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 the Chief Data Scientist at FOXO Bioscience, where he is bringing advanced data science and machine learning technology to the life insurance industry.

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11 comments on “Top 25 most murderous directors of all time
  1. Christopher Anadale says:

    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.

  2. Christopher Anadale says:

    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.)

  3. Malin Devoldere says:

    What about movies like : The Longest Day ?

  4. wautd says:

    George Lucas blew up a whole planet

    • Randy Olson says:

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

      • anonymouse says:

        I have long argued that Alderaan should count in lists like this, because we do see the planet explode and the deaths are not merely implied since we know definitively that they occurred.

        At the very least, the audience “sees” the deaths of the people who happened to be standing on the side of the planet facing the camera at that moment. They’re just really, really tiny from the point-of-view of the audience. 😉

        The counter-argument is that we don’t know the population of Alderaan at the time of its destruction. Obi-Wan merely states that “millions” of lives are snuffed out.

        That being said, “millions” is still a much larger number than any other director’s on-screen death count.

    • anonymouse says:

      Never Forget.

  5. jfb3 says:

    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.

2 Pings/Trackbacks for "Top 25 most murderous directors of all time"
  1. […] In a blog post, Olson notes Katja von Garnier is the most murderous female director with 256 on-screen deaths. Also, Sylvester Stallone ranked in 3rd on the deadliest actor list and 15th on the most murderous directors list. […]