Movies can be pretty trigger-happy when it comes to killing off characters. In fact, a lot of them think nothing of destroying whole planets for our entertainment. All of that killing really builds up, and some franchises are steeped in a shocking and bloody history.
You might think your favourite characters are heroes, but when you think about it, some of them have a pretty high body count themselves. There are a few sites around the web now dedicated to counting up those body counts, tallying them by character, by movie, and by franchise. With help from bodycounters.com and some other enterprising tallies, we’ve put together a list of the top 15 movies and movie franchises which end up killing the most people.
Some of these death tolls are estimates thanks to the simply huge scale of the deaths, but you are certainly about to be blown away by the figures. The large majority of deaths happen on screen right in front of our eyes, some of them in a truly bloody fashion – and some so fast you wouldn’t be able to count them all in time without the help of a pause button. Buckle in and get ready to find out who killed the most people in movie history.
15 300 – 600
For a film which only focuses around an army of 300 men in the first place, a death toll of 600 is fairly impressive – considering that not all of the Spartans died, that means that they all gave as good as they got and then some. It’s also a fairly conservative count based on what we can see on screen. Every time we cut away to a different location, it’s entirely possible that the Spartans are adding to that death toll away from our eyes, making the real figure potentially much higher. Takeaway message: don’t ever mess with the Spartans.
14 Kingdom of Heaven – 610
Again, it’s fairly impressive that a single movie about guys running around with swords has such a good death toll and a high place in this list. Normally we can attribute the highest screen death figures to explosions and similar catastrophic events, as we’ll see later on, but this one is just accomplished by men on horses. Watch out for Orlando Bloom, by the way – this isn’t the last of his films you will see in the list, suggesting that perhaps he’s more dangerous than he seems. Well, so long as no one around him has anything resembling modern technology, anyway.
13 James Bond – 2,018
While we wouldn’t dare impugn the honour of the world’s most famous spy, it seems that James Bond might technically be cheating a bit here. After all, he’s got far more movies than any other entry on this list to pull his death count from. On the other hand, we do have to take into account the fact that the majority of on-screen deaths were at his hand, and that this count is only accurate up to 2006’s Casino Royale – Daniel Craig certainly seems like one of the most trigger-happy Bonds yet, so the figure is undoubtedly set to rise once the folks over at BodyCounters get the other movies factored in.
12 Predator – 2,603
Ah, now we’re into the monster movie genre! Predator has an impressive body count at 2,603 over four movies. This does of course include the Alien vs Predator films, which contribute massively – especially on the alien side of things. It may interest you to know that 10 predators expire in the course of those two entries, with 2,368 aliens suffering an untimely fate. In other words, predators are the undisputed kings of this movie universe, and we would definitely need to take their side in the face of an impending predator/alien war. Just in case anyone is feeling like doing any reboots.
11 Indiana Jones – 2,706
Good old Indy – the face of innocent, fun-filled capers in which the Nazis fail and a good-natured sidekick or two helps a grouchy professor to track down priceless pieces of history. Not such a bloodbath… or is it? It turns out that there have been more deaths in the Indiana Jones movie franchise than in the Predator movies, which really makes me question what the executives are thinking. Let’s have some more gore in our extra-terrestrial threat movies next time, please. Alright, so we should note something for the sake of fairness: Indy’s death toll includes rats, snakes, and insects. But then predators aren’t human either, so let’s not judge.
10 Alien – 3,091
It’s good to see that we can rely on at least one alien-themed franchise to bring the death toll up a bit. Alien wins out over Predator thanks to the inclusion of those two shared flicks plus a lot of extras. Prometheus has also been included in this updated count, in case you were wondering. How many humans bit it over the course of the series? The latest count is 357, so we are still definitely beating those aliens. Of course, they did take down a few unborn children, androids, and human-alien hybrids over the series, too, but let’s enjoy our symbolic victory.
9 Resident Evil – 65,726
What else would you expect from a movie series based around a game? Actually, the main source of this highly elevated body count is the destruction of a city in Resident Evil: Apocalypse, so there’s that. On the other hand, no counts yet exist for Afterlife and Retribution, which means that the series could be seriously under-credited at this point. A three-movie franchise scoring this highly is certainly very impressive, although given the circumstances, you almost feel like you could be expecting a bit more. There were only 30 deaths in the original movie, which in comparison is almost disappointing.
8 Lord of the Rings – 221,763
Here’s a franchise that really knows how to elevate a death count. With just 183 bodies racked up in The Fellowship of the Ring, we’re counting units in hundreds of thousands by the time that we get to The Return of the King. That really brings home just how serious the war on Middle Earth is, and how important it was that the Ring be destroyed before any more damage could be done. In case you were wondering, by the way, Legolas manages to notch up an on-screen death count which is much higher than his pal Gimli, so he beat him in their little contest in the end.
7 Riddick – 2,000,303
By the time you get to this stage of the list, you aren’t going to be able to cut it unless you destroy a small planet or two. That’s exactly what happens in The Chronicles of Riddick, the third instalment of this series and the one with the highest death toll. The first two movies on their own wouldn’t have been even a footnote on this list, but having the vision to go for a whole planet at once really helped to push them further. Great achievement all round from a film series starring a man whose job is normally to look awesome and punch people to death.
6 Star Wars Prequels – 2,005,645,868
The destruction of the first Death Star alone is credited with causing over 1 million deaths, and it turns out that Luke Skywalker maybe isn’t as heroic as everyone likes to think he is. Sure, the Death Star was the home of evil, but when he blew it up he also killed what must have been a hell of a lot of innocent workers. When the Dark Side pressgang you into service, you don’t necessarily get the chance to say no. We haven’t included the four other currently existing movies on this list, and bear in mind that the count includes the destruction of Alderaan as well as the unfinished Death Star in the last movie. In other words, this is a very conservative estimate – if Alderaan is the same size as Earth, you can probably add another 6.5 billion or so to the figure.
5 Terminator – 3,000,500,144
See what can happen when you have the presence of mind to use really serious warfare? Between Terminator and Terminator Salvation, we have this fantastic figure of 3 billion lives lost. Of course, the catch is that 3 billion and 22 of those were all in Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines. Really, it doesn’t need all of the other movies to back it up when it can command numbers like that. But it does put things into perspective when you realise that almost half of the Earth’s population would make up the dead bodies left in the wake of the Terminator franchise.
4 Independence Day – 3,500,000,000?
This one is a bit more guesswork than anything else, but it’s easy to see the logic. There were 13 alien ships deployed to Earth, and they probably went for 13 big targets. With Tokyo standing at a population of 37 million back then, we’re looking at an answer that quite possibly runs close to half a billion or more. We also have quite a lot of randomly scattered deaths on screen, and while they aren’t adding up to billions, they do add up. But the real push here which gives us such a large estimate is the huge number of aliens that are all destroyed at once. We saw how many alien ships there were, and with each of them holding large numbers of troops, it’s likely that this would tip the scales well over the three billion mark.
3 2012 – 7,000,000,000?
Destroying a planet is all well and good, but somehow it’s always so much more impressive when the planet happens to be ours. In 2012, we face the prospect of the entire planet being wiped out, with only a select few survivors. We’re making a fairly generous guess here, with only three arks making it, but we’d guess that the actually death count might be even higher than seven billion. The alternative ending suggests that it may be lower, however, with some survivors spotted on dry land – but we’re going by the official ending here for the sake of argument.
2 World War Z – 7,000,000,000?
We’re yet to see how things play out in the sequel, but things are definitely looking dark in World War Z as the zombie virus overruns whole cities during the course of the movie. It seems clear that a very large percentage of human population centres are taken over; we know that Paris and Venice are lost, suggesting that the whole of their countries may be gone too, and Moscow doesn’t seem to be faring very well as we end. Jerusalem goes down on screen, and it’s heavily implied that not much is left of the mainland US. It could well be that the death count in this film is close to the full population of the world.
1 Melancholia - 7,125,000,000
Finally, here’s a movie that managed to go all the way. There are a few other films where the world ends at the conclusion of the film, but we’re highlighting this one for the lack of ambiguity. When the film draws to a close, we know that the whole world – and everyone on it – is definitely gone. There is no hope whatsoever of anyone surviving, and while we only see a handful of dead people throughout the runtime, it’s the final moment which racks up this death toll all at once. With current population figures, that makes well over seven billion people dead.