As always, the initial mass of a star determines its course in life.  There are three possible end points to the life of a star.  White Dwarf Neutron Star Black Hole Every star will eventually become unstable and enter its red giant phase.  A red giant is an endpoint for a low-mass star such as the Sun.  When our Sun reaches the very end of its life, it will have a somewhat gentle end.   But for a small number of stars, becoming a red giant is not the end. When very massive stars die, they do so quite dramatically.  The somewhat rare more massive stars end quickly, sometimes with explosive results.  In our universe, stars explode as supernova each and every day making for a very long list of recent supernovae.  The trick is to spot these explosions as they happen.  Here’s what you might see if you discover one of these huge explosions.    That is why many amateur astronomers have dedicated themselves to searching for supernovae.  It’s a big universe with lots of stars!  Here is a video of some recent supernovae.      
Looking for a particular star?  Find it here!
Paths to the End of a Star
Carpe Caelum
Carpe Caelum Stellar Astronomy