Goose didn’t have to die in “Top Gun,” and there are six more military movie casualties that we are still bummed about.
Sure, taking out a character throws a curveball to others in the film and creates tension and emotion in an audience, but that doesn’t mean we have to like it.
1. Goose from “Top Gun”
While Maverick was a brash cowboy often pushing limits and making enemies, Goose was the likable family man that everyone loved. He was a nice guy, funny, an awesome aerial photographer, and he could sing a mean rendition of “Great Balls of Fire.” And the man even had a wonderful family.
But the worst part: He totally didn’t have to die. As our own ex-naval aviator Ward Carroll pointed out, the proper procedure is to jettison the canopy before ejecting. Damn you, Goose. WHY?????
2. Sgt. Apone from “Aliens”
From the moment the Colonial Marines wake up, Sgt. Apone is there to deliver whatever amazing line pops into his head. From asking Hudson whether he’d like him to fetch his slippers to describing what it’s like as “another glorious day in the Corps,” the character of Apone excels at bringing to life the crusty old-timer of a platoon sergeant that real troops are used to seeing.
Which makes sense, since the guy who played him was actually a Marine Corps veteran of Vietnam. While Hudson fiddled around with the motion sensor that is a piece of crap, Apone asks him where the aliens are. Then moments later, his famous last words are “Aaaargggghhh!” It was a total bummer for the next 60 minutes, since we had to endure more of Hudson and Newt.
Newt: Worst character in a movie ever, until George Lucas dumped Jar Jar Binks on all of us.
3. Pvt. Jackson from “Saving Private Ryan”
There’s something really compelling about a character dropping Bible quotes as he’s whacking bad guys. “I just thought it was some cold-blooded sh– to say to a motherf–ker before I popped a cap in his ass,” as Jules from “Pulp Fiction” famously said. But Pvt. Jackson, a left-handed sniper from Tennessee, seems to always have the right Bible quote for the appropriate kill.
“Let not mine enemies triumph over me,” he says moments before he takes out a German sniper with a bullet through his own scope. Then as he’s dropping Germans like flies from a bell tower, he recites Psalm 144. But sadly, our favorite sniper hillbilly gets taken out by a tank.
We know you were really busy aiming in on German soldiers but why couldn’t you notice that tank a little bit sooner?
4. Gunnery Sgt. Hartman from “Full Metal Jacket”
Gunny Hartman is arguably the most quotable military movie character of all-time, and for good reason. His drill instructor quips are legendary, and the oft-improvised character elevated R. Lee Ermey to god-like status among Marines. But “Full Metal Jacket” is really two movies in one, and most people only like the first half.
He spent most of the movie berating Pvt. Pyle, which included one of the most awesome freak-outs on the obstacle course. “I’m going to rip your balls off, so you cannot contaminate the rest of the world! I will motivate you, Pvt. Pyle, EVEN IF IT SHORT-D-CKS EVERY CANNIBAL ON THE CONGO!”
No one really understands what that even means, but it sounded really bad. Sadly, Hartman’s persistent fat-shaming turned Pyle into a psychopath, and after his death, the movie transitioned to Vietnam. It should’ve just stayed at boot camp.
4. Sgt. Elias from “Platoon”
In the Vietnam-version of the “good cop/bad cop” routine, “Platoon” had the gruff authoritarian Sgt. Barnes and the much nicer Sgt. Elias. Guess which one died first?
Above much of the B.S. and intent on actually helping out new guys to the unit, Sgt. Elias shows his leadership abilities right from the start, and earns the trust of his men. Meanwhile, Barnes just orders people around and ends up committing war crimes. When him and Elias get into a brawl, the audience knows how this will likely end.
Though we’re bummed he didn’t survive, his death scene — having been shot three times by Barnes and who-knows-how-many times by the Vietcong as he runs to the helicopters — is perhaps one of the best in military movie history.
5. Capt. Jimmy Wilder from “Independence Day”
He was friendly, funny, and instantly lovable. But he wasn’t Will Smith, so you pretty much knew his fate was sealed the minute he appeared onscreen.
Jimmy Wilder was that smart-ass in your unit making you crack up during briefings, and the guy who lightened the mood even when aliens were destroying everything in their path. But when he’s in a dogfight with E.T., he inexplicably takes off his oxygen mask — you know, that thing delivering oxygen to you — and then complains over the radio that he can’t breathe.
Someone please explain this.
6. Pvt. Trip from “Glory”
Yes, we know “Glory” was based on a true story, but the death of one of the most complex characters of the movie was a big letdown. The ex-slave-turned-soldier played by Denzel Washington is the source of conflict with many other characters throughout the movie: He chastises other black soldiers, butts heads with his leaders, and is at the center of one of the most emotional scenes of the movie.While he begins the film as a bitter man very much against the army he is fighting with, he eventually morphs into a heroic figure during the final assault of the film, picking up the American flag and inspiring his fellow soldiers.
7. Bubba from “Forrest Gump”
Benjamin Buford Blue was a great American. He loved and knew everything there was to know about the shrimping business. He was taken from us way too soon. And that’s all we’d like to say about that.