There are common mechanisms shared by genetically or pathologically distinct neurodegenerative diseases, such as excitotoxicity, mitochondrial deficits and oxidative stress, protein misfolding and translational dysfunction, autophagy and microglia activation. This indicates that although the original cause may differ in individual diseases or even subtypes of certain disorders, these disrupted common cell functions and signaling, together with aging, may lead to final execution of cell death through similar pathways. The variable neurodegenerative disease symptoms are probably caused by the type, location, and connection of the cell populations that suffer from dysfunction and loss. Besides apoptosis, necroptosis, and autophagy, an important form of death termed parthanatos plays a prominent role in stroke and several neurodegenerative diseases, which is due to PARP-1 overactivation, PAR accumulation, nuclear translocation of the mitochondria protein AIF, and large-scale DNA cleavage. Understanding the mechanisms and interactions of cell death signaling will not only help to develop neuroprotective strategies to halt neurodegeneration, but also provide biomarkers for monitoring disease progression and recovery.