Actors Most Likely to Die in a Movie

When it comes to characters in movies who die frequently, there seems to be a good deal of repeat actors doomed to fill those roles. Some actors are well-known for biting the dust in films, while others have managed to do so under our collective radars. What they all have in common though is that writers and directors seem determined to off their characters on a regular basis.

That all said, here are the actors who seem to die more than anyone else in Hollywood.

15. Johnny Depp

Johnny Depp holding out his scissor-hands and looking at the camera

Johnny Depp in Edward Scissorhands | Fox

Given that Johnny Depp’s name has become synonymous with weird roles, it’s easy to overlook the fact that an inordinate amount of those strange characters fail to make it to the end of their respective films.

Depp has died 14 times on screen, including the first movie he was ever in, A Nightmare on Elm Street. He also died and came back from the grave in the second Pirates of the Caribbean movie, so it’s a safe bet that death isn’t always the end for his various characters.

14. Liam Neeson

Liam Neeson holds his lightsaber up in The Phantom Menace

Liam Neeson in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace | Lucasfilm

Nowadays, Liam Neeson is known as the indestructible badass star of the Taken saga, but before that, his characters died a shockingly large amount of times. At 21 separate movie deaths, it’s a list that includes Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, Schindler’s List, Gangs of New York, Batman Begins, Michael Collins, and tons more.

13. Bruce Willis

A close-up of Bruce WIllis, wearing a helmetless astronaut suit in Armageddon

Bruce Willis in Armageddon | Touchstone Pictures

There’s a certain poetry to the fact that the star of the Die Hard franchise manages to check in on this list (albeit without ever actually dying in Die Hard). Bruce Willis’ various characters have met an early end in Armageddon, Sin City, The Sixth Sense, and Death Becomes Her, among others. His total of 11 on-screen deaths isn’t quite as lofty as guys like John Hurt or Bela Lugosi, but we’d be remiss in leaving him off this list entirely.

12. Bill Paxton

Bill Paxton on the red carpet, looking to his right and smiling

Actor Bill Paxton | Christopher Polk/Getty Images for Critics’ Choice Television Awards

Bill Paxton’s characters have a nasty habit of getting offed by all manner of sci-fi creatures. Not many actors in Hollywood can say they’ve been killed by aliens, superheroes, cyborgs, and just for good measure, Nazis. That’s exactly the resume Paxton has with 15 movie and TV deaths in the likes of Aliens, The Terminator, Agents of SHIELD, and Predator 2. 

11. Gary Oldman

Gary Oldman with his hand to his face, smiling ear to ear in Dracula

Gary Oldman in Bram Stoker’s Dracula | Columbia Pictures

Gary Oldman is known as Hollywood’s resident chameleon, occupying a variety of disparate roles where he’s nigh unrecognizable. Within those roles, his characters have a penchant for meeting an early end, with Oldman dying 13 separate times in his filmography.

His most famous deaths include Bram Stoker’s Dracula, The Professional, JFK, and a particularly violent end in Hannibal, where he’s eaten by pigs.

10. Nicolas Cage

Nicolas Cage on a motorcyle, looking to his right

Nicolas Cage in Ghost Rider | Sony Pictures

Nicolas Cage’s Hollywood career makes him an apt fit for this list. If you ask us though, his 14 movie deaths seems low for someone whose characters are so often the craziest people on screen. The films he’s died in include Knowing, Face/Off, Adaptation, City of Angels, and Leaving Las Vegas. 

9. Samuel L. Jackson

A close-up on a frowning Samuel L. Jackson in Django Unchained

Samuel L. Jackson in Django Unchained | The Weinstein Company

When you work as frequently as Samuel L. Jackson, odds are some of the characters you play are going to dieIt still seems a tad excessive even given that fact, with Jackson’s on-screen deaths including Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith, Django Unchained, Kong: Skull Island, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and so many more.

8. Robert De Niro

Robert De Niro smiles, wearing sunglasses and sporting a mohawk

Robert De Niro in Taxi Driver | Columbia Pictures Corporation

When you make a career from playing a gun-toting badass, odds are your characters are apt to die on the regular. In the case of Robert De Niro, it’s happened upwards of 17 times, including deaths in Cape Fear, The Fan, Jackie Brown, Heat, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, and more.

7. Mickey Rourke

A bloodied Mickey Rourke in Sin City, cloaked in shadows and looking to his left

Mickey Rourke in Sin City | Dimension Films

Mickey Rourke’s fictional movie lives often seem to echo the tough actual life he’s had. He was brutally electrocuted to death in Sin City, blown to smithereens in Iron Man 2, and shot to death in Once Upon a Time in Mexico. Even all that barely scratches the surface of his 22 on-screen movie deaths, putting him among elite company in the movie industry.

6. Gary Busey

Gary Busey looking to the left of the frame with his mouth open

Gary Busey attends the Buddy Holly Hollywood Walk Of Fame | Valerie Macon/AFP/Getty Images

Gary Busey generally makes headlines for his antics outside of the world of cinema, slyly sneaking under the radar as an actor whose characters often die in movies. The characters he plays have died a total of 19 times, in films like Lethal Weapon, The Magnificent Seven Ride Again, and The Buddy Holly Story. 

5. Michael Biehn

Michael Biehn dressed as a soldier, looking behind his left shoulder in a dark corridor

Michael Biehn in Alien | 20th Century Fox

You couldn’t blame Michael Biehn if he held a grudge against James Cameron. Biehn’s characters have been offed in three separate movies directed by Cameron: Alien, The Abyss, and The Terminator. Cameron’s not the only director who seems to have it out for him though, Biehn’s on-screen deaths come in just a shade below Sean Bean, at 24 total.

4. Sean Bean

Ned Stark with his head down, about to get beheaded by a giant sword

Ned Stark in Game of Thrones | HBO

Sean Bean is easily the actor most famous for his frequent on-screen deaths, many of which have occurred in major TV and movie franchises. On Game of Thrones, he didn’t even get to last a whole season before literally losing his head, while failing to survive the first The Lord of the Rings movie before that. Bean’s total as it stands now is a whopping 25 movie deaths, a number challenged by just a handful of actors in Hollywood.

3. Vincent Price

Vincent Price holds up dismembered hands and smiles in Edward Scissorhands

Vincent Price in Edward Scissorhands | 20th Century Fox

The price of admission for a star who wants to be a storied horror movie actor seems to be a willingness to play characters who frequently end up dying. Enter horror legend Vincent Price, a rare talent who’s died in both live-action and animated films. For the latter, he voiced a doomed Ratigan in The Great Mouse Detective, and for the former, it’s a list of over 30 movies.

And yet still, that number doesn’t top the actor who’s been offed more than any other in cinema …

2. Bela Lugosi

A close-up on Bela Lugosi'a face in Dracula

Bela Lugosi as Dracula | Universal

Bela Lugosi sits with Vincent Price in the “horror actors who always seem to die in movies” category. Lugosi is most known for his iconic portrayal of Dracula. In his long, storied career as a Hollywood movie monster, Lugosi’s characters died 36 times, making him the second-most-killed actor in history, right behind John Hurt.

1. John Hurt

John Hurt with glasses on, looking to the left of the frame

John Hurt in Hellboy | Sony

John Hurt made a career off of playing characters doomed for an early grave, dying a record 43 times on screen (44 if you count his regeneration in Doctor Who). He even died from a Xenomorph chest-burster twice: once in Alien, and a second time as a gag in Spaceballs. Other movie deaths include Hellboy, Hercules, Contact, The Elephant Man, and V for Vendetta, among many, many others.

Data on screen deaths pulled from The Richest and IMDb.

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