2016 was known as a rough year in terms of celebrity deaths. Unfortunately, 2017 has been similarly brutal so far, and the most recent loss came when beloved character actor Bill Paxton passed away. The 61-year-old actor cult icon died from complications following a surgery on Saturday, February 25. He will truly be missed, and as we mourn his loss, we are presented with an interesting opportunity looking back at his filmography. In case you didn't know, Bill Paxton had a knack for epic and memorable on-screen deaths, and it was his trademark to never survive. This meant he was offed by some of Hollywood's biggest and baddest movie monsters.
There is a lot of attention paid to actor Sean Bean, who has died 24 times on screen, but according to the Cinemorgue Wikia page, Bill Paxton has actually died a grand total of 28 times, when factoring in movies, TV and even once in a music video. It may seem a bit crude or insensitive to look back on his work in this way, but looking at some of these legendary death scenes actually showcases just how great Bill Paxton was, and it is a unique way to remember his entire body of work, which is staggering when looking back at it all. The guy has been killed by Arnold Schwarzenegger. Twice!
Going all the way back to Mortuary in 1983, his character Paul died by getting in ax to the back, in true Groundskeeper Willie fashion. The truly memorable deaths started when Bill Paxton began his very long relationship with director James Cameron. First, he bit the dust at the hands of Schwarzenegger's T-800 in The Terminator. Paxton's role was small in that movie, simply billed as "punk leader," but it was very memorable. There is almost no question that perhaps his most famous death and arguably most famous character in his career came in Aliens. As Private Hudson, he had some truly memorable lines, which included, "game over, man. Game over!" However, it was his very heroic death while trying to hold off the Xenomorphs that really stands out, when one randomly bursts through the floor and drags him underground.
While lesser known, if you have never seen the excellent 80s vampire movie Near Dark, Bill Paxton also has a pretty amazing death scene in that movie. In sem-classic fashion, his character is burned to death by the sunlight. Before the 90s came around, he still found time to die at the hands of Adam Baldwin in Next of Kin, in which, he was shot in the head. But the 90s brought us easily some of his best roles and definitely some of his best death scenes.
Predator 2 may not be the best movie in the franchise, but Bill Paxton is in it and if you haven't seen it, he has a pretty amazing showdown with the famed movie monster. Since shooting the Predator doesn't seem to have any effect, Paxton's character Detective Lambert tries to take him on with a machete on a subway car. It was admirable and awesome, but ultimately didn't pan out. In 1993, he died as a real life legend in Tombstone. He played the less famous of the Earp family, Morgan Earp, who was shot by Johnny Ringo (Michael Biehn). While his death is memorable, Bill Paxton delivers arguably one of his best performances in Tombstone as part of an excellent ensemble cast. Following that, he died in a dream sequence in the terribly underappreciated James Cameron movie True Lies. In the dream sequence, Arnold Schwarzenegger snaps his neck after he eyes up Jamie Lee Curtis. It is definitely a classic Arnold moment, even though in reality, Bill Paxton's character Simon does survive the movie.
Skipping around a bit, he also had a few very memorable and incredible death scenes in his later years. A movie that hasn't been seen by nearly enough people is Frailty, a critically heralded horror movie from 2001. In it, Bill Paxton *spoilers* is killed by his son. The scene really needs to be viewed in context to be appreciated, but his performance was probably award-worthy when looking back at it. He also had a super memorable and incredibly heroic death in the sci-fi flick Edge of Tomorrow, which took quite a few people by surprise in 2014. His battle-hardened character Master Sergeant Farell goes out in a blaze of glory during a big battle with some alien invaders. He dies alongside many of his comrades in a trench, but he goes down fighting and it is pretty awesome. Again, this is a death that really summed up his character and wasn't just someone dying for the sake of dying.
It is easy to see that Bill Paxton didn't just die for the sake of dying in these movies just by doing a simple recount. There are plenty more memorable deaths he contributed to cinema over the years, but these are just some of the most iconic and awesome. His death scenes were always in service of the story and typically showcased his best talents as an actor and really served the story. He was unselfish, excellent and probably not appreciated on the level he deserved. RIP, Bill Paxton, you will be sorely missed.