|Centuries:||19th century – 20th century – 21st century|
|Decades:||1950s 1960s 1970s – 1980s – 1990s 2000s 2010s|
|Years:||1984 1985 1986 – 1987 – 1988 1989 1990|
|1987 by topic:|
|Birth and death categories|
|Establishments and disestablishments categories|
|Works and introductions categories|
|Ab urbe condita||2740|
|British Regnal year||35 Eliz. 2 – 36 Eliz. 2|
|Chinese calendar|| 丙寅年十二月初二日
— to —丁卯年十一月十一日
|- Vikram Samvat||2043–2044|
|- Shaka Samvat||1909–1910|
|- Kali Yuga||5088–5089|
|- Ǹrí Ìgbò||987–988|
|Japanese calendar|| Shōwa 62
|Julian calendar||Gregorian minus 13 days|
|Minguo calendar||ROC 76
|Thai solar calendar||2530|
1987 (MCMLXXXVII) was a common year that started on a Thursday, in accordance with the Gregorian calendar. It was the 1987th year of the Common Era, or A.D.; the 987th year of the 2nd millennium; the 87th year of the 20th century; and the 8th year of the 1980s. It was also the last year for 26 years to have all 4 digits different from each other until 2013.
- January 1 – Frobisher Bay, Northwest Territories, changes its name to Iqaluit. In 1999, it becomes the capital of Nunavut.
- January 2 – Chadian–Libyan conflict – Battle of Fada: The Chadian army destroys a Libyan armoured brigade.
- January 3 – Aretha Franklin becomes the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
- January 4 – 1987 Maryland train collision: An Amtrak train en route from Washington, D.C. to Boston, Massachusetts collides with Conrail engines at Chase, Maryland, killing 16.
- January 5 – U.S. President Ronald Reagan undergoes prostate surgery, causing speculation about his physical fitness to continue in office.
- January 8 – The Dow Jones Industrial Average closes for the first time above 2,000, gaining 8.30 to close at 2,002.25.
- January 13 – New York mafiosi Anthony "Fat Tony" Salerno and Carmine Peruccia are sentenced to 100 years in prison for racketeering.
- January 16 – León Febres Cordero, president of Ecuador, is kidnapped by followers of imprisoned general Frank Vargas, who successfully demand the latter's release.
- January 20 – Terry Waite, the special envoy of the Archbishop of Canterbury in Lebanon, is kidnapped in Beirut (released November 1991).
- January 22 – Pennsylvania Treasurer Budd Dwyer shoots and kills himself with a revolver during a televised press conference after being found guilty on charges of bribery, fraud, conspiracy, and racketeering.
- January 29 – William J. Casey ends his term as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency.
- January 31 – The last Ohrbach's department store closes in New York City after 64 years of operation.
- February 11
- February 18 – JoAnna Knaffla starts career at Rock Financial (now Quicken Loans).
- February 20 – A second Unabomber bomb explodes at a Salt Lake City computer store, injuring the owner.
- February 23 – Supernova 1987A, the first "naked-eye" supernova since 1604, is observed.
- February 25 – St. Kitts and Nevis recognizes the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR).
- February 26 – Iran-Contra affair: The Tower Commission rebukes U.S. President Ronald Reagan for not controlling his National Security Council staff.
- February 27 – Antigua and Barbuda recognizes the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR).
- March 2 – American Motors Corporation is acquired by the Chrysler Corporation
- March 4 – U.S. President Ronald Reagan addresses the American people on the Iran-Contra Affair, acknowledging that his overtures to Iran had 'deteriorated' into an arms-for-hostages deal.
- March 6 – Zeebrugge Disaster: A cross-channel ferry capsizes outside the harbour off Zeebrugge, Belgium; 180 drown.
- March 9 – The Irish rock band U2 releases their studio album The Joshua Tree.
- March 18 – Woodstock of physics: The marathon session of the American Physical Society’s meeting features 51 presentations concerning the science of high-temperature superconductors.
- March 20 – AZT: Zidovudine (or, more commonly, Azidothymidine) is approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration for use in the treatment of HIV/AIDS.
- March 24 – Michael Eisner, CEO of The Walt Disney Company, and French Prime Minister and future President of France, Jacques Chirac, sign the agreement to construct the 4,800 acres (19 km2) Euro Disney Resort (now called Disneyland Paris) and to develop the Val d'Europe area of the new town Marne-la-Vallée in Paris, France.
- March 29 – The World Wrestling Federation (then WWF, now WWE) produced Wrestlemania III from the Pontiac Silverdome in Pontiac, Michigan. The event is particularly notable for the record attendance of 93,173, the largest recorded attendance for a live indoor sporting event in North America. The record itself stood until February 14, 2010 when the 2010 NBA All-Star Game broke the indoor sporting event record with an attendance of 108,713 at Cowboys Stadium.
- April 13 – Portugal and the People's Republic of China sign an agreement in which Macau will be returned to China in 1999.
- April 19 – The Simpsons cartoon first appears as a series of shorts on The Tracey Ullman Show.
- April 27 – The United States Department of Justice declares incumbent Austrian president Kurt Waldheim an "undesirable alien".
- April 30 – Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and the Provincial Premiers agree on principle to the Meech Lake Accord which would bring Quebec into the constitution.
- May 9 – A Soviet-made Il-62 airliner, operated by LOT Polish Airlines, crashes near the Kabacki forest in Poland, killing all 183 people on board.
- May 11 – Klaus Barbie goes on trial in Lyon for war crimes committed during World War II
- May 14 – Lieutenant Colonel Sitiveni Rabuka executes a bloodless coup in Fiji.
- May 17 – U.S.S. Stark is hit by two Iraqi-owned Exocet AM39 air-to-surface missiles killing 47 sailors.
- May 22
- Hashimpura massacre in Meerut city of India.
- First ever Rugby World Cup kicks off with New Zealand playing Italy at Eden Park, Auckland
- May 28 – Nineteen year-old West German pilot Mathias Rust evades Soviet air defenses and lands a private plane on Red Square in Moscow. He is immediately detained (released on August 3, 1988).
- June 3 – Trade unionists in Vanuatu found the Vanuatu Labour Party.
- June 8 – The New Zealand Nuclear Free Zone, Disarmament, and Arms Control Act is passed, the first of its kind in the world.
- June 11 – The Conservative Party of the United Kingdom, led by Margaret Thatcher, is re-elected for a third term at the 1987 general election.
- June 12 – During a visit to Berlin, Germany, U.S. President Ronald Reagan challenges Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin Wall.
- June 17 – With the death of the last individual, the Dusky Seaside Sparrow becomes extinct.
- June 19
- Teddy Seymour is officially designated the first black man to sail around the world, when he completes his solo sailing circumnavigation in Frederiksted, St. Croix, of the United States Virgin Islands.
- Edwards v. Aguillard: The Supreme Court of the United States rules that a Louisiana law requiring that creation science be taught in public schools whenever evolution is taught is unconstitutional.
- June 27 – A commercial HS 748 ( Philippine Airlines Flight 206) crashes near Baguio City, Philippines, killing 50.
- June 28
- Iraqi warplanes dropped mustard gas bombs on the Iranian town of Sardasht in two separate bombing rounds, on four residential areas. This was the first time a civilian town was targeted by chemical weapons.
- An accidental explosion at Hohenfels Training Area in West Germany kills 3 U.S. troopers.
- June 29 – South Korean president Roh Tae-Woo makes a speech promising a wide program of nationwide reforms, the result of June Democracy Movement.
- June 30 – Canada introduces a one dollar coin, nicknamed the "Loonie".
- July 1
- July 3
- In the Soviet Union, Vladimir Nikolayev is sentenced to death for cannibalism.
- Greater Manchester Police recover the body of 16-year-old Pauline Reade from Saddleworth Moor, after her killers Ian Brady and Myra Hindley helped them in their search, almost exactly 24 years since Pauline was last seen alive.
- July 4 – A court in Lyon sentences former Gestapo boss Klaus Barbie to life imprisonment for crimes against humanity.
- July 11
- July 12 – Konami releases Metal Gear (video game) in Japan for the MSX2.
- July 17 – The Dow Jones Industrial Average closes above the 2,500 mark for the first time, at 2,510.04.
- July 22 – Palestinian cartoonist Naji Salim al-Ali is shot in London; he dies August 28.
- July 25
- The East Lancashire Railway, a heritage railway in the North West of England, is opened between Bury and Ramsbottom.
- United States Secretary of Commerce Malcolm Baldrige, Jr. dies in a rodeo accident at a California ranch.
- July 31
- Four hundred Iranian pilgrims are killed in clashes with Saudi Arabian security forces in Mecca.
- Docklands Light Railway in London, the first driverless railway in Great Britain, is formally opened by Elizabeth II.
- An F4-rated tornado devastates eastern Edmonton, Alberta. Hardest hit are an industrial park and a trailer park. 27 people are killed and hundreds injured, with hundreds more left homeless and jobless.
- August 4
- August 7 – The Colombian frigate Caldas enters Venezuelan waters near the Los Monjes Archipelago, sparking the Caldas frigate crisis between both nations.
- August 9 – Hoddle Street Massacre: Julian Knight, 19, goes on a shooting rampage in Melbourne, killing seven people and injuring 19 before surrendering to police.
- August 14
- All the children held at Kia Lama, a rural property on Lake Eildon, Australia, run by the Santiniketan Park Association, are released after a police raid.
- Aéropostale – The first Aeropostale clothing store opens in New York City, New York. It is a mall-based, specialty retailer of casual apparel and accessories.
- August 16
- Northwest Airlines Flight 255 (a McDonnell Douglas MD-82) crashes on takeoff from Detroit Metropolitan Airport in Romulus, Michigan just west of Detroit killing all but one (4-year old Cecelia Cichan) of the 156 people on board.
- The followers of the Harmonic Convergence claim it was observed around the world.
- August 17 – Rudolf Hess is found dead in his cell in Spandau Prison. Hess, 93, is believed to have committed suicide by hanging himself with an electrical flex. He was the last remaining prisoner at the complex, which is soon demolished.
- August 19
- ABC News' chief Middle East correspondent Charles Glass escapes his Hezbollah kidnappers in Beirut, Lebanon, after 62 days in captivity.
- Order of the Garter is opened to women.
- August 31 – Michael Jackson releases his hit album Bad.
- September 2 – In Moscow, the trial begins for 19-year-old pilot Mathias Rust, who flew his Cessna airplane into Red Square in May.
- September 3 – In a coup d'état in Burundi, President Jean-Baptiste Bagaza is deposed by Major Pierre Buyoya.
- September 7 – September 21 – The world's first conference on artificial life is held at Los Alamos National Laboratory.
- September 13 – Scavengers open an old radiation source abandoned in a hospital in Goiânia, causing the worst radiation accident ever in an urban area.
- September 17 – At a small rally in Harlem, televangelist Pat Robertson announces his candidacy for the 1988 Republican presidential nomination.
- September 28 – The second Star Trek TV series The Next Generation premieres in syndication.
- October 3 – The Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement is reached but still requires ratification. This agreement would be a precursor to NAFTA.
- October 11 – The first National Coming Out Day is held in celebration of the second National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights.
- October 14– October 16 – The United States is caught up in a drama that unfolds on television as a young child, Jessica McClure, falls down a well in Midland, Texas, and is later rescued.
- October 15– October 16 – Great Storm of 1987: Hurricane-force winds hit much of South England, killing 23 people.
- October 19
- October 22 – The pilot of a British Aerospace BAE Harrier GR5 registered ZD325 accidentally ejects from his aircraft. The jet continues to fly until it runs out of fuel and crashes into the Irish Sea.
- October 23
- Champion English jockey Lester Piggott is jailed for three years after being convicted of tax evasion.
- On a vote of 58–42, the United States Senate rejects President Ronald Reagan's nomination of Robert Bork to the Supreme Court.
- October 26 – The Dow Jones Industrial Average goes down 156.83 points.
- November 1 – InterCity 125 breaks world diesel powered train speed record reaching 238 km/h (147.88 mph).
- November 7 – Zine El Abidine Ben Ali assumes the Presidency of Tunisia.
- November 8 – Enniskillen bombing: Eleven people are killed by a Provisional Irish Republican Army bomb at a Remembrance Day service at Enniskillen.
- November 15 – In Braşov, Romania, workers rebel against the communist regime led by Nicolae Ceaușescu.
- November 16 – Parlatino Treaty of Institutionalization signed.
- November 17 – A tsunami hits the Gulf of Alaska.
- November 18
- November 22 – Max Headroom broadcast signal intrusion incident – unknown perpetrators hijack the signal of WGN-TV for about 20 seconds, and WTTW for about 90 seconds, and displays a strange video of a man in a Max Headroom mask.
- November 25 – Category 5 Typhoon Nina smashes the Philippines with 165 miles per hour (266 km/h) winds and a devastating storm surge, causing destruction and 1,036 deaths.
- November 28 – South African Airways Flight 295 crashes into the Indian ocean off Mauritius due to a fire in the cargo hold; the 159 passengers and crew perish.
- November 29 – Korean Air Flight 858 is blown up over the Andaman Sea, killing 115 crew and passengers. North Korean agents are responsible for the bombing.
- December 1
- NASA announces the names of 4 companies awarded contracts to help build Space Station Freedom: Boeing Aerospace, General Electric's Astro-Space Division, McDonnell Douglas, and the Rocketdyne Division of Rockwell.
- Queensland: Following a week of turmoil from his National Party of Australia colleagues, Joh Bjelke-Petersen resigns as Premier of Queensland. He is replaced by Mike Ahern, the only premier never to contest an election as premier.
- December 2 – Hustler Magazine v. Falwell is argued before the U.S. Supreme Court.
- December 7 – Pacific Southwest Airlines Flight 1771 crashes near Paso Robles, California, killing all 43 on board, after a disgruntled passenger shoots his ex-supervisor on the flight, then shoots both pilots.
- December 8
- Israeli-Palestinian conflict: First Intifada begins in the Gaza Strip and West Bank.
- Queen Street massacre: In Melbourne, Australia, 22-year-old Frank Vitkovic kills 8 and injures another 5 in a Post Office building before committing suicide by jumping from the eleventh floor.
- The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty is signed in Washington, D.C. by U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.
- Alianza Lima air disaster: A Peruvian Navy Fokker F27 crashes near Ventanilla, Peru, killing 43.
- December 9
- December 17
- Gustáv Husák resigns as General Secretary of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia.
- Mega Man is released in Japan.
- December 18
- December 20 – In history's worst peacetime sea disaster, the passenger ferry MV Doña Paz sinks after colliding with the oil tanker Vector 1 in the Tablas Strait in the Philippines, killing an estimated 4,000 people (1,749 official).
- December 21 – Turgut Özal, of ANAP forms the new government of Turkey (46th government).
- December 30 – Pope John Paul II issues the encyclical Sollicitudo Rei Socialis (On Social Concern).
- The Pendolino train makes its debut in Italy.
- Tinker Hatfield designed the Nike Air Max.
- Shoko Asahara founds the Aum Shinrikyo cult.
- Thomas Knoll and John Knoll develop the first version of Photoshop.
- Maglite introduces the 2AAA Mini Maglite battery, targeted for medical and industrial applications.
- Barry Minkow's ZZZZ Best fraud unravels.
- Varroa destructor, an invasive parasite, is found in the U.S.
- Globalization - First Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant in Mainland China opens in Beijing near Tiananmen Square.
The following are references to year 1987 in fiction:
- 1987 , debut album by The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu, later known as The KLF.
- 13 Going on 30 (2004): The scenes where Jenna is thirteen take place on May 26, 1987.
- American Psycho (2000): According to director Mary Harron on the DVD commentary, the film is set around the end of 1987. Patrick Bateman is seen reading Zagat's Survey of this year as well.
- Fargo (1996): The film takes place in Minnesota, 1987
- Adventureland (2009): The film takes place in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, summer 1987
- Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire (2009): The film takes place in Harlem, New York in 1987.
- Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story (2004): There is a picture of a fat White Goodman with the caption "White Goodman – 1987" on it.
- Rock of Ages (2012): The year in which this film takes place.
- Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (1979): NASA launches the last of America's deep-space probes, the Space Shuttle Ranger 3, which is piloted by Captain William "Buck" Rogers.
- Set in 1987: the Doctor Who episode " Father's Day", 2005 takes place on November 7.
- Space: 1999 episode "The Rules of Luton" we learn that a world war, likely World War III, began sometime in 1987. It was described as 'The war to end all wars'.
- Computer/video games:
- Resident Evil: Michael Warren is elected mayor of Raccoon City.
- Shenmue (1999) – Story continues into 1987.
- Shenmue II (2001): The game is set in 1987
- Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus is set in this year (as claimed by the newspaper, after beating a boss).
- Syphon Filter 3: Three levels take place in and around Kabul, Afghanistan during this year amidst the Soviet occupation, with Gabe Logan and Lian Xing pitted against Afghan rebels and Soviet troops.
- January 9 – Arthur Lake, American actor (b. 1905)
- January 14 – Douglas Sirk, German-born film director (b. 1897)
- January 15 – Ray Bolger, American actor, singer, and dancer (b. 1904)
- January 16 – Joyce Jameson, American actress (b. 1932)
- January 21 – Charles Goodell, American politician (b. 1926)
- January 22 – Budd Dwyer, American politician (b. 1939)
- January 25 – Nahuel Moreno, Argentine Trotskyist leader (b. 1924)
- January 27
- January 31 – Yves Allégret, French film director (b. 1905)
- February 2 – Alistair MacLean, British writer (heart attack) (b. 1922)
- February 3 – Donald Aronow, Creator of the Cigarette Boat (Assassinated) (b. 1927)
- February 4 – Liberace, American pianist (b. 1919)
- February 5 – William Collier, American actor (b. 1902)
- February 10 – Robert O'Brien, racing driver (b. 1908)
- February 14 – Dmitry Kabalevsky, Russian composer (b. 1904)
- February 20 – Lev Russov, Russian painter (b. 1926)
- February 22
- February 24 – Jim Connors, American radio personality (b. 1940)
- February 25
- February 27 – Joan Greenwood, English actress (b. 1921)
- February 28 – Stephen Tennant, British aristocrat and playboy (b. 1906)
- (Date unknown) – Lou Darvas, American artist and cartoonist (b. 1913)
- March 2 – Randolph Scott, American actor (b. 1898)
- March 3 – Danny Kaye, American singer, actor, and comedian (b. 1918)
- March 7 – Waldo Salt, American screenwriter (b. 1914)
- March 11 – Joe Gladwin, English actor (b. 1906)
- March 12 – Woody Hayes, football coach at Ohio State (b. 1913)
- March 13 – Gerald Moore, English pianist (b. 1899)
- March 19 – Louis-Victor de Broglie, French physicist, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1892)
- March 21
- March 22 – Joan Shawlee, American actress (b. 1926)
- March 26
- March 28
- April 1 – Henri Cochet, French tennis champion (b. 1901)
- April 2
- April 3 – Tom Sestak, American football player (b. 1936)
- April 4 – C. L. Moore, American writer (b. 1911)
- April 11
- April 15 – Masatoshi Nakayama, Japanese Karate Master (b. 1913)
- April 17
- April 19
- April 26 – John Ernest Silkin, British politician (b. 1923)
- April 28 – Ben Linder, American engineer (b. 1959)
- May 3 – Dalida, French singer (b. 1933)
- May 4
- May 6 – William J. Casey, American Central Intelligence Agency director (b. 1913)
- May 7 – Colin Blakely, Irish actor (b. 1930)
- May 14 – Rita Hayworth, American actress (b. 1918)
- May 17 – Gunnar Myrdal, Swedish economist, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1898)
- May 19 – James Tiptree, Jr, American author (b. 1915)
- May 21 – Alejandro Rey, Argentine actor (b. 1930)
- May 24 – Hermione Gingold, English actress (b. 1897)
- May 27 – John Howard Northrop, American chemist, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1891)
- June 2
- June 3 – Will Sampson, American actor (b. 1933)
- June 6 – Fulton Mackay, Scottish actor (b. 1922)
- June 9 – Madge Kennedy, American actress (b. 1891)
- June 10 – Elizabeth Hartman, American actress (suicide) (b. 1943)
- June 11 – Ralph Guldahl, American golf champion (b. 1911)
- June 13
- June 19 – Teresa Cormack, New Zealand murder victim (b. 1981)
- June 22
- June 24 – Jackie Gleason, American actor and comedian (b. 1916)
- July 2 – Michael Bennett, American theatre director and choreographer (b. 1943)
- July 3 – Viola Dana, American actress (b. 1897)
- July 10 – John Hammond, American record producer (b. 1910)
- July 17
- July 20 – Richard Egan, American actor (b. 1921)
- July 22 – Jack Lescoulie, American actor (b. 1917)
- July 26
- July 28 – Jack Renshaw, Australian politician, former Premier of New South Wales (b. 1909)
- July 31 – Joseph E. Levine, American film producer (b. 1905)
- August 1 – Pola Negri, Polish born actress (b.1897)
- August 6 – Ira C. Eaker, World War II United States Army Air Forces general (b. 1896)
- August 11 – Clara Peller, American actress (b. 1902)
- August 16 – Nick Vanos, American basketball player (b. 1963)
- August 17
- August 19 – Hayden Rorke, American actor (I Dream of Jeannie) (b. 1910)
- August 26 – Georg Wittig, German chemist, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1897)
- August 28 – John Huston, American film director and actor (b. 1906)
- August 29 – Lee Marvin, American actor (b. 1924)
- September 3 – Rusty Wescoatt, American actor (b. 1911)
- September 4
- September 11
- September 12 – John Qualen, Canadian actor (b. 1899)
- September 13 – Mervyn LeRoy, American film producer and director (b. 1900)
- September 16 – Howard Moss, American poet, dramatist, and critic (b. 1922)
- September 17 – Harry Locke, British character actor (b. 1913)
- September 19 – Einar Henry Gerhardsen, former Prime Minister of Norway (b. 1897)
- September 21 – Jaco Pastorius, American bassist (b. 1951)
- September 22
- September 23 – Bob Fosse, American theatre choreographer and director (b. 1927)
- September 25
- September 29 – Henry Ford II, president of Ford Motor Company (b. 1917)
- September 30 – Herbert Sobel, US Army officer, made famous by Band of Brothers (b. 1912)
- October 2
- October 3
- October 7 – Cedric Phatudi, Chief Minister of Lebowa bantustan (b. 1912)
- October 8 – Spencer Gordon Bennett, American film producer (b. 1893)
- October 9
- October 12
- October 13
- October 15 – Donald Wandrei, American writer (b. 1908)
- October 19
- October 20 – Andrey Kolmogorov, Russian mathematician (b. 1903)
- October 22 – Lino Ventura, Italian actor (b. 1919)
- October 24 – Kelvin Martin, New York Criminal (b. 1964)
- October 28 – André Masson, French artist (b. 1896)
- October 29 – Woody Herman, American jazz musician (b. 1913)
- October 30 – Joseph Campbell, American mythologist, author (b. 1904)
- November 1 – René Lévesque, Canadian politician and premier of Quebec (b. 1922)
- November 5
- November 7 – Arne Borg, Swedish Olympic swimmer (b. 1901)
- November 10 – Seyni Kountche, former President of Niger (b. 1931)
- November 16 – Zubir Said, Singaporean composer who composed Singapore's national anthem (b. 1907)
- November 21 – Ivan Jandl, Czech actor (b. 1937)
- November 25 – Zohar Argov, Israeli singer (b. 1955)
- November 25 – Duncan Sandys, British politician (b. 1908)
- November 30 – James Baldwin, American writer (b. 1924)
- December 1 – Punch Imlach, Canadian NHL coach (b. 1918)
- December 2
- December 4 – Rouben Mamoulian, Armenian-American film director (b. 1898)
- December 10 – Jascha Heifetz, Lithuanian-born violinist (b. 1901)
- December 21
- December 22 – Alice Terry, American actress (b. 1899)
- December 24 – Joop den Uyl, Dutch politician, Prime Minister of the Netherlands from 1973 until 1977 (b. 1919)
- December 25 – Ruf Bonner, Soviet Jewish exilee (b. 1900)
- December 27 – Priscilla Dean, American actress (b. 1896)
- December 29 – Patrick Bissell, American dancer (b. 1957)
- John Pierotti, American cartoonist (b. 1911)
- Huang Yao, Chinese artist (b. 1917)
- Syd Hartley, English professional association football player (b. 1914)
- Physics – J. Georg Bednorz, Karl Alexander Müller
- Chemistry – Donald J Cram, Jean-Marie Lehn, Charles J. Pedersen
- Medicine – Susumu Tonegawa
- Literature – Joseph Brodsky
- Peace – Oscar Arias Sanchez
- Bank of Sweden Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel – Robert Solow
Right Livelihood Award
- Johan Galtung, Chipko movement, Hans-Peter Dürr / Global Challenges Network, Institute for Food and Development Policy / Frances Moore-Lappé and Mordechai Vanunu