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Top 10 Movie Mob Deaths

Everybody loves mobster movies, but let’s be real. Most people don’t watch these flicks for their depth of character (a few gems excepted, of course). They watch them for the brutal, inventive, and bloody ways in which their characters — often the movies’ heroes — meet their demise. We scoured the archives and made some really tough calls. Here are our 10 favorite mob movie killings — good guys and bad.

10. Ichi’s Final Confrontation in Ichi the Killer
Full confession: In the history of Japanese splatter cinema, very few moments are as shocking, if not hilarious, than the image of the climactic hit of Ichi the Killer, which culminates in a room of corpses filleted, gutted, and decapitated by the titular mad butcher. Torn limbs, spilt intestines, sliced nipples, and ripped torsos — let it never be said that the Yakuza aren’t good at their job. (It’s also so graphic it’s the only death we couldn’t find on YouTube.) -CC

9. Jabba the Hutt in Return of the Jedi
Poor Leia. Just a few years earlier, she had been a princess on Alderaan with a side job spying for the Rebel Alliance. But Darth Vader blew her planet to tiny pieces with the Death Star, and now the poor ex-Princess finds herself enslaved by Jabba, a disgusting mega-slug with his own criminal empire. Worst of all, Jabba makes her wear a metal bikini. But when Jabba’s distracted by Luke Skywalker laying waste to his thugs, Leia wraps her chain around the Hutt’s neck and strangles the Force right out of him. Beauty slays the beast. And who even knew he had a neck? -EM

8. Nicholas ‘Nicky’ Santoro (Joe Pesci) in Casino
In Martin Scorsese’s Vegas epic, Pesci appears to be playing the same hot-tempered hood he’s mastered in such movies as Goodfellas. Sent out to protect Robert De Niro’s Sam Rothstein, he’s all bluster and bad attitude. But when the character loses control, shaming the mob with his inflated sense of self, the bosses make an example of him. Taken to a secluded part of a cornfield, Nicky is beaten within an inch of his life, and then, in a horrific twist of fate, buried alive. As his twitching and bloody body coughs up dirt, we witness the ultimate end for a cruel and callous criminal. -BG

7. Fredo (John Cazale) in The Godfather Part II
Lake Tahoe is a lovely place. A good place to die, even. And when you cross the family, that’s exactly what happens. In The Godfather Part II, perennial loser Fredo makes a deal with the wrong crooks, and gets caught by brother Michael Corleone, who is targeted in a (failed) assassination attempt. Yet Fredo is given a stay of execution… for a while, as long as the duo’s mother lives. Then, one day, Fredo is about to go fishing on the lake with Michael’s son. The boy is called away, leaving Fredo alone with assassin Al Neri, and the conclusion is obvious to all involved. Fredo is given a chance to say his Hail Mary, and the single gunshot occurs off camera. When we look back to the boat, only one figure remains. It’s one of the saddest and most haunting moments in the entire trilogy. -CN

6. Vincent Vega (John Travolta) in Pulp Fiction
It’s not that Vincent Vega’s death is a surprise — in the grand scheme of things he probably had it coming — but the combination of banality and Quentin Tarantino’s celebrated non-linear structure made his departure as brutally shocking as any ever seen. After his wonderful/horrible date with the Big Man’s wife — narrowly dodging a near-certain pair of cement galoshes by bringing her out of her heroin overdose — he seemed set to coast through to the closing credits. But then Bruce Willis blows him away as he’s coming out of the toilet. Out. Of. The. Toilet. The finality of Travolta’s cold, dead eyes punctuates an overall lack of fanfare that hits you like a brick to the gut. -RV

5. The Standoff in Reservoir Dogs
Sure, there are scenes in Reservoir Dogs that are more infamous than the bloodbath finale (like the one involving Mr. Blonde, the soon-to-be earless cop, and a can of gasoline). But it’s the conclusion to this 1992 Tarantino flick — about a simple jewelry heist gone awry — that is one of its most memorable. When the disreputable Mr. White, Mr. Pink, Nice Guy, and Cabot arrive at the warehouse, Mr. Blonde is dead, and Mr. Orange is bleeding on the floor. Someone is an undercover cop. Guns are drawn. Tensions rise. Anger flares. Shots are fired. Mr. Pink was smart to run and hide. -BF

4. Billy Costigan (Leonardo DiCaprio) in The Departed
Here we have the classic long-suffering hero: a selfless cop who sacrifices his true identity to enter Boston’s most notorious crime ring to root out the unscrupulous mafia pig infiltrating the Massachusetts State Police. In the furious, ruthlessly unkind world of Martin Scorsese’s The Departed, however, Billy cannot succeed so easily. He corners the mole, Colin (Matt Damon), atop an abandoned building and takes the weeping villain into his grasp. They get on an elevator, heading down t
o a neat, tidy conclusion. But just as the ground floor doors slide open… BAM! Our noble hero takes one in the head. Blood paints the elevator’s back wall. Billy falls to the ground, the elevator doors repeatedly attempting to shut around his sad, lifeless body. Of course, Colin gets his righteous comeuppance soon after, but Billy’s split-second splatter is the Oscar-winning Departed‘s most incredible shell-shocking moment. -JM

3. Cody Jarrett (James Cagney) in White Heat
James Cagney portrayed a rogue’s gallery of gangsters, but none as inhuman and off-kilter as Cody Jarrett. Marriage can’t even tame this beast; his poor wife is no match for Ma Jarrett, who frequently toasts her devoted son with a sarcastic, ‘Top of the world.’ When Jarrett’s gang holes up at a chemical plant, with no escape from the policemen’s guns, there’s only one way out for Jarrett: a blast of bullets into the top of a gas silo and a hearty ‘MADE IT, MA! TOP OF THE WORLD!’ Then, boom! White heat, indeed. -EM

2. Tony Montana (Al Pacino) in Scarface
The finale of Scarface contains the most ridiculously beautiful, mind-blowingly over-the-top death in all of moviedom. With his enemies closing in, his empire in ruins, and his sister bleeding out on the floor after shooting him in the leg (and completely losing her shit over his incestuous protectiveness to boot), you’d expect Tony Montana to pause and reflect on his wasted life. But you’d be wrong. Instead, he buries his face in a mountain of coke, produces a military-grade assault rifle/grenade launcher, and guns down any pendejo who comes near him before a double-barreled shotgun blast finally sends his lower spine through the far wall and his body into the indoor pool. You stay classy, Brian De Palma. -RV

1. Five Big Hits in The Godfather
As his first official act as the new head of the Corleone family, prodigal son Michael (Al Pacino) has some cleaning up to consider. While his nephew is being baptized, anointed to reject the influence of the Devil and all his evil disciples, the recently deceased Don’s youngest sets the tone for the rest of his reign — in a decisive hail of bullets. Featuring the classic killing of hitman-turned-casino king Moe Greene (Alex Rocco) via a carefully placed shot to the eye, this sweeping payback for his father’s death makes Michael the unquestionable leader of the mafia. It also shows that, while always considered the quiet and contemplative, Michael is actually the most cold-blooded. -BG

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