09 / THE DEATH OF SPOCK
STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN (1982)
The most tear-jerking scene in sci-fi arose from necessity: Leonard Nimoy agreed to return as Spock only if he died. But the resulting tragedy was the keystone to Star Trek’s best film, and an emotional wallop that reinvigorated the franchise. It certainly didn’t hurt that it followed a knuckle-bitingly tense battle between the Enterprise and the revenge-fixated Khan (Ricardo Montalbán), and what made it hurt more was the fact it hit during what should have been a moment of triumph. On racing to Engineering, Kirk (William Shatner) finds his friend of 30 years dying of radiation poisoning after sacrificing himself to save them all. Shatner doesn’t often get credit for his acting, but his performance as the pair slump on opposite sides of the safety glass is devastating. While Nimoy’s, “I have been — and always shall be — your friend,” is more famous, it’s Kirk’s choked, “No,” that pins the scene.