Many of cinema’s most memorable scenes involve the death of an important character. It’s hard to think of some of Hollywood’s greatest films without the passing of someone of consequence: The Wicked Witch in “The Wizard of Oz,” Charles Foster Kane in “Citizen Kane,” Quint in “Jaws,” the titular characters in “Thelma & Louise,” or Sonny Corleone in “The Godfather.”
But many other people die on screen, too, most of them anonymous, and though they may not have the star power of the important characters meeting their maker, they are accounted for, if not by name, by number.
To determine the movies in which the most people died in, 24/7 Tempo referred to data compiled by IMDb, an online movie and TV database owned by Amazon, and by Movie Body Counts and The Cinemaholic. Scores and ratings come from IMDb and from Rotten Tomatoes, an online movie and TV review aggregator, and information on cast and directors comes from IMDb.
The body count for a given motion picture is only for on-screen deaths. For example, 307 people perished on-screen in the blockbuster film “Titanic,” although more than 1,500 passengers and crew died in the actual disaster.
As you might expect, the body counts are high in war movies such as “When We Were Soldiers,” “Saving Private Ryan,” and “The Last Samurai.” Films that take place in a dystopian future also have many on-screen deaths, such as “Starship Troopers” and “Equilibrium.” (These are the 50 best action movies of all time.)
Hong Kong movie maker John Woo, whose films are known for their frenetic action sequences and stylized use of slow motion, has four motion pictures on the list, including “The Killer” and “Bullet in the Head.” Zombie movies are represented by such titles as “Dawn of the Dead” and “House of the Dead.” (These are the best zombie movies of all time, according to data.)
Some of the films on our list with the most on-screen deaths also are among the most honored by the motion-picture industry. “Titanic” won 11 Academy Awards, and “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” triumphed in all 11 Oscar categories for which it was nominated – and takes the prize for the film with the highest on-screen body count of any movie on the list.
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