There’s been a lot of wild and amazing deaths on movie and TV screens over the years. From horror to action movies, characters have gone out in wild and amazing ways. Some actors seem to be stuck in that way, especially in the horror genre and going back to the old Hollywood days when guys made almost four or five movies a year, it’d be easy to get sucked into that. It’s thus tricky to figure out exactly who’s kicked it the most on screen but you can find things out well online.
It might be surprising who the top pick is but it’s notable how so many actors have bit it on screen whether movies or TV. Some have been quick deaths, others fantastic and over the top manner but each time, notable to say the least. By the numbers, here are the 10 actors with the most on-screen deaths, showing how some meet the Grim Reaper more often than others.
While it should be obvious, there are SPOILERS for some films.
10. Gary Oldman – 13
Oldman’s first notable roles had harsh ends: Shot dead in State of Grace and playing the doomed Lee Harvey Oswald in JFK. He met dual ends as Dracula, gunned down in True Romance and The Professional, blown up in The Fifth Element, kicked out of Air Force One, eaten by wild hogs in Hannibal and knocked into a mystical portal in Harry Potter. While he has managed to eke out survival in several films (like the Dark Knight saga), it’s balanced out by deaths as wild as Oldman’s performances and showcasing a fun talent.
9. Johnny Depp – 14
The quirky actor has become well known for various big-time franchises and heroic characters so it’s surprising he’s died so often on screen. But it has happened with his very first role as a victim of Freddy Kruger in the first Nightmare on Elm Street movie and continued with Platoon, electrocuted by Charlize Theron in The Astronaut’s Wife (after his character has already been “wiped” by a possessing alien) and shot dead in Dead Man. Additionally, several of his characters return from the dead whether Jack Sparrow, vampire Barnabas Collins or computerized scientist in Transcendence. It makes an odd sense some of his characters manage to recover from death to showcase the fun actor Depp is.
8. Bill Paxton – 15
Paxton has a unique place in history: He’s the only man on screen to have been killed by a Terminator (the first Terminator film), a Xenomorph (Aliens), a Predator (Predator 2) and an Avenger (Agents of SHIELD). You can also throw in Nazis (U-571), mountain climbing (Vertical Limit) and alien attack (Edge of Tomorrow). That’s not to mention various TV roles, including shot dead in the final episode of her drama Big Love. He’s a pretty nice guy overall but he sure has met some pretty nasty ends on screen to some big names.
7. Robert DeNiro – 17
The veteran Oscar-winning legend has more movies on his resume than most actors today so it’s no surprise that DeNiro has met his end on screen numerous times. The majority of them involve him being gunned down such as Mean Streets, Heat and The Fan, drowned in Cape Fear and more. He has managed to survive over the years in later films acting in more warm roles but it’s no surprise a guy who’s done so many crime films has met a harsh end on screen.
6. Gary Busey – 19
From a slow rise to fame as a bizarre actor known for being crazy off-screen as well, Busey has been a stand-out in movies constantly over the years. That includes several deaths such The Magnificent Seven Ride Again and the doomed Buddy Holly. His wild fight with Mel Gibson made Lethal Weapon a hit and he was taken out in Predator 2, Point Break and the Firm along with action flicks Under Siege and Drop Zone. A man who can claim to have been bumped off by Gibson, Patrick Swayze, Steven Segal and Wesley Snipes, that’s a unique legacy that just adds to Busey’s already wild rep.
5. Mickey Rourke – 22
Rourke has had serious ups and downs in his life and business from drug use to later acclaim for a comeback. His big deaths have included Angel Heart (which is really a fate worse than death), Double Team, gunned down in Once Upon a Time in Mexico and getting the electric chair (multiple times) in Sin City. You can argue he did die at the end of The Wrestler although we didn’t see it and in Iron Man 2. It’s frankly amazing that Rourke has lived as long as he has given all he’s done in his life so his multiple deaths on screen have a different feel to them.
4. Michael Biehn – 24
The tough guy actor is well known for roles in James Cameron movies like The Terminator (where he met his death) and Aliens (he was killed off-screen in the third movie) along with The Abyss (crushed in high pressure water) and The Rock (gunned down). He’s known for his tough demeanor that leads to some nice action roles but they often end in a bad way although Biehn wins you over with his fun acting so at least you care when it meets his end.
3. Sean Bean – 25
Yep, the famous “dies in every movie” actor but Bean has actually made it to the end in some films (like Jupiter Ascending) to offset his many deaths. Still there are big ones such as his epic fall in Goldeneye, taken out by arrows in Lord of the Rings and impaled in Patriot Games. His most famous is, of course, Game of Thrones as fans were stunned that the actor they thought was the main character of the saga was brutally beheaded before the end of the first season. As noted, he’s survived in several films but his deaths outweigh those and have earned Bean some additional fame.
2. Vincent Price – 32
The long-time king of horror movies, it’s no surprise Price was subject to quite a few on-screen deaths. From being shot to torn apart, staked, burned, strangled by Charlton Heston in The Ten Commandments, a famous fall voicing Ratigan in The Great Mouse Detective, and that’s not counting deaths from his numerous TV series appearances. His final major on-screen role in Edward Scissorhands had a haunting death that was heartbreaking and showcased his fantastic talents. No matter the role, Price made it work wonderfully and when it came to a death scene, went all out to make it worthwhile.
1. John Hurt – 45
Perhaps a bit of a surprise but Hurt has been a mainstay of movies for fifty years and thus no surprise he’s had numerous deaths on screen. His most famous is of course Alien, that scene of the creature bursting out of his stomach that even the other actors didn’t know would be so graphic, a fantastic sequence that still freaks you out today. He’s been shot 11 times, stabbed 4, hanged twice, nine deaths by illness and more, not counting animated stuff like the Black Cauldron and you can even argue a “death” by regeneration on Doctor Who. There are entire montages to all the times he’s bought it and he shows no signs of slowing down so by the time Hurt truly has shuffled off this mortal coil, he’ll no doubt have a few more on-screen passings to add to the list.