The death of Cleitus took place at a conference of generals at what is now the town of Samarkand. Most of the members were rather drunk, and Alexander announced a reorganization of commands. Specifically, Cleitus was given orders to take 15,000 of the defeated Greek mercenaries who formerly fought for the Persian King north to fight the steppe nomads in Central Asia.
Cleitus knew that he would no longer be near the King and would be a forgotten man. Furious at the thought of commanding what he saw as second-rate men, fighting nomads in the middle of nowhere, he spoke his mind. To make matters worse, Alexander arrogantly boasted that his accomplishments were far greater than that of his father, Phillip II. Cleitus said Alexander was not the legitimate King of the Macedonians, and that all of his glory was due to his father. Alexander called for his guards, but they did not want to intervene in a quarrel between friends.
Alexander threw an apple at Cleitus's head and called for a dagger, but friends of the two men had removed the dagger and hustled Cleitus out of the room. Cleitus returned and spouted more insults. Alexander had by then got hold of a spear, and killed Cleitus on the spot. Alexander would later regret killing his friend.
The death of Cleitus at Alexander's hand is depicted in a scene of Oliver Stone's film Alexander, starring Colin Farrell, released on November 24, 2004. Gary Stretch plays Cleitus. The scene was intended to be the "turning point" in the campaign- when the Greek generals began to insist (more quietly than Cleitus) that Alexander return home.