The cornerstone of all good storytelling is eliciting emotion from the audience. In movie terms, this is often achieved by making characters and their stories particularly relatable – the hero who most reminds us of ourselves is always the one we most easily identify with, and therefore the one we’re most likely to root for. Different movies and genres approach this idea in different ways in line with the many different emotions they attempt to convey, but the general idea is always to hit home as hard as possible, and nothing does so better than a well-written death.
Killing off a character can be powerful when done correctly, but failing to properly establish their story beforehand can make it feel cheap and senseless. Killing characters for ridiculous or unnecessary reasons feels equally frustrating, especially when it’s not handled properly within the movie itself. These narrative missteps squander the potential for a poignant moment by rushing or glossing over the emotional weight of the death.
There are many reasons that this happen: sometimes, it’s a matter of deleted scenes containing vital information that lend added weight to a character’s arc and other times, a character is unceremoniously offed as a means of rectifying a plot hole. Though there are a number of causes, the end result is always the same – a character dies, and it feels a frustratingly hollow development. Here are eight of the worst offenders in cinematic history.
8. The Kraken – Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World’s End (2007)
Perhaps a less obvious entry, but on closer inspection, a particularly frustrating one. The Pirates of the Caribbean franchise is filled with powerful magical characters: some are cursed by ancient evil, some are literal gods, and some are essentially mythical beings who possess terrifying powers. One that falls into the latter category is the Kraken, the colossal sea monster used by Davy Jones to collect the souls owed to him.
The Kraken is a particularly fearsome beast, because the second film in the franchise establishes how quickly and easily it can devour entire ships. In many sense, the Kraken is actually the main antagonist of Dead Man’s Chest, because it’s used as Jones’ main method of collecting his debts, and therefore it’s the Kraken that Jack is avoiding. However, the supreme power of the Kraken ended before the third film, At World’s End, and it did so in the most disappointing and frustrating manner possible: it died off-screen.
In one of the biggest cop-outs in cinematic history, the Kraken’s corpse is shown washed up on a beach after its off-screen death between the second and third films in the underrated movie franchise. It’s clear that this was done out of necessity: the Kraken gave Davy Jones far too much of an advantage to keep around, because it weighted the narrative too far in the antagonist’s favor. Even so, a being as huge and powerful as the Kraken to die off-screen and to reveal it with little more than a passing visual nod to its death felt particularly cheap and frustrating.