Tom Cruise Films Where His Character Dies

Who knew Tom Cruise died in films? Most leading men write it into their contracts that they do not die but you can see whic below were only every going to be a one-off

Tom Cruise is not unkillable – as proven by the few movies that dared to off one of cinema’s most famous faces. Top Gun: Maverick cast lead star Tom Cruise is a staple of blockbuster cinema who has been a regular fixture in multiplexes for decades now. However, while the actor has played heroes, villains, and even comic relief roles on occasion, one thing Cruise very rarely does onscreen is die. By and large, Cruise is an actor who viewers often (understandably) feel doesn’t die in many of his movies.

Besides Edge of Tomorrow – where his many deaths were core to the movie’s central gimmick – thanks to his stardom and screen persona, Cruise’s characters feel all but unkillable. The thought of seeing Ethan Hunt get offed at the end of a Mission Impossible franchise outing is all but inconceivable. However, Tom Cruise has actually been killed off onscreen several times. This includes the aforementioned Edge of Tomorrow putting an end to his character in many creative ways. Here’s a rundown of every Tom Cruise character death.

Edge of Tomorrow (2014)

This one almost feels like cheating, as the very premise of director Doug Liman’s underrated Edge of Tomorrow is that the darkly comic thriller kills off Cruise’s smarmy PR officer more times than viewers can keep track of. The sci-fi action movie strands Cruise’s Cage in the middle of an alien invasion occurring in Europe, leaving him to die repeatedly when alien blood accidentally gives him the power to regenerate after each death. With Cage’s 26 regenerations in Edge of Tomorrow, it’s fair to say that it’s the Tom Cruise movie that kills off the actor the most times. However, it is worth noting Cage, ironically, survives in the end and saves the day – after dying 26 times in order to complete that goal.

Collateral (2004)

A much darker, more morally ambiguous type of thriller than Edge of Tomorrow, Collateral only kills Cruise’s character off once. However, the Michael Mann-directed movie makes sure to make the death count. Released in 2004 and co-starring Jamie Foxx as a deeply unlucky cab driver, Collateral sees Cruise plays amoral hitman Vincent, an assassin who takes said cab driver hostage and forces him to ferry him from one killing to the next. Taking place over one painfully long, tense night, Collateral concludes with Foxx’s hero saving Jada Pinkett Smith’s DA from becoming Cruise’s final victim by emptying a handgun into the chest of his latest fare. Tom Cruise’s Vincent bleeds out on board a morning metro train, waxing lyrical to himself as he dies, presumably without arranging any payment for the lengthy cab ride.

Taps (1981)

Before he was Maverick Cruise played a similarly hot-headed military man in Taps. This dark drama follows the exploits of some students from a military academy who don’t respond kindly to their school being scheduled for demolition. As one of the cast’s less notable names at the time (this being only his second screen credit), Cruise does bite the bullet after a daring, ill-thought-out maneuver has real consequences for all involved. Although set in a military school, there’s no denying this Lord of the Flies-esque tale of power and corruption is more akin to Full Metal Jacket than Top Gun, and the drama is well worth a watch for fans of Cruise. Interestingly enough, Cruise’s David Shawn survives until the movie’s closing moments unlike some of his fellow, less fortunate students, and loses his life only when he decides to go out in a blaze of glory rather than submit to the National Guard’s authority. It’s a brutal, bleak ending, one that was effective at the time but is now even more surprising as the later fame of its star makes the young protagonist of Taps seem all the more invincible.

Vanilla Sky (2001)

This one is debatable, as it is left unclear whether Cruise’s character survives the events of Vanilla Sky, possibly the weirdest Tom Cruise sci-fi movie. In essence, the movie, which is a remake of Alejandro Amenabar’s Open Your Eyes, tells the tale of David, a wealthy publishing media magnate whose life takes a trippy, confusing turn when he awakens one morning to find himself mysteriously imprisoned. Vanilla Sky eventually reveals that David is not experiencing reality as he knows it – but is actually in a prolonged lucid dream as doctors work to salvage his face and keep his brain alive for over a hundred years, prompting “Tech Support” to tell him he can choose between returning to the dream or waking up. In an ending not unlike the highly influential cult horror movie Jacob’s Ladder, David decides to wake up – a choice that comes in the form of him jumping off a skyscraper, which most definitely kills the dream version of David, even if his real-life counterpart’s fate is left ambiguous. While there’s no way of knowing if Tech Support was telling the truth, viewers can be sure at least one David definitely dies.

Valkyrie (2008)

The real-life thriller Valkyrie saw Cruise play Colonel Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg, a German military man most notable for his brave but doomed plot to assassinate Hitler. The titular Operation Valkyrie refers to this plot, and much of the movie’s action is devoted to detailing the ins and outs of the almost successful attempt on the Fuhrer’s life. Unfortunately for Stauffenberg, it failed and he was executed by firing squad as its ring leader. As such, unlike his earlier, fictional Top Gun hero Maverick, here the daring exploits of Tom Cruises character don’t pay off for him and the real-life figure doesn’t make it to the end of the movie alive.

One Theory Suggests Maverick Was Dead For Most Of Top Gun 2

Top Gun: Maverick slides into the list of movies that kills Tom Cruise by way of a fan theory that postulates Pete “Maverick” Mitchell was actually dead after the first scenes of the Top Gun sequel. This is due to how Maverick stubbornly pushes flying at Mach 10 speeds in the first part of Top Gun: Maverick, which results in his plane going out of control and the people on the ground deducing that he must have died. However, it’s revealed later that Maverick lived after ejecting from his plane, asking for a glass of water in an unknown diner.

As the proponents of this dark Top Gun: Maverick fan theory argue, Mach 10 speeds would have killed even veteran jet fliers, which means that the entire movie is composed of the ace Navy pilot’s final thoughts before succumbing to death in the above situation. Curiously, this explains not just how Maverick survived in the beginning but also the man’s uncanny ability to avoid death despite jumping into the most dangerous situations. The way the movie ends happily for everyone in the main cast also supports the idea that Top Gun: Maverick may have been just one dying man’s dreams.

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Scott Baber
Scott Baber
Senior Managing editor

Manages incoming enquiries and advertising. Based in London and very sporty. Worked news and sports desks in local paper after graduating.


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