Tue
Jun 17 2014 1:00pm

8 Great Science Fiction Movies Where No One is Murdered

Star Trek IV

Being the genre of the future, or at the very least, of speculation, science fiction needs to both be awesomely creative and, more importantly, relatable to its audience. As such, sci-fi movies often fall back on plot devices and tropes common across all genres, especially to ratchet up the tension and keep things exciting—and what’s more exciting than death? And murder is even better—the more ruthless the bad guys(s), the more we’ll root for the good guys.

But, just like a good majority of the classic Sherlock Holmes stories don’t have a dead body in them, cool science fiction movies are not required to feature death and killing if they don’t want to. With high stakes expected by mainstream audiences, it’s tempting to kill characters off, but here are a few sci-fi flicks that manage to forego death (almost) entirely.

Disclaimer: we can handily separate a Shakespeare comedy from a Shakespeare tragedy by checking to see if anyone dies. And while it might be fun to think the genre of science fiction is too sophisticated for such easy labels, this classification still pretty much works. So, do sci-fi movies without murder end up being comedies? Sometimes, but even so, I’ve tried to not lean too heavily here on sci-fi movies that are only comedies. If this list was allowed to include only great sci-fi comedies, it would look a bit different, or possibly be dominated only by spoofs.

 

Back to the Future (1985) and Back to the Future III (1990)

Back to the Future III

Although Marty McFly’s very existence is threatened if he doesn’t get his parents to hook up in 1955, no one actually dies in Back to the Future. In the old west setting of Back to the Future III, despite gunslingers and outlaws galore, there also isn’t a single killing—in fact, the plot specifically hinges on the prevention of both Doc Brown and Clara’s deaths. The only Back to the Future film to feature a violent death is the second installment, in which George McFly is shot by Biff Tannen off-screen and in an alternate timeline. For all the heavy excitement of these films, the lack of death centers the stakes around personal choices and nuances of life, rather than big end-of-the-world stuff.

 

Ghostbusters (1984)

Ghostbusters

Very few of the ghosts in Ghostbusters really seem to be “the ghost of” anybody. True, the first ghost in the New York Public Library is of the traditional Victorian wispy, haunting tradition (where are you from, originally?), but the rest are slimers, demi-gods, and ghouls, meaning we don’t think too much about how these ghosts “died,” before becoming ghosts. Also, by virtue of the fact that ghosts are by definition not alive, this film manages to not feature any real death, despite kind of being about death. If ghosts occasionally represent a metaphor for death that means the boys in grey essentially bust death itself. Ghostbusters ends up being anti-death, twice.

 

Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986)

Star Trek IV The Voyage Home

Finding episodes of the original Star Trek TV show in which no one dies is bizarrely kind of hard, and sort of a shame considering the show’s general life-affirming vibe. And because the phrase “he’s dead, Jim,” is such a big part of the classic Star Trek canon, finding a Star Trek movie in which no one dies is even harder. However, when the stakes are all about saving whales from extinction so they can communicate with advanced aliens in the future, there’s no need for a shocking murder to further the plot. Sure, as Kirk reminds us, we’re “talking about the end of every life on Earth,” in this movie, but mostly we’re talking about whales.

 

Explorers (1985)

Exploreres

A cult movie, and a slightly more grown-up Flight of the Navigator crossed with Space Camp, Explorers serves as wish-fulfillment for anyone who dreamed they could build a spaceship in their backyard. And while it might feel like a knock-off E.T. at times, this movie has some soul and charm all of its own. Strangely, it also marks the feature film debuts of both Ethan Hawke and River Phoenix!

 

The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)

The Day the Earth Stood Still

Perhaps the most grown-up science fiction movie on this list, and probably one of the first to be taken seriously, The Day the Earth Stood Still features a menacing giant robot, but no death. True, the human-looking alien visitor Klaatu does briefly die, but is later resurrected. The coolest thing about The Day the Earth Stood Still is probably the idea that it’s a non-violent movie that paradoxically delivers a potential alien threat. If we as a species don’t change our violent ways, then someone like Klaatu (and his robot muscle Gort) will be forced to incinerate our whole planet for the good of the universe.

 

E.T. (1982)

ET

Here’s one with another fake-out death: E.T. himself! Labeling E.T. a “family film” might be an easy way to exclude it from a serious discussion about “good” science fiction movies, but I personally find you have to be a pretty terrible person to not love E.T. even a little bit. While it’s true that E.T. doesn’t contain so much a memorable plot as it does memorable scenes, it still feels refreshing in its non-violent approach to aliens.

 

Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)

Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Unfairly, Spielberg might have the corner-market on big-feel-good science fiction movies containing zero death, which is odd when you consider he’s also responsible for the existence of the PG-13 rating. (Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom was considered to be too violent to be given a regular “PG” score, and thus PG-13 was invented.) While deeply flawed and almost lazy in its attempts to actually explore what the aliens are all about, Close Encounters of the Third Kind still reigns supreme in setting a great standard for emotional wonderment in regard to how we would view extraterrestrial life. The take away here is this: we probably wouldn’t understand a whole lot about what aliens were up to, but that doesn’t mean they’d be trying to kill us.

 

Fantastic Voyage (1966)

Fantastic Voyage

This one probably doesn’t qualify entirely, as there is an accidental death right near the end of the movie. BUT, it is definitely an accident and not a violent murder. If science fiction movies are supposed to simplify complicated science fiction concepts and make them palatable and exciting for a mass audience, then Fantastic Voyage is one of the best sci-fi flicks ever. Often erroneously believed to have been based on an Isaac Asimov novel (he wrote the novelization of the screenplay faster than the movie was filmed), this story of people being shrunk down in a submarine to save a person’s life is as thrilling as it imaginative. How can you not love a movie where the tiny protagonists escape certain doom by riding on a teardrop?

 

So, my criterion here was probably a little stiff (and maybe too loose, too?) and a larger discussion of sci-fi movies light on violence is welcome, too. But did I leave any good ones out? Chime in below!


Ryan Britt is a longtime contributor to Tor.com.

76 comments
Squid
1. Squid
Moon (does that count as murdered?)
Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
kp dawes
2. kpdawes
One correction: Star Trek IV was an awful movie.

Having said that, I remember watching Close Encounters as a kid and being traumatized thinking that Larry got gassed by the helicopters as they were making their run up Devil's Tower. Took a rewatch to realize it was sleeping gas.
James Nicoll
3. James Davis Nicoll
I don't think anyone is killed in Primer. For that matter, superhero movies are usually pretty deathy but while there are tragic deaths in the backstory of The Specials*, the movie itself is about what happens when certain tensions between team members are dragged out into the light of day. It probably helped that their sf/x budget was limited the coins found under the cushions of the producers' couch.

* It turns out stretching isn't so much a power as a symptom of a fatal disease. And then there's Deadly Girl

Deadly Girl: I used to think I didn't need a family. I mean, I had the demons and the walking skeletons. But the difference between a walking skeleton and a kid is, a kid won't eat the soft parts of your face while you're sleeping.
George Jong
4. IndependentGeorge
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Groundhog Day

And yes, both are sci-fi.

Being John Malkovich technically doesn't involve a murder, but is way darker than many which do. What about Time Bandits? I haven't seen Gravity yet, but I've heard it's excellent.
Squid
5. Mike G.
Well, "Groundhog Day" has a few suicides. Does the weatherman ever take anyone along on his suicides apart from the groundhog?
Squid
6. Llacheu
"Jerome Bixby's The Man from Earth" features a conversation, and no one dies.
F Shelley
7. FSS
well, I would count Groundhog day as fantasy, since we are never given a scientific reason for his own personal timeloop...

I might same the same of Eternal Sunshine. Just seems to be a magic power - def more fantasy...
Sean Fagan
8. sef
I beg to differ: Klaatu is in fact murdered; he is brought back to life, but it is explained that it is only briefly.
Squid
10. DrPedantStrikes!
The Day the Earth Stood Still features a menacing giant robot, but no death.
Actually, Gort vaporizes a couple of soldiers just before Helen relays the "Klaatu Barada Nikto" message.
Ryan Britt
11. ryancbritt
@8 and @10
Blast. I guess you're both right.
Squid
12. jkh107
I'm pretty sure no one was murdered in Cocoon, either.
Squid
13. David Clary
What about the Christopher Reeves' Superman? Planetary extinction isn't the same as murder, is it?
James Nicoll
14. James Davis Nicoll
Does anyone die in Earthgirls are Easy? I don't think they do.
Squid
15. David Clary
@9 -- Mitch's innocence is pretty violently murdered.
James Nicoll
16. James Davis Nicoll
13: You know what they say: one death is a tragedy, a billion deaths is backstory.
George Jong
17. IndependentGeorge
@7 - I'll concede Groundhog Day, but is Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind really any less scientifically rigorous than Fantastic Voyage or ET?

I thought Contact was terrible, but many disagree with me. (ETA: never mind, Tom Skerrit gets murdered by a terrorist 2/3 of the way through).
So, my criterion here was probably a little stiff (and maybe too loose, too?) and a larger discussion of sci-fi movies light on violence is welcome, too. But did I leave any good ones out?
The director is murdered offscreen in the first fifteen minutes of Gattaca, and Jerome commits suicide near the end, but the film is otherwise largely void of violence.
Squid
18. Justme
Kevin' s parents die violently at the end of Time Bandits.
Squid
19. a1ay
Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Unless you count the entire population of Earth (less two) being murdered to make way for a hyperspace bypass, that is...
George Jong
20. IndependentGeorge
@18 - dammit.

Did anyone die in Barbarella? I can't remember, and I'm too embarrassed to let it show up on my 'recently watched' on Netflix. My pre-internet 17-year old self really wasn't paying much attention to the plot.
Sol Foster
21. colomon
Wall-E? Certainly cannot remember any deaths, and it's vastly better than Star Trek IV IMO.
Squid
22. Dr. Thanatos
1) Robot vs the Aztec Mummy. No actual deaths unless you count the brain cells of the people in the audience
2) The Goonies. Arguably as much sci/fi as Indiana Jones. No deaths but lots of close calls.
3) Did anyone die in Harry Potter 2 or 3? And giant snakes and holograms of Tom Riddle don't count...
Squid
23. Julie S
Isn't there an old guy who dies in Groundhog Day, no matter what Phil tries to do to save him?
George Jong
24. IndependentGeorge
Does Bruce Campbell die at the end of Bubba Ho-Tep?

Pleasantville had zero character deaths. Heck, Reese Witherspoon couldn't even use her lighter.
Samuel Montgomery-Blinn
25. montsamu
In Back to the Future, Doc Brown is shot and killed (presumably, later revealed to be wearing a bullet proof vest) by Libyan terrorists just prior to Marty escaping to the past himself. Which, technically, means nobody is murdered, but audiences are led to believe he is violently killed twice (well, the same event seen twice).

Some other candidates for "no one is murdered" sf films though I don't remember every frame of them or anything:

* Safety Not Guaranteed
* Robot and Frank
* Her
* Hot Tub Time Machine
* Idiocracy (though if I remember, some of Beef Surpreme's "rehabilitations" are shown on a big screen in a highlight reel...)
* The Nutty Professor (1963 and 1996)
George Jong
26. IndependentGeorge
I believe most of the 'deaths' in Inception are actually dream sequences (with the two real deaths actually being a suicide and natural causes).

It wasn't a great movie (but still better than Star Trek IV), but the plot to Simone revolves around Al Pacino being falsely accused of murdering a person who doesn't really exist.

Can a machine commit murder? Or do we technically classify the deaths in 2001: A Space Odyssey as accidental deaths due to equipment malfunction? If HAL is a person, then Dave actually murders him in the end as well; if he is not a person, then none of the astronauts were actually murdered.
Thomas Thatcher
27. StrongDreams
@Julie,
Yes, but it's not a murder, and arguably part of Phil's "education."
Stephen Dunscombe
28. cythraul
Re Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home:

I would be shocked if no one died in the 23rd century, under the effects of the probe. We saw at least one ship sending its last, desperate transmission, describing their last-ditch plan to "generate power to keep us alive". Earth was ravaged by world-wide storms and loss of power; there have to have been casualties.
David Levinson
29. DemetriosX
I'm not so sure about Fantastic Voyage here. The main conflict in the film is a plot to murder the man whose body they are voyaging in. And Donald Pleasance winds up getting eaten by macrophages.
George Jong
30. IndependentGeorge
I guess it's more fantasy than SF, but nobody gets murdered in Field of Dreams.
Joe Vondracek
31. joev
I don't believe that any people are killed in Tron, although in the digital realm some "beings" are extinguished.
Squid
32. Dr. Thanatos
I think the key here is murdered.

Murder presupposes evil intent. Can a HAL-9000 have evil intent? That's an interesting philosophical question. Let's say for the sake of argument that he can't, being a machine. HAL can kill, but he cannot murder.

Dave, on the other hand, deliberatelly destroy's HAL's conciousness and expresses regret while doing so.

GUILTY. GUILTY. GUILTY.
George Jong
33. IndependentGeorge
@32 - but if HAL is merely a machine incapable of evil intent, then he was no more murdered than the printer was brutally murdered by the guys in Office Space.
Squid
34. Dr. Thanatos
Ah, but what is the difference between a machine which is self-aware but incapable of moral judgement (the Office printer rarely showed evidence of self-awareness, then again neither did Dwight) and an innocent child who unless named Chuckie cannot make moral judgement and therefore cannot be considered capable of murder but neverthe less can be murdered?

And who's to say that office machinery can't be murdered? Isn't it the person commiting the act that makes it murder, rather than the victim?

And can any philosophers in the room explain to us why we would like fries with that?
Christopher Bennett
35. ChristopherLBennett
@32: Legally, "murder" means an unlawful homicide committed "with malice aforethought," i.e. with intent to kill or harm or reckless disregard for life (or accidentally during the commission of a felony). This is to distinguish it from homicide committed by accident. HAL was clearly a sentient being who made a conscious choice to kill his crew; he wasn't "just a machine" that broke down, but a thinking, volitional entity.

However, as the laws are currently constituted, a charge of murder can only be brought against a human being. Thus, until the laws were changed to acknowledge the personhood of artificial intelligences, HAL could not be charged with murder.

Dave Bowman's action against HAL would constitute self-defense, and would thus not be considered murder under the law. Not to mention that, as we learned in 2010, Bowman didn't destroy HAL's consciousness, merely suspended it indefinitely.

@34: For that matter, the law defines homicide as the killing of a human being by another human being. Both the perpetrator and the victim have to be legally recognized as persons.
George Jong
36. IndependentGeorge
@34:
the Office printer rarely showed evidence of self-awareness.
Bullshit. That thing totally had it in for Sumir.
Squid
37. Dr. Thanatos
Dave was not acting in self-defense; he had effectively disarmed HAL by reducing him to a day-old computer badly singing a nursery rhyme. His decision to pull the plug at that point, where HAL posed no more danger to him, was murder.

HAL killed the astronauts because they were an impediment to his successfully completing his assigned mission from the (legitimae) authorities who programmed him. Whether he was malicious (or even capable of malice) is debatable, as we have no evidence in either film or book of his stating his hatred for organic beings, using the word "exterminate," or cackling and twirling his virtual mustache. He was, you might say, just doing his job the best way he could.
Mike Redlan
38. Redlander
I'm not getting the dislike for Star Trek IV in some of the comments here. It's a wonderful film. Sure, the humor is hokey at times, but I'll take it over the depressing, humorless material in a lot of today's sci-fi and fantasy movies any day. And I'm glad to see Ryan Britt listing it here.

Where the last... many Trek movies have had death after death of human and alien alike, The Voyage Home's most violent on-screen deaths are a crushed trash can and a melted door knob. And for the film to have been successful while attracting non-Trekkies to theaters, that's not something to be sneezed at.
Christopher Bennett
39. ChristopherLBennett
@37: Again, HAL was not killed, just put in a coma. He was revived perfectly intact in the sequel, and in fact is in all three novel sequels (each of which is set in an alternate reality from the others).

And how do we know that allowing HAL to continue running with his brain so badly compromised wouldn't have been more dangerous to him than shutting him down completely? Leaving him running in that damaged, incomplete mode might've caused a fatal crash or file corruption or something, whereas shutting him down completely preserved his consciousness intact for later revival in 2010.

And there is nothing in the legal definition of murder that requires "hatred" -- merely the intent to kill or injure or the reckless disregard for the victim's safety. The reasons for having that intent are legally beside the point; they're a matter for the perpetrator's therapist or spiritual advisor. "Malice aforethought" is an atavistic legal term and the modern definition does not require literal malice to apply. As far as the law is concerned, only the mens rea, the intention to commit the act, is relevant. HAL knew that his actions would result in the deaths of human beings and chose to proceed with those actions anyway. Thus, legally, he committed premeditated homicide -- and the only reason that wouldn't be murder is that he probably wasn't legally defined as a person.

@38: I agree with you completely. The Voyage Home and Back to the Future prove it's entirely possible to tell an exciting, satisfying adventure without bloodshed, and it's something I'd love to see more of.
Lee VanDyke
40. Cloric
The Last Mimzy - I don't care what anyone says, I love this movie and I love how it makes me cry every damn time.

Bridge to Terabithia - My husband added this one, and he loves it, but I can't vouch for it's greatness, as I've never actually seen it.
Squid
41. James Davis Nicoll
Nobody is murdered in Charly. It comes to mind because Daniel Keyes, who wrote "Flowers for Algernon", the basis for Charly, just died.
Marie Veek
42. SlackerSpice
@25: What I think happens is that Doc dies in the Twin Pines timeline, but Marty's efforts to prevent it from happening lead to to him getting the bulletproof vest and faking his death in the Lone Pine timeline.
Mike Redlan
43. Redlander
#39

Me too. I hope to see that sort of adventure in the next Trek movie, though I doubt it will turn out that way.

I agree with you about HAL. It always kind of confuses me when I hear people praise HAL as a great, iconic computer. Yeah, sure, it was great... until it started murdering the crew! I'd rather have the Enterprise's computer.
Squid
44. chuck Shingledecker
I love Star Trek IV. Since when did THAT film become popular as a punching bag?

Finding SF flicks where someone isn't murdered is much harder than I thought.

I'm with others. I don't think Back to the Future counts because Doc is murdered at the beginning. Even though Marty changes the future it still happened in the film.

Wall-E is definitelty another. And IMO is one of the best films of the last decade -- SF or otherwise.
Christopher Bennett
45. ChristopherLBennett
@43: HAL is iconic in the same way that many screen villains are iconic. But he's also a sympathetic villain, thanks largely to Douglas Rain's fantastic performance. He's basically a cybernetic Norman Bates -- soft-spoken and affable, but driven to violent insanity by the abuses inflicted on him by others. As the original book, its sequel, and the movie sequel make clear, HAL was more victim than villain, driven mad by the irreconcilable conflict between his innate need to report information accurately and his orders to lie to his crew.

@44 and generally: On the subject of Back to the Future, I've always thought of it -- particularly Part II -- as an exemplar of an action movie that's exciting and tense without being violent. Yes, it has a homicide in it, but for me what makes the difference is that the heroes don't use violence to achieve their goals (aside from a justifiable punch or two). I don't mind movies where the villains are killers -- that just underlines how evil they are. But what I don't like is when the heroes resort to the same methods. I would love to see more movies -- especially superhero movies -- where the heroes triumph with their wits and compassion rather than with violence.
Alan Brown
46. AlanBrown
@1 and @19 Yeah, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy did miss the 'no murder' mark by about six billion people...

This list has some of my favorite movies on it. Maybe I am just an old softie at heart...
Mike Redlan
47. Redlander
#45

Well put about HAL. But what I meant in my previous post was that I've come across fans who WANT a computer like HAL. Myself, not so much. I like an inteface that's not quite so neurotic.

That's also one of the main reasons I like the BTTF trilogy. The Tannen family gets knocked around here and there (then?), but the filmmakers had the good sense not to kill them. I especially like how Marty defeats Mad Dog. It's a nice homage to A Fistful of Dollars but with a non-lethal twist. And as for Doc's "death" in the first movie, while it does count as a murder, it's important to note it delivers its shock without being explicit. No Peckinpah style squibs needed.
Michael Burke
48. Ludon
Okay, I'll run this up the flag pole again and see if anyone throws slops at it.

How about August Rush? Not science fiction? It deals with telepathy (even though it does not call it out by name), and the idea that music is a force of nature that some people can really hear, and fewer can contr0l. I've thought of it as science fiction from the first time I saw it.
Squid
49. K Nama
Billions of people are killed in Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. The Earth is destroyed, remember?
George Jong
51. IndependentGeorge
@46, @49

I'm sorry, but that bypass had been planned and discussed for decades. If the people of Earth can't be bothered to take an interest in the civic affairs of their own galaxy, then it's their own damned fault they didn't file an objection to it. That's hardly murder.
alastair chadwin
52. a-j
Dark Star?

The bomb doesn't intend to kill anyone as it does not recognise that anything exists, though I suppose it could be done for being reckless, which in English law, can constitute intent.
Joe Romano
53. Drunes
How about The Brother from Another Planet? It's been quite a while since I've seen it, but I'm fairly certain no one is killed in it.
Squid
54. bcarson
How about the 1st Sci-fi movie? A trip to the Moon.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Trip_to_the_Moon
Christopher Smith
55. nerdalert
Ice Pirates, 1984 with Robert Ulrich. I think only robots got killed in that one. Some castrations, but I think that's it. I remember watching that movie thinking "man, those special effects are AWESOME!!"
Irfon-Kim Ahmad
56. Maize
I'm not 100% positive, but I don't immediately recall anyone being murdered in Code 46 (Tim Robbins & Samantha Morton, 2003). One character does die of illness, but I don't think there are any murders. It's an excellent, if somewhat challenging, film.
Ryan Szrama
57. Scarvye
Super 8, anyone? I'll have to watch it again to see if it passed the test.
Squid
58. rossruns
@40 In Bridge to Terabithia, death of a protagonist is a pretty big part of the plot. It's not murder, true, but you might be able to claim it could be classified wrongful death / negligent supervision?
Luis Milan
59. LuisMilan
What about "Short Circuit"? There's only one robot that is disassembled, but it wasn't alive or intelligent to begin with.
Christopher Bennett
60. ChristopherLBennett
@54: No, A Trip to the Moon is actually pretty violent. The lunar natives explode when struck, and the explorers kill quite a few of them that way.
Squid
62. Phil Lee
A few anime films come to mind:

They Were Eleven (1986) - Classic shoujo SF about ten space academy applicants whose final test involves working together on an abandon ship, who are thrown into disarray when an eleventh person winds up on board.

Time of Eve (2010) - This is a wonderful recent film about Asimovian robots that are indistinguishable from humans except for the mandatory electronic halo around their heads. Then a disaffected young human discovers his household robot is spending time at a cafe where the halos are turned off, leading to discussions of the nature of humanity.

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (2006) - This is a wonderful not-so-recent film about a young lady who discovers she has the ability to time travel, which she promptly, gleefully squanders. Cue mildly wacky hijinx and things suddenly becoming a lot more serious.

Summer Wars (2009) - From Mamoru Hosada, the same director as The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, this is a SF film about a near future where a virtual reality online community is completely integrated with everyday society - which is fine until someone takes control of the system and mayhem begins to errupt.

Patlabor: The Movie (1989) - From the mecha show where the giant robots are basically cop cars, the somewhat heroic members of SV2 must stop giant robots (mostly used for construction purposes) from going haywire.

Roujin Z (1991) - Japan's new solution to the aging problem is a special bed that the elderly can live in which will tend to their every need. Unfortunately, the prototype has a military grade AI built in and it decides to run amok. Cue mayhem, but mostly of the property damage variety with plenty of hijinx to keep the tone light.

Project A-ko (1986) - Finally, you can always fall back on full blown parody to keep things light. Our superpowered heroine's ongoing feud with her highschool's resident mad scientist mecha designer is interrupted by an alien invasion. Cue totally slapstick mayhem.

In the flicks I just listed there are tense moments, accidental or natural death, explosions where nothing is shown on screen, and at least one briefly attempted murder, but I'm pretty sure every one stops short of murder. I'd also say that they generally fit into the spirit of the article, though a couple of the movies here do feature terrorism as a plot device. Eh, what the hell, they're still great flicks so I'll list 'em anyway.
Squid
64. Irradiated
Batteries not included, alien robots and no murder
Squid
65. thenoblewoman
The big one I see missing here is Gravity, nobody was murdered in that. And I'm very sure nobody was intentionally killed in Beastly, either.

As far as animation, most of the recent Disney, Pixar, or Dreamworks films don't involve murder, although accidental death is frequent.
Squid
66. Saavik
WALL-E definitely belongs atop this list. As one reviewer said at the time, it wasn't just the best animated film of the year--it was the best science fiction film. And the best romance.

And I'm glad #14 mentioned Earth Girls Are Easy. This essay's link sent me back to the "best comedic SF films" list, and I was pleased to see that someone mentioned EGAE in the comments there, too. I'm never sure whether to categorize it as a Guilty Pleasure or a legitimate fave, but I really enjoy that movie. Best line: "I'd just like to say that being chosen as this month's Miss August is an honor I'm going to remember for as long as I can." You laugh at the "as long as I can"--and then the first part of the line sinks in, and you laugh again at "this month's Miss August."

And speaking of anime, Phil Lee--does anyone get killed in Read Or Die? I don't remember the whole plot, just remember how much I loved the female protagonist, the book-loving reluctant superhero. Perhaps it's not SF, though--maybe fantasy or superhero genre.

I'm with you, Ryan, on the merits of Star Trek IV. I agree entirely with your comments about that film in the "comedic SF films" list (including your comment about how key humor was in TOS). And though people may be assumed to have died in ST IV's 23rd century, you don't see anyone die.
Squid
67. doomnie
Flight of the Navigator. (1986) You can actually watch the whole movie on Youtube.
Squid
68. Phil Lee
Saavik @ #60: It had been ages since I'd seen Read or Die so I double checked a synopsis and, yes, there's at least one person who is murdered on screen, so it doesn't quite work for the purposes of this list. That said, the tone is light and the violence is the sort you might get in a superhero movie, whcih is appropriate since the Read or Die OVAs are kinda like what the anime X-Men would be like if they were a black ops team working for the British Library. And, yes, Yomiko Readman is one of the all time great screen bibliophiles.
Christopher Bennett
69. ChristopherLBennett
@67: No thanks. I saw Flight of the Navigator once, and that was one time too many for my taste.
Squid
70. Robin Pasholk
Voyage to a Prehistoric Planet (1965). I'm not sure if the Russian original that most of the footage was "borrowed" from had any deaths, but the US re-edit didn't, unless you count the robot.
Steven Lyle Jordan
71. Steven Lyle Jordan
First of all: Star Trek IV was a crappy movie. After seeing it, I wish I'd been murdered.

Secondly, I'm thinking of AI: Artificial Intelligence (a few robots were destroyed, but no one murdered), Bicentennial Man, and The Iron Giant.
Squid
72. KatherineW
The only ones of these I've seen are E.T. and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, whose inclusion I support. The Voyage Home may not be a good movie, but I laughed all the way through it. It's just so much fun.

I'd recommend replacing some of the others with some more recent good movies, though. Robot and Frank, mentioned above, should absolutely be on the list - it's in the near-future and deals with an elderly man who is given (much against his will) a robot to act as a care aide. It's alternately funny, touching, and sad, and the man, his two adult children, and the robot are are exceptionally characterized, as are their relationships with each other.

Safety Not Guaranteed is a weird one, but good, where you're kept guessing about whether a man trying to build a time machine is the delusional nut he seems to be, or if he's onto something.

And WALL-E, while far from my favourite Pixar movie, is still good and definitely deserves a spot on the list.
Squid
73. Saavik
I will "third" Robot & Frank. A *way* better movie, in my opinion, than Her.

And The Iron Giant (@#71) is of course an anti-war, anti-gun movie, though it features battles. The Giant's death (reversed à la E.T.) is self-sacrifice rather than murder.

@24, yes, Elvis/Bruce Campbell does die at the end of Bubba Ho-Tep...though he dies with soul intact. The mummy's destruction also frees the souls of the other residents whose souls were earlier sucked. I love that movie. The whole movie is about life in the face of death and decline, and the personal identity/dignity/self-naming that is the soul. And it's funny. Perhaps a monster movie (horror/comedy), though, rather than SF...depends on your genre definitions.
Michael Walton
75. tygervolant
Brother from Another Planet doesn't have any deaths IIRC. Indeed, the big bads are specifically trying to recover the title character alive -- as an escaped slave, he is valuable property, after all.
Isabel Hilton
76. imzadinot
Whilst no one may have died in Star Trek : the voyage home , it's still a goddamn awful film . Having been exposed to the awfulness of that film aged 10 , back in 2007 ( and having since rewatched it , I still find hilariously bad) I fail to understand why that film is known as one of the better startreck films . Shatners acting is , at best shaky and , at worst so awful I had to laugh . That film could have had a better plot and had more feeling in it if they had simply let poor Chekhov die.

In my opinion , this is not a great science fiction film and just because no one died , it does not become one.

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