In horror movies, people have come to expect the bad guy to return from the dead. It’s pretty much a given — especially in this era of infinite sequels — that Freddy will somehow find his way back. However, rising from the dead isn’t always just for cheap scares. These are ten movies in which a character you think is gone and forgotten shows up to exact one last scene of awesomeness.
10. The Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger), Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
Schwarzenegger’s Terminator is truly the gift that keeps on giving. You can crush him, disassemble him, melt him — and he just keeps coming back. Unfortunately for Sarah Connor in Terminator 2, his return is an unwelcome surprise. Sure, everybody knows now “he’ll be back,” but that initial shocker keeps him on the list at number ten.
9. Mr. Boddy (Tim Curry), Clue (1985)
It’s only fitting that a character named Mr. Boddy should end up as the first dead body in Clue. While all the other victims manage to stay dead, in a shocking reveal at the end of the movie, it’s revealed that Mr. Boddy was never actually a corpse — the man everyone thought was Mr. Boddy was really Mr. Boddy’s butler. His butler! This technicality keeps him low on the list, but still kicking at number nine.
8. Judge Quincannon (Barry Fitzgerald), And Then There Were None (1945)
When the good judge turns out to be the murderer at the end of this Agatha Christie story, it’s certainly a surprise… since he was pronounced dead several scenes earlier! But you really should have seen it coming, since the titular poem, which is all over the movie, makes mention of a “red herring.” Though he does end up dying (the second time it’s for real), he still squeezes into eighth.
7. Spock (Leonard Nimoy), Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984)
This movie actually starts out as “the search for Spock’s body,” since Spock takes one for the team at the end of the previous movie in order to restore power to the ship’s warp drive. Luckily, his coffin lands gently on the surface of the nearest planet, making it easy for the Enterprise crew to locate his remains and reunite his “katra” with his body. Spock’s successful resurrection seals spot number seven.
6. Jean Grey (Famke Janssen), X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)
It’s a bittersweet moment when Dr. Jean Grey sacrifices herself for the greater good and gets swallowed up by a massive, deadly wave. Later on — for audiences not steeped in comic book lore, at least — it comes as a complete surprise when she comes back to life after absorbing Cyclops’ life force. Enter the Phoenix, Grey’s alter-ego, and all hell breaks loose, taking her to sixth place on the list.
5. Obi Wan Kenobi (Alec Guiness), The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
After sacrificing his life in a duel with Darth Vader, Obi-Wan Kenobi’s Jedi body vanishes, leaving behind a big old pile of robes. Luckily for Luke (and the Star Wars series), death is no match for those who know how to use the Force. Obi-Wan reappears just in time to point Luke towards a little green guy called Yoda and his destiny as savior of the universe, ensuring him a spot at number five.
4. Ash’s Hand, Evil Dead 2 (1987)
You’d think that severing your possessed hand after stabbing it, as transpires in this cult classic, would kill it. Not so! And while some characters take a full movie to reappear after their death scene, Ash’s severed hand only tastes death for a few seconds before jumping back into the action (and shooting gore-lovers straight up out of their seats). For that, the hand takes fourth place.
3. Imhotep (Arnold Vosloo) in The Mummy Returns (2001)
Bad: You lose your powers of immortality, get skewered and die. Good: You get resurrected by an evil cult (who cares who does it?), and come back from the dead. Bad: Your powers are stripped (again!) and your girlfriend leaves you to die in a chasm, this time for real. The Mummy Returns gets bonus points for surprise resurrections, since Evelyn (Rachel Weisz) is also brought back to life by an Egyptian spell. Back-from-the-dead-tastic!
2. E.T., E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial (1982)
E.T.’s death is doubly horrible because for all intents and purposes, Eliot should die right along with him. It’s some small consolation that this doesn’t happen, but there are few more heart-wrenching sights than that of a child being left alone with the dead body of his alien best friend. Luckily, E.T.’s only dead for just long enough to make us think it’s for good — and launch him into second place.
1. Gandalf (Ian McKellen), The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)
In The Fellowship of the Ring, Gandalf goes down in a literal blaze of glory. He saves the ringbearers and ensures the completion of their journey, but when he falls into that chasm, it’s still a bit of a shock. He’s Gandalf, for crying out loud! He can’t die, you cry! But he does. Of course, he’s one of the most powerful wizards in Middle Earth, so when he reappears later in the series you breathe a sigh of relief and say “I totally saw that coming.”