Ten Memorable Failed Suicide Attempts in Movies


We’ve previously brought you Ten Memorable Movie Suicides in the past.  But unlike the people on that list, though, the people on this list, for one reason or another, failed to get the job done.  To get on the list of failed suicides in movies, the failed suicide attempt has to be shown on screen.  So, for example, you aren’t going to see Steve Carell’s Frank Ginsberg in Little Miss Sunshine.

These have to be legitimate attempts gone awry.  In some cases they are pretty serious.  However in others, there’s some serious high comedy mixed in.  Either way these end up being some of the most memorable moments in these films.

Enjoy these 10 failed suicides in movies.

1. Nicholas Van Orton – The Game

Convinced that his entire fortune has been stolen, everyone that he knows has turned against him, and that he has fatally shot his younger brother Conrad, Nicholas Van Orton jumps off the roof of a building with the intent to end his suffering.  It doesn’t happen, though, because Van Orton falls through breakaway glass and lands on a giant airbag – both of which were planned as part of an elaborate hoax for his 48th birthday.  In a sense, the events that Van Orton endured were all part of one big suicide intervention orchestrated by his brother and friends, with the purpose of preventing Van Orton from following his father’s path to death.

2. Richie Tenenbaum – The Royal Tenenbaums

Richie Tenenbaum is in love with his adopted sister Margot, so when a private eye reveals to Richie that Margot has been munching box and sexing up dudes, he takes the news pretty hard. Richie subsequently shaves his beard and head, tells himself “I’m going to kill myself tomorrow,” and then slashes his wrists with a blade.  He is found, however, before he can bleed to death, and is rushed to the hospital.  The Elliot Smith song “Needle in the Hay” definitely adds to this macabre scene.


3. Lane Meyer – Better Off Dead

Lane Meyer becomes suicidal after being dumped by his girlfriend Beth in the 80s classic Better Off Dead.  A running gag throughout the film is Lane’s failed suicide attempts, which only add to his depression and self-loathing.  The botched hanging in the garage with an electrical chord is nice, but Ricky’s mom drinking the paint thinner that Lane intended to drink — mistaking it for wine — and then lighting a cigarette and blowing herself up is one of the funniest parts of the movie.  “Gee, I’m real sorry your mom blew up, Ricky.”

4. Maggie Fitzgerald – Million Dollar Baby

While Lane Meyer’s suicide attempts were hilarious, Maggie Fitzgerald’s is downright tragic.  After taking a hit after the bell during a boxing match, Maggie falls and lands awkwardly on a stool, breaking her neck.  She’s paralyzed from the neck down as a result, and her awful family would rather visit theme parks than see her in the rehabilitation facility.  To end her suffering, Maggie tries biting her own tongue off.  She is unsuccessful, and so her boxing trainer Frank Dunn euthanizes her with a lethal injection.  I think I had something in both my eyes from the time Maggie was paralyzed until about three hours after this movie ended.  I’m not big on directors pushing their political or hot-button agendas through the medium of film, but Clint Eastwood nailed it in Million Dollar Baby.


5. Louis Winthorpe III – Trading Places

After the realization that he has been used as part of a bet between the Dukes (and after getting pissed on by a dog), Louis points a pistol at his head and pulls the trigger.  The gun jams, and he tosses it away, causing it to fire untimely.  Louis, lying in the tub in his Santa costume, then downs a bunch of sleeping pills, but Billy Ray discovers him before death can grip Louis with its bony claws, dragging him into an oblivion filled with face-melting demons and shrieking wraiths that pin your eyes open Clockwork Orange-style and force you to watch Armageddon over and over for all of eternity, but with all the explosions edited out and with Martin Lawrence playing Bruce Willis’ part, but he’s Martin Lawrence from the Big Momma’s House movies, complete with fat suit and predictable physical “comedy.”  Or something.

6.  Willie Stokes – Bad Santa

Willie Stokes is one of my favorite movie characters ever, so when a girl told me that in 20 years I’d be just like him, I was way more flattered than insulted.  Willie drinks, steals, shows up to work drunk, and has no problem cursing and yelling at little kids.  Pretty awesome.  After spazzing out at the mall and destroying a reindeer display, though, Willie decides enough is enough.  Running a hose from the exhaust pipe into the open window of his car, Willie sits with the car running in the garage, his intentions quite clear.  Willie abandons his suicidal act only when he notices Thurman’s black eye.  Thurman tells Willie about the bullies that gave him the black eye, and Willie, in turn, beats some kids.  Hmmm…two suicide attempts on this list where the attemptee is dressed in a Santa suit.

7. Phil Connors – Groundhog Day

TV weatherman Phil Connors finds himself stuck in Punxsutawney on Groundhog Day, doomed to repeat that day over and over and over in a time loop.  Fed up with the stupid town, he tries to kill himself in various ways, but to no avail.  Connors tries to kill himself by driving off a cliff with the kidnapped Punxsutawney Phil (the local groundhog), jumping off a building, and, my personal favorite, dropping a plugged-in toaster into a tub filled with water…and himself.  Because of the time loop, though, Connor’s attempts are unsuccessful, and he eventually tries to live out the perfect day.  Connors uses the time loop to his advantage for personal gain for a little bit, but not nearly long enough.

8. Jack Jordan – 21 Grams

In jail for killing a father and daughter in a car accident, Jack Jordan is overwhelmed with guilt and feels betrayed by God.  As such, he tries hanging himself in his cell, but the water pipe from where Jack tried to hang himself  is simply not strong enough.  The pipe bursts, spraying water everywhere.  I thought 21 Grams was an excellent film, and I love how the plot lines of all three characters came together so seamlessly.

9. The Narrator – Fight Club

Of course, Fight Club has got to make it on the list.  Sick of losing control to Tyler Durden, the Narrator sticks a gun his own mouth and pulls the trigger.  The bullet exits the Narrator’s cheek, Tyler dies, and the Narrator remains alive to watch buildings crumble with Marla.  The Pixies play out the closing credits, and somewhere, a group of college kids who totally missed the point of the movie bare-knuckle box in an abandoned warehouse.

10. Tom Smykowski – Office Space

Like Willie Stokes, Tom opted to off himself via carbon monoxide poisoning.  His wife caught him in the act, so Tom cut his suicide attempt short.  If you’ve seen the movie, you know how great it is when his car is smashed by a truck as Tom backs his car out of the garage.  If you haven’t, then I just ruined the scene for you.

Honorable Mention – Brendan Fraser(‘s Career)

It. is. still. alive.

Still, you have to love Bedazzled – the whole movie is an excuse to parade Liz Hurley around in skimpy outfits.

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