Follow TV Tropes


Film / Final Destination

Go To
And you thought Life was a bitch.

"It's just that I've seen this before...a lucky few survive a disaster and then one by one, Death comes for them all."
Bludworth the Coroner, Final Destination 5

Final Destination is a series of horror films which kickstarted the Final Destination franchise.

Every film in the franchise follows the same formula: someone out of a small group of people has a sudden premonition shortly before a major accident (plane crash, traffic pileup, etc.) and warns the rest. This results in them avoiding the accident, which would have killed them all.

However, in doing so, they have cheated death. In turn, Death (as an unpersonified but unstoppable force) makes sure that those survivors end up dying in elaborate "accidents" as part of a "list" of victims, which essentially turns the natural process of death into a supernatural "slasher". Each film culminates in an attempt by the person who saw the premonition and another person (or two) from the group to "cheat" Death and break its cycle before Death gets to them.


  • Final Destination (2000) — An airplane flying from New York to Paris explodes mid-air, killing off all of its passengers with the exception of seven people, consisting of Alex Browning, his five fellow students, and a teacher. Alex had received a premonition right before takeoff, and the ensuing commotion he instigated allowed them to survive. However, when the survivors start to die one by one in freak accidents in the order of their deaths in the premonition, Alex must find a way to save the remaining survivors. The film stars Devon Sawa, Ali Larter, Kerr Smith, Kristen Cloke, Chad Donella, Seann William Scott, Tony Todd, and Amanda Datmer. It was directed by James Wong and written by Wong, Glen Morgan, and Jeffrey Reddick.
  • Final Destination 2 (2003) — On the first anniversary of the Flight 180 explosion, college student Kimberly Coleman receives a premonition that saves her and seven other people from dying in a pileup occurring on Route 23, which claims the lives of Kim's three friends. Subsequently, the eight start to die one by one, but in a twist, their death order is reversed from what Kim saw in her premonition. Teaming up with cop Thomas Burke plus Flight 180 survivor Clear Rivers, Kim races to save the remaining survivors through a cryptic piece of advice by William Bludworth, who says that Death can only be defeated by "a new life." In addition to the return of Ali Larter and Tony Todd, the film stars A.J. Cook, Michael Landes, David Paetkau, James Kirk, Lynda Boyd, Keegan Connor Tracy, Jonathan Cherry, T.C. Carson, and Justina Machado. It was directed by David R. Ellis and written by J. Mackye Gruber and Eric Bress.
  • Final Destination 3 (2006) — High school student Wendy Christensen loses her boyfriend and best friend in a rollercoaster accident that, thanks to a premonition, she avoids alongside nine other people. As the survivors start to die one by one, Wendy and Kevin Fischer, her best friend's boyfriend, figure out how to save the remaining survivors, using clues left behind by photos taken by Wendy before the accident, which foreshadow how they die. The film stars Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Ryan Merriman, Kris Lemche, Alexz Johnson, Sam Easton, Texas Battle, Chelan Simmons, Crystal Lowe, and Amanda Crew. Tony Todd returns in a voice cameo, though his character, William Bludworth, does not appear. The film was directed by James Wong and written by Wong and Glen Morgan.
  • The Final Destination (2009) — College student Nick O'Bannon receives a premonition, allowing him to survive a racecar crash happening at McKinley Speedway, also saving his girlfriend, two best friends, and six other people. Now, Nick has to figure out a way to save them again when Death picks them one by one. The film stars Bobby Campo, Shantel VanSanten, Nick Zano, Haley Webb, Mykelti Williamson, Krista Allen, Andrew Fiscella, and Justin Wellborn. This is the only film that does not feature Tony Todd in any capacity. It was directed by David R. Ellis and written by Eric Bress.
  • Final Destination 5 (2011) — Office worker Sam Lewton saves his ex-girlfriend, boss, and five other colleagues from dying in a bridge collapse by acting on a premonition he receives, but they begin dying one by one. William Bludworth warns them that they will be fated to die unless they "take" other people's lifespan, meaning they have to commit murder to save themselves. The film stars Nicholas D'Agosto, Emma Bell, Miles Fisher, Ellen Wroe, Jacqueline MacInnes Wood, P.J. Byrne, Arlen Escarpeta, David Koechner, and Courtney B. Vance, with Tony Todd also reprising his role as Bludworth. The film was directed by Steven Quale and written by Eric Heisserer.
  • Final Destination 6 (TBA) — A sixth film was teased since the release of the fifth, and was eventually confirmed to be in development in 2019. The film has been described as a reboot/"re-imagining" of the franchise set in the same canon as the previous films. Zach Lipovsky and Adam B. Stein (Freaks) will co-direct, and Guy Busick and Lori Evans Taylor will co-write, with Jon Watts on board as a producer. The film is currently slated for release on HBO Max.

The Final Destination series examples of:

  • Anyone Can Die: Though, due to the nature of the series and the genre, this is to be expected. To be more precise, not a single "marked" person in the movies ultimately cheats Death. In fact, the only characters to even survive to the end of their movies are Alex, Clear, Kimberly, and Thomas — and Alex is killed off-screen between the first and second films, Clear dies in the second film, and Kimberly and Thomas were confirmed dead via Word of God, apparently killed in some bizarre woodchipper accident.
  • Artifact Title: Partially, the Double Entendre of the first film is lost in the next three, unless you want to be generous for Part 2 and reference it as a car GPS announcing a driver's arrival at "your final destination".
  • Arc Number: 180 is the number of the flight that ended in the second massacre and has been an extremely bad omen ever since; The Number of the Beast 666 also tends to show up (in one form or another) before something horrible happens.
  • Balancing Death's Books: The driving force behind the films. People were supposed to die, but they cheated and got out of it. So now Death is going to get its revenge, by killing them off in excruciating and painful ways.
  • Big Good: Word of God has implied that there's a second force that sends the premonitions and works against Death. The Final Destination implies that it's Death toying with them, but this is debatable, as the fifth film seems to ignore this and the fourth was the first film in the series to have none of the original creators (James Wong, Glen Morgan, and Jeffrey Reddick) involved.
  • Blood from the Mouth: In most cases, even when the victim's injuries are thus far all below the knees (such as the escalator death in The Final Destination).
  • Bookends: The fifth movie is a prequel that concludes with a new perspective on the same plane crash that started the first film's storyline.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Flip-flopped - so many things get set up that it gets so convoluted, and then subverted when something comes straight out of the blue. In fact, long-time fans might start playing "count the ways this room could kill you" with each new scene.
  • Crapsack World: Not too much different from our own... aside from the fact that Death is apparently a sentient, unstoppable, malevolent force of nature that frequently kills scores of random, fairly innocent, and often young people in horrifically violent and painful ways just For the Evulz.
    • Death seems to take advantage of the fact that everything around the characters, from jet liners to A/C units to tanning beds, is apparently poorly maintained and falling apart.
  • Creepy Mortician: William Bludworth, who somehow has a knowledge of Death's design and often serves as the Exposition Fairy for the protagonists. Being played by Tony Todd doesn't hurt with the creepiness.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: The entire series is built upon this trope.
  • Death Song: A staple of the series; Death loves music.
    John Denver: And the Colorado rocky mountain high, I've seen it rainin' fire in the sky.
    Nine Inch Nails: Talking to myself all the way to the station / Pictures in my head of the final destination
    AC/DC: I'm on the Highway to Hell.
    The Vogues: There is someone... walking behind you... turn around, look at me.
    Shinedown: It's your final hour.
    Kansas: Dust in the wind...
  • Downer Ending: Every movie save the second one ends with the protagonists dead or in danger of dying and even then the protagonists of the second one had a Bus Crash.
  • Dwindling Party: Happens in every movie in the series.
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: And succeeding. If Death wants someone to die, it can and will throw everything and the kitchen sink at them - and chances are, it'll be the kitchen sink that does the job.
  • Failed a Spot Check: A number of deaths in the series are by things you would think the person would notice. For example, Tod and Valerie's deaths in the first movie, Tod somehow fails to notice the blue waternote  that's practically flooding the bathroom by the time he slips, and Valerie doesn't notice the vodka practically gushing out of the crack in her mug?
    • A particularly egregious example is the screw that lands on the balance beam in the fifth movie, which somehow manages to go unnoticed not only by Candice, her coaches and Peter, but also by the gymnast who uses it next and ultimately steps on it.
    • While it's conceivable that the noise from the equipment Ian is using would drown out the sound of the forklift, it's hard to picture what would prevent anyone from smelling the bleach from the bottles it crushes under its wheels.
  • Foreshadowing: Often happens about the deaths, for example, in the first movie, a skeleton figurine hanging from a string (shown in shadow as a man hanging from a noose) is among the toys scattered about Alex's room. His best friend, Tod, is later strangled by a clothesline in his bathtub.
  • Four Is Death/Number of the Beast: The gate that the doomed Flight 180 departs from is 46 in Final Destination 1. Sam Lawton's ticket in 5 says the gate is number H6.
  • Gorn: Some of the fans seem to like the characters getting killed off a little too much. Then again, later sequels show that blood and guts seem to be the point of the series now. While this is true of Part 3 and 4, the gore level is toned down a bit in Part 5. The Final Destination 2 DVD even has a feature that allows you to interrupt the film at every death and view a brief vignette on how the effects were accomplished.
  • Half the Man He Used to Be: A favorite of Death; this technique of killing people started appearing in film No. 2.
  • Happy Ending Override: It's a splatter film series where every movie ends with a Downer Ending in which Death gruesomely murders the protagonists, usually after a fake-out happy ending. The two leads of Final Destination 2 are the only ones to get an unambiguous happy ending, as being killed and then revived in time seems to get them off of Death's list. And yet deleted scenes from the third movie show newspaper clippings revealing that they died in a freak accident sometime in between movies.
  • Idiot Ball: A lot of the deaths are set up by the characters walking into/under/through hazardous situations (albeit more obliviously than actively ignoring, more often than not), not watching their backs, etc.
  • I Lied:
    • Death seems to like faking the survivors out right before their actual death scenes.
    • Carter in the original, Evan and Tim in the second, Ian and Lewis in the third, Andy in the fourth and Isaac in the fifth.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: A personal favorite Death tactic from the second film on.
  • Invincible Villain: The movies teeter back and forth as to whether the heroes can actually win, but this theme consistently shows up in every entry. They're explicitly fighting Death, a presumably eternal force of nature. Every plan the heroes have made involves evading or hiding from Death and have only occasionally been successful and temporarily at that; destroying or defeating it for good is never presented as an option.
  • Kill It with Fire: One of the personal classic ways of dying in the series; at least one Death scene in each film involves a fire, and this includes the opening plane explosion in the first film.
  • Large Ham: William Bludworth. And, in a rare silent example, Death itself. The ol' Reaper sure likes to kill people in unneedingly funny, overly dramatic, and drawn out ways.
  • Made of Plasticine: The higher the number of the sequel, the more this applies to the characters. Fans finally had enough when the fourth film had a character pushed through a fence by a flying gas canister and gets diced. The fifth film finally takes it back several notches.
  • Meaningful Name: William Bludworth, who knows a lot more than he lets on about everything going on. Surprisingly, he seems to be a creepy guide of sorts.
  • Necro Non Sequitur: The premise of the series. When Death claims someone, it usually picks a pretty convoluted and sadistic way to do so, and it doesn't give a single damn about things like the laws of physics, mechanics, probability or others. If Death wants you dead, it will find a way to kill you.
  • No OSHA Compliance: ANYWHERE. If there's a chance to put something sharp/heavy/flammable/otherwise hazardous on a shaky or unstable surface, you can bet your ass they will.
  • Off with His Head!: One of the Death Classics; this appears in 1, 2 and 4.
  • One-Steve Limit: Averted - in a blink-and-you'll-miss-it moment, the racist character in The Final Destination is called Carter, the same as the Jerk with a Heart of Gold in the first film. However this isn't a source of confusion because they appear in different movies, and the second Carter is only called that once - he's usually referred to as "that racist guy" and officially credited as "Racist".
  • The Plan: Death does this. And boy, it is a BIG ONE! Brace yourselves...
    1. Death targets Sam (from Final Destination 5, which is a prequel to the first movie) and Sam and his friends escape. Death, however, had planned for just such a thing to happen and after Candice (a friend of Sam) dies, her boyfriend Peter blames Molly, who survived in the original vision and goes after her; when Sam kills him, (after everyone else except Nathan, Peter, Sam and Molly are dead) Molly escapes Death, thus putting her on the list. So... guess where she and Sam go? Yep! Flight 180. Death later targets them there and blows up the plane while Nathan is killed after the landing gear crushes him to death.
    2. Alex Browning, from the FIRST Final Destination, sees this vision, panics and gets himself and his friends off. Death folds the new humans into another plan, and starts killing them off, even catching the last ones months later and a continent away.
    3. As the people in the first film die off one by one, the people from Final Destination 2 witness their deaths (from offscreen) and they are mentioned in Final Destination 2. As it turns out, by witnessing the events of Final Destination meant that the people (from Final Destination 2) escaped their actual deaths and were targeted on Route 23. Again, Kimberly, the protagonist, panics and gets them all off. Once again, Death has planned for this, goes backwards down the line and kills them all of, including Clear Rivers, the only survivor from Final Destination 1.
  • Politically Correct Villain: Surprisingly, Death itself thinks racism is bad. When a guy on its list tries to burn a cross on a black guy's front porch in the fourth film, Death engineers things so that the racist will be set on fire himself and dragged behind his own car while the song "Why Can't We Be Friends" plays on the radio. At the same time, Death is an entity which routinely kills off people, including children, in cruel and unusual ways.
  • Primal Fear: This film series is built around the fear of being hunted down by the Grim Reaper until he catches up to those who have escaped it and kills them in elaborate, agonizing ways. The inevitability of death is really emphasized because in this series, Death always wins and the protagonists' efforts to cheat it are entirely pointless in the end.
  • Prophetic Fallacy: The opening premonitions, especially Kimberly's and Nick's series of secondary visions in the second and fourth films.
  • Psychic Dreams for Everyone: Clear gets some limited precognition throughout the first film (but not in the 2nd, strangely), despite not being involved with the first premonition. In addition, anyone can see signs if they pay attention, most notably Rory and Kat from the second film.
  • Rube Goldberg Hates Your Guts: Have you SEEN a death which isn't convoluted and reliant on the prospect of every other circumstance being at the perfect place at the perfect time?
  • Scary Black Man: As expected from someone played by Tony Todd, William Bluworth, the Creepy Mortician who seems to be a mouthpiece for death.
  • Self-Fulfilling Prophecies: Many of the deaths are caused from this trope. The biggest offenders are Nora and Tim from the second film.
  • Sequel Escalation: Each film makes the death sequences more elaborate. Fans had had enough by the fourth movie, though, so it was toned down for the fifth.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: Inverted. One protagonist's foreknowledge allows him or her and a group of friends to escape some kind of fatal accident. The rest of each movie is about death trying to fix this event that "went wrong".
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story/Shoot the Shaggy Dog: Death wins. It always wins. By Word of God, every protagonist involved with a "premonition" dies anyway, making their survival of the accident pointless. Also, it's implied that every one of the characters' attempts to cheat Death was the grand design from very beginning.
  • Shout-Out: Alex has a poster for Pecker in his room.
  • Shout-Out Theme Naming: Characters tend to have the surname of a famous horror director, like Billy Hitchcock, Nora Carpenter, and Olivia Castle.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: So much. A great case is in the fourth, where a racist sees Death strike while trying to protest a black neighbor... while "Why Can't We Be Friends" is in the background.
  • Squashed Flat: This shows up a few times, such as crushing Tim in 2 and Nathan in 5.
  • Survivor Guilt: Many of the characters experience this, particularly when it is the person's significant other, family member, or close friend who has died. It is especially bad for the visionaries, who not only have to witness many people dying in the disasters twice but also struggle with repeated failures to save the lives of their fellow survivors afterward.
  • Tempting Fate: It's best to just shut up after a brush with death.
    Carter (Part 1): "I'm never going to die."
    Carter (Part 1): (at the end) "So who's next?" (cue big sign swinging down and smashing him as the movie ends)
    Evan Lewis (Part 2): "Jesus Christ. (chuckle)"(this was to the fire escape ladder stopping halfway down; it finishes the drop and lands in his eyes)
    Lewis (Part 3): "Whoo! What I tell you, Kevin, huh? Fuck death! Baby, I just win! That's all I know how to do, Kevin! I just win! Aggggggggghhh-" (Head gets squashed between two weights that were cut loose by a sword ornament.)
    Ian Mckinley (Part 3): "It skipped me. For me, it is over. I'm not dying. I'm not dying!" (he gets squashed by a crane)
    Ashlyn Halperin (Part 3): "A few more degrees won't hurt." (They get trapped in their tanning beds and burn alive)
    Isaac (Part 5): After avoiding death by needles AND fire in a Chinese Massage Parlour he lets out an audible "Phew!" - Cue heavy Buddha Statue falling from above.
  • Time Skip: All five endings.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: Many of the death scenes are partially based on actual events or have alluded to said events. However, they're played up and fictionalized for the film. In other words, they should rename 1000 Ways to Die to Final Destination: The Series.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Minor characters caught up in the mass-casualty events that kick off each movie's story often aren't actually shown dying, even though the carnage inflicted upon unnamed bystanders ought to be just as shocking as any other deaths. Justified in that these events play out in visions, which can plausibly be expected to concentrate on people whom the character experiencing the vision knows personally.
  • Would Hurt a Child: There's a baby onboard the plane that Death blows up in the first movie. Then he crushes a young teenage kid under a plate glass window in the sequel. This is the Grim Reaper we're talking about after all, you really think he'd have any more sympathy for kids than adults?
  • Xanatos Gambit: Death always wins, regardless of what those on Death's list do to spite it. Given that nobody lives forever, no survivor can elude Death indefinitely. There is only one proven way for a survivor to escape the list which is to kill someone else and take their lifespan- but this gives Death its desired victim anyway and fills the rift in its design.
  • Your Head Asplode: One of the recurring Death tactics in both the premonitions and real life is to have some object smash or crush someone's head off their body; examples are Lewis in 3, and Issac in 5.

"You all just be careful now."


Video Example(s):


Carter's Death

Carter Daniels from "The Final Destination" suffers a humiliating death whilst trying to burn a cross on a black man's lawn. Death quickly comes for him, dragging his burning body across the road similar to a lynching. All while set to War's "Why Can't We Be Friends".

How well does it match the trope?

4.84 (25 votes)

Example of:

Main / DeathByRacism

Media sources: