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Killing Off the “Bad Woman” Character

Updated on July 25, 2017
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The shootout where the bad woman was involved happened off camera.Two bad women in this movie and Dirty Harry didn't get to kill either one of them.  The 2 characters that killed the bad women died.In this movie having a woman kill a woman didn't save the hero.In this movie the evil women met her end at the hands of a tree.Bad women not around during the battle.An example of the Rube Goldberg machine.The bad woman is in the soon to be destroyed helicopter.
The shootout where the bad woman was involved happened off camera.
The shootout where the bad woman was involved happened off camera. | Source
Two bad women in this movie and Dirty Harry didn't get to kill either one of them.  The 2 characters that killed the bad women died.
Two bad women in this movie and Dirty Harry didn't get to kill either one of them. The 2 characters that killed the bad women died. | Source
In this movie having a woman kill a woman didn't save the hero.
In this movie having a woman kill a woman didn't save the hero. | Source
In this movie the evil women met her end at the hands of a tree.
In this movie the evil women met her end at the hands of a tree. | Source
Bad women not around during the battle.
Bad women not around during the battle. | Source
An example of the Rube Goldberg machine.
An example of the Rube Goldberg machine. | Source
The bad woman is in the soon to be destroyed helicopter.
The bad woman is in the soon to be destroyed helicopter. | Source

Overview

In movies and TV killing a woman is dangerous. This article contains spoilers for many movies and television episodes. A general spoiler; if a male character kills a woman the man is in mortal danger. Times are changing and there are numerous examples where a character, such as 24’s Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland), where a man kills a woman as he would a man and survives the movie or episode. Tradition dies hard so if a “good guy” kills a “bad woman” don’t be surprised if that “good guy” doesn’t survive the movie.

Some Movies Where The Hero Killed A Woman and Died

 
 
 
Von Ryan's Express
They Live
American Sniper
The Hunted
The Book of Eli
633 Squadron
47 Ronin
The Death of the Incredible Hulk
Gladiator

Others do the dirty work

The easiest way to safely kill off a woman is to have others do the male protagonist’s dirty work. One method is to set a woman to kill a woman. From Russia with Love is a good example. James Bond (Sean Connery) killed 11 men in this movie.[i] At the climax Rosa Klebb (Lotte Lenya), a petit woman in her 60s, fights him to a standstill. Tatiana (Daniela Bianchi) shoots Rosa Klebb dead. In Romeo Must Die Han Sing (Jet Li) used a woman (Aaliyah) as a lethal weapon.[ii] A woman’s chances of surviving killing another woman is better but it is no guarantee. In The Enforcer the woman died anyway. In Operation Crossbow the woman, Frieda (Lilli Palmer), survived but the male protagonist died anyway.[iii] Killing the woman was the last scene for Frieda. Frequently the last, and often only, scene for a “good” character is the scene where they kill a woman. The dirty work doesn’t have to be done by a human. In The Loves of Hercules a tree killed the bad woman.

Another method is to have a bad guy kill the bad woman. The killing can be by accident or design. It has the advantage of killing two birds with one stone. The head bad guy usually has to kill, or have killed, at least one of his underlings. It is also almost obligatory for a “bad guy” to kill another “bad guy” while trying to kill the main protagonist. So sometimes the bad woman’s killing fits this requirement. Thunderball gives a good example of this method. A corollary to this is where the woman kills herself by accident or design.

[i] James Bond Museum, http://www.007museum.com/kill_in_bondfilm.htm, last accessed 7/16/2017.

[ii] He tossed his woman around so she would strike the Motorcycle Fighter (Françoise Yip), including striking a lethal blow.

[iii] In Operation Crossbow the woman killed was an innocent who was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Movies Where a Woman Killed a Bad Woman

Where Woman Survived
Where Woman Died
The Guns of Navarone
The Silencers
Fatal Attraction
Cyborg
Post Impact
Provocateur

Ducking the issue

Sometimes the bad woman, or women, disappears. The movie Moonraker is perhaps the most flagrant example of ducking the issue of dealing with bad women. The bad guy gang were on a space station. The movie’s premise meant ½ the “bad guys” were women. The bad women were ever-present on the space station until right before the shooting started then they were nowhere to be found for the rest of the movie.

Another method is where instead of showing a killing the scene shifts or fades to black. An example of this is Desperado where there is a final showdown where the bad woman (Angel Aviles) is present front and center. Instead of showing this final gunfight the screen fades to black.

Techniques

When the good guy, or sometimes good woman, does the killing there is often an interesting technique involved. These techniques may play a mind game to take away from the fact the hero killed a woman. One technique is where the woman is not visible when she actually dies. An example of this is in The Spy Who Loved Me. Naomi (Caroline Munro) is trying to kill James Bond (Roger Moore) from a helicopter. The scene ends when James Bond fires a missile from his car and destroyed the helicopter. Did he kill her? Probably, then again James Bond, and Jaws (Richard Kiel), has cheated death in situations where death seemed certain. Another example is Armored Command where Alexandra Bastegar (Tina Louise) is shot and falls off camera. Dead, it seemed that way, but she was shot at the beginning of the movie and survived. Sometimes the woman is mortally wounded but the credits roll immediately after her death or before she dies.

Sometimes the good guy kills a woman by a Rube Goldberg[i] method. In the Goldeneye James Bond (Pierce Brosnan) killed Xenia Onatopp (Fake Janssen) by shooting down a helicopter. Onatopp was tethered to the helicopter. As the helicopter went down the tether came between two large limbs of a tree. The helicopter pulled the tether and caused Onatopp to get crushed against the tree.

In the Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror genres the woman sometimes morphs into something non-human before her demise. As with other methods it doesn’t always guarantee the killer’s survival. Two examples of where it failed are The Beast Must Die and Curse of the Black Widow.


[i] Rube Goldberg was famous for designing comically complex machines to perform a simple task. A good example of a Rube Goldberg type machine is the board game “Mouse Trap”.

Different Techniques

Rube Goldberg
Dies out of Sight
Morphs into Something Else
True Lies
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
The Witches
Hudson Hawk
Django Unchained
Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger
Killers
Plan 9 From Outer Space
Species

© 2017 Robert Sacchi

Comments

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    • Robert Sacchi profile image
      Author

      Robert Sacchi 4 months ago

      Yes, that is par for the course in movies where characters are being killed off. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 4 months ago from Houston, Texas

      Some of the movies certainly capitalize on lots of blood and gore. Not my cup of tea so to speak.

    • Robert Sacchi profile image
      Author

      Robert Sacchi 7 months ago

      Keep in mind women were serving in combat roles in the movies long before they did in the U.S. military. People tend to be much more violent in the movies than in real life. That applies to good guys, bad guys, men, and women.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 7 months ago from Houston, Texas

      Since women now serve in combat roles along with men I have an idea that times are starting to change with respect to old mores.

    • Robert Sacchi profile image
      Author

      Robert Sacchi 9 months ago

      Thanks for reading. I think you may be right about the 'aversion'. I'm not surprised about the changes but that it wasn't something that was left in the last century.

      I can see where 'American Sniper' would strike a cord with you since you have been to that part of the world.

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 10 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Robert

      I think the 'aversion' was a reflection of society in general, and the changes you see are a reflection of the changes going on in society

      In your lists you had "American Sniper" which struck a chord with me, I didn't see the Movie, but read the book recently, not an easy book to read.

      In it Chris explains his first 'Kill' was a woman, she was strapping hand grenades to her children to send them (they were infants, just able to walk) into a company of US Marines!

      This was a good hub that I think highlights some not so good changes in the world we live in.

    • Robert Sacchi profile image
      Author

      Robert Sacchi 10 months ago

      Thank you for reading and commenting. It wasn't so much they couldn't kill off women characters but who does the killing, how, and if there is a payback. I've included 21st century movies in my tables to show this; unwritten rule, cliché, hang-up, whatever you want to call it, still seems to be in place.

      While I have my suspicions I really don't know I hope someone familiar with making movies would write in and explain it.

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 10 months ago from North Texas

      I never noticed that killing women wasn't kosher in movies years ago. I did notice that women sometimes received deferential treatment both in movies and in reality, but it never lasted long -- it was just for looks.

      As always, a very interesting review.

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