Essays · Movies

Who Dies in ‘Jurassic Park’ and ‘Jurassic World’ Movies?

The good, the bad, and the innocent. 
By  · Published on June 14th, 2018

The concept of good guys and bad guys, or even good creatures and bad creatures, are blurred in the Jurassic Park and Jurassic World movies. Some characters act heroically, while others act selfishly, but they’re all just human. Meanwhile, the dinosaurs are all just dinosaurs, doing what’s in their nature whether it’s minding their own business in a graze, stampeding for their lives, or killing for sport or survival. None of them deserve to be eaten or destroyed, do they?

In the original “Jurassic Park” novel by Michael Crichton, both Dr. Henry Wu and John Hammond are killed off, the latter in particular seemingly a punishment for playing God. Hammond is gruesomely eaten alive by compys (Procompsognathus) in moralizing fashion where the fates of characters are determined by their narrative goodness or badness. Even Ian Malcolm was initially implied to be dead at the end of the book, deservedly for being a smug jerk and for his panicking cowardice — he and another character flee, not Gennaro the lawyer, during the T. rex attack.

The movies involve fewer clear distinctions between good and bad characters. They also refrain from killing children, whereas the first novel features the gory death of a baby (the second movie, The Lost World: Jurassic Park, almost commits to killing little Camilla Belle). Will this continue to be true in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom? Might the increasingly villainously portrayed Henry Wu (B.D. Wong) finally meet his own maker? As we await answers (no spoilers!), check out our breakdown of what kinds of characters have died in the movies so far:

Lost World Schiff

The Good

What constitutes a good guy in the Jurassic franchise? Most of the main characters tend to display a moral goodness. They rescue others in spite of the dangers involved for themselves, and some of them are even sympathetic to the rights of the dinosaurs, seeing them as innocent animals rather than mere monsters. And kids in the movies are mainly considered good. None of the protagonists are ever killed in these movies, understandably, but there are heroic supporting characters who aren’t as lucky.

In The Lost World: Jurassic Park, Eddie Carr (Richard Schiff) is never portrayed in a negative light, but he goes above and beyond anyone else’s moral ground when he helps save the main characters as they dangle off a cliff in a trailer. Despite his service, he receives one of the worst deaths in the series, torn in half and eaten by two T. rexes. At least Malcolm defends his character as heroic moments later when the kill is disrespectfully commented on. Comparatively, in Jurassic Park III, Billy (Alessandro Nivola) acts heroically in a self-sacrificing deed as a redemptive character moment after he’s revealed to be a greedy fool, and he gets to live — however, that wasn’t supposed to be the case, as the original script apparently did not suddenly have Billy revealed to have survived the pteranodon attack.

Good guys who died:
– Eddie Carr, heroic field equipment expert (LW:JP)


The Bad

According to Alan Grant (Sam Neill), the people who play God and create dinosaurs are the worst sort of characters there are. In the book, pretty much everyone significantly involved with the business of Hammond’s Jurassic Park are brutally killed off for this reason, narratively speaking (the exception is the lawyer, Gennaro, interestingly enough — he later dies more naturally off page between novels). There’s less of that in the movies, though the greedier the character, the more likely they are to become dinosaur chow (unless they turn hero, a la Billy).

Certainly Jurassic Park‘s double-crossing, inadvertent saboteur Dennis Nedry (Wayne Knight) and The Lost World: Jurassic Park‘s new InGen boss Peter Ludlow (Arliss Howard) are the easiest to classify as bad guys in the movies. And for trying to steal embryos and transport T. rexes to the mainland, respectively, for monetary gain lead them to their deserved demises. Selfish behavior, like that of Gennaro (Martin Ferrero) when he abandons the kids in Jurassic Park, also results in someone getting what’s coming to him. Same thing with the military guy Hoskins (Vincent D’Onofrio) in Jurassic World for never showing any respect for the dinosaurs or really even for human life.

For the last 25 years, I’ve thought of the game warden Muldoon (Bob Peck) from Jurassic Park as a bad guy. Maybe he was portrayed more as such in the novel. Or maybe I just associated hunter types as evil. But watching again recently, he’s not so bad. The same goes for the hunter Roland Tembo (Pete Postlethwaite) in Lost World: Jurassic Park. And I could have sworn he died in that movie, too (he doesn’t). But both of them are, despite being hardened and prideful figures, actually shown to have respect and concern for other people as well as for the creatures they hunt and feel dominance over.

In contrast, Tembo’s second-in-command, Dieter Stark (Peter Stormare) is a creep and a jerk, sadistically interested in torturing harmless dinosaurs and incompetent at guarding his team’s camp or sticking with his party. He’s cartoonishly bad, and he’s killed in an appropriately cartoonish way by little compys overpowering him (somewhat mimicking the Hammond death from the first book). Carelessness and stupidity count for a character being bad, as well. Carter (Thomas Rosales Jr.) is dumb enough to listen to music along in a jungle full of dinosaurs, but he’s mostly punished with a prolonged violent death for his reckless part in the deaths of others.

Carter is also a mercenary, and the merc life is a life not worthy as far as the Jurassic movies are concerned. That certainly goes for the only three characters we see die onscreen in Jurassic Park III, including the out-of-place booking agent Udesky (the out-of-place Michael Jeter). Other members of Tembo’s hunting team in Lost World: Jurassic Park, even if employed full-time by InGen, fit the bill too. It doesn’t help that they’re portrayed as dumb, going into the tall grass in spite of the warning from Ajay (Harvey Jason), who then also stupidly ignores his own advice.

The idiot paleontologist Burke (Thomas F. Duffy) in Lost World: Jurassic Park, who doesn’t even know compys are carnivores — or maybe he just didn’t like Stark and hoped he’d be killed — also is considered deserving of a terrible death. Bad guys don’t have to be morally inept (though if he did allow Stark to die by misinformation, that counts). They can also just be irresponsible and ignorant and just plain lousy at their jobs in a way that comes off as or is literally harmful to others. Also, Ben (Mark E. Harelik), who leads some hired help and a young boy into danger for a thrill in Jurassic Park III is similarly awful.

What about Jurassic World‘s Simon Masrani (Irrfan Khan)? He doesn’t seem like such a bad guy, right? Except that he is in the sense that Hammond really was. He acts like he’s more interested in the enjoyment had by guests to Jurassic World, but surely he has to be concerned with profits enough to encourage employees like Claire and Wu to overwork and create deadly genetic monsters in the pursuit for more success. As Wu points out to him in one scene, he’s just as bad as Wu if not worse, especially if naively. Also, he’s cocky in his insistence to pilot a helicopter, and it’s appropriate that he dies while operating one.

Bad guys who died:
– Donald Gennaro, lawyer (JP)
– Dennis Nedry, computer programmer (JP)
– Dieter Stark, hunter (LW:JP)
– Carter, mercenary (LW:JP)
– Robert Burke, paleontologist (LW:JP)
– Ajay Sidhu, hunter (LW:JP)
– InGen hunters (LW:JP)
– Peter Ludlow, InGen CEO (LW:JP)
– Ben Hildebrand, pseudo step-father (JP3)
– Cooper, mercenary (JP3)
– M.B. Nash, mercenary (JP3)
– Udesky, mercenary booking agent (JP3)
– Simon Masrani, Masrani CEO (JW)
– Vic Hoskins, InGen military commander (JW)


The Innocent

Most people who die in the Jurassic movies are innocent and not deserving — narratively or otherwise — of death by dino. That does include employees of InGen and the Jurassic Park and Jurassic World attractions. If Hammond and Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) are still worthy of life despite their endangering role as head of a dino zoo/theme park where mad science is taking place and vicious creatures are easily escaping and murdering people, then so should be Muldoon and Arnold (Samuel L. Jackson), who at least warns everyone constantly to hold onto their butts.

And so also should be Claire’s assistant Zara (Katie McGrath). Is she guilty of being a bad babysitter? Sure, and that’s certainly a trope resulting in death per the horror genre in general. But she shouldn’t have been put in charge of the boys anyway. She’s probably dealing with a lot of other assistant duties for Claire. And the boys should have stuck with her, too. It’s not like she just abandoned them and fled, threatening their safety. She didn’t need to be given such an extended and torturous death.

Anyone else at Jurassic World that fateful day who might have been killed by pteranodons or Indominous Rex or shock or whatever is also innocent, even if you could say they should have known the risks of visiting or working at a place like that. The security team and InGen soldiers are just there to do a job, likely for the purpose of safety and defense. Militarism isn’t evil in and of itself, despite what the movies tend to imply. Helicopter pilots and overweight supervisors are innocent victims, too. As are any boat captains or guides hired for transport of or near dinosaurs.

The most innocent of all, however, is the man credited as “Unlucky Bastard,” played by screenwriter David Koepp, in Lost World: Jurassic Park. He’s just a guy out and about in San Diego one night — maybe thinking of heading to Blockbuster to finally get a copy of the hot new Tom Hanks release “Tsunami Surprise” –with no way of knowing a T. rex was in the area, if even in existence this era. Unfortunately, he also didn’t realize he should have continued running in a straight path along with everyone else. By diverting, he wound up the dinosaur’s meal.

Anyone who died in a car crash or in the bus being smashed by the T. rex or in any other fashion relating to the unexpected dinosaur rampage in an American city: also quite innocent. Same with the poor dog who gets eaten (I guess the cow and goat in Jurassic Park then, too). And every one of the dinosaurs, including the monsters invented by scientists in a lab and any that are supposedly smarter than humans: all are innocent.

 Innocent humans who died:
– Velociraptor paddock security guard (JP)
– Jurassic Park chief engineer Ray Arnold (JP)
– Jurassic Park game warden Robert Muldoon (JP)
– S.S. Venture Captain D. Thompson (LW: JP)
– “Unlucky Bastard” (LW: JP)
– Boat captain Enrique Cardoso (JP3)
– Boat co-captain (JP3)
– Ellis, the Indominous Rex handler (JW)
– Nick, the Indominous Rex paddock supervisor (JW)
– InGen security commander Katashi Hamada (JW)
– InGen security troopers Cooper, Craig, Lee, Spears, and Miller, and others (JW)
– InGen military soldiers (JW)
– Zara Young, Claire’s personal assistant (JW)

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Christopher Campbell began writing film criticism and covering film festivals for a zine called Read, back when a zine could actually get you Sundance press credentials. He's now a Senior Editor at FSR and the founding editor of our sister site Nonfics. He also regularly contributes to Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes and is the President of the Critics Choice Association's Documentary Branch.