All the Deaths from ‘Pulp Fiction’ Ranked
Quentin Tarantino had already blown us away with his 1992 debut “Reservoir Dogs,” but when “Pulp Fiction” careened onto movie screens two years later, it was immediately apparent we hadn’t seen anything yet. Brutal, bloody, intense and fall-down funny, we were left after its 2 hour 48 minutes with the certainty that we’d just witnessed cinema evolving right from our very seats in the audience. It made no apologies for its violence, nor the way it blended into its humor, and the ride was so fantastic we weren’t asking for any. Deaths came fast and furious within this masterpiece, and here we rank them one by bloody one.
No. 7 – Floyd Wilson
Floyd kicks off our list in its lowest position because we don’t actually see him die. We only get a glimpse of the bottom half of his corpse, lying motionless atop a dressing room table in the boxing arena where he unexpectedly has fought his last bout. Maybe because his opponent, Butch Coolidge, was supposed to take a dive, Floyd regrettably let his guard down in the ring and paid the ultimate price. But don’t let his offscreen demise diminish the impact of his expiration. It’s the very trigger that sets off the wild, blood-soaked, unbelievable action in store for Butch and Marsellus Wallace in “The Gold Watch.”
No. 6 – Roger
Second on our list, but first among “Pulp Fiction’s” ample body count, is Roger. Like our dead boxer, we never even see this guy stand up. Instead he remains lying prone on a couch throughout his entire screen time with a Kahuna burger resting on his stomach, unknowing perhaps that he too will soon be dead meat. Roger’s end comes quickly and surprisingly at the hands of Jules, who calmly takes a break from a conversation with endangered partner-in-crime, Brett, to shoot him dead with one bullet. But before he goes he does receive something else from Jules — the supercool nickname, Flock of Seagulls.
No. 5 – Fourth Man
Known simply as Fourth Man (though portrayed by an actor who would ironically transition into a woman in real life), he is further proof that he and his cohorts are no match for more seasoned criminals Jules and Vincent, despite the fact that they display their own long record of glaring missteps, too. Hidden in the bathroom when his executioners arrive, he’s got a big gun and a fatal uncertainty of when to jump out and start shooting. He does so finally after hearing two of his comrades fall and, no marksman, unloads six shots from his gun without striking either of his targets once. Jules and Vincent don’t make the same mistake. Their return fire blows Fourth Man away.
No. 4 – Maynard
We’ve heard of kissing cousins before, but tag team-sodomizing-rapists-who-dig-on-BDSM cousins was new to us until “Pulp Fiction” premiered in 1994. One of the aforementioned is Maynard, a greezy pawn shop owner whose basement is full of its own interesting array of curiosities. He sees a brawling, bloody, black and white duo burst into his store and immediately thinks it’s time to party. But Butch, whose incredible good and bad luck has been constantly rotating back and forth since the day before, is also a slippery prisoner and crashes the cousins’ party to save Marcellus mid-molestation by showing spectator Maynard the business end of a samurai sword. Though midway through our list, his murder is the most obviously deserved so far, and sets Butch off on his climactic path to revenge and redemption.
No. 3 – Marvin
Another accidental death, but our messiest one, and the cause of “The Bonnie Situation.” Car passenger Vincent, careless with where he’s pointing his gun, lets it discharge into Marvin’s face. What follows is an explosion of blood, bones, and brains making our henchmen’s workday much more complicated. Here lessons about gun safety and divine intervention collide, leaving behind one befouled getaway car that needs to get off the road fast.
No. 2 – Brett
For many of us, the only thing worse than an untimely death is having to listen to scripture beforehand. That’s the sad fate laid out for Brett, the leader of the pack who stole Marsellus’ enigmatic briefcase. His death isn’t as explosive as Marvin’s or as cinematic as Maynard’s but his too-slow realization that he, from his chair, is a sitting duck foments a foundation for the film as whole and all the murderous mayhem that will soon befall his other accomplices, acquaintances, or complete strangers in the pages to follow within this “Pulp Fiction” he’s found himself in. He’s a smart guy – just ask him about international translations of fast food hamburgers – who’s done something way, way dumb that’s left him in over his head with an ill-advised, shellshocked need to keep repeating the word “what.”
No. 1 – Vincent Vega
In each of the three titled sections of the film – the two previously mentioned and the third, “Vincent Vega and Marsellus Wallace’s Wife” – Vincent always picks the worst time to go to the bathroom. But in “The Gold Watch” this propensity costs him his life. Careless with a gun – again – he leaves it behind in Butch’s kitchen when nature calls. (Not just a gun, by the way, but a machine pistol.) It’s in that moment that Butch comes sneaking back to retrieve his cherished timepiece where he first finds the monstrous firearm, which he take in his hands, and then intruder Vincent emerging from the bathroom. Vincent is the only main character to die in the film, and therefore the most shocking death. But he is so likable, despite his profession and his deeds, that we are elated when he returns to live again in the film’s final section thanks to its inventive, non-chronological story structure.
Dishonorable Mentions: Down in the Basement
We don’t see them die, but can presume the worst for two final characters.
His relationship to Maynard and Zed is unclear. And when we see him last Butch has only knocked him unconscious, left dangling from his harness and chains. But there’s no way Marsellus is likely to let the The Gimp live. Either for his bystanding role to Marsellus’ abuse or just good, no loose ends business practices. We didn’t get to know the leather-clad freak very well and don’t suspect anyone else will in the future.
There’s no hope for Zed. He’s already been blasted in the nards by Marsellus with a shotgun. But the gangsta’s direct promise to enlist a crew to go “medieval on [his] ass” conjures up a whole lot worse in store for this kinky predator than what we’ve already witnessed down in the basement so far. Butch’s explanation to Fabienne that “Zed’s dead” as they chopper off into the noonday sun makes him a worthy addition to this list of “Pulp Fiction’s” fallen.