How Many Times Has Sean Bean ‘Died’ Onscreen?

Some characters ultimately end up being pigeonholed as certain types of characters they continue to play over and over in movies and TV. Not all are marked to die ad infinitum, though.

You can label actor Sean Bean as one who’s died on-screen more than any TV or movie actor in recent memory.

This doesn’t necessarily mean he’s one of those actors who always plays corpses. He does have a chance to act and create some memorable characters who just so happen to not live very long.

Case in point is him memorably playing Ned Stark on Game of Thrones who happened to die a little too early by design.

What has Bean done to overcome this acting stereotype? His technique might work for other actors who feel trapped doing the same parts for far too long.

You wouldn’t believe how many times Sean Bean died on-screen

Sean Bean onstage
Sean Bean | Gilbert Carrasquillo/Getty Images

There’s such a thing as dying on-screen, and really dying on-screen. It’s now become almost a joke that Sean Bean is the go-to actor to play a character who dies. Not many people have kept count on how many times Bean has died in movies and TV. The count is in the dozens now, and some media outlets have taken the time to mention at least most of them.

One media source from the U.K. says Bean has died 21 times over a period of a 23-year career. That’s a huge trajectory considering Bean started acting when he was in his mid-30s, and just turned 60 recently.

According to him, this is more than enough after never being able to enjoy being a long-living character in a TV or movie franchise. If you think he’s going to be resigned to having this continually happen for the rest of his career, think again.

Bean has said he’s currently pushing for roles where he doesn’t die. It makes us wonder if there’s a stereotyping for those who die too often on TV and in movies. Yes, there is a past track record.

Who else was known for dying so often?

Sean Bean is in good company with actors who’ve died often on-screen. Nevertheless, he’s far from No. 1. A lot of actors at the top of this list were or are British (like Bean is), making us wonder if British productions are more into tragic endings for characters. Perhaps it’s their Shakespeare DNA always showing up in every British screenplay.

Did you know the late John Hurt died the most in movies? He had up to 43 characters who died on-screen over a very long and celebrated career. Swedish acting legend Max Von Sydow has also died many, many times in his storied film career. Some of those were in his films he did with Ingmar Bergman.

The only nearest American actors who died the most were Vincent Price, plus Christopher Plummer. Sean Bean now falls below them on the list.

Can Bean finally overcome this by simply asking filmmakers to stop killing his characters off? Or, has he set too much of an acting precedent for himself?

Perhaps speaking up is the only way to break acting stereotypes

Millions of people around the world remember Sean Bean playing Ned Stark who died early in the run of Game of Thrones. You can only imagine what it must have been like for Bean to watch GoT over the last nine years and realize he could have cashed in on having a longer character arc.

At least he knew his character was going to die going in. He obviously didn’t think the show was going to last as long as it did either.

Now that he’s openly saying he wants to play a character who lives a long life, maybe it’s the new roadmap to actors finally digging themselves out of stereotypical casting situations. Outside of renting a billboard, just getting it out to the press you’d like to stop dying in your next role is the new actor’s soapbox.