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Playing God in Disaster Movies – Who Should Live and Die in Armageddon, Twister, Etc.

Death can be pretty exciting (vicariously, of course), so no genre captures the imagination quite like disaster movies, thanks mostly to the characters audiences love and, in some cases, lose along the way. But what if you could go back and save a character who shouldn’t have died and replace him or her with one more deserving? Today declare your independence from original outcomes and check out five disaster-movie replacement victims. Hold onto your butts.

The Perfect Storm
The Wrong Victim – Everyone in the boat, besides Captain Tyne (George Clooney)
A slew of fishermen pay the price because their captain is the type of guy who hits on 21 and has them pull a Shaun White on a tidal wave. Not surprisingly, this strategy fails.
The Right Victim – Captain Tyne
Should Tyne have avoided putting a thunderstorm between his ship and home? He should have. Should he have thought twice about running right into a hurricane? Of course. Should he have stopped when the coast guard risked their lives to save him and his crew? When 40-foot waves started hitting the boat? When people were tossed overboard? Yes, yes, and yes. What Mr. Death Wish definitely shouldn’t have done was try to surf the daddy of all tidal waves. But he did. And everyone else suffers for Tyne’s recklessness.

The Wrong Victim – Harry Stamper (Bruce Willis)
An oil driller who launches golf balls at environmentalists, Harry is basically an unarmed John McClane in space. Accordingly, he heroically sacrifices himself for his daughter (Liv Tyler). But what if another asteroid hurtles toward the Earth? President Stamper (you assume) would be the only person capable of dealing with the crisis. Basically, when he dies, Stamper is the most valuable person in the world.
The Right Victim – Chick (Will Patton)
You thought it was Rockhound (Steve Buscemi), but he’s too unreliable. As far as Chick knows, when the sacrificial-lamb debate occurs, not a single person on earth cares if he returns. Even though when he returns his ex-wife suddenly (read: conveniently) cares about him, he’s doesn’t know that’s going to happen. And she’s a gold digger. It’s all hugs and kisses on the runway, but how long before she dumps him and hits the talk-show circuit? Chick could be saved from a fate worse than death with death.

Independence Day
The Wrong Victim – The First Lady (Mary McDonnell)
For some reason, she fails to flee despite the not-everyday occurrence of a fifteen-mile-wide spacecraft hovering above and, as a result, suffers mortal injuries. But she seems okay and is tended to by the president’s doctors. While not running was a bonehead move, once she receives treatment from an elite medical team, she should live.

The Right Victim –
Constance Spano (Margaret Colin)
Nobody could have predicted how the alien invasion was going to unfold, but Spano nearly kills the resistance and the president (Bill Pullman) in one fell swoop: she fails to evacuate the president from the White House (yes, it would have caused panic, but, hey, huge spaceships tend to do that anyway) and lets her personal feelings for Jeff Goldblum dictate her response to an alien invasion. Hang-ups much?

The Wrong Victim – Mr. Thornton (Richard Lineback)
In the opening, a young Jo (Alexa Vega) is rushed to her family’s storm cellar to escape a historically awful tornado. The family dog is left out of the shelter, and in a courageously misguided moment her father opens the door to let in the pup, sacrificing his life when he fails to secure the door in time. Seriously? We all love animals, but if it’s a choice between me and the dog — sorry, Rex.
The Right Victim – Dr. Melissa Reeves (Jami Gertz) and everyone else
Between Jo (Helen Hunt) and Bill (Bill Paxton) trying to accomplish some murky goal by jumping into a tornado, their reckless artery-clogging crew, and Aunt Meg (Lois Smith) — who lives in closer proximity to giant sharp metal things than Optimus Prime — nobody should have survived. But we can all agree that if one character has it coming, it’s the shrill Reeves, who has the gall to accompany Bill as he asks Jo to sign their divorce papers and complains the whole time. Stay classy, Melissa. Good thing she leaves before someone drops a cow on her.

Jurassic Park
The Wrong Victim – Robert Muldoon (Bob Peck)
Muldoon can handle marauding dinosaurs better than anyone. By time he dies, he’s already outrun a T rex — which makes sense because he’s the only person to kill a raptor, making him the human equivalent of a T rex. But being tough, Muldoon chivalrously sacrifices himself for Dr. Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) so she could flip a light switch on (a job presumably only she could do).
The Right Victim – Dr. Sattler
In the event that you’re stuck in Jurassic Park, whom do you want to lead you to safety? An injured and unarmed paleontologist who reeks of triceratops poop? Or human T tex Muldoon? There were two choices for Muldoon — give Sattler the gun and sacrifice himself or have her sacrifice herself. Perhaps because he realizes he’s about to die, his famous “clever girl” line was really intended for Sattler, who selfishly endangers the rest of the survivors by leading the raptors right to Muldoon.

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