Movies are all about suspending disbelief. It's heightened reality. People do and say all kinds of crazy things that they wouldn't in real life, the laws of physics are ignored, and that's half the fun. But occasionally there are moments so insane, so over the top, so clearly designed for a cash-in sequel that even the dumbest moviegoer says "What?"
Look, we get that our musclebound heroes and heroines are meant to survive things mere mortals wouldn't, but you shouldn't be able to see visible spinal trauma and fatal blood loss. The rule is that an action hero can be shot in the shoulder and the knee, but nowhere on the torso proper unless it's a clean gunshot through the oblique. (Dubious Exhibit A: Witness.) A similar rule exists for explosions. You can't show someone being visibly bounced around by one, they have to be running away or offscreen when it occurs, so we can suspend disbelief. "Oh, he was probably far away enough. I get it." We all know he or she probably would suffer hideous trauma, but the point is allowing enough wiggle room to let us shrug it off.
There's a fine line. But here's 5 who crossed it, and gave reality the middle finger. And in the interests of honesty, we were inspired by Cracked's list of 5 characters who shouldn't have suffered humiliating deaths. This is to show there's balance in everything that's stupid. Even movie death.
1. Indiana Jones in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
Let's just get the catchphrase inspiring this one out of the way first. Everyone has always been dubious of Indy's fridge survival, but if you need scientific proof, listen to my friend Dr. Jacob Horger: "The radiation probably wouldn't have been severe enough to put our good friend Indy into immediate danger, [though] he was close enough to get a significant amount of secondary radiation exposure from that. The concussion probably would have killed him. The takeoff and landing probably would have broken half of his bones. The tumbling fridge would have almost certainly been like being in a dryer full of bricks." However you slice the math, it's not a good way to open your film. (If you really want to quibble, he would have been dead after jumping out of a plane in a rubber raft in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Remember, that's the first of all Indy's adventures, so he wouldn't have lived long enough to dubiously dodge death by atomic bomb.)
My personal favorite, partly because Mel Gibson always looked so damn good when wounded. (I think of 1980s Gibson and current Gibson as two entirely separate things. No one will sway me on this.) Riggs is shot 3 times in rapid succession, and they're fatal shots no matter how you allow reality to bend and bullets to curve. They were meant to kill him. Shane Black walked away because they wouldn't kill him, though I heard once (but can find no proof) that the film went so far as to shoot an ending where Riggs was wheeled out in a body bag. But the lure of Lethal Weapon 3 was too strong, and the ending was tweaked to include Riggs surviving to the tune of some cheerful quips.
3. Ethan Hunt in Mission Impossible 3
This is a series of impossible events, a world of awesome masks and brain bombs, so I suppose spinal trauma shouldn't be held against it. But come on. People only remain conscious after such accidents with the help of a spirit guide like LOST's Jacob. In the best case scenario (i.e., he doesn't suffer a broken spine or internal bleeding), Hunt would have been deaf, disoriented, and suffering from broken ribs. He would have been unable to sprint away from the following explosions. I don't remember what happened after this, actually, but I'm sure it was incredibly athletic and Cruise-ish and not at all indicative of any injury.
4. John McClane and Zeus Carver in Die Hard: With A Vengeance
Don't tie two characters to a bomb and tell me they can run away fast enough. The bomb on the boat would have torn them to ribbons. This may be nitpicking when you consider all the explosions and blood loss in the Die Hard franchise, but this is when it really jumped the death shark, and it's how we ended up with Die Hard 4. Sometimes, you need to let your characters go out with a bang, even if it's a bit sad.
5. Chev Chelios in Crank: High Voltage
I know, I know. Chev Chelios is a homage to video game characters, and this is why he repeatedly survives things that would fell even Bruce Willis or Arnold Schwarzenegger. But I do play video games, and the little flaw in this logic is that video game characters don't actually survive falls from helicopters or unsterile open heart surgery. They die, and you have to play the level all over again until you can open the parachute, or shoot the Turian faster. While I love the Crank movies, I have to be fair and say they could have at least respected germ theory, if not physics.