Why Did Danny Get Killed in American History X?

American History X is a 1998 American drama film that tells the story of a former neo-nazi skinhead named Derek Vinyard, played by Edward Norton. The film explores themes of racism, hate crimes, and redemption.

One of the most shocking moments in the movie is when Danny Vinyard, Derek’s younger brother, is killed by a gang member. But why did Danny get killed in American History X? Let’s take a closer look.

The Background

Before we dive into why Danny got killed, it’s important to understand the context leading up to his death. Danny was heavily influenced by his older brother Derek’s beliefs in white supremacy and neo-nazism. However, after Derek is sent to prison for killing two black men, he reevaluates his beliefs and becomes an advocate for racial unity.

Danny begins to follow in his brother’s footsteps and becomes more open-minded about people of different races. He even writes an essay for school about Adolf Hitler being a charismatic leader who led Germany down a path of destruction.

Despite his changing views, Danny still has ties to the white supremacist gang that he used to associate with. One night, he attends a party with them and gets into an argument with another gang member named Little Henry. This argument sets off a chain of events that ultimately leads to Danny’s death.

The Shooting

After the party, Little Henry seeks revenge on Danny and breaks into the Vinyard household with two other gang members. They confront Danny in the bathroom and shoot him multiple times.

The reason for the shooting is not explicitly stated in the movie but it can be inferred that it was payback for Danny disrespecting Little Henry at the party. It’s also possible that they saw Danny as a traitor for distancing himself from their white supremacist beliefs.

  • Could It Have Been Avoided?

Danny’s death serves as a tragic reminder of the consequences of hate and violence. It’s clear that if Danny had not been involved with the white supremacist gang, he would not have been Targeted for retribution.

However, it’s also important to note that Danny’s death was not solely caused by his association with the gang. The root cause of his death was the hate and bigotry that led to the creation of such groups in the first place. Had Danny grown up in a world without racism and prejudice, he would not have been exposed to these harmful ideologies.


In conclusion, Danny Vinyard’s death in American History X was a direct result of his involvement with a white supremacist gang and their violent actions. However, it’s important to remember that this tragedy was ultimately caused by the larger societal issues of racism and hate.

The film serves as a cautionary tale about the dangers of extremism and bigotry. It also highlights the importance of education and understanding in promoting tolerance and acceptance. Let us all learn from Danny’s fate and work towards creating a world where such tragedies do not occur.