I first encountered the steely gaze and weary scowl of Sean Bean when he played the roguish, dashing Richard Sharpe — the protagonist of a series of nearly two dozen novels by Bernard Cornwell, a giant of British historical fiction, that became a terrifically entertaining run of TV shows in the ‘90s.
A rakish ne’er-do-well who rises through the ranks of the redcoat army, Bean’s Sharpe did all the things classic imperial heroes do: he outwitted dastardly natives in the colonies, unmanned Napoleon’s French dragoons and charmed fiery-eyed Iberian vixens eager for some Anglo-Saxon liberation. The other thing Bean’s Sharpe did was never die.
Not so, it seems, for the rest of Bean’s oeuvre. As we all know, he’s the fallible warrior who gets shot up with arrows by a top-knotted super orc in the first installment of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. And, as the stoic Ned Stark, he dramatically loses his head toward the end of the first season of HBO’s Game of Thrones. (A turn of events that sparked Internet reactions like this one, though this guy could have done himself a favor — and spared us — by taking a peak at the book.)
Point is, Sean Bean acts in a lot of things and dies in a lot of things. Harry Hanrahan, an expert viral video maker, caught onto this and gives us a masterpiece of editing, set evidently to the score from the zombie-killing video game Dead Island. Just count the different ways our Yorkshire gallant kicks the bucket: He gets shot in the head while holding a book. Well, he gets shot a lot of times in various states of surprise or resignation. He has his throat slit. He gets impaled. He gets impaled and then also blown up. He’s hanged. He’s beheaded. He’s dropped from a helicopter onto a radar dish and then crushed by scaffolding. He’s stabbed in bed. He’s bayoneted. He’s tethered to horses who tear his limbs apart. He’s chased off a cliff by cows. And we haven’t even arrived at what befalls him in the land of ring-clutching hobbits and vainglorious last stands. The video catalogs Bean dying 22 times in all.
It’s a sad fate, I must say, for an actor I once thought so invincible. How much consolation is it to know that you’ll live simply to die another day?