Who Is the Deadliest Killer in Horror Movie History?

We take a stab at getting the numbers right.


Horror fans take onscreen murders for granted. Decapitations, impalements, the melting of flesh and bone by some repugnant means — they’re all the same to us. It’s the kind of twisted indifference that brings horror fans back for more, especially when a series stretches into so many installments you can’t even count them all on one hand. It’s also easy to lose count in all those movies of just how many hopeless people (usually teenagers) get croaked by some of horror’s most hallowed reprobates. But how many — who is the deadliest killer in horror movie history? Lucky you, we just counted.

First off, we need ground rules. The horror genre is filled with retconning, copycat killers, and weird narrative curve balls that make it difficult to categorize what a kill is and who is doing the killing. We should also point out that only single fictional characters from horror movies are in the running, just to give things a little Halloween feel. Why, you ask? Well, for example, Jigsaw from the Saw series loves to torture and kill a whole bunch of people, but that character was actually three different people within the narrative of the series. That seems like a bit of a cheat. Similarly, the Cenobites from the Hellraiser series compel others to kill instead of just getting the job done themselves.

If we go outside of horror, Ogami Itto from the samurai classic Lone Wolf and Cub takes the record for most kills by a fictional character with 150. (Leave it to the Japanese to put us to shame in the exaggerated death department.) If we were counting the most kills by a single actor onscreen, that title would belong to Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has killed 369 unfortunate individuals over his film career. Follow that with Chinese acting legend Chow Yun-Fat with 295 on-screen kills throughout his filmography, and rounds out the top three with Rambo himself, Sylvester Stallone, with a prolific 267 kills.

Back to horror, and criteria. The Huffington Post hammered out some decent rules a few years ago when it compiled movie kill counts. We tinkered them slightly, but they’re as follows:

  • Copycat killers, like in Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning, don’t count.
  • Animals count as kills.
  • A killer’s spirit inhabiting other people who then go on a rampage, like in Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday, does not count as a kill.
  • If you’re killed in a dream, like in many of the Nightmare on Elm Street movies, that counts. Like dying in Canada, you’re ostensibly killed in real life.
  • If you’re killed in virtual reality, like in Jason X, that doesn’t count. Though, to be fair, those guys eventually get cut up by Jason anyway.
  • Series reboots, like both 2009 updates of Halloween and Friday the 13th, don’t count. Series offshoots, like Freddy vs. Jason don’t count either. The idea is that the killer roughly continues on a single murderous rampage over a multi-movie arc.

Sound reasonable? It’s a tricky thing, tracking horror franchises, which have been squirrelly from the get-go. Don’t forget, Jason wasn’t even the killer in the original Friday the 13th movie; it was his mother doing the offing. And even when poor, deformed Jason makes an appearance at the end of the first movie he seemed to take a camper with him to the bottom of Crystal Lake, but it was just a dream.

Anyway, we digress. Herewith, your top horror movie murderers.

5. Freddy Krueger

Comic Vine
  • Kill count: 33
  • Movie appearances (in contention): seven

We initially pegged Freddy for a more efficient killer than just 33 people. It must be fairly difficult to find and get rid of people in their dreams. Still, bonus points for the variety of surreal ways that the sweater-wearing, claw-wielding, former child rapist has managed to terrorize people in their sleep to death.

4. Lubdan the Leprachaun

  • Kill count: 44 (not including the 4 times he himself was ostensibly killed in the first four movies)
  • Movie appearances (in contention): six

Who knew the little guy had it in him? For some reason this ridiculous stereotype has kept going for six movies and a recent reboot. He’s gone in space, visited the ‘hood, and terrorized Jennifer Aniston in her first movie role. Kudos to this series for the funniest kill in a horror movie: the little Irish imp impales a stoner with his own bong.

3. Chucky

  • Kill count: 46 (not including the two times he was ostensibly killed in the first two movies)
  • Movie appearances (in contention): six

Who knew this little guy had it in him. Like a lot of horror franchises, the Child’s Play series started off by trying to capitalize on a very real fear — creepy-ass dolls, in this case. It then devolved into something so campy that it turned into a joke. Still, just because it got cheesy doesn’t mean he stopped killing people.

2. Michael Myers

  • Kill count: 78 (including two dogs)
  • Movie appearances (in contention): seven

Everybody is entitled to at least one good scare around Halloween, and 78 people (and animals) certainly did during the rampage of Michael Myers. Though that’s lasted over 10 movies, Myers still managed to come in second despite getting handicapped by our rules. He was counted out because of two reboots and an installment that did away with him altogether, but he’s still damn good at stacking bodies.

1. Jason Voorhees

  • Kill count: 111 (including one dog)
  • Movie appearances (in contention): 10

Some estimates put Jason’s total kill count over and above the 300 mark. It figures that the guy who appears in the most eligible movies takes the top spot. But the real surprising detail is just how many kills our hockey mask-wearing winner took out over his on-screen tenure. Lump in the disqualified offshoots and the reboots and that number only goes up — no one puts ‘em on ice like the maniac in the hockey mask. He did his mother proud to become the deadliest killer in horror history.

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