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Old 12-10-2014, 05:04 PM
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What TV series had the biggest body count?


I was reflecting on last night's series finale for Sons of Anarchy, and thinking back on how much over the top violence we saw in that show. And it got me wondering - which TV series had the highest body count of all time? I think SOA has to be in the running. If you want to count zombies, I guess that The Walking Dead would have to be way up there as well...

I'm hard pressed to come up with any show I've watched that trumps SOA. I honestly can't think of an episode that didn't feature some poor soul meeting a violent end, and there were a bunch of scenes where they killed off 6 or 8 people at a time.

I dunno, maybe Game of Thrones? I never got into that, but I get the sense that it has a pretty high rate of carnage.
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Old 12-10-2014, 05:06 PM
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The miniseries The Day After.
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Old 12-10-2014, 05:14 PM
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The new Battlestar Galactica has got to be up there -- it starts with millions (billions?) of people being killed in enormous genocidal terrorist attacks, tallies up thousands of "official" in-universe deaths afterwards, and has quite a few deaths of significant characters throughout the series.
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Old 12-10-2014, 05:21 PM
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The Borg and other Trek baddies wiped out billions ...

One guy removed an entire species from the timeline altogether.
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Old 12-10-2014, 05:25 PM
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Star Trek by far, for the reasons listed above. Entire solar systems regularly get destroyed/eaten/depopulated on Trek. Nothing else comes close.
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Old 12-10-2014, 05:28 PM
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Over the entire run of the series, or on a per-episode average?
On a per-episode basis, 24 has to be a contender, especially after they exploded the nuke outside L.A.
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Old 12-10-2014, 05:34 PM
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I think the OP should either clarify the question or start a new thread: there are multiple types of body counts--ranging from the SF shows where civilizations are destroyed to shows where there a lot of individuals with speaking parts who are killed individually.
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Old 12-10-2014, 05:37 PM
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i don't know if it has THE highest body count, but the 80s medical drama St. Elsewhere was notorious in its first few years as virtually every patient who checked into the hospital died horrifically. A fair number of the doctors and nurses on staff met untimely ends too.

M*A*S*H* is probably up there; every episode showed scenes of soldiers being triaged and a doctor saying "He's too far gone..." or something.
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Old 12-10-2014, 05:44 PM
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Originally Posted by silenus View Post
Star Trek by far, for the reasons listed above. Entire solar systems regularly get destroyed/eaten/depopulated on Trek. Nothing else comes close.
Entire STAR systems, you mean.
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Old 12-10-2014, 05:54 PM
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The Walking Dead...dozens die every episode. Some get to die twice.
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Old 12-10-2014, 05:56 PM
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Entire STAR systems, you mean.
That's just the Americanism where we call adhesive bandages Band-Aids or photocopiers a Xerox.
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Old 12-10-2014, 06:14 PM
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Hotblack Desiato despised the star system. And now he BUYS star systems!
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Old 12-10-2014, 06:19 PM
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Star Trek by far, for the reasons listed above. Entire solar systems regularly get destroyed/eaten/depopulated on Trek. Nothing else comes close.
Futurama did, too--and had more fun in the process.
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Old 12-10-2014, 07:04 PM
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If we're ignoring SF deaths, I'm going to nominate Gunsmoke. It was a western made back in the era when the good guys would shoot and kill a bad guy. (They used to open each week's episode with a scene of Matt Dillon shooting a villain down in the street.) And Gunsmoke had longevity - it ran for 635 episodes so the body count had decades to add up.
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Old 12-10-2014, 07:45 PM
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Gunsmoke has to be up there. Only one or two deaths per episode, but with over 600 episodes, it's probably the biggest body count for any show that portrayed individual deaths.
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Old 12-10-2014, 07:50 PM
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Could it have been The Untouchables with Robert Stack?

Just a wild guess.

The World at War showed the effects of Area Bombing as well as the atomic bombs dropped on Japan. So, it would have to be pretty high as well.

Last edited by Charlie Wayne; 12-10-2014 at 07:51 PM.
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Old 12-10-2014, 08:35 PM
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I was thinking The Untouchables, as well.

That was the Golden Age of (network) TV violence. Check out this essay about an episode of a series called Bus Stop.

Quote:
First, he hitches a ride from a woman but makes a 1961-style (implied) improper sexual advance on her. She throws him out of the car. He then robs, beats and kills an elderly grocer after first going after him with an axe. While that incident was being investigated by the sheriff's department, he had already moved on to a bar, wielding a butterfly knife at a guy who picked a fight with him for talking to his girl. After being arrested for the murder of the grocer he is taken to jail where he burns the back of his hand with a cigarette to prove police brutality. At his trial he and his attorney successfully shame the woman with whom Freeman hitched a ride, making it look like it was she who made the sexual advance in the car, and that she picked him up for improper reasons. Her being an alcholic didn't help her situation. That woman turned out to be the D.A.'s wife! His attorney craftily helps Freeman beat the murder charge and is set free.

Broke, Freeman tries to borrow money from his attorney. When that doesn't work out he robs and kills him. Near the end of the show the D.A.'s wife, whom Freeman shamed in court, acts like a real vamp this time and lures him into her car. With Freeman thinking he's going to score, along with the woman's embarassment about her alcoholism and humiliation in court, she takes him on a suicide crash.
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Old 12-10-2014, 08:52 PM
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Since there are lots of TV series that have millions, if not billions of implied deaths, I think it would be more fun to count only on screen deaths where you see either them die or the body of a victim. By that criteria I would guess maybe Law & Order where there is a dead body every episode.
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Old 12-10-2014, 08:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Quimby View Post
Since there are lots of TV series that have millions, if not billions of implied deaths, I think it would be more fun to count only on screen deaths where you see either them die or the body of a victim. By that criteria I would guess maybe Law & Order where there is a dead body every episode.
Sounds good. How about Rat Patrol?
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Old 12-10-2014, 09:13 PM
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Spartacus did pretty well on a "bad breath range" body count count per episode. It wasn't a very long series and it didn't have major cataclysms that were only loosely shown.
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Old 12-10-2014, 09:34 PM
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Originally Posted by PastTense View Post
I think the OP should either clarify the question or start a new thread: there are multiple types of body counts--ranging from the SF shows where civilizations are destroyed to shows where there a lot of individuals with speaking parts who are killed individually.
The discussion can go anywhere people want to take it. What I specifically had in mind was actual on screen deaths, so a lot of the sci-fi shows where entire planets get wiped out weren't what I was going for (but enormous in terms of body count). Hadn't thought about Gunsmoke, that's got to be a contender just based on longevity. I'd forgotten about 24 - even leaving out the nuke that's got a pretty serious carnage rate. Still, on a per episode basis of people actually being shown getting killed, it's going to be hard to top SOA.
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Old 12-10-2014, 09:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Quimby View Post
Since there are lots of TV series that have millions, if not billions of implied deaths, I think it would be more fun to count only on screen deaths where you see either them die or the body of a victim. By that criteria I would guess maybe Law & Order where there is a dead body every episode.
"Revolution" had hundreds of deaths in every episode. If things had been that way in the whole 15 years since the lights went out, I couldn't believe anyone would be remaining.
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Old 12-10-2014, 09:44 PM
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Quincy and Murder She Wrote had dead bodies every episode.

Why anyone ever invited Jessica Fletcher to a dinner party is a question that will never be answered. Someone (or more) was going to DIE!
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Old 12-10-2014, 09:57 PM
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Twelve O'Clock High would be a high one.
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Old 12-10-2014, 10:57 PM
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In murders per capita, I'd look at Cabot Cove, Maine, and Absaroka Co., Wyoming.
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Old 12-11-2014, 02:56 AM
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I don't think Buffy approaches Gunsmoke levels, but between the deaths of the monster of the week and their victims I'm sure it's several hundred on screen deaths.

ETA: It wasn't called Buffy the Vampire Slayer for nothing. It had to earn it's title.

Last edited by Wolverine; 12-11-2014 at 03:00 AM.
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Old 12-11-2014, 04:14 AM
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Don't forget Combat! starring Vic Morrow.

Last edited by Ranger Jeff; 12-11-2014 at 04:16 AM.
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Old 12-11-2014, 04:34 AM
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Sticking to earth, Sledgehammer blew up NY City with a nuke.
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Old 12-11-2014, 05:28 AM
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How many times has Doctor Who showed whole races being destroyed by the Doctor or one of his adversaries? And that show's got 50 years of such a fine tradition.
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Old 12-11-2014, 06:51 AM
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How many times has Doctor Who showed whole races being destroyed by the Doctor or one of his adversaries? And that show's got 50 years of such a fine tradition.
Doctor Who was going to be my answer because it depicts the complete end of the universe with the complete extinction of all life everywhere. Can't be any more deaths than that.
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Old 12-11-2014, 07:13 AM
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Doctor Who was going to be my answer because it depicts the complete end of the universe with the complete extinction of all life everywhere. Can't be any more deaths than that.
And the universe ends multiple times in that show. Although, then you have to ask if it counts as a death if the Doctor is able to recreate the planet and all the people in it, memories intact. Or does it count if he warps to he future and checks out a planetary graveyard. I mean, of course those people were going to die.
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Old 12-11-2014, 07:17 AM
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South Park, if Kenny's deaths are each counted separately.
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Old 12-11-2014, 07:25 AM
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Highlander has got to be up there for on-screen deaths. An immortal gets beheaded in nearly every episode, and that's not even counting the collateral damage of mortals.
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Old 12-11-2014, 07:28 AM
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Proportionally, I think the Blackadder series does. In several of the entries (not in all, I think) everybody dies. It's worse than Hamlet.
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Old 12-11-2014, 09:32 AM
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Proportionally, I think the Blackadder series does. In several of the entries (not in all, I think) everybody dies. It's worse than Hamlet.
Oooh, ooh, that reminds me: Dinosaurs, for the same reason.
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Old 12-11-2014, 09:57 AM
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Sticking to earth, Sledgehammer blew up NY City with a nuke.
He said he knew what he was doing!
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Old 12-11-2014, 10:09 AM
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According to this site, The Rifleman showed 245 killings over 168 episodes. According to Wikipedia, Lucas McCain was responsible for 120 of them.

So, not the most by any stretch, but notable for the high rate at least.
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Old 12-11-2014, 10:36 AM
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I don't think Buffy approaches Gunsmoke levels, but between the deaths of the monster of the week and their victims I'm sure it's several hundred on screen deaths.

ETA: It wasn't called Buffy the Vampire Slayer for nothing. It had to earn it's title.
A goodly number of her victims were, as you say, vampires, so they were already dead and shouldn't count. What she was mostly doing was littering.
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Old 12-11-2014, 11:22 AM
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Probably the original Law & Order. It's been on forever.

Edit: dang, Quimby beat me to it!

Last edited by GrumpyBunny; 12-11-2014 at 11:24 AM.
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Old 12-11-2014, 12:11 PM
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What was the body count on The Sopranos?
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Old 12-11-2014, 01:23 PM
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How about Sledge Hammer! - didn't he accidentally nuke LA?
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Old 12-11-2014, 01:59 PM
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Breaking Bad wouldn't have the highest body count, but it's high up there.
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Old 12-11-2014, 02:10 PM
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Neither one ran very long but I submit that both Rome and Deadwood had pretty decent bodycounts.
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Old 12-11-2014, 02:36 PM
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Neither one ran very long but I submit that both Rome and Deadwood had pretty decent bodycounts.
"Cut her face off!" has got to be one of the most memorable lines ever spoken on TV!
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Old 12-11-2014, 02:37 PM
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I was thinking of Rome as well. There weren't that many battle sequences, but a lot of folks died in them. Similarly, Game of Thrones has some battle sequences; any estimates how many onscreen deaths would appear in these?
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Old 12-11-2014, 02:43 PM
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Doctor Who was going to be my answer because it depicts the complete end of the universe with the complete extinction of all life everywhere.
Didn't the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series show the same thing?
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Old 12-11-2014, 03:44 PM
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Didn't the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series show the same thing?
I'm not sure they got that far. And in Doctor Who they show it twice. :-D

Last edited by SciFiSam; 12-11-2014 at 03:46 PM.
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Old 12-11-2014, 05:49 PM
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A goodly number of her victims were, as you say, vampires, so they were already dead and shouldn't count. What she was mostly doing was littering.
Killing a vampire ain't littering; the corpse cleans itself up automatically. Other species of demon, not so much.
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