Ever since Sean Bean became a meme for dying in, what seemed like, every role that he’s ever been given, people have been interested in which actors die most often in film. In fact, we just lost one of the leading actors in that category, John Hurt. Well, we already made that list. We showed you the stars who have died most on-screen and it was a lot of fun. But there’s a related question that hardly anyone seems to be asking, so we’re asking it for you. We wanted to find out, what stars have never died on-screen? You might think that the list would be a long one. If you included obscure actors, it may very well be a long one. But no one wants to hear about obscure actors. And, when you deal with only the big names, you might be surprised at how few of these names there really are.
Think of the types of actors who might show up on this list of stars who have never died. We have the action heroes, like Bruce Willis and Sylvester Stallone, who have made careers of playing the “good guy,” protagonists who never die. Even these stars have, at one point, been killed, Sly in F.I.S.T, for instance, or Willis, if you needed one example, is dead the entire time in The Sixth Sense—spoiler alert. You have comedians, who, because of their genre, might have a better chance at surviving, but nearly every one of them has died too. Hell, in This is the End, the entire Judd Apatow clan gets killed, so there goes about 50 current comedians. To keep some structure to the list, we chose to look at film only. We also only count deaths that occurred on screen. If they “may” have died or even if we assume they died, that doesn’t count. The reality is that finding those who haven’t died was not easy. If you can think of any more, we’d be happy to hear about them because we’re sure there are more out there. Here are 15 Huge Stars That Have Never Died on Film.
15. Billy Crystal
You might be tempted to think that Billy Crystal has only survived all of his films because he’s in the comedy genre, which is thought to be safer than most. This might be true, but Crystal’s survival is more likely due to the fact that he is been the lead in his movies for so long. it might not be all that enlightening to learn that the start of an actor’s career is the most dangerous, in terms of being killed in films. It’s usually at the beginning of a career that we see most of an actor’s deaths because no one cares to see them survive. Crystal basically hit the ground running and he has remained a lovable actor for most fans for many years. As he gets older, Crystal will be entering another dangerous territory, this time in danger of being killed off by natural causes in any film he lands a part in. Still, for such a long and diverse career, Crystal is one of the more surprising actors on this list.
14. Zoe Saldana
Without giving away any spoilers, keen-eyed readers might recognize that Zoe Saldana won’t quite fit on this list moving forward, but she makes it for now because she had a great run. In terms of actresses, Saldana lived dangerously. She took on a number of action roles and she wasn’t always the star. This usually equates to death more often than not, but Saldana escaped it. Perhaps she was just too damn beautiful to kill. Taking her down in a film would be like scratching the Mona Lisa. Still, Zoe’s run of good luck couldn’t last forever and, sadly, we will not be able to call her a survivor any more.
13. James Dean
Big time James Dean fans won’t be surprised to find his name on this list. In truth, Deans’ film career was incredibly short-lived, but the way that he is revered in Hollywood, still to this day, has made it seem like he was around a lot longer than he was. Obviously, the man died young, so his resume is shorter than most, but he was in several major films, so this is at least interesting. Dean also did a lot of work on television, and, from what we understand, he never died there either. Maybe it was his good looks or his energy, but directors and writers just had a tough time killing the great James Dean.
12. Melissa McCarthy
Like Billy Crystal, Melissa McCarthy‘s incredible rate of survival in films probably has more to do with her stardom than it does with her genre. She’s played in plenty of action comedies where deaths occur just as frequently as other genres, but McCarthy is almost always the star, so she lives. She’s yet to play a real villain, so that helps too. We shouldn’t expect McCarthy to survive forever though. As we see with all star comedians, eventually they become the funny villain and their living streak comes to an end. As McCarthy’s shtick becomes less and less saleable, she’ll have to find ways of reinventing herself if she plans to stick around for the long haul. This will lead her into new territory, like death perhaps.
11. Tim Allen
Tim Allen has been around long enough that he should have died on-screen by now. It’s pretty miraculous that he hasn’t, at least not in the films we’ve seen. Granted, Allen hasn’t appeared in very many films that have a lot of death and destruction in them. He tends to choose films with a more wholesome family energy to them. He also chooses a lot of terrible movies, but that’s another story. We’ve seen plenty of actors of Allen’s ilk who still die once in a while. Come to think about, Allen’s current TV show, Last Man Standing, is actually pretty fitting for the guy who refuses to die in film. In other news, isn’t it amazing how Allen was a staple in so many people’s childhoods, and how much cocaine he was arrested for having. It’s strange how things work out.
10. Barbara Streisand
Though she hasn’t acted in a few years, Barbra Streisand was a massive star in film from the late-60s onward. She did, after all, win an Academy Award for acting. Since the 80s, Streisand has been in less than 10 films, but that shouldn’t sully the fact that she’s been quite fortunate in the roles she has chosen. Death plays such a huge role in film that it becomes noteworthy when someone can appear in nearly 20 films and live through every single one of them. Streisand played around with genre too, so it’s not like she played it safe in musicals or rom-coms either.
9. Miles Teller
Even though Miles Teller hasn’t been a huge star for long, he’s been in wide range of films and is no stranger to seeing death on film; it just hasn’t happened to him yet. In Whiplash, when his character gets crushed by that car, we thought for sure he was a goner, but he lived. Hell, he even went on and performed a drum solo after the accident. He might outlive us all. He came close a few times in the Divergent series or whatever those terrible movies are called as a trilogy. In Fantastic Four, Teller’s version of Reed Richards almost died. Well, we wished he almost died. That film also almost killed his career too, but, like his characters on-screen, Teller seems to have nine lives off of it. Teller has yet to play a major role where he carries the entire film, meaning he’s in co-star land, which also means that there’s a good chance he’s going to die soon. If you hate Teller as an actor, just you wait.
8. Liv Tyler
Liv Tyler has been in plenty of obscure movies, so to be honest, there’s a chance she’s died and no one was around to witness it, but that’s unlikely. We’re pretty sure about that. In the big films that she’s been in, she’s come very close to dying. In The Lord of the Rings, we see a vision of Arwen dying, but it never takes place in the end. In The Strangers, she should have been dead and would have been dead, but somehow wasn’t dead at all. Her character looks as dead as a person can, but, in classic Hollywood style, she jumps to life, screaming right at the end of the film. Dumb, maybe, but dead she was not. In Super, things didn’t look good for her character, but she overcame her addiction in the end and survived. In The Ledge, we were certain that her number would be called, but it wasn’t. It may never be Tyler’s time to die, but, when it does happen, we hope that it’s in a film big enough that people actually see it go down.
7. Zac Efron
You may have wanted to see Zac Efron‘s character in the High School Musical films to die, but, sadly, that never came true. You might have even wanted him to eat it in Dirty Grandpa, but that never happened either. Efron has never died on film. Like some of the other entries on this list, Efron makes this list in the gray area. In Charlie St. Cloud, his character did technically die, but he was resuscitated by Ray Liotta. We don’t count this because if he was able to be brought back, he wasn’t totally dead. It’s not like you can just bring any old dead person back, only those who are on the cusp. Well, Charlie was on the cusp alright. That’s as close as he ever got to dying on camera. Now, make no mistake, Efron will die. If only for laughs, he will die. As of now, however, his 0% body fat and muscles so hard they look uncomfortable will keep him on screen in films as long as possible. Filmmakers will squeeze out every possible shot of him flexing and winking as they can, and they can’t do that if he’s dead, now can they?
6. Carrie Mulligan
If she isn’t already, there will come a time soon when Carrie Mulligan is regarded as one of the best actresses in the industry. She’s incredibly versatile and has done films in a variety of genres. She has almost died numerous times in film, but she seems to recover just in the nick of time. In Never Let Me Go, Mulligan’s character will almost definitely die, but she never does within the confines of the film itself. In Shame, she attempts to commit suicide, but she is saved before she succumbs to death. Maybe Mulligan only chooses roles in which she survives or maybe she’s just been lucky and choosing at random. Whatever the case, we’re big fans of Mulligan and happy that we haven’t had to see her die yet.
5. Jesse Eisenberg
Jesse Eisenberg is one of those actors who gets incredible roles and always seemingly plays the same character (you know the one we’re talking about). He’s definitely one of the most talented young actors out there, but the same fast-talking shtick gets old really quick. Because of this, we would expect him to die a lot more often, but, by our count, it hasn’t happened just yet. He’s been turned to a werewolf in Cursed, Imprisoned and beaten, but never killed fully on screen. Good for him. That’s quite an accomplishment for someone as accomplished as he is.
4. Jessica Biel
OK, so one of the issues we encountered was how to treat characters who died on-screen, but didn’t stay dead. We brought in Jessica Biel because she actually checks two of our “controversial” boxes. The one comes from The Illusionist. Biel’s character in the film stages her own death. Technically, we see her dead on-screen, but she’s not really dead, is she? This one is pretty easy to deal with. All faked deaths do not count as true deaths. The next gray area comes in Next. Now, in that film, Biel’s character dies in a few of the visions that Nicolas Cage has, but these visions don’t come true. Still, we saw it play out on screen. This one is tricky. For the most part, we excluded people from the list who died in visions. Take Adam Sandler, for instance, he died in Click, but it was all just a dream… This counts. Biel’s minor deaths, however, don’t because they were so brief and temporary. Make sense? Probably not.
3. Zooey Deschanel
Since she broke onto the acting scene, Zooey Deschanel has played the sweet, girl next door, character more often than not. It’s rare to see these types of characters gunned down in the middle of the night, so it’s not all that shocking that it hasn’t happened to Deschanel yet. Even still, this actress has been around for a spell and we need to acknowledge the fact that she’s never died, if only to remind people. If you’re thinking about it right now and you do seem to recall Deschanel lying dead in something, you’re probably a psycho, but you’re also probably thinking of the “Why Do You Let Me Stay Here?” music video for her band, She & Him. Or maybe you’ve discovered something that we overlooked, which is bound to happen.
2. Amy Adams
Amy Adams is one of the most talented actresses in the world and she’s also one of the most enduring. Over the last 15 years or so, Adams has grown into a megastar and is one of the best drivers of a film in the industry. It’s almost certainly for that reason that filmmakers are reluctant to kill her off. Adams is also important for this discussion of unkillable stars because she falls into the most gray of gray areas. In Enchanted, Adams’ character, Giselle, is killed and then brought back to life. Now, we’re not doctors, but we’re pretty sure a kiss from Patrick Dempsey isn’t the best method of resuscitation, but that’s neither here nor there. In saying this, we don’t want to take anything away from the magic of resuscitation, but, for the purposes of this list, if you’re able to be brought back to life, you were never really dead in the first place. You were only kind of dead. For that reason, Adams gets to stay on the list.
1. Ben Stiller
If you really break down all of the horrible things that have happened to Ben Stiller‘s characters in his films, this guy should have died on-screen about 37 times. Somehow, he always manages to pull through. No death. Not even once. For ages now, Stiller has been a human punching bag, hit with some of the worst things imaginable, but he always survives, all for the sake of comedy. In the past decade or so, he has moved into other genres, but even those can’t kill him. Since 1987, Stiller has appeared in films from almost every genre imaginable. He’s seen death and destruction but has always sidestepped his own. Stiller’s time will come one day and, on that day, the angels will cry, for we will have finally seen the unkillable kid fall.