Does that scene get edited out before it's released or is the movie scrapped altogether?

To confirm, I'm asking about real deaths and injuries on set while the movie is being filmed. This is assuming the injury is severe enough to hospitalise the actor.

Has there been any movies where this is the case?

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    Well, one of the most famous examples is Brandon Lee's death on the set of The Crow, which was then finished without him. But I guess this entirely depends on the movie and can differ from movie to movie, also based on how far the movie has been finished already. Another example, albeit not a death on set, but certainly a very creative solution of the problem, is Heath Ledger's suicide and his replacement by 3 (!) different actors in The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Commented Aug 9, 2014 at 19:58
  • 3
    I feel like the answers posted have formed a sort of list.
    – MattD
    Commented Aug 9, 2014 at 23:05
  • Jackie Chan was fairly seriously injured in many of his movies. In one, he broke his ankle leaping on to a hover craft. They put a fabric cover painted to look like a shoe over his cast, and if you don't know what you are looking for or when, it's not noticeable by the average viewer.
    – CGCampbell
    Commented Aug 10, 2014 at 3:44
  • 1
    @Mac Ah, you're right, completely forgot that. I guess it was this related question that confused me.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Commented Aug 10, 2014 at 11:34
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    Please confirm that you are referring to actors on set and not actors who died off set. If that were the case, the aforementioned "The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus" and the more recent Paul Walker / "The Fast and the Furious 7" incident would not count as example answers for this question.
    – JoshDM
    Commented Aug 10, 2014 at 16:17

8 Answers 8


For deaths, the footage is never used as it would be extremely distasteful, as well as evidence in any investigations or lawsuits into the accidental death.

An example of this would be Brandon Lee, the son of Bruce Lee, who was accidentally shot and killed on the set of The Crow, as detailed on Wikipedia:

In the fatal scene, which called for the revolver to be actually fired at Lee from a distance of 3.6 - 4.5 meters (12–15 feet), the dummy cartridges were exchanged with blank rounds, which feature a live powder charge and primer, but no bullet, thus allowing the gun to be fired without the risk of an actual projectile. But since the bullet from the dummy round was already trapped in the barrel, this caused the .44 Magnum bullet to be fired out of the barrel with virtually the same force as if the gun had been loaded with a live round, and it struck Lee in the abdomen, mortally wounding him.

In the Trivia section of The Crow, it says:

The footage of his death was subsequently developed and used as evidence in the investigation into his death. As part of the lawsuit settlement, the footage was later destroyed.

For injuries it really depends on whether the actors (are able to or) decide to finish the scene and carry on filming or not, for example Leonardo DiCaprio was famously actually injured in Django Unchained and continued the scene before seeking medical treatment.


I think the most extraordinary instance of a production completing despite the death of an actor is The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (2008). During a break in principal photography, actor Heath Ledger died of an accidental overdose. Director Terry Gilliam suspended production temporarily, but finished the film with a solution that was, in my opinion, sublime.

There were essentially three major sequences left unfilmed at the time of Heath's death, all set in the Imaginarium. CGI was discussed for a time, but in the end, each of the Imaginarium sequences was played by one of Heath's friends (Johnny Depp, Jude Law, and Colin Farrell, who all donated their fees to Heath's daughter Matilda). Given that the Imaginarium was, after all, a fantasy world, the sudden change of the character's appearance worked remarkably well.

There were a few other tricks they had to pull to cover some other missing footage, but all in all, it was surprising how nicely the film came together.


Wikipedia has a page to denote such types of filming accidents, and most of the films I see there are prominent enough to have been released in spite of the accident and/or death.

The most prominent 80s film I find is Rocky IV, where Dolph Lundgren punched Stallone so hard he entered the hospital for 8 days. The movie obviously continued the Rocky series, and it continues to at least 2 more. The most famous 80s death I see is the Vic Morrow death on Twilight Zone: The Movie, where he and a costar was decapitated, along with another child death from a helicopter accident. The movie finished and was released, but resulted in lawsuits and resulted in some major changes in filming codes.

In some cases, the injuries allow the actor to continue (i.e. Lawrence of Arabia and Peter O'Toole accident with visible injury and brace within the film).
In other cases, where the person is the star (i.e. Martin Sheen heart attack while filming Apocalypse Now, the production has to wait or cover other film scenes. In this case, the heart attack was just one of a string of problems - read the book by Coppola's wife).
In some cases, a death causes discarded footage to be reused.
In almost no case did I see that the loss of the actor, for hospitalization, or death, caused the production to close production, but I'm nowhere near certain there isn't at least one. I believe insurance covers filming delays due to accidents or loss of production on the film.


The actor Al Mulock committed suicide by jumping from his hotel room window while filming Once Upon A Time in the West in Spain in 1968. Mulock played one of the three men who meet Charles Bronson's character at the rail station in the famous opening scene. He was still in costume when he jumped from the window, and his fall was witnessed by many of those working on the film, including the director Sergio Leone. One of the screenwriters, Mickey Knox, claimed in an interview that Leone ran out as Mulock was being lifted into a car to be driven to hospital, shouting 'Get the costume, we need the costume!', presumably in case the scene needed to be re-shot. Apparently the driver, one of the production staff, ignored him and drove off, and the scene was used unedited in the final cut.


Surprised to see no one mentioned a time when the opposite situation occurred. Ed Wood used footage of the then-dead Bela Lugosi in his "so-bad-it's-good" film Plan 9 From Outer Space. He had a few Lugosi scenes shot for other projects and when Lugosi died he included them in Plan 9 as an homage. To flesh out those few scenes he hired Lugosi's chiropractor, who looked nothing like him, to stand in. You can't make this stuff up.

  • 1
    Bela Lugosi died at home though, not on set during filming as the question is about. Commented Aug 10, 2014 at 15:53
  • Tom Mason was actually Ed Wood's wife's chiropractor. It's worth mentioning that although Mason looked nothing like Lugosi, Wood cleverly worked around that problem by obscuring his face with his cape in most scenes.
    – tobyink
    Commented Aug 11, 2014 at 12:17

I was going to write about Oliver Reed in Gladiator, but here's 10 examples (including him), I count 7 were during filming so should be relevant to the question:

Dead actors on screen - Mashable


This is an older question, but I feel we're missing one critical option. Imagine that Tom Hanks were killed midway through filming a drama, too late to recast him and too soon to film around his loss. What would happen?

Standard practice in the motion picture industry is to take out a "completion bond" on a project before rolling camera--essentially an insurance policy on the film being finished. (This is actually a standard financial instrument in many forms of capital-intensive project.) The completion bond specifies monies to be paid out to the film's creditors, and may also include the transfer of intellectual property like the screenplay or option rights. In our hypothetical scenario, the Tom Hanks film's underwriters would likely trigger the completion bond in order to recap something from the doomed production.

A high profile example of this process is detailed in the heartbreaking documentary Lost in La Mancha, about Terry Gilliam's failed attempt to film Don Quixote. Only a few days into filming, it became apparent that lead actor Jean Rochefort was not healthy enough to ride a horse. Already behind schedule, the underwriters triggered the completion bond, and the film was no more.


Indian Bollywood Actor Mr.Amitabh Bachchan got seriously injured during the sets of coolie (Indian Hindi movie)

Impact on the movie

The film was an 'All Time Earner', it got the highest verdict[Equivalent to 'All Time Blockbuster' Today] present at that time by Trade Guide[Bollywood boxoffice magazine], and was among those rare movies, which crossed 1 Crore per territory. There were only 13 All Time Earner[Crossed 1 Crore per territory] movies till 1984, 9 of which starred Amitabh and Coolie was among them. The film was the top earning film of 1983 and one of the biggest hits of the 80's decade.



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    The question is what happens after the actor is injured/dies on set. If u could elaborate on what was the impact of the incident on the film, it would be more welcome. Commented Aug 11, 2014 at 5:44
  • Yes I shall write the impact of this incident by evening. Commented Aug 11, 2014 at 7:40

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