How Many Movies Did John Wayne Die In?

October 03, 2023
3 min read
By George Djaniants
Film History
How Many Movies Did John Wayne Die In

From the dusty trails of the Wild West to the tumultuous waters of the Pacific, John Wayne—Hollywood's epitome of rugged masculinity—has faced many a peril on the silver screen. But did you know that 'The Duke,' despite his 150+ film roles, met his on-screen demise in just a dozen (12) of them? That's right, Wayne didn't always ride off into the sunset, and today we're journeying through those cinematic moments where he didn't make it to the end credits. Hang onto your hats, pilgrims, as we uncover the films where John Wayne faced his final curtain call.

All of John Wayne's Deaths

  1. The Cowboys (1972)

    • Character: Wil Andersen

    • Synopsis: A veteran rancher is forced to hire schoolboys as cowhands when his regular crew abandons him for gold mining. When rustlers (led by Bruce Dern's character) kill him, the boys are left to carry out the cattle drive and avenge Andersen's death.

    • Death: Andersen is shot in the back by the main antagonist, setting the stage for the film's climax.

  2. The Alamo (1960)

    • Character: Davy Crockett

    • Synopsis: This historical film chronicles the 13-day siege at the Alamo in 1836. Wayne's Crockett is a larger-than-life figure in the fight against the Mexican forces.

    • Death: Crockett and the rest of the Alamo defenders are overrun and killed by General Santa Anna's troops.

  3. The Wings of Eagles (1957)

    • Character: Frank "Spig" Wead

    • Synopsis: A biographical film about the life of Navy aviator-turned-screenwriter Frank W. "Spig" Wead. Wayne's portrayal covers Wead's aviation feats, personal tragedies, and contributions to WWII.

    • Death: Wead dies peacefully in a hospital, reflecting on his life's ups and downs.

  4. The Sea Chase (1955)

    • Character: Captain Karl Ehrlich

    • Synopsis: Ehrlich, a German captain, tries to get his ship home from Australia during the early days of World War II, despite many obstacles.

    • Death: Although it's not explicit, the film's ending suggests Ehrlich might not have survived.

  5. Sands of Iwo Jima (1949)

    • Character: Sgt. John M. Stryker

    • Synopsis: The film follows a group of Marine recruits from basic training to the Battle of Iwo Jima. Stryker is a tough drill instructor who becomes a father figure to the recruits.

    • Death: Stryker is shot and killed during the Battle of Iwo Jima.

  6. Wake of the Red Witch (1948)

    • Character: Captain Ralls

    • Synopsis: A deep-sea diver seeks revenge against his former employer and love rival. The film involves sunken treasure, love triangles, and conflicts.

    • Death: Ralls goes down with the titular ship in a final act of defiance.

  7. Reap the Wild Wind (1942)

    • Character: Captain Jack Stuart

    • Synopsis: Set in the 1840s along the Florida coast, ship salvagers and captains clash over wrecks and a woman's love.

    • Death: In a dramatic underwater scene, Stuart is killed by a giant squid.

  8. The Fighting Seabees (1944)

    • Character: Lt. Cmdr. Wedge Donovan

    • Synopsis: The film tells the story of the creation of the Construction Battalions of the Navy, known as "Seabees," during WWII.

    • Death: Donovan is sniped by an enemy while trying to set explosives.

  9. 'G' Men (1935)

    • Character: Uncredited mobster role

    • Synopsis: This crime film focuses on the early days of the FBI and their fight against gangsters.

    • Death: Wayne's mobster character is gunned down.

  10. Central Airport (1933)

    • Character: Neil's Flying Buddy

    • Synopsis: The film follows the lives and loves of daredevil pilots.

    • Death: Wayne's character dies in a tragic plane crash.

  11. The Man from Monterey (1933)

    • Character: Captain John Holmes/Dual role as a bandit

    • Synopsis: A cavalry captain is tasked with evicting Spanish landowners in California but faces moral dilemmas.

    • Death: Wayne's secondary character, a bandit, is shot and killed.

  12. The Deceiver (1931)

    • Character: A minor role

    • Synopsis: An actor who plays corpses in movies is suspected of causing the death of a film magnate.

    • Death: Wayne's character is killed in this early role in his career.

Published on October 03, 2023 by George Djaniants

George Djaniants

CEO & Co-Founder