We can already hear you when you read this headline, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. How in the world can Guardians of the Galaxy have the most onscreen deaths in cinematic history when we all watched Alderaan get blown to smithereens by the Death Star? Because we didn’t actually see any of those people meet their ends, not like when 80,000 Nova Corps pilots were killed trying to stop Ronan’s Dark Aster.
A new study from Go Compare, that we came across at The Guardian when director James Gunn himself tweeted it out, examined the visible deaths on screen from every big Hollywood movie since the 1940s, and Guardians of the Galaxy didn’t just come out ahead, it blew away the competition.
The final body count for Marvel’s 2014 hit came in at a whopping 83,871 fatalities. To give you an idea of how much higher that is than any other movie, try to guess right now what the second place total is.
Here’s a hint: it’s from Dracula Untold (no, seriously).
Got your number? Okay, because that film “only” sees 5,687 get killed. Guardians has over 78,000 more onscreen deaths.
Now, have more people been killed in other movies? Yes, like any film where a planet has been destroyed for example, but those people are never actually seen dying, and this study only counted when you can actually see the final moments of someone’s life. Like during the final battle of Guardians of the Galaxy where all 80,000 Nova pilots die heroically.
The rest of the top 10 is pretty fascinating too, since it contains some “family” movies. Spoiler alert: Peter Jackson is pretty much a cinematic serial killer.
- Guardians of the Galaxy: 83,871
- Dracula Untold: 5,687
- The Sum of All Fears: 2,922
- The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King: 2,798
- 300: Rise of An Empire: 2,234
- Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers: 1,741
- The Matrix Revolutions: 1,647
- The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies: 1,417
- Braveheart: 1,297
- The Avengers: 1,019
You can look well past the top 10 and filter through the numbers here. The highest ranking Star Wars film is actually The Force Awakens at number 16, with 791 deaths, which is only one spot higher than, of all movies, South Park: Bigger, Longer, Uncut, which had 722 (God help us all if America and Canada ever really go to war). I expected Saving Private Ryan, with the opening scene recreation of the invasion of Normandy on D-Day to be higher on the list, but it came in at number 30 with 485 onscreen deaths.
Our bet is there will plenty of people that don’t agree with this method of counting, that some of you will think that anonymous, faceless pilots dying inside their ships are no less “unseen” than the inhabitants of Alderaan. However, we still think it’s a fun way to look at how mass casualties are literally shown in film. And it’s not like A New Hope doesn’t have plenty of people die in front of us; it did come in at number 156 with 182 deaths.
As for the death champ, could Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 top the first film?
That’s fine. Just so long as we don’t have to experience watching a talking tree die again. Some things are hard to see.
What movie on this list surprised you, either by being as high as it is or by being lower? We’re dying to hear from you in our comments below.
How about some Avengers: Infinity War plot rumors?