Thanks to outrageous kills, traumatizing opening sequences, and Rube-Goldberg guides to destruction, FINAL DESTINATION is arguably one of the most fun horror franchises in history. Thanks to opening montages like the plane explosion in FINAL DESTINATION and the car pile-up in FINAL DESTINATION 2, real life situations can now be described using “Final Destination” like an adjective. If you say you’re comfortable driving behind a log truck on the highway and don’t think of these movies, you’re a total liar. With five films and a speculated sixth on the way, the FINAL DESTINATION series has brought us utterly insane death sequences…and some really lame ones. We’ve rounded them all up, the memorable and the forgettable, and ranked them for your debating pleasure. (Also: Check out the Easter eggs hidden in the names of these characters.)
40. Kimberly Corman & Thomas Burke of FINAL DESTINATION 2
How in the actual hell are you going to kill off the two pivotal players of FINAL DESTINATION 2 with a newspaper clipping about them dying in a freakin’ wood chipper instead of showing the carnage?! You’ll show someone get demolished by a falling log on a highway but not the survivors of said incident end up in a wood chipper? Shame on you. SHAME.
39. Alex Browning of FINAL DESTINATION
Oh, that’s right. You killed of the protagonist of the first film through an off-screen newspaper clipping too. Alex died by acting as the stopping point for a falling brick. I’m almost glad I didn’t have to waste my time watching such a lackluster kill.
38. Jonathan Groves of THE FINAL DESTINATION
Being bound to a hospital bed is pretty lame, but having a bathtub fall on top of your body as you try to escape your flooding room is even lamer. Jonathan was a modern cowboy, so there were plenty of opportunities to give him a crazy interesting death, but instead he was put in a full body cast and left pretty useless for a majority of the film.
37. Perry Malinowski of FINAL DESTINATION 3
Perry’s death by flag impalement is actually pretty brutal, but considering the character doesn’t say a single word in the entire film, there’s little to no emotional connection between the audience and the fact this girl just turned into a pincushion for a flag reading “Liberty or Death.”
36. Nick O’Bannon, Lori Milligan, Janet Cunningham in THE FINAL DESTINATION
Look, I’m a pretty big fan of 1000 WAYS TO DIE too, but ending what was supposed to be the last film in this franchise with a cheap digital x-ray scene of how a truck would have killed these three is a cop-out worse than the ending of THE DEVIL INSIDE.
35. Clear Rivers and Eugene Dix in FINAL DESTINATION 2
She may have arguably the worst name in the entire franchise, but Clear Rivers was the sole survivor of FINAL DESTINATION and played a pivotal role in FINAL DESTINATION 2 only to die in a fiery explosion that took out her and Eugene Dix in a swift blaze. Clear did not leave her padded room for such a quick and unexciting execution. She deserved better.
34. Brian Gibbons in FINAL DESTINATION 2
Speaking of explosions, the ending sequence of FINAL DESTINATION 2 gave us the death of Brian Gibbons who exploded along with a grill while cooking out with our protagonists. His barbecued arm lands right on the plate of his frantic mother, giving one of the funnier endings in the series.
33. Agent James Block in FINAL DESTINATION 5
You’d think that there’d be a lot more murders occurring by the survivors of premonitions in these films, but the death of Agent Block was a quick but satisfying wrap-up of the insanity driven Peter Friedkin.
32. George Lanter in THE FINAL DESTINATION
I’m going to give George some sage advice given to me by Barney the Purple Dinosaur. “Look both ways when you cross the street! Look both ways when you cross the street! Look both ways, don’t move your feet till you look both ways when you cross the street.”
31. Roy Carson in FINAL DESTINATION 5
This death could have gone fifty different ways, but Roy’s death was ultimately brought on by his own damn ignorance. Rather than listen to Nathan who was only trying to help him, Roy acted like a damn fool and found himself deepthroating a lifting hook through the chin.
30. Billy Hitchcock in FINAL DESTINATION
Compared to the more elaborate set ups of the previous deaths, Billy’s decapitation feels somewhat like an afterthought, but the unexpected shrapnel flung from the train tracks made for a hell of a jump scare in such a perfectly paced flick.
29. Carter Daniels in THE FINAL DESTINATION
Carter endures one of the more excruciating deaths in the franchise, but considering he’s an obnoxious bigot, the death is more than welcomed. He’s dragged down the road by his pants, the friction from the drag makes sparks that ignites gas on the road and causes a truck to explode. It’s long, brutal, and so deserving for this racist asshole.
28. Dennis Lapman in FINAL DESTINATION 5
Another quick death a la Billy Hitchcock, Dennis takes a wrench to the face because apparently when Death is after a group of survivors from a freak accident, it makes total sense to just hang out in a warehouse around heavy machinery and dangerous objects. Idiots.
27. Nathan Sears in FINAL DESTINATION 5
Nathan had the potential to be the first person to survive the franchise’s doomed destinies for all involved, but alas, right when we think Nathan is going to be okay, part of Flight 180 comes crashing from the ceiling and crushes him. So close, and yet so far.
26. Frankie Cheeks in FINAL DESTINATION 3
One of the more insufferable characters in the franchise (who owns a mudflap girl necklace?!) Meets his demise by taking a car engine to the back of the head. It’s a pretty horrific sight but it’s the double tap of the engine propeller moving IN HIS SKULL that gave audiences a gasp and a laugh.
25. Janet Cunningham in THE FINAL DESTINATION
Technically this one shouldn’t be included because it’s one of the premonition deaths, but THE FINAL DESTINATION is such a clustercuss, the non-sucky deaths deserve mention. Janet sits back to watch a violent 3-D movie (much like the audiences seeing this film in the theaters) when a real explosion happens in tandem of an explosion scene during the film and no one thinks to move out of the way of the very real carnage.
24. Lewis Romero in FINAL DESTINATION 3
Lewis was doing Cross-Fit before Cross-Fit was a thing. The way this meathead was hittin’ reps, I’m surprised he didn’t pull something and save himself. However, the Sultan’s gym made the mistake of having actual sharp blades hang above their equipment and it broke the cords holding back the weights that slammed together like the ice blocks in SAW 4, busting brain matter all over the damn place.
23. Isaac Palmer in FINAL DESTINATION 5
Easily the creepiest guy in the franchise, Isaac’s death has one of the best leadups, landing him higher than his actual death probably deserves. While he may ultimately have his skull crushed by an irresponsibly placed Buddha statue, it’s the tension filled acupuncture scene before it that leaves us all on pins and needles. (I’m not apologizing for that pun.)
22. Samantha Lane in THE FINAL DESTINATION
Samantha had plenty of ways to die in this salon. Scissors close to the eye, a loose metal ceiling fan, and a hair straightener next to a flammable can of hairspray could have easily taken her out, but she gets taken out by the horrifically more realistic “rock to the eye shot from a lawnmower” fear that I didn’t know I had until now.
21. Peter Friedkin in FINAL DESTINATION 5
Peter gets murdered in one of the more obvious twists of the franchise, but I’d rather discuss that the actor playing Peter is musician Miles Fisher who did a FINAL DESTINATION meets SAVED BY THE BELL music video with all of the cast members of this film and it’s one of the best horror inspired music videos of all time. Special shout out to his AMERICAN PSYCHO inspired cover of “This Must Be The Place.”
20. Carter Horton in FINAL DESTINATION
Does anyone else compulsively sing Ace of Base’s “I Saw The Sign” whenever Carter finally bites it? Just me? Oh, okay. He takes a falling sign to the BLACK OUT. END CREDITS. But it was the first “no one’s safe” death of the series, so it ranks highly due to its importance in the franchise’s mythos.
19. Andy Kewzer in THE FINAL DESTINATION
The best death in the original RESIDENT EVIL film is when the dude gets lasered in the fence pattern and crumbles to the ground like building blocks. Well, FINAL DESTINATION gave us their own spin with the 3D spillage of Andy Kewzer through a chain-link fence. It’s super cheesy but has the great shot of a person looking “through” him a la DEATH BECOMES HER. It’s a death that proves the series is self aware of its insanity and is having fun with these kills.
18. Ian McKinley in FINAL DESTINATION 3
My underage mall-goth heart really wanted to like Ian, but good lord he couldn’t die fast enough in this film. He’s one of the “intellectual” characters that tries to figure out the pattern in death’s design but turns into an evily cocky asshole that we can’t wait to see squashed by a falling cherry picker.
17. Tim Carpenter in FINAL DESTINATION 2
Too bad Tim Carpenter getting squashed by the proverbial glass ceiling was a way more effective squish death. Sorry, Ian. Tim’s death ranks higher because they killed a kid in front of his mother. That’s pretty intense regardless of franchise.
16. Nadia Monroy in THE FINAL DESTINATION
The FINAL DESTINATION films are pretty good about appeasing the gorehounds, but Nadia’s death was quick, swift, and brutal as hell. A stray tire from the NASCAR style crash comes outta nowhere and completely destroys her, leaving some disgustingly awesome remains all over the ground.
15. Hunt Wynorski in THE FINAL DESTINATION
It’s pretty fitting that the character named after Jim Wynorski would be the first sex scene in the franchise’s history only to die by having his intestines sucked out of his asshole. If that doesn’t sound like a Wynorski film, I don’t know what does.
14. Evan Lewis in FINAL DESTINATION 2
Never before have alphabet refrigerator magnets been quite so horrifying. Unlike a lot of the bait and switch deaths in the series, Evan seemingly survives the fall from the fire escape ladder when it stops in front of his face…only for it to drop down and impale him through the eye.
13. Wendy Christensen, Julie Christensen, Kevin Fischer in FINAL DESTINATION 3
Mary Elizabeth Winstead spends this entire film with watery wide eyes of fear knowing that everyone around her is going to die. When she thinks she’s finally out of the woods, she finds herself on a train and meets up with her sister and fellow survivor Kevin on a subway train. Their reunion is cut short when they realize “uh…if we’re all here together, we’re probably going to die.” AND THEN THEY DO!
12. Sam Lawton and Molly Harper in FINAL DESTINATION 5
Sam and Molly are the saving grace of this franchise as both characters are adorable and likable, so when they escape death and take a seat on an airplane before their attempt to get away from it all and witness the freakout of Alex Browning (of FINAL DESTINATION) there was a bittersweet feeling of “aww, but I liked them!” and “HOLY SHIT YOU CLEVER BASTARDS, THIS IS A PREQUEL!”
11. Tod Waggner in FINAL DESTINATION
Death by hanging is pretty terrifying on its own, but the realization that you will pop blood vessels in your eyeballs from the pressure is enough to make me want to throw up.
10. Rory Peters in FINAL DESTINATION 2
Similar to Andy’s chain link fence death, an explosion causes a herding fence to fly through the air, and right through our lovable stoner, Rory. He stands there alone only to crumble into three distinct pieces onto the ground. It was brutal, hilarious, and a fan favorite.
09. Erin Ulmer in FINAL DESTINATION 3
Do you know what happens when you replace Cara Delizia in the not-as-good Season 3 of SO WEIRD? YOU TAKE A NAIL GUN TO THE FACE. For real, though, this is horrifying and I’m never going to Home Depot ever again.
08. Kat Jennings in FINAL DESTINATION 2
The not-quite-Rachel Lee Cook looking uppity reporter beat death a few times in this film, and has quite the bait and switch lead up before being betrayed by her airbag (THE VERY THING MEANT TO PROTECT HER!) and slams her skull through a sharp pipe.
07. Lori Milligan in THE FINAL DESTINATION
This is why I start sweating whenever I have to ride an escalator at the airport.
06. Val Lewton in FINAL DESTINATION
Ms. Lewton’s death was the first bait and switch Rube-Goldberg scenario of the franchise, and remains one of the most memorable. The cracking mug, the exploding computer, and the ominous playing of “Rocky Mountain High” (y’know, since John Denver died in a plane crash) all lead up to what seemed like a fiery death only to be stabbed by a rogue knife falling out of the block.
05. Nora Carpenter in FINAL DESTINATION 2
Good news. This is another death that ruined something I use in my day-to-day life. Decapitation by elevator jumped about 50 places on my “Things I’m irrationally afraid of” list. The decapitation is horrifying, but it’s Kat and Clear’s blood soaked reactions in the aftermath that really make this something special.
04. Olivia Castle in FINAL DESTINATION 5
HOLY SHIT. LASERS TO THE EYES?! AND SHE’S STRAPPED TO THE CHAIR?! KILL ME. JUST END ME. KILL ME NOW AND BURY ME BECAUSE I 100% CANNOT LIVE A SINGLE SECOND MORE ON THIS EARTH KNOWING THIS FREAK ACCIDENT NIGHTMARE IS A HYPOTHETICAL POSSIBILITY.
03. Ashlyn Halperin and Ashley Freund in FINAL DESTINATION 3
This scene made me quit my job at a tanning salon when I was in high school. That’s a real fact. Roller Coaster of love will forever be associated with these two girls frying in tanning beds only to be match cut with their caskets in probably the most cinematically hilarious moment of the entire series.
02. Candice Hooper in FINAL DESTINATION 5
This is definitively the most anxiety inspiring set-up in the entire franchise. There are about 234829384 different ways Candice could die, and every step she takes in on the gymnastics equipment is worthy of holding your breath. Last week during the Olympics, a French gymnast landed incorrectly and broke the SHIT out of his leg. Well…it could have been worse.
01. Terry Chaney in FINAL DESTINATION
Her death isn’t the most thrilling, or the goriest, or the most inventive, but Terry Chaney’s bus accident inspired countless sequences in horror films to follow. Her death was unexpected but remains one of the most exciting moment in the franchise. It’s impossible not to scream or laugh or gasp when she delivers her final line before being pulverized by a bus. No other death has elicited a bigger reaction, and with the exception of the opening premonition scenes, there’s no moment more iconic from the series.
*All Photos: New Line Cinema