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Best Kills In The Final Destination Franchise

In the world of "Final Destination," Death always wins. Unlike most slasher movies, which feature a masked killer stalking dim-witted teens, "Final Destination" and its four sequels feature survivors of fatal accidents getting murdered by the unseen machinations of death itself. Unlike a masked assailant or psychotic rampager, there's no way to fight back against the concept of fate.

Across five movies, released between 2000 and 2011, Death takes down dozens of would-be survivors, often through over-the-top Rube Goldberg-esque coincidences that result in a brutal end. In fact, the thrill of "Final Destination" doesn't come from figuring out which characters will live or die, or how they will fight back and survive. Instead, these films deliver a sort of sadistic glee that comes with watching young, pretty people get killed in outrageous, R-rated death sequences. It's not about whether or not they will die — it's about how their inevitable death will occur.

Here are Looper's picks for the best death scenes in the "Final Destination" series.

Carter's botched hate crime

The fourth entry in the series, "The Final Destination," is often considered the weakest entry in the series, which was never much of a critical darling to begin with. With its cheap-looking CGI, gimmicky 3D effects, and roster of completely unlikeable characters, "The Final Destination" doesn't have much to offer to horror fans or gore enthusiasts — but it does have a couple of good kills.

Following the inciting incident at the racetrack and its immediate aftermath, the first "proper" death in the film belongs to Carter Daniels, played by Justin Welborn. He blames racetrack security guard George (Mykelti Williamson) for his wife's death in the initial tragedy and decides to commit a hate crime by burning a cross on George's lawn. Naturally, this plan goes awry and Carter is accidentally snagged on his tow truck's hook and dragged down the block. Then, because this is "Final Destination," he gets set on fire and the truck explodes. Carter's decapitated head lands at the feet of George, the man was trying to torment.

The kicker? The whole sequence is set to War's anti-racism anthem, "Why Can't We Be Friends?"

Tanning is a dangerous hobby

One of the most famous kills in the "Final Destination" series belongs to this twofer from the third entry in the series, released in 2006. The first victims on Death's list are the bubbly Ashley and Aslyn, played by Chelan Simmons and Crystal Lowe, respectively. They die doing what they love: tanning.

Their tanning session turns bad when they get trapped in their tanning beds by a falling shelf. Then, thanks to an electrical surge, the beds overheat, treating the viewer to intense shots of the girls' skin burning and eventually catching fire. The scene ends with a delicious match cut equating the two tanning beds with two coffins at their funeral. 

The scene is darkly humorous with bits of gory horror, firmly establishing the tone of "Final Destination 3." It's a movie that's supposed to scare the viewer but also entertain them. The film makes it okay to laugh at the peril and mortality of the characters, since the filmmakers are clearly having fun killing them off in creative and nasty ways. 

Railway decapitation

The first "Final Destination" does not contain the same levels of gore that would make the sequels infamous in the years to come, but it still has its grisly moments. Several of the kills in this premiere installment are a bit too convoluted for their own good (Tod's shower mishap and Valerie's computer/knives/kitchen explosion death come to mind), but some of them are quick, dirty, and delightfully nasty.

For one, Sean William Scott's character, Billy Hitchcock (named for Alfred Hitchcock, naturally), meets his fate in a grisly fashion that at least looks relatively painless. After a scuffle involving a suicidal Carter (no relation to Racist Carter from "FD4") parking his car on a set of railroad tracks, he eventually chickens out and decides he doesn't want to die just yet. However, only Death decides who lives and dies, and when everyone escapes from the car, a piece of debris is kicked up by the speeding train and flies into Billy's head. He's not decapitated at the neck but just above his mouth. Presumably, he's still killed instantly, in the original film's goriest death.

Pipe through the skull

The first sequel, 2003's "Final Destination 2," ups the violence quotient with kills that feature more blood and incredible practical effects. One of the more memorable kills from the second film belongs to Kat Jennings, played by Keegan Connor Tracy. After she crashes her car, she's nearly killed by a conveniently placed pipe that pierces the back of her seat but only just misses her head.

When rescue workers try to extract her from the situation, the jaws of life trigger her airbag, pushing her back into the conspicuously spiked pipe that nearly killed her before. As she dies with a pipe through her skull, she drops her lit cigarette, which ignites a trail of gasoline that causes a car to explode, propelling a barbed wire fence through the air that kills Rory (Jonathan Cherry) by slicing him to pieces. Both kills are quick and bloody, with impressive gore and a sudden brutality that sticks with the viewer long after the film moves on to the next scene.

Frankie Cheeks' engine trouble

This "Final Destination 3" kill may feature too much of a misdirect for some, but it makes up for it with its sudden violence and outrageous gore. While Frankie Cheeks (Sam Easton) is the victim here, the viewer doesn't know he's there until he gets killed. The whole time, the scene follows Wendy (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and Kevin (Ryan Merriman) as they avoid a runaway truck careening downhill towards their vehicle, which is in line at a drive-thru restaurant.

Unbeknownst to them, Frankie Cheeks happens to be in the car in front of them. When the runaway truck crashes into Wendy and Kevin's car, its engine goes flying out of its hood, through Wendy and Kevin's car, and into the head of Frankie Cheeks. The spinning propeller on the front of the engine turns the back of Frankie's head into mush in a pretty nasty visual effect. In a bit of grim humor, Wendy and Kevin are splashed with Frankie's blood and brains, leaving the audience unsure whether they should laugh or cover their eyes in terror!

Watch out for falling billboards

Sometimes you don't need to see the kill to understand its impact. Originally, the first "Final Destination" was supposed to end with a bittersweet finale where Alex (Devon Sawa) sacrifices himself in a fire to save Clear (Ali Larter) and their unborn child. This ends Death's rampage, sparing Carter (Kerr Smith) in the process. However, after negative test screenings, the ending of "Final Destination" was retooled and changed.

In the final theatrical ending, Alex and Clear both survive the fire, leading to an epilogue set in Paris, France. When a random billboard falls like a pendulum, it narrowly misses Alex, who is saved by Carter. This clues them, and the viewer, into the fact that Death will never stop hunting them down. As Carter realizes Death is still hunting them down, the billboard swings back, with the camera showing Carter, oblivious to his imminent death. Just before the moment of impact, the film cuts to credits, though "Final Destination 2" confirms that Carter did, in fact, get killed by the falling sign.

No, laser eye surgery does not work that way

The final entry in the series, "Final Destination 5," won back fans after the negative reception of "The Final Destination." While still featuring a 3D gimmick, the visuals are significantly improved, and the use of depth afforded by the 3D effect, while certainly not subtle, nevertheless enhances many of the gory kills.

One such kill occurs in an optometrist's office, where Olivia (Jacqueline MacInnes Wood) receives laser eye surgery. She has a comfort Teddy Bear she squeezes so hard its eye pops out, foreshadowing her fate. During the eye surgery, the doctor leaves Olivia alone, strapped into her chair with a laser beam pointed at her face.

Shockingly, Olivia is not burned to death by the laser, though it does sear her face and hand. Eventually, she's rescued, but then slips on the eye of the Teddy Bear from the beginning of the scene, causing her to plummet out of the window of the high-rise office building. The impact of the landing causes her non-lasered eye to fall out of her head, where it is promptly run over by a passing car.

There is no (fire) escape

The first post-premonition kill from "Final Destination 2" befalls Evan (David Paetkau), who narrowly escapes a series of mishaps in his apartment, including a malfunctioning garbage disposal and an errant stove fire. The sight of Evan trapped in the kitchen with deadly machinations occurring all around him is actually pretty funny, and, amazingly, Evan manages to escape his apartment by diving out of the window.

However, he is ultimately felled by a plate of spaghetti he threw out of the window at the start of the scene, slipping on it and landing flat on his back, directly underneath a fire escape ladder. The ladder falls but stops just above Evan's face, seemingly defying gravity. Unfortunately for Evan, it's just Death playing with its prey, and the ladder soon completes its journey, impaling Evan through the eye and killing him instantly.

Between the Teddy Bear eye in the fifth film and Evan's spaghetti, characters in "Final Destination" have a bad habit of dying by slipping on seemingly innocuous objects!

Unwilling tar bath

"Final Destination 5" begins with protagonist Sam's premonition of a bridge collapse. In that premonition, Dennis (David Koechner) meets a particularly gruesome fate while hanging off the side of the bridge. A conspicuously placed tank of boiling asphalt tar spills over onto Dennis, covering him in the hot liquid, effectively melting him alive. Eagle-eyed viewers can see chunks of his skin slip off him as he slides off the bridge and falls to his death. It's one of the most shocking and disgusting deaths in the series by virtue of how painful it looks.

Fortunately, since this is only a premonition, Dennis does not actually die in this manner. His true death, of having a wrench caught in machinery and flung at his head at fatal speed, seems downright tame by comparison. He is killed instantly by the impact and likely didn't even realize he was going to die. He is alive one moment and then dies before he even knows what hit him. In a "Final Destination" movie, it's the best anyone could ask for.

Crushed by glass window

To avoid slipping on slippery items on the ground, "Final Destination" characters need to start looking down. However, they also need to look up to avoid getting crushed by falling objects. Alas, Tim Carpenter from "Final Destination 2," played by actor James Kirk, didn't learn that lesson until it was too late. Like all the best "Final Destination" kills, Tim escapes a room of certain doom only to be killed in a sudden accident. The average viewer might expect him to perish during his visit to the dentist, but he manages to make it out alive, despite a few close calls.

Upon leaving his dentist appointment, Tim sees a group of birds underneath a group of construction workers. Foolishly, he runs towards the flock, hoping to cause some mischief. He gets more than he bargained for when the birds distract a construction worker, which inadvertently causes a crane to drop a large sheet of glass. The glass, of course, falls on Tim and crushes him in an incredible practical effect.

Escalator of death

While "The Final Destination" is easily the weakest entry in the franchise, it does contain one of the nastiest kills in the series, courtesy of protagonist Nick's second premonition, which occurs late in the film. This premonition includes many kills, most of which occur at a mall multiplex movie screening, but the chaos eventually spills out into the mall proper.

An explosion rocks the escalator Nick and Lori are descending, which causes the machinery under the stairs to become exposed. Nick manages to hold Lori's hand, but he's unable to pull her up as she gets dragged into the escalator, which completely eviscerates her body under its mechanical might. Again, this is a case where her premonition death is far more brutal than her actual death. She dies for good in the closing moments of "The Final Destination," instantly killed alongside Nick and Janet when they're all run over by an 18-wheeler. 

Unsafe roller coaster adventures

The premonition in "Final Destination 3" involves a roller coaster that goes out of control, killing everybody aboard. There's no shortage of brutal kills in this sequence, from simple deaths by falling to a character played by actor Texas Battle getting flung from the coaster and crashing into the metal supports like a human pinball. Still, the best kill in this sequence has to go to Kevin, who is ripped in half by a bent pipe as the roller coaster goes past. His top half goes flying to parts unknown, while his bloody lower half remains seated in the coaster.

Kevin is able to avoid death thanks to Wendy's premonition and even makes it through to the end of the movie before he meets his fate again, in another premonition. This time, the subway car he is riding goes out of control, killing everyone aboard, including the remaining two survivors from the roller coaster disaster. Kevin's death is particularly nasty since he is pulled out of the window and gets ground into mulch as he is scraped against the subway tunnel wall. It seems like a painful death, but at least it only lasts a second or two.

Elevator decapitation

Lots of "Final Destination" kills combine humor and horror to make a gory spectacle. However, the death of Nora from "Final Destination 2" is nothing but sheer terror. While riding in an elevator with two other people, she gets worried that something terrible will happen. This turns out to be a self-fulfilling prophecy, as she gets her hair caught on the equipment of a man carrying a basket of prosthetic hook hands. During her struggle to escape, she winds up getting her head caught in the elevator doors.

Before Nora meets her inevitable demise, Nora begs and pleads to fate, screaming, "I don't wanna die," as the elevator descends. Despite everyone trying to help her, they are not strong enough to force the doors open, and Nora is decapitated. Her lifeless body falls out into the hallway while her severed head remains in the elevator. That elevator ride must be terribly awkward for the remaining passengers, though only one of them (the older man with the prosthetic limbs) lives to the end of the movie. Here's hoping he can afford a good therapist because he's going to need one after what he's seen.

Gymnastics are dangerous!

The most memorable kill in "Final Destination 5" features Candice, the gymnastics expert whose death is one of the most shocking in the whole series based on how believable it is compared to the more Rube Goldberg-esque contraptions of the rest of the series.

Candice begins her gymnast training by practicing on the balance beam, which happens to have a screw conspicuously resting on its surface. As she dances on the rail, she comes within inches of stepping on it but doesn't. She moves on to the uneven bars, which are notably rickety and sound like they might fall apart at any second. Credit goes to director Steven Quale for building suspense in a way that would make Alfred Hitchcock proud. As she prepares to make her final leap from the bars, the gymnast currently on the balance beam steps on the screw and falls off. 

Though uninjured (save for the screw in her foot), she knocks over a bowl of white powder that gymnasts use to strengthen their grip. The powder is blown by a fan directly into Candice's face just as she launches off of the uneven bars, causing her to completely mess up her landing. She lands directly on her head, the impact of which folds her body completely in half, snapping her spine instantly. The death is hauntingly plausible and genuinely uncomfortable for any gymnast to watch.

Death nails Erin

"Final Destination 3" features the resident goth couple, Ian (Kris Lemche) and Erin (Alexz Johnson). Neither survives the movie, but Erin's death feels particularly grisly, enough to earn it the top spot on this list. The death occurs at the hardware store where both Ian and Erin work. Morbidly, Ian passes time there by shooting pigeons with a nail gun.

Wendy and Kevin visit Ian and Erin at their workplace to warn them of their impending doom, but they're not interested — because they're goth, and goth people apparently believe obnoxious indifference is a worthwhile lifestyle choice. Sick of their goth shenanigans, Death weaponizes the entire hardware store against them, nearly impaling Ian with wooden fence spikes, though Wendy saves him at the last second. However, Erin falls backward during the scuffle and is knocked back into the aforementioned nailgun, which fires no fewer than five nails directly through her skull, some of which pierce her hand, pinning her hand to her face. 

It's a grisly display that's shown in a gratuitous close-up. It's horrific and unsettling, and the best kill in the entire "Final Destination" franchise.