TV Body Count Study Results for Fall 2012: Causes of Death

Gun Violence on TV is High, but it Depends on What TV Shows You Watch


Action Packed TV is the Deadliest

Action/Adventure programs such as Strike Back and Revolution topped our list with 14.6 dead bodies per episode and accounted for 23% of the total bodies we counted. Science Fiction/Fantasy programs averaged 9.6 bodies per episode, and many of them were non-human. With less swashbuckling action, the crime/courtroom dramas only averaged 2.6 bodies per episode.

TV Westerns are Long Gone but Guns Remain

Nearly 34% of the gun deaths came from Action/Adventure shows. Crime/Courtroom and other dramas were also big in the use of guns. However, Horror/Suspense programs were the least likely to use guns.

The Undead Get the Point

While gunshots were the deadliest for humans, knives, swords and arrows are the weapon of choice when it comes to killing non-humans. In The Walking Dead, Supernatural and Once Upon A Time (all sci-fi/fantasy programs) the most common cause of death was of the blade variety. Since everyone knows you can’t shoot a vampire, it was no surprise that 54% of vampire deaths were by blades.

Humans Still Make the Best Victims

Image Despite the current popularity of programs with non-humans and the fact that these shows are big when it comes to dead bodies, Humans are still the most popular target. Humans represented 75% of the bodies counted.

It’s a Horror Show for Women

If you are female in an action/adventure or science fiction/fantasy program like Grimm then you have a pretty good chance of not ending up to be a dead body. Females were most likely to wind up in the count if they were in a horror/suspense program like American Horror Story: Asylum or a crime/courtroom drama like Elementary.

What’s the Deadliest Network?

The top two series, AMC’s The Walking Dead and Cinemax’s Strike Back, together accounted for 34% of this season’s bodies. However, they were the only shows in the study from these networks. An abundance of crime-related dramas placed 11 CBS shows in the study averaging over 3 dead bodies per episode. The CW had 5 shows averaging over 5 dead bodies per episode. NBC significantly increased its body count with the addition of Revolution to its Fall line-up.

Broadcast Networks Get Deadlier

The major broadcast networks – ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC – all had higher dead body counts than in our previous Fall 2011 Study. Both ABC and NBC had 2 news shows that added to their body counts in our Fall 2012 Study.

Lots of Dead Bodies, but Funerals Not So Much

The dead are typically not memorialized on TV dramas. Whether it’s lack of time or interest, funerals are rarely shown. Most series skipped a funeral or memorial of any sort for their victims. The exceptions are:

  • Blue Bloods
  • Boardwalk Empire
  • Bones
  • Dexter
  • Grimm
  • Hawaii Five-0
  • Once Upon A Time
  • Sons of Anarchy (2)
  • Supernatural
  • Vampire Diaries

Out of 1,516 dead bodies, there were only 11 instances where the death was commemorated. That’s just 1 funeral for every 138 dead bodies.

Continue to Page 3: Commentary & Conclusions – Why Count Dead Bodies on TV?


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