINGER, where Jill, the sister of the woman who was painted gold, is with Bond, ambushed by Goldfinger’s bad guys. He tells her to run through the woods to escape, but she’s killed by Oddjob’s hat.

And there are innumerable westerns where the prostitute with the heart of gold leaps into the path of the bullet meant for the hero. I suppose that doesn’t count, though, since she’s not the one being threatened.

It’s been a while since I’ve seen it, but I thought it was Buckaroo himself who saved her because he gave what he thought was a farewell kiss and the electricity in his body (put there by the good Black Lectroids) shocked her back to life. So yeah they did, but really indirectly

Well there’s “Braveheart” where Wallace avenges his wife’s assault by killing the man who raped her. To repay Wallace, the evil lord kills… her!

Well, there was Rita, in The Sidehackers

Semantics. Details.

I think we need to distinguish between two different scenarios - it’s reasonably commonplace for a damsel to be offed, creating much angst/righteous anger/etc in the hero. The Braveheart example mentioned is a case in point. But the hero isn’t onstage trying to save the damsel in such a case. The South African girl in Lethal Weapon II would be another example. (Hmm…Mel Gibson again, maybe he’s just a lousy hero!) I’m sure there are lots of other examples - I don’t think this is particularly uncommon.

The OP seems to be asking for a somewhat different scenario - one in which the hero has the opportunity to save the damsel, and attempts to do so but fails. The Cliffhanger scene jumped to my mind immediately, but since it’s right at the beginning of the movie, and Sly goes on to succeed where he failed the first time I’m not sure it really counts. Did anyone really think the later scene would turn out the same way? The hero actually failing in an attempt to save the damsel is going to be much less common I think.

Does the Superman movie where Lois Lane is killed in the earthquake fit within the parameters? Of course, he speeds around the earth and reverses time (wow, must be some quantum thingummy) and saves her the second time around. Wouldn’t that be handy.

My example still holds as well.

In “The Searchers” a posse heads off to catch a group of Indians who have raided a ranch, carrying off two girls. Before they catch up, John Wayne finds one of the girls, raped and apparently tortured and mutilated before bieng killed. But rescue, although definitely being attempted, was not imminent, so I do not know if this example holds.

in * The Great Waldo Pepper *, a girl is wing-walking for the first time and gets paralyzed in fright. Waldo Pepper (Redford) goes to save her, which, if I recall correctly, involves dropping from another airplane onto the wing of the biplane, carefully edging over to the girl, grabbing her hand, getting ready to lead her to safety when…she falls. Game over.
(In writing about the movie later, William Goldman, the screenwriter, admits that this is when they lost the audience. Up til then, the movie had been a fairly lighthearted flick about dashing stunt pilots, but at that point, it turned dark and dramatic. The audience felt betrayed.)

Photographing Fairies?

I’m reminded of a classic Mad “Scenes We’d Like to See” from the '50s or '60s: We see hero and heroine running through the jungle pursued by African warriors. Several times the heroine stumbles and falls and the hero helps her up. Finally, as she’s fallen he sees the natives gaining on them. In the last panel, the hero is running on alone.

Is that what the OP is asking for? If so, I’ve never seen it in a movie.

There was the end of The Mummy Returns, where Anuk-su-Namun leaves Imhotep to his fate in a futile effort to save herself – but the genders are reversed, there, and in any case they weren’t the heroes.