• 05.28.14

You Probably Won’t Guess Which Film Directors Have The Highest Body Counts

A redditor reveals which directors have the most career onscreen deaths.

You Probably Won’t Guess Which Film Directors Have The Highest Body Counts
Peter Jackson, Director of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug tops the chart for most murderous director by on screen deaths

If the death of one man is a tragedy and the death of millions is a statistic, as Joseph Stalin famously suggested, then certain film directors seem more inclined toward statistics than tragedies. A redditor recently ran the numbers to determine which director’s body of work contains the most dead bodies and while no one approached Stalin statistics, some surprising data emerged.


The morbid-minded Randal S. Olson gathered data from an online movie body count hub, and used it to determine whose films had the most deaths overall. As it turns out, all those Middle Earth armies really pile on the hobbit-bloodshed, leaving Peter Jackson as the king of the category. (Interestingly, Jackson’s body count doesn’t even include casualties of the monkey-bite zombie attacks in his early splatterfest, Dead Alive.)

John Woo, director of Face Off comes in a close second

As much as directors like Martin Scorsese, Brian de Palma, and Frances Ford Coppola are forever tied to the violent films in their back catalogues, in terms of kill count, these bros cannot compete. The directors who made the list either consistently have lots of group battles in their films, like John Woo at No. 2, or are directors like Steven Spielberg, whose epic tendencies lead to the highly death-tastic War of the Worlds in 2005. There’s no telling how Edgar Wright ended up on the list, though, tied with Roland Emmerich, but there must have been enough bodies in Shaun of the Dead to compete with the latter director’s Independence Day somehow.

Let us know of any glaring discrepancies you spot in the comments below.

About the author

Joe Berkowitz is a writer and staff editor at Fast Company. His next book, Away with Words, is available June 13th from Harper Perennial.