Clint Eastwood, an iconic Hollywood actor and director, has graced the silver screen with countless memorable roles. His tapestry of characters are narratives deeply embedded in popular culture.
And whether it’s along the desolate plains of Spaghetti Westerns or stalking the gritty streets of urban America, Eastwood’s characters have served up some of cinema’s most unforgettable kill scenes. Check out our best ranking below—but only if you feel lucky, punk.
A Fistful of Dollars
In this Sergio Leone-directed, veritable icon of a Western, The Man With No Name—otherwise known by Clint Eastwood—prepares to potentially dispatch between three and four no-goodnicks who had insulted him (and his donkey) on the way into town.
Walking past the local undertaker, our hero utters the now-famous line, “Get three coffins ready.” During the brief, confrontational conversation that follows, The Nameless Man requests an apology, receives none—and swiftly, perfectly guns down not three but four baddies.
As he walks back past the undertaker again, he corrects himself—”My mistake, four coffins”—searing the scene in our memories. A perfect blend of tension, action, and humor.
High Planes Drifter
Never mess with Clint Eastwood when he’s having a shave. Particularly not in this American-made 1970s Western, spurred by Clint’s overseas success with Leone’s string of spaghetti Westerns.
In our favorite scene, a nameless, emotionless drifter, played by you-know-who, attempts to get a shave at the local barber after insulting some local roughnecks at a saloon across the street. When they saunter in—sealing their respective dooms—Clint reveals a revolver hidden behind the barber’s apron. Shooting ensues.
We particularly love the barber’s frantic, nervous energy, a perfect foil to Clint’s steely bravado and the scowling, sarcastic goons behind him, cornering our hero.
For a Few Dollars More
Wrapping up the Dollars trilogy, For a Few Dollars More features the final adventure of Clint Eastwood and his beloved character, The Man With No Name – referred to as Manco, in this film. This time, he pursues outlaws and the bounties attached to them.
In the film’s climax, lawless, ruthless antagonist Indio schemes to set his gang upon Manco and his bounty-hunter partner Mortimer, played by LeeVan Cleef. Mistaking the two bounty hunters for rivals, Indio assumes they’ll kill one another, sparing his gang the job.
But things in the Wild West rarely go as planned. Not only do the two bounty hunters opt to kill Indio’s gang—including Indio—in an adrenaline-pumping shootout, but Mortimer unexpectedly departs without having claimed his share of the bounty, leaving it all for Clint.
Who dies in this kill scene? None other than the Hollywood great himself. In Gran Tarino, Clint Eastwood plays an aging Korean War veteran, Walt Kowalski, who takes a young, troubled Hmong American under his wings and protects both him and his family from a violent local gang.
And, ultimately, Walt loses his own life. But it is for a good cause—protecting the defenseless. In the film’s climax, Walt arrives at the doorstep of the gang, loudly, confrontationally calling them out for their low-life antics.
Then, mimicking Clint’s iconic Western roles of yore, he draws his hand from his pocket as if drawing a gun. The gangsters open fire, killing Walt, condemning themselves to prison, and rendering the neighborhood safe..
Considered by many as the best Western of all time, Neo Western Unforgiven expertly crafts an unforgettable shootout. Clint Eastwood plays Will Munny, a widower and retired—though legendary—gunslinger recruited to fetch a bounty on behalf of a disfigured prostitute.
Drawn inexplicably back into the world of high-stakes shootouts, the film concludes with Munny prevailing over a posse of expert, rival killers. All this despite being in his 70s and his shotgun malfunctioning at a critical moment.
In a testament to his sheer, unfiltered, unmistakable screen presence, the final adversary, once all the other thugs are dispatched, is paralyzed with fear, unable to shoot.
No list of Clint Eastwood on-screen movie kills is complete without featuring Dirty Harry. In one of the film’s spectacular moments, rugged anti-hero Harry is mid-lunch break when he stumbles upon a bank robbery (happens to all of us).
Harry stands victorious over a wounded baddie after a thrilling exchange of fire, destroying much of a San Franciso block and demonstrating the fantastic power of his humongous, famous .44 magnum.
It is then he utters his famous monologue, revealing he knows full well that the bank robber wonders whether he, Harry, has a bullet left in his gun, inviting the criminal to go ahead and try his luck.
That is, if he feels lucky, punk.
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
The Mexican standoff between The Man With No Name—in this film incarnation, called “Blondie”—and arch-rival bounty hunter Angel Eyes, and lowdown, dirt-caked bandit Tuco is as good—and nasty and ugly—as it gets.
Sergio Leone’s brilliant jump cuts between each actor’s gaze, whether panicked, steely, or murderous, grips us. And the film’s iconic soundtrack cuts in as the tension rises to a fever pitch—the stuff of greatness.
No moment can out-compete the darkly comic stretch where Clint Eastwood’s nameless Man shoots prostrate Angel Eyes into the open grave, followed by his hat.