Top 25 most murderous directors of all time

Last weekend, I discovered a web site where a group of dedicated film fanatics have been systematically counting on-screen deaths in various films for several years. I immediately set out to scrape all of the data from their web site and forums so I could visualize it and see what we could learn. I posted the data online to save everyone else the chore of repeating the scrape.

Below is the fourth in a series of visualizations I created, showing the top 25 most murderous directors ordered by the number of on-screen deaths in their films. If you would like to feature any of these visualizations on your own web site, please contact me first.

Top 25 Most Murderous Directors

Top 25 Most Murderous Directors

Some interesting facts


The most murderous female director? Katja von Garnier with 256 on-screen deaths in films she’s directed.


Most of Peter Jackson’s film deaths happen in just two films. 836 in LotR: Return of the King (2003) and 468 in LotR: The Two Towers (2002).


This picture really helps Peter Jackson’s case for being the most murderous director of all time:

Peter Jackson: Murderous

Peter Jackson: Murderous


John Woo seems to have stopped actively directing films in 2003, so even though Jackson and Woo are ranked closely, it looks like Jackson will easily maintain his lead — especially with The Hobbit films coming out!


Sylvester Stallone ranked in 3rd on the deadliest actor list and 15th on the most murderous directors list. Unsurprisingly for some, Stallone has truly built a career off of violence and death on film!


Have you found any interesting facts in the data? Post them as a comment here!

Dr. Randy Olson is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Pennsylvania. As a member of Prof. Jason H. Moore's research lab, he studies biologically-inspired AI and its applications to biomedical problems.

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  • Christopher Anadale

    Here’s another way to represent the data:
    Let 1 Patton = 1.16 on-screen deaths per minute of run time (rate of the 1970 George C. Scott movie). Thus:
    The Wild Bunch: 0.86 Patton (surprising, but it is a long movie)
    Invasion USA: 1.17 Pattons
    Starship Troopers: 1.71 Pattons
    The Two Towers: 2.25 Pattons
    300: 5.13 Pattons
    The ratios give another way of visualizing the rates, with respect to a well-known movie.

    • http://www.randalolson.com Randy Olson

      Haha, I like that! It’s kind of like the Big Mac Index for death and violence in film.

  • Christopher Anadale

    Or try this:
    Let 1 Peckinpah = 439 directed on-screen deaths. Thus:
    Oliver Stone: 0.86 Peckinpah
    Quentin Tarantino: 1.26 Peckinpahs (surprisingly low)
    Ridley Scott: 1.78 Peckinpahs
    John Woo: 3.42 Peckinpahs
    (Sorry, I posted the wrong version previously.)

  • Malin Devoldere

    What about movies like : The Longest Day ?

    • http://www.randalolson.com Randy Olson

      Doesn’t look like that one’s in the database — would you like to do a count for it? :-)

  • wautd

    George Lucas blew up a whole planet

    • http://www.randalolson.com Randy Olson

      Yep, but “implied” deaths like that don’t count. This project is only counting tangible, on-screen deaths. :-)

  • jfb3

    Did you even attempt to count the dead by Sam Fuller. The Big Red One, Merrill’s Maruaders, Fixed Bayonets!, Steel Helmet, plus assorted murders in other movies.

About this blog

The data visualizations on this blog are the result of my "data tinkering" hobby, where I tackle a new data analysis problem every weekend. If I find something interesting, I report my findings here to share with the world.

If you would like to use one of my graphs on your website or in a publication, please feel free to do so with attribution, but I would appreciate it if you email me first to let me know.

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