A Funeralwise.com study counted dead bodies on television shows to measure the role of death in popular culture. The STARZ series Spartacus: Vengeance topped all shows with an average of 25 dead bodies per episode, followed by HBO’ Game of Thrones, with 14 dead bodies per episode. The 40 TV series analyzed averaged 132 dead bodies, in total, during a single week for an average of more than 3 dead bodies per episode.
The body count study was conceived by Funeralwise’s managing partner, Rick Paskin, when he noticed the large number of killings occurring weekly on a popular television crime show. Seeking to better understand the public’s acceptance of death as entertainment, he decided to commission the study. A network of “watchers” was assigned to count the number of dead bodies in 40 separate primetime programs on both broadcast and cable networks.
“We did not find a direct correlation between the body count and viewership, but these programs are definitely popular with the viewing audience,” Paskin said. “As a funeral resource, the role of death in modern society is an interesting subject to Funeralwise. We know how difficult it is to get people to proactively plan for their funeral. There is a clear disconnect between the acceptance of death in popular culture and the acceptance of it in reality.”
Key findings were:
- The deadliest show was the STARZ series Spartacus: Vengeance, with an average of 25 dead bodies per episode. HBO’s Game of Thrones was the next deadliest, with 14 dead bodies per episode.
- The deadliest broadcast network show was The CW’s Nikita, with 9 dead bodies per episode. The CBS series NCIS: Los Angeles was second deadliest, with an average of 6 dead bodies per episode.
- CBS was the deadliest network due to having 11 shows selected for the study, by far the most of any network. Five (5) CBS shows were among the top 10 deadliest.
- Deadliest shows for non-human creatures were The CW’s The Vampire Diaries, with 18 dead vampires per episode, and AMC’sThe Walking Dead, with 16 dead zombies per episode.
- The “safest” shows for humans and other creatures were ABC’s Revenge, TNT’s Leverage and USA’s White Collar, all of which had no dead bodies in the 8 episodes analyzed.
- Very few funerals were shown during the programs analyzed.
The body count study was conducted during the first 4 months of 2012 and included 8 recently aired episodes of each series selected for analysis. Funeralwise emphasizes that the study was not statistically based. The shows selected for the study were judged to have content that regularly included the presence of dead bodies. Accordingly, the number of shows in the study varied from network to network. A full report of the study results is available on the Funeralwise.com website at http://www.funeralwise.com/tv-body-count-study-results.
Funeralwise welcomes comments and thoughts on the role of death in popular culture and its impact on how people deal with death in real life. Comments can be posted on the Funeralwise Digital Dying blog at http://blogs.funeralwise.com/dying/2012/05/19/the-deathwashing-of-america-results-from-a-survey-on-tv-show-body-counts/ and the Funeralwise Facebook page at www.facebook.com/funeralwise.
Funeralwise.com offers free, do-it-yourself funeral planning via its website. Aiming to provide “Everything You Need to Know About Funerals,” the site also features extensive information on funeral customs, funeral etiquette and grief support.