This list contains descriptions of violence some readers may find upsetting.
Actor Sean Bean is tired of dying. That is, he’s tired of his recurrent on-screen deaths. In 2019, an article in The Sun reported that the actor would begin to be more selective about the roles he takes, declining those where his character is killed off.
Bean’s movie and television demise has happened nearly a dozen times over his 35-year acting career. While the actor may be staying away from projects where his character meets an untimely end, he’s had some memorable on-screen trips to the grave.
10 Ryder – The Hitcher
This film is a 2007 remake of the slasher flick, The Hitcher, with Bean in the leading role. This road thriller follows a couple who comes upon a lone hitchhiker, played by Bean. His character, John Ryder quickly reveals himself as a ruthless killer who is shot at the end of the movie.
The titular hitchhiker is no hero to root for, and Bean plays him with malice and ill-intent. He infiltrates a couple’s car under false pretenses and through the film, goes on a violent killing spree over and over again. By the time one of the characters shoots him dead, the audience is much relieved.
9 Tagdh – The Field
The 1990 Irish drama starring legendary Irish/British actors Richard Harris and John Hurt of Harry Potter fame, also starred Bean as one of two brothers in the Irish countryside. The action is centered on a land dispute where Bean’s character, Tagdh, kills a rogue donkey. He’s then accidentally killed by his own father in one of Bean’s most unusual on-screen deaths.
The patriarch of the family, played by Richard Harris, loses his mind and decides to herd his cattle off a cliff. Unbeknonst to him, Tagdh is killed when he is trampled by the herd of approaching cows and thrown to his death. The film ends with the father further pushed to the edge, as he sees his son’s lifeless body.
8 Patrick – Don’t Say A Word
In 2001’s Don’t Say A Word, Bean plays Patrick Koster. The film also stars Michael Douglas and Brittany Murphy as unwitting accomplices in Bean’s character’s kidnap plot. This psychological thriller features a terrifying on-screen death when, at the film’s end, Patrick is buried alive.
After struggling to retrieve a precious gem for most of the movie, Patrick ends up at a gravesite where the item is thrown into a dirt excavator. Bean’s character jumps in after it, and he ends up being buried under dirt and mud. This death is particularly harrowing, as being buried alive is no one’s preferred exit, which makes it one of Bean’s most memorable on-screen deaths.
7 Partridge – Equilibrium
This 2002 dystopian science fiction film sees Sean Bean and Christian Bale in a society wherein the aftermath of a third world war drove humanity to suppress all human emotion. Most of the film takes place in Libria, where books, art, and emotion are strictly forbidden. This does not bode well, of course, for Bean’s character Partridge.
This death is memorable due to the sheer creativity of the film’s premise and the role it plays in the demise of Bean’s character. In this dystopia, books are burned for their potential to elicit emotion, and Patridge is killed during an ensuing argument with his accomplice, Preston. Due to cleric Patridge’s love of books, he is shot to death by his partner for reading an outlawed collection of W.B. Yeats poems.
6 Dr. Merritt – The Island
The Island, a futuristic thriller from the mind of Michael Bay, stars Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johansson in a world where clones are created to serve humanity and be organ donors. Bean stars as Dr. Merritt, a scientist who lives on the titular island where the clones are kept.
Bean’s character has a posh lifestyle, until one of the clones he oversees recognizes his own consciousness, seeing the compound as it really is and kills the good doctor. As a fight ensues, Merritt is shot with a grappling hook through the neck and left hanging on a cable. Certainly a more gruesome death, this one stands out for the vivid imagery.
5 Ulric – Black Death
This 2011 German-British action horror film stars Sean Bean and Eddie Redmayne in a plague-ridden medieval England as a knight and monk who travel to meet a town’s necromancer, played by Carice van Houten. Bean’s death in this film is highly memorable for being torn limb from limb by horses.
Being torn limb from limb is a very memorable way to die onscreen, and is one of Bean’s most harrowing character deaths. Before Van Houten’s witchy sorceress, he is tied to horses and reveals he is infected with the plague and has brought it to the village. He is then tortured, and in a truly horrifying death spectacle, is torn apart.
4 Sean Miller – Patriot Games
Sean Bean appeared in Patriot Games, the sequel to Tom Clancy’s The Hunt for Red October starring Harrison Ford as an older, experienced Jack Ryan, while Bean’s agent character plotted against him. Sean Miller swears vengeance against the main protagonist Jack Ryan after he kills his brother.
The movie’s climax sees the two men fighting on a fast-moving speedboat. The hero gains the upper hand and impales Bean’s character on an anchor. The boat then burst into flames after crashing into rocks while Ryan escapes. This Sean Bean demise is memorable for how unrelenting and visceral it is.
3 006 – GoldenEye
Pierce Brosnan’s foray as super spy James Bond saw the introduction of 006, who, for most of the movie, seemed like an ally for 007. Of course, he double-crosses Bond and becomes one of the best Bond villains. When Bean’s character reveals himself to be behind a devious plot, the two spies duke it out, with Bean falling to his death.
Fighting 007 on a high satellite tower, Bean’s 006 nearly gains the upper hand in the ensuing brawl, but his luck changes quickly. Bond punches and grips him by the ankle over a satellite tower, and drops him. He survives the fall, but the wreckage of the satellite dish eventually crushes him. Their character dying at the hands of James Bond is a memorable moment for any actor, and the on-screen is just pipped to the post by Bean’s two most iconic characters.
2 Boromir – The Lord of the Rings
Out of the nine members of the Fellowship that ultimately make it to Mordor and succeed in their mission, it makes sense the outlier is Boromir, played by Sean Bean. For the films to have climbed to the level of success they did, Bean did not survive to the end of the first film, 2001’s Fellowship of The Ring.
Boromir has many memorable quotes, and his journey at the end of the film is heartwrenching. While leading the Hobbits to safety, he becomes corrupted by the One Ring and attempts to steal it from Frodo. As an onslaught of Orcs ambush the group, Boromir tries to amend his actions by fighting them off. Although he proves himself a formidable fighter, he’s pelted with many arrows and dies.
1 Ned Stark, Game of Thrones
The patriarch of the Stark family meets an unwelcome fate in the season one finale of the hit HBO series. Unfortunately for Bean, he didn’t get the same praise his co-stars did once Game of Thrones became a global phenomenon, as his character is killed for treason.
While Ned Stark was a much-beloved character, it was a shock to casual viewers when the show took its first casualty of many, in the form of Ned Stark’s beheading. In retaliation for Stark preventing Joffrey from taking the throne, the boy king has him killed in a spectacle no casual fan was expecting. Ned Stark’s death, though no stranger to the actor, was the catalyst for the unpredictability seen in the fantasy drama.