Movies where the villain executes one of his henchmen

I was thinking recently about several movies that came out in the 1980s that have one thing in common: at one point in the movie the villain/bad guy executes one of his henchmen. This happens in:

Batman The Joker kills one of his own men.

The Untouchables Robert DeNiro as Capone, ditto.

The Search for Spock The Klingon Commander played by Christopher Lloyd kills his henchwoman/presumed lover early in the film.

Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves (OK, that was 1990s). The Sherrif of Nottingham kills his cousin.

The Empire Strikes Back Vader, of course.

I seem to also remember something like this happening in the Bond flick A View to a Kill. There was definitely something similar in Braveheart. Was it also used in one of the Robocop movies?

In all these movies it seems to serve to emphasize the bad-assery of said villain. Sort of tell the audience this is a heavy dude you don’t want to mess with.

Anyway I was wondering if this was a common occurence in movies before the 1980s but I really haven’t seen enough that are older than this to really be sure either way. Are there a lot of examples of this happening before the 1980s?

It happened in the James Bond flick Thunderball in the early 1960s.

It happened in the novel Dracula, published in 1897.

Come to think of it, I think a few of Shakespeare’s villains did it. Certainly in Macbeth and Richard III, possibly in Titus Andronicus.

Quite a few. An example that comes to mind is 1967’s You Only Live Twice where Blofeld executes an ineffective henchwoman by dunking her in a piranha tank.

Basically, it’s the villain’s way of showing that failure is clearly NOT an option under any circumstances.

Time Bandits.

“I’m a reasonable man!”

Team America
I think I need a new transrator.

And before both of those in From Russia With Love in 1963.

“12 seconds. Someday we really must develop a faster working venom.”

Mystery Men: Cassanova Frankenstein electricutes the Frat Boys basically to show the Mystery Men that he was ruthless enough to do that.

It was a pretty common practice for Bond villians almost from the git-go. In Thunderball, Blofeld is holding a meeting with his henchmen, and unexpectedly electrocutes one of them who had been holding out on him. In You Only Live Twice, Blofeld feeds one of his henchmen to the piranhas. And if the Bond movies were doing it, you can bet their many, many, many imitators were doing it.

Help me out here, it has been years since I read Macbeth or saw it performed (really)…are you referring to Banquo? Because I am not sure I would consider him Macbeth’s henchman…he isn’t in on the plot, is he?

Lethal Weapon 2

I remember the scene where the guy walks into the boss’s office and notice the plastic sheets all over the place. “We’re redecorating,” my foot.

Doctor Evil tried it, but didn’t succeed. At least, not when it was Will Farrell’s character.

There was a TV movie of “Spartacus” a year or so ago. After losing a battle to Spartacus, the head of the Roman Legion orders a decimation, where every 10th man in the Legion is killed(I can’t remember if they killed themselves or other soldiers did it).

However, the Romans were meant to be the bad guys in the movie, so it counts. They even did that sort of thing in real life too.

The trope is so common that it’s gone well beyond cliche into self-parody. Kind of makes you wonder how the villains got henchmen at all. It’s hard to hire good help if they know they’re going to executed if they make a mistake, or just on the whim of the boss.

Some examples:

The Fifth Element
Scarface: Shame of a Nation
– I believe Paul Muni wipes out his friend George Raft
[b}Bugsy** – though Bugsy is the henchman who’s wiped out.

Want ads in the classifieds, of course.

In Superman: The Movie Lex Luthor kills his henchman Otis.

In *Goldfinger, * Goldfinger kills most of his prospective confederates.

Nope. Unless he was raised from the dead for Superman II:


Well, he got better in Supperman II! :slight_smile:

Tank Girl- Malcolm McDowell kills his lead henchman by plunging some water sucking stabby thing into his back and after making him walk barefoot over broken glass.

Mission Impossible 2. The lead badguy who was played by Dougray Scott* kills one of his henchmen because he thought he was Tom Cruise. Does that count?

Oh yeah, earlier in the movie he cuts off the same henchman’s finger with a cigar cutter. That was better than killing the guy, IMO.

*Dougray Scott was supposed to play Wolverine in X-Men, but lost the part because filming on MI2 took so long. My little bit of useless trivia that you don’t really care about for today.

Commander Krug also whacks his tactical officer:
“Target emgines only!”
“Lucky shot…Sir!”
^ :dubious: ^