Who dies in Oppenheimer?

Chris Tilly
Cillian Murphy as J. Robert Oppenheimer.Universal Pictures

Who dies in Oppenheimer? We’ve broken down the deaths in Christopher Nolan’s new movie about “the father of the atomic bomb.”

Oppenheimer is one of the most eagerly anticipated movies of the year. Written and directed by Christopher Nolan, it’s his first biopic, and revolves around the creation of the atomic bomb, and the devastating events that followed.

Here’s what we had to say about the movie in the Dexerto review: “Oppenheimer begins with a quote about Prometheus stealing from the gods, then being punished for all eternity. Which mirrors the tale being told here. But in spite of the fact that this is less biopic, and more horror movie, Oppenheimer nevertheless finds compassion in Robert’s story. Resulting in a towering achievement that’s up there with Nolan’s very best, and a film of both great importance, and true humanity.”

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However, a story like this does not end well, so here’s who dies in the movie. Warning: Spoilers ahead!

Who dies in Oppenheimer

Oppenheimer is based on true events, with the film’s incredible cast all playing real-life people. Christopher Nolan’s script also remains true to real-life events, meaning only one of the lead characters dies during the movie – Jean Tatlock, played by Florence Pugh.

Florence Pugh as Jean Tatlock alongside Cillian Murphy in the Oppenheimer castUniversal Pictures
Florence Pugh as Jean Tatlock and Cillian Murphy as J. Robert in Oppenheimer.

Here’s how the official production notes describe Jean Tatlock: “An intellectual, deep-feeling introvert, sensual, free-spirited, yet prone to bouts of melancholy, Jean Tatlock was a Stanford-educated psychiatrist who had an intense yet tortured romance with J. Robert Oppenheimer.”

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That melancholy was clinical depression, and on January 4, 1944, Jean Tatlock took her own life, a tragedy that features in the film.

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Oppenheimer drops the bomb

Nolan’s movie builds to a single, catastrophic event – the dropping of the atomic bomb on Japan. In the film’s most chilling scene, Oppenheimer sits with politicians in suits and army men in uniform as they debate which cities to target.

Hiroshima and Nagasaki became the victim of those bombs, though Nolan doesn’t show the destruction. Instead, it’s described during the movie. While we see the title character’s face as he reacts to photos and footage from the disaster.

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But as the film progresses, characters learn that the number who died in both events is ever-rising, with more than 220,000 people ultimately thought to have been killed by the bombs and their fallout.

As for J. Robert, he doesn’t die during the film, but you can learn about his fate here.

Oppenheimer is in cinemas now, and you can find more coverage below:

Oppenheimer review | Epic runtime revealed | R-rating explained | Best way to watch Oppenheimer | Christopher Nolan on sex scenes | Cast and characters | Filming locations | True story explained | Is Oppenheimer streaming? | Nolan ranked by Rotten Tomato scoresIs it based on a book? | Age-gap controversy explained Robert Pattinson’s influence | How Oppenheimer died | Christopher Nolan explains strange script | Did Japan ban Oppenheimer? | Review roundup | Does Oppenheimer have a post-credits scene? | Box officeEnding explained

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About The Author

Chris Tilly is the TV and Movies Editor at Dexerto. He has a BA in English Literature, an MA in Newspaper Journalism, and over the last 20 years, he's worked for the likes of Time Out, IGN, and Fandom. Chris loves Star Wars, Marvel, DC, sci-fi, and especially horror, while he knows maybe too much about Alan Partridge. You can email him here: chris.tilly@dexerto.com.