Watching The Big Lebowski again, for the Nth time, I felt a bit silly.

Pretty much everything that Dude brings Walter in on, gets screwed up. Yes... throwing either ringer would have resulted in the same thing... but that's what started his car getting wrecked... and shot... etc. In one sense, if Dude and Walter hadn't done things the way they did, they never would have found out the truth in the end. However, it was Walter's interventions/plans/decisions that ended up putting the nihilists in that parking lot with Donny, to cause the situation that brought on his heart attack.

So... did Walter kill Donny? Even inadvertently...

  • 10
    Donnie was out of his element.
    – Ben Plont
    Jul 16, 2014 at 4:34
  • 2
    Isn't the title a spoiler? After all, it reveals that Donny dies!
    – Oliver_C
    Jul 16, 2014 at 21:13

1 Answer 1


Not really. First of all, just about everyone involved brought about this complex situation. Everyone's (usually misguided) choices - Bunny, the Dude, the big Lebowski and the nihilists themselves - put the nihilists in that parking lot, so everyone would be responsible for Donny's death. And we don't even know Donny's prior health condition. In short, you can't put the blame on just one person.

Plus, it seems that Donny was destined to have that heart attack anyway because this is foreshadowed: Just before they go out to the parking lot, Donny misses a pin (for the first time in the movie, if I'm not mistaken). As he goes back to his seat, he seems off; he winces and feels his arm. Pain, weakness or numbness in your arm is one of the symptoms of a heart attack. [Look for 'foreshadowing' here.]

  • Damn it! That's half an hour of my life I am not getting back.
    – bobbyalex
    Jul 16, 2014 at 7:39
  • I totally recognized the subtle build-up to where he died. And that everyone had a hand in those situations... it just came across as if the lynch pin to each situation that went wrong, revolved around how Walter decided to handle things. If Walter hadn't pulled the gun in the bowling alley, or insisted Dude see Lebowski for the rug, or thrown the ringer, or brought the Uzi, or escalated the situation with the kid, or beaten the neighbor's car by mistake, or pulled Lebowski from the wheelchair, or started the fight (thrown bowling ball)... All major events, all Walter.
    – Bon Gart
    Jul 16, 2014 at 20:13
  • 3
    The Coen brothers love killing Buscemi. Just by being in the movie he was doomed. Beyond Big Lebowski, they also killed him in Miller's Crossing and most horribly in Fargo. Jul 17, 2014 at 0:07
  • 1
    @MeatTrademark Some suppose it's a running Coen joke in that Buscemi progressively dies in smaller and smaller pieces in their movies: corpse in the woods (Miller's Crossing, 1990) -> little bits in the snow (Fargo, 1996) -> ashes in the wind (TBL, 1998).
    – Walt
    Jul 17, 2014 at 11:17
  • 3
    @Walt They'll have to atomize him at this point. Jul 17, 2014 at 11:50

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