As Benjamin Franklin famously noted, "In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and Adam Sandler movies." And sometimes, when the stars align and a very special birthday wish is made, these two phenomena overlap.
Adam Sandler is many things — an "SNL" alum, the first man in recorded history to rhyme "harmonica" with anything else for the sake of a seasonal ditty, and technically, Rob Schneider’s legal guardian. More than anything, though, he’s a movie star, and he does pretend things for money. On several occasions, he’s pretended to die — not as often as, say, Sean Bean or Danny Trejo, but it’s happened quite a few times.
Here, we’ve compiled a list of every time that the once and future heir to the Madison family fortune has kicked the bucket for an audience’s amusement. Take a moment to pause, consider Sandler’s many character deaths, and wonder why none of them were reserved for the absolute maniac that he played in "50 First Dates."
Adam Sandler died a lot in Little Nicky
Few, if any, films have featured a propensity for slaughtering Adam Sandler quite like 2000’s "Little Nicky." The premise: Sandler plays Nicky, one of the three sons of Satan, the dark lord of the underworld who comes off as a pretty swell guy, all things considered and assuming that you’re not Hitler or a pineapple. Nicky is thrust into demonic hijinks when his siblings throw a temper tantrum and decide to create a new Hell on Earth.
The good news is that Nicky is the mumble-mouthed hero that fans of Sandler movies have come to expect. The bad news is that he has zero survival skills, having never been to Earth or "even slept over some other dude’s house." His time walking among mortals is repeatedly punctuated by violent ends — he’s hit by an express train ten seconds into his first visit, and has to take a mulligan. We’ve all had those days.
Nicky winds up being run over by a bus, slaughtered by a polar bear, and hit by another train by the end of the movie. You can’t keep a good man down.
Sandler lives and dies briefly in Deuce Bigalow 2
Does this one count? Hard to say. Technically, Sandler dies offscreen in "Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo." It’s the sort of detail that would probably warrant a cacophony of corrections from the internet if anybody had actually seen the movie.
And look, is "Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo," the critically panned sequel to "Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo," an unapologetic raunchfest on the subject of male sex workers being hunted down and killed by a deranged serial killer? It is. Did Roger Ebert describe the flick as a "new giga-low" and state that "The best thing about it is that it runs for only 75 minutes?" Definitely. All of that is neither here nor there. What matters is that Adam Sandler appears in a brief, uncredited cameo as one of the ill-fated sex workers in the lead character’s social orbit. He dies before the movie starts. Critics and paying viewers could only have hoped to be so lucky.
Adam Sandler gets switched off in Click
2006’s "Click" saw Sandler in the role of Dad Who Works Too Much Until Magic Happens, a beloved character featured in family films like "Hook," "Liar Liar," "A Thousand Words," and any number of movies where a middle-aged man gets turned into an animal. It’s the Jack Ryan of PG comedy: Any and all successful Hollywood actors eventually get a turn.
Here, Dad Who Works Too Much Until Magic Happens (aka Michael Newman) is working too much when one day, some magic happens. He’s given a remote control with the power to manipulate time, and uses his newfound gift to work too much even more. Unfortunately, balancing one’s professional and personal life is a must in any supernatural scenario, and he’s taught a hasty lesson when he accidentally fast-forwards to the end of his ill-spent days. Confined to a hospital bed, he yoinks his life support system right off of his body and runs out into the street to reconcile with his estranged family and express remorse for having worked too much.
Then, some more magic happens and he wakes up back in the good old days, just in time to not work so much. Omnipotent remote controls are a fickle mistress.
Adam Sandler got burned by Bedtime Stories
"Bedtime Stories" tells the story of Skeeter Bronson, a down-on-his-luck hotel repairman tasked with caring for his imaginative niece and nephew. It was one of two high-profile family films released in December of 2008, alongside "Marley & Me." While only one lives on as a holiday classic, both feature traumatizing death.
So Skeeter realizes that whenever he tells his wards a bedtime story, the details that they add to the narrative play out in real life the next day. They talk about the sky raining gumballs? He drives under a gumball truck that crashes on an overpass. It’s adorable.
Sadly, children are evil, and Skeeter finds himself in a real pickle when the kids relay the tale of a guy very much like Skeeter being killed by a fireball, marking one of only a couple dozen times that somebody burns to death in a Disney movie. We can happily report that the fireball winds up being a metaphor for Skeeter getting fired from his job the next day, but that does nothing to salve the pain of watching Happy Gilmore expire in a burst of white-hot death.
Sandler’s new headshot from Uncut Gems
"Uncut Gems" found its widest audience as the 2020 pandemic hit. "Let’s watch a nice movie with the Opera Man guy, that’ll calm us down," people seemed to say, and as one, they landed on the story of the most stressful man in the world actively trying to give everyone in his immediate vicinity a panic attack.
Here, Sandler plays Howard Ratner, a Diamond District entrepreneur and bad decision maker. He basically lives out the darkest possible reimagining of the classic children’s story "If You Give A Mouse A Cookie," turning debts into more debts until he can’t seem to go outside without getting the snot kicked out of him. At the end of the movie’s third act, he learns the most important lesson of all: It’s not always about the money, and sometimes people just want to hurt you because you’re the worst.
After low-key kidnapping a loan shark and his entourage long enough to make back the money that he owes them, Howard gets a bullet to the noggin which, to be fair, does teach him not to do that sort of thing anymore.
Television killed the television star
Sandler is credited with having appeared on 87 episodes of "Saturday Night Live." For the most part, his characters walked away, largely unkilled. Some were not so lucky.
1994 saw Sandler’s Pepper Boy, an enthusiastic server at an Italian restaurant with an abiding love of pepper, dead of pepper lung in his premiere sketch’s narrated epilogue. The following year, another of his characters committed suicide when his wife, played by Chris Farley, wouldn’t stop talking. Later in 1995, he was killed by a polar bear for the first of two times in his career during "The Polar Bear Sketch."
The actor’s most recent television death was during 2015’s "Night of Too Many Stars," a blockbuster event aimed at raising autism awareness. There, Sandler appeared in a pre-taped segment, reteaming with Bob Barker in what started as a friendly message of unity and devolved into the closest you can get to an "Itchy and Scratchy" cartoon when one of the performers is 95 years old. At the end of the scene, Barker and Sandler both died of ebola, then hung out in heaven beating the hell out of each other.