Mike Flanagan’s latest Netflix horror series, The Fall of the House of Usher, is a brilliant, modern-day adaptation of several Edgar Allan Poe stories, poems, and ideas. And, like Poe’s work, the show is incredibly brutal at times. We know from the very beginning of the series that bad stuff will befall the members of the Usher family. But some outcomes are much more viscerally upsetting than others. So, because we, too, are macabre weirdos, we’re going to rank the major The Fall of The House of Usher deaths (or outcomes) from least horrible to most disquieting. Here’s what befell the main characters of this Flanagan series and how gruesome a fate they suffered.
10. Lenore Usher – A Quick and Painless Death
Easily The Fall of the House of Usher death that feels the kindest (if one has to die at all) is the fate of the youngest Usher, Lenore. The forthright daughter of eldest, most moronic Usher child, Frederick. Verna clearly does not take any pleasure in collecting the final member of the Usher bloodline. She even offers the young lady the kindness of letting her know her mom will be fine and will set up a foundation to help others. This is really nice. And since Lenore Usher can’t hope to escape her grandfather and great aunt’s soul-selling, a quick, quiet death is the best outcome.
9. Rufus Griswold – Walled Up in a Building
The ostensible villain of the flashbacks of the series, Rufus Griswold, the a-hole CEO of Fortunado Pharmaceuticals, gets his just desserts in the last episode. Turns out, screwing over Roderick and Madeline Usher has its consequences. And while I would never say it’s a good way to meet your end, compared to some of the other deaths in the show, Griswold got off light. Yes, he’s going to suffocate in the dark, chained to a wall. At least that’s it. Once he wakes up and realizes he can’t talk the Ushers out of their revenge, has a chuckle. He has time to think about what he did, which sounds pretty rough, but he also has time to make peace with himself. If Grisowld’s is the second least brutal The Fall of the House of Usher death, that just tells you how bad the rest are.
8. Napoleon Usher – Falls to His Death Off a Penthouse Balcony
Napoleon is one of the more likable members of the Usher clan, despite being a drug-dealing philanderer. Still, that’s not always an indication that you’ll go nicely. He has the unfortunate fate of Verna driving him mad via his guilt over killing his boyfriend’s beloved cat in a drug-and-drink-fueled stupor. The replacement black cat is a nasty piece of work and attacks Leo pretty much non-stop and leaves dead animals in his bed. Eventually, Leo snaps and tries to crush the cat with a hammer. In his crazed state, he doesn’t stop to think that running at full speed toward a high-rise balcony is maybe not the smartest thing. He goes over the side and lands in a dead pile on the pavement below. Compared to his siblings, he got off light.
7. Victorine LaFourcade – Stabs Self in Heart
One of the hallmarks of Poe’s doomed protagonists is going mad before you meet your cruel fate. Leo obviously did. So, too, does another of Roderick’s adopted children, Victorine, who has become obsessed with getting her artificial heart-pumping machine to work. Having killed loads of poor chimpanzees, her partner wants to wash her hands of the whole thing. Not good for Victorine, who needs this to work to get into her father’s good graces. She doesn’t even realize she killed Alessandra until it’s way too late, with Roderick finding the dead woman’s corpse with the heart-beater pumping nothing. Victorine briefly comes to her senses, but in her grief, she uses a pair of scissors to stab and disembowel herself before piercing her own heart. It’s not a quick death, and it’s definitely not painless, but it is better than some of the other The Fall of the House of Usher deaths that we witness.
6. Camille L’Espanaye – Mauled to Death by a Chimpanzee
Camille is the Usher family’s PR person and also not a very nice person, all told. She treats her assistants-slash-employees-with-benefits quite poorly and generally has bad things to say about everyone. Camille is also convinced her sister Victorine is the mole selling family secrets to the U.S. Attorney’s office. As such, she goes to the R.U.E. facility late one night to find some evidence. Verna, impersonating a security guard, tries to talk Camille out of going into the lab, but Camille cannot be deterred. Unfortunately, this leads to Camille discovering lab-tested chimpanzees, one of which—powered by Verna—gets out of its cage and proceeds to literally rip Camille apart. There aren’t many deaths, even on The Fall of the House of Usher, that are as terrifying as this, and it probably lasted long enough for her to really feel it. Yeesh.
5. Tamerlane Usher – Impaled by Many Shards of Glass
Tam has an identity crisis. Her self-esteem is quite low, and she has trouble connecting with people. This is evidenced by paying sex workers to pretend to be her in very normcore domestic scenes with her husband Bill. Slowly, her carefully constructed world begins to fall apart when one of these impersonators—it’s Verna, naturally—begins popping up everywhere. Tamerlane believes Bill is carrying on an affair with her, only Tam can’t quite seem to stay awake long enough to prove it. Eventually, she starts seeing Verna everywhere, even in the mirror. Tamerlane begins smashing mirrors all over her home and ends by jumping on her bed and smashing the ceiling mirror. Those shards fall on her, cutting her to ribbons.
Now you might wonder why that death is worse than a chimpanzee mauling. Well, as the episode shows us in slow motion, Tamerlane has a moment of dread clarity right as it’s too late. She sees what she’s done, that she’s just caused her own death and now only has moments to live. Not long enough to do anything about it, but long enough to reflect (ha) on all that transpired in her miserable life.
4. Roderick Usher – Crushed to Death by a Falling House
Roderick Usher, the patriarch of this brood and perpetrator of many ill deeds, does not receive the show’s worst death. In fact, having a house fall on you, in this show, seems pretty light punishment. However, what puts it this high on this list is that Roderick has had to suffer the knowledge that all of his children will die horribly, that his poor granddaughter has died but still taunts him via a Chatbot, and that he has just had to kill his sister. He could have spared all of this, and probably had a happy life with Annabel Lee, had his greed and thirst for revenge not gotten the better of him. This is all in addition to suffering the beginnings of dementia and seeing his empire crumble. Hard to feel too sorry for him, but it’s a pretty bad time.
3. Madeline Usher – Crushed by House After Brother Poisoned Her and Removed Her Eyes
Madeline is Roderick’s unscrupulous sister who more or less acts as his personal shoulder devil throughout the show. She’s the one who pushes him into the Fortunado scheme and has a rather ruthless approach to just about everyone and everything in the Usher family. To that end, she might “deserve” her demise more than a lot of other characters. But. Having your eyes gouged out and replaced with jewels while still alive is tremendously gruesome, and then to top it all off, she had to dig her way out of her makeshift grave only to try to find Roderick via sound and ultimately die under a toppling house. Yeesh, we say. Yeesh. It’s dramatic irony, but good heavens.
2. Frederick Usher – Slowly Bisected by Swinging Steel Girder While Immobilized
Frederick, being the eldest child of Roderick Usher, was always going to die last. At least once we saw the pattern of deaths Verna was playing with on The Fall of the House of Usher. The beginning of the show made him seem like a vapid, spoiled dummy. He gets everything handed to him and he quickly kowtows to Arthur Pym’s orders. However, once he begins indulging in loads of cocaine, Freddy shows his true colors. He tortures his bedridden wife for her perceived infidelity and refuses to get her the help she needs. He also turns to the mafia to cover up his poor real estate filings. Freddy is a putz but also a real piece of crap.
That’s why when he ends up on the floor of a building under demolition, dosed with the paralytic he had been giving his wife, unable to save himself, it’s a horribly fitting finale. As the pendulum of debris ticks down to his eventual end, Freddy has to stare his behavior right in the face. And the show doesn’t save him, or us, from the worst part of it, as the swinging metal cuts him in half across the stomach. Horrific.
1. Prospero Usher – Melted to Death Via Acidic Sprinkler System
In many ways, the first death on The Fall of the House of Usher is the worst. Young, vapid influencer Prospero wants to prove his father wrong by making an exclusive sex club for the city’s elite. He also wants to spy on all of them and hold the richos to ransom. He never gets to do that, however, because he chose to hold this orgy in one of his family’s ought-to-be-condemned factory buildings. Perry doesn’t do his due diligence on pretty much anything, and his evening’s coup d’état is a wet-and-wild dance-off via the building’s massive sprinkler system. Except Prosepero Usher didn’t check the water in the roof tank and was unaware, it was full of deadly corrosive chemicals. As the water comes down, all the naked debauchery becomes a sizzling mass of flesh and viscera. This death is slow, painful, and inescapable, and for that reason, I’m out.
The Fall of the House of Usher and all of its many deaths are on Netflix now.