The Final Destination series might be one of the most unique horror franchises around, because they're essentially slasher films without a slasher. Death itself stalks the characters in these films, subjecting them to convoluted accidents that frequently play out like comedy routines, right up until the graphic finish. Seriously, people get beefed so hard in these films they disappear from photographs.
In honor of the 20th anniversary of the first film, I’ve ranked every single death in the Final Destination series. That’s right - every circuitous, Rube Goldberg-ian fatality in the franchise’s bloody history has been ordered from worst to greatest by yours truly, a man of undeniable taste and supreme vision. The main thing I noticed while rewatching all 5 films to collate this list was how much Death loves folk rock. It’s always tipping its hand by playing Kansas and John Denver. Just once I’d like it to kick off a vision by blasting Drowning Pool. Just let the bodies hit the floor one time, Death, you coward.
41. Offscreen Brick Attack - Final Destination 2
Alex (Devon Sawa), the protagonist from the first film, is killed offscreen in between Final Destination and Final Destination 2 by a falling brick to the dome, which is super lame and easily the worst death in the series. Screw this one.
40. Giant Chicken Spear to the Chest - Final Destination 5
Peter (Miles Fisher), or as I like to call him "Discount Tom Cruise", goes crazy and tries to kill Sam (Nicholas D'Agosto) and Molly (Emma Bell) to get Death to skip hiim, but Sam lances him through the chest with a giant rotisserie joust. The kitchen is a nice set-up because it teases so much gnarly shit that could potentially happen, but Peter ends up dying like an action movie villain. This would've ruled in a mid-career Arnold Schwarzenegger movie, but in a Final Destination film it's kind of a let-down.
39. Therapy Bathtub Pancake - The Final Destination
The cowboy hat guy (Jackson Walker) gets crushed by a physical therapy bathtub falling through the ceiling on top of him in a hospital. The set-up is dumb, because a nurse just leaves an already-completely-full bathtub running and walks out of the movie, and it literally floods the entire room. Like, Death does not intervene here. He just lets negligent employees do the work for him.
38. Surprise Flagpole to the Heart - Final Destination 3
Perry (Maggie Ma) is impaled by a flying flagpole. This one is a fine surprise, but it’s a character we've barely seen getting very suddenly lanced by an airborne American flag. It’s fun, but doesn’t have the buildup or payoff of the set pieces when one of the main characters are caught in death traps.
37. Runaway Ambulance Driven by Blind EMTs - The Final Destination
George (Mykelti Williamson) gets obliterated by an ambulance being driven roughly 70 mph in a hospital loop by sightless EMTs. It’s a repeat of a death we saw in Final Destination, albeit with more gore. The practical gore is nice, but this is a lazy offer and is pretty disappointing.
36. Sudden Bus - Final Destination
Terry (Amanda Detmer) getting creamed by an out-of-nowhere bus was pretty great when this movie came out in 2000, but the gag of a character suddenly getting hit by a car and/or bus has been repeated in dozens of movies in the past 20 years (they even repeat it in the Final Destination series).
35. Bush League NASCAR Apocalypse - The Final Destination
The opening accident in The Final Destination is easily the worst of the series, and that's a shame because it should've been a home run - a NASCAR crash in glorious 3D?! Yes, please. The gore is fun and its conceptually brutal, but the digital effects, made weirdly unreal by their design for 3D, looked bad at the time and have not aged well. It's a great idea but it doesn’t really live up to its potential.
34. Haunted Mass Transit Derailment - Final Destination 3
Wendy (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) gets one final premonition of her and her friends dying in a cataclysmic subway derailment, and it's kinda bitchin'. There's some fun gore (particularly when Ryan Merriman is absolutely erased from existence), but has the same problems as the roller coaster crash in the beginning, in that it’s spoiled a bit by sub-par visual effects.
33. Guillotine THWOMP - Final Destination 3
Ian (Kris Lemche) is smashed in half by a cherry picker. This one is a little underwhelming, because it’s a variation of a few deaths we’ve already seen (Tim in Final Destination 2), and it’s very abrupt. Wendy dodges some fireworks and they hit the machine, causing it to fall on Ian. It’s also a bit disappointing, because it’s the very last game of the film and there isn’t much to it. It is a solid smush, though.
32. Giant Factory Hook to the Brain - Final Destination 5
Roy (Brent Stait) the factory worker falls through a grate and impales his head on a giant hook. It's gruesome, but it loses some points because it happens instantly and there’s not much of a set piece. There’s a nice bit of a misdirect though, because we think Nathan (Arlen Escarpeta) is going to fall and get impaled on some spikes, but then a crane hook falls in between him and Roy and Roy falls through the floor onto the hook instead.
31. The Asshole Vacuum - The Final Destination
Hunt (Nick Zano) gets all of the organs in his body sucked out of his butthole by a swimming pool intake jet. It's conceptually agonizing, but we don’t really see much, and it’s somewhat ruined by the Jaws 3D-esque special effects launching his intestines into the air. But fuck this guy, he was a cartoonish dick.
30. The Inevitable Carnival Roller Coaster Collapse - Final Destination 3
The inciting roller coaster accident in Final Destination 3 is a promising offer, and it has some pretty decent stuff (like an improbable bisecting and Texas Battle flying out into the stratosphere like Superman with an inner-ear infection). But it's marred by sub-par visual effects and doesn't go far enough to explore all the crazy things that could happen on a runaway carnival ride.
29. Sectioned by an Oversized Tire Discus - The Final Destination
The aptly-named character The Mechanic's Girlfriend (Stephanie Honore) is blindsided by an enormous tire that comes spinning out of the sky like a discus from Valhalla and smashes her into two pieces. It's delightfully gnarly, and features a nice practical effect to show off the bloody aftermath.
28. X-Ray Dump Truck Assault - The Final Destination
The coffee shop dump truck crash at the end of The Final Destination is hilariously goofy, primarily because it suddenly turns into a Mortal Kombat special attack loaded with x-ray skeletons. What a way to end a picture.
27. Rocket-Propelled Human Cookie Dough - The Final Destination
Andy the mechanic (Andrew Fiscella) gets torpedoed with an air tank like John Travolta in Broken Arrow and carved into cookie-sized pieces by a hexagonal fence. It’s funny because it’s so sudden, and it’s another misdirect - he’s in a body shop full of things that could gruesomely destroy him, and then he gets missiled by an air tank we barely even register is there. Decent, but ultimately a repeat of a better fatality from Final Destination 2.
26. Lawnmower Slingshot to the Eye Socket - The Final Destination
Samantha (Krista Allen) survives a gauntlet of potential horror at the world's most dangerous hair salon only to get a hole bored through her skull by a stone launched from beneath a riding lawnmower across the street. It’s a fun scene because there’s so much in that salon that can go catastrophically wrong, and then she’s ultimately beefed by a flying rock to the eye. It’s a nice bait-and-switch, but not the best in the series.
25. Wrench Catapult Skull Divider - Final Destination 5
Dennis (David Koechner) gets his head split in half by a giant wrench. It’s another dose of sudden unexpected destruction with almost no build-up, but it provokes a big laugh because it’s so abrupt and extreme. Bonus points for the nice gore effect on Dennis' mangled face.
24. Prolonged Elevator Decapitation - Final Destination 2
Nora (Lynda Boyd) gets agonizingly decapitated by the shittiest elevator currently in operation. This is a brutal demise that is more ghastly than fun, and shockingly it’s the only one in the series to use an elevator so far. (Elevators are weirdly frightening to me, and seem highly exploitable in an accidental death sort of way.) Also, the weird old goblin with a bag full of prosthetic arms is a real slam dunk in terms of people I do not believe actually exist.
23. The Giant French Billboard Pendulum - Final Destination
Carter (Kerr Smith) gets hit by a giant billboard right as Final Destination cuts to black. It’s a rad way for the movie to end, because it dunks the revelation that our heroes haven't cheated Death at all right into our dumb faces. It's also a nice misdirect, because Carter intervenes to save Alex from the sign's initial swing, so we're fooled into thinking the sign's rampage is complete.
22. Everyone’s LASEK Eye Surgery Nightmare - Final Destination 5
Olivia (Jacqueline MacInnes Wood) gets her eye burned out of her skull while strapped down for corrective vision surgery, then abruptly falls through a window and pops her remaining eye out on a car below. There’s not much of a set-up to the scene, and it’s over-the-top intense and brutal. It’s an appreciably graphic demise, but it's not much fun to watch.
And without the risk of cutting off your hand!
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