When I sat down in a dark and practically empty theater to watch the first Fast and Furious movie back in 2001, I truly had no idea what I was getting myself into. A movie about fast cars and the hot people who raced them? Sure, why not? I was ready to shovel popcorn into my mouth at lightning speed while watching a mindless flick that I might enjoy once and would probably never watch or think about ever again.
Fast forward 16 years later, I could not have been more wrong. As each of the seven Fast and Furious movies built on the ones that came before, it became one of my all-time favorite film franchises. I feel no shame in my unabashed love for these movies. What started out as a low-budget endeavor has become one of the biggest properties in Hollywood, so I'm pretty sure I'm not alone. The stunts have gotten bigger (and more unbelievable), the actors have gotten bigger (mostly figuratively but in some cases, literally) and the stories have become connected in ways audiences never saw coming. I mean, the decision to retcon and make the third movie The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift actually the sixth in the chronology of the story seven years after its release still blows my mind. Absolutely genius.
And it all comes down to family. As Dominic Toretto (star and producer Vin Diesel) constantly reminds everyone every chance he gets, "I don't have friends, I got family." These elite racers are more than just a crew of criminals. Sure, there's some pretty badass car races and physical tactile stunts to make any adrenaline junkie feel the rush, but it's their love for and loyalty to each other that makes up the real heart of the franchise. And that's most apparent in the fact that, even when characters die, they still drive the story in major way. Just look at Letty's (Michelle Rodriguez) "death" and resurrection years later to Han's (Sung Kang) foreshadowed murder and its far-reaching consequences for five movies.
With the upcoming release of The Fate of the Furious set to do the impossible and turn Dom against his family for seemingly-unknown reasons, and rumors swirling that Han might actually show up against all odds in Fast 9, we rounded up all the beloved (and some hated) characters that have died over the past seven movies that should return to the franchise.
Because "you don't turn your back on family, even when they do."
Han Seoul-Oh and Gisele Yashar (Gal Gadot) from Fast & Furious, Fast Five, Fast & Furious 6
Can you say #relationshipgoals? Han and Gisele may not have been in the franchise from the beginning, but they are one of the most iconic couples from all the movies. Sure, Brian (Paul Walker) and Mia (Jordana Brewster) are sweet and Dom and Letty are (were?) hot, but Han and Gisele were absolutely perfect for each other, until her untimely death sacrificing herself to save Han on the longest runway in the world in Fast & Furious 6. Her death is what motivated Han to finally check out the racing in Tokyo he'd been talking about for three movies, which fans knew would lead to his death after his introduction and heartbreaking death in Tokyo Drift.
For seven years, we were dreading the moment Han actually went through with his plans to go to Tokyo knowing he would never leave, and the fact that his love's death was what led him to finally go only made it more unbearable.
These two characters may have both died — Gisele falling out of a speeding car and Han in an explosion after a car crash — but if we're going by Hollywood's rule of needing to see the body to confirm a death, they both could have somehow miraculously survived. Hey, if Letty can survive a car crash explosion, then why can't Han? And we never actually saw Gisele hit the ground during the plane disaster. Maybe she survived too and could join Han for a well-deserved vacation somewhere tropical where they can just relax and Han could have all the snacks in the world.
More realistically though, these two will likely star in a flashback scene that is crucial to the plot in a future film. But who knows, crazier things have happened in this franchise than people surviving assured deaths.
Vince (Matt Schulze) from The Fast and the Furious, Fast Five
Okay, this guy was a total d-bag. He started off as the worst in the first movie, antagonizing Brian every chance he got since he was Mia's ex. But he begrudgingly accepted Brian into the crew by the end of the movie after Brian saved his life and helped Dom escape the cops. He returned in Fast Five seemingly a better man, with a wife and son, but ended up getting Dom, Brian, and Mia involved with some Brazilian gang war without them realizing it until it was too late. Vince sucked.
But he redeemed himself in the end, saving Mia's life and then taking a bullet for Dom and Brian. He died after revealing that he named his son Nico after his "Uncle Dom." I never thought I'd cry for Vince, but this brought on some serious water works.
In this instance, we did see Vince's dead body laying on a table, so he can't magically get resurrected. The Fast franchise isn't getting into weird, sci-fi fantasy stuff (yet). But it would be nice to see some flashbacks to Vince when he didn't suck so much.
Jesse (Chad Lindberg) from The Fast and the Furious
The franchise's very first loss came in the form of sweet and talented Jesse. A member of Dom's original crew in the first movie, Jesse was the brains of the operation, but his need for cash led him to make a fatal mistake. He raced the movie's villain Johnny Tran (Rick Yune) for pink slips at Race Wars, lost the race and promptly freaked out. He drove away with Johnny's prize, pissing off the leader of the rival gang, so Johnny sent two goons on motorcycles to gun Jesse down in Dom's front yard.
The poor kid just made a bad call, and he could have had a long and illustrious career in the Fast franchise thanks to his innocence, brains, and heart. Since we only saw him get shot, he could have survived his injuries in the hospital and maybe turned over a new leaf, giving up his illegal activities, which would explain why he hasn't been a part of Dom's crew in the past six movies. But when Dom turns his back on his family, it's going to be all hands on deck to get him back, so Jesse could play a big part in that.
Riley Hicks (Gina Carano) from Fast & Furious 6
Now we're getting into villain territory. The Fast franchise has always had some juicy villains, but one of the most shocking villain twists was Riley Hicks' outing as a double agent. She was Agent Hobbs' (Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson) sidekick throughout the entire movie until Owen Shaw (Luke Evans) revealed with glee to Hobbs, Dom, and the entire DSS squad that not only did his people manage to kidnap Mia, but Riley was also his girlfriend. She'd been acting as a mole for Shaw's elite terrorist crew inside the government the whole time. With that mic drop, Shaw and Riley walked out holding hands while Hobbs, Dom, Brian and the rest of the good guys could only stare in shock.
The double agent pulled a Gisele in the film's climax on the runway and fell out of the plane into darkness, but again, we never actually saw her hit the ground and die. With the return of Shaw's brother Deckard (Jason Statham) in Fate of the Furious as one of the good guys (seriously), maybe Riley could return to remind Deckard of just how badly Hobbs and Dom hurt his brother and sway him back to the bad side for revenge.
It doesn't matter how they bring Riley back as long as they do. Honestly, I just want her to return because she's the only other female in the entire franchise that could go head-to-head with Letty and actually hold her own in a knock-down, drag-out fist fight (and no, I don't count Ronda Rousey's hilariously awful cameo in Furious 7). We need a rematch!
Johnny Tran from The Fast and the Furious
There's no worse way to go than being shot in the back, but that's the fate the Johnny Tran suffered in the first movie. Brian got his revenge on Tran after he orchestrated the drive-by killing of Jesse, but Tran was such a mustache-twirling villain that he deserved a much bigger death than that. Getting shot in the back doesn't necessarily mean he died, so I could suspend some disbelief if Tran returned for later movies like Fast 9. What better way to bring the franchise full-circle than by bringing back the very first villain?
Fenix Calderon (Laz Alonso) from Fast & Furious
Another villain who should return is Fenix, although this one would be a little tougher to explain after Dom t-boned him with his own car at the Mexican border. It was pretty gnarly, and there's no way Fenix survived that at the speed Dom was driving and the height of the car hitting him in his chest. But Fenix was a formidable opponent in both his physical fighting skills and his elite driving. How cool would it be to see some flashbacks showing just how Fenix became the scary dude who "killed" Letty in Fast & Furious?
Which characters do you want to see return to the Fast and Furious franchise? Tweet me your picks at @SydneyBucksbaum!
Images: Universal Pictures