When a low-budget horror film makes it big, there’s practically a guarantee that at least one sequel is on the way. The longer a series goes on, the more excuses the filmmakers need to bring the titular villain back to life. Naturally, many horror series’ villains officially “died” once, but later installments typically find increasingly silly ways to put them back down.
Only a franchise’s core installments contributed to the respective villain’s count, so remakes likeFriday the 13th (2009) were not considered while reboot sequels like Scream (2022) and Syfy’s Chucky were fair game. With that said, which killers have died the most often?
8 Pinhead (3 Times)
Easily one of the most quotable horror movie villains, Hellraiser‘s Pinhead will soon get a major new installment courtesy of Hulu’s original films department, but with franchise stalwart player Doug Bradley swapped out for Jamie Clayton. It’s not the first time Bradley’s not been the performer behind Pinhead, but the Hulu film is certainly the biggest of the Bradley-free installments.
Even still, Pinhead is more than he appears, and his deaths reveal his complexity. The first time was in his human form, Captain Elliot Spencer, who dies in wartime. He dies again at the end of Hellbound at the hand of Leviathan (the Cenobite-converted human antagonist of the film), sacrificing himself for the film’s protagonist in the process. Lastly, in the futuristic fourth film (Bloodline) he’s trapped inside the Lament Configuration, which is destroyed much to the detriment of himself and every other Cenobite.
7 Michael Myers (3 Times)
There are several timelines in the Halloween franchise, but they all at least somewhat relate to both Laurie Strode and the original “night he came home.” One thing that binds all the multiverse-like threads is Michael’s occasional death. The first time was in Halloween II. In one of Michael’s most memorable moments, he stumbles down a hallway coated in flame and falls forward. Eventually, those behind the franchise came to realize Michael’s importance, but for a bit Halloween II was it.
He’s also beaten to death by Tommy Doyle (as played by Paul Rudd) in the franchise’s sixth installment, Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers. The most recent instance was in the film that came just after, Halloween H20: 20 Years Later. Technically, both Michael and Laurie came back for Halloween: Resurrection, but there’s a perfect finality to H20‘s conclusion that serves as just one reason among a litany as to why Resurrection should be ignored.
6 Candyman (4 Times)
Tony Todd’s Daniel Robitaille is an inherently sympathetic character pre-Candyman, but his afterlife has mostly been consumed with murder, and he’s not particularly discriminate in who he attacks. So, his last three deaths in the urban legend-based franchise aren’t nearly as sad as his first.
Before the events of the first film, Robitaille is murdered by a lynch mob. They sever his hand, smear him in honey, and give him to a swarm of bees. It’s horribly grotesque, but so are his deaths as Candyman. The first is at the conclusion of the original film, in which he’s incinerated. He’s disintegrated in the underrated Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh and is burned alive yet again in Candyman: Day of the Dead.
5 Leprechaun (5 Times)
Leprechaun isn’t the most revered successful horror franchise, but few can deny its status as one of the best St. Patrick’s Day-related horror movies. Like the more quality-filled A Nightmare on Elm Street franchise, Leprechaun‘s success has hinged entirely on the shoulders of the villain’s performer: Warwick Davis.
The little deviant has died four separate times; He’s blown up inside of a well in the Jennifer Aniston-starring first film, stabbed with an iron rod in the second, has his pot of gold incinerated in the Vegas-set third installment, and gets inflated to the point of combustion at the end of Leprechaun 4: In Space. The final time was in Davis’ final Leprechaun film (Back 2 tha Hood) in which he was drowned in cement.
4 Jason Voorhees (7 Times)
At first, Jason Voorhees himself was a Friday the 13th character who deserved to live. Jason drowns prior to the events of the first film, but once the box office receipts came rolling in, it was time for a re-evaluation of his fate. So, technically, the first of his deaths occurred when he was just a boy swimming in Crystal Lake. His second death came in Part III when Chris Higgins slams an ax in his head, but again that film’s success meant a resurrection. He was supposed to go down for real in The Final Chapter when Tommy Jarvis whacks him in the face with a machete, but he eventually came back again anyway in Jason Lives.
After getting stuck at the bottom of Crystal Lake (not enough to kill him) in the conclusion of both that film and its follow-up, The New Blood, Jason got a bizarre “final” send-off in Jason Takes Manhattan, when he’s covered in toxic waste and turned into a little boy. However, he still died twice in Jason Goes to Hell, once via the FBI and once via a trip down below. Lastly, he got jettisoned off into space in Jason X, but managed to survive his bout with Freddy Krueger.
3 Freddy Krueger (8 Times)
Alongside a particular hockey mask wearer, Freddy Krueger is an iconic horror villain that needs some modernization in the vein of Halloween (2018). Robert Englund is the only actor who can convincingly portray the dream demon, and in the role, he’s faced death several times. The first time was the most famous, yet it happened prior to the rolling of the first frame. Krueger was burned to death by the parents of his victims, and he dies again at the end of Wes Craven’s first film when Nancy turns her back on him.
He’s burned again in Freddy’s Revenge after getting exorcised from the body of Jesse Walsh, gets holy water thrown on his grave in Dream Warriors, and gets shown his own reflection by Alice Johnson in The Dream Master. Alice kills him again by turning him into an infant in The Dream Child before his own daughter kills him one “final” time in Freddy’s Dead. The final time was at the hands of Jason Voorhees, but he also had a non-canon incineration death in Wes Craven’s New Nightmare.
2 Ghostface (9 Times)
Admittedly, no one’s ever worn the Ghostface mask in two Scream movies. Even still, nine separate Ghostfaces have learned the consequences of evil…and messing with Sidney Prescott. In the original Scream, Billy Loomis takes quite a beating but is killed via a single bullet to the head. His partner Stu Macher also received a head wound, yet from a (thick 1990s) television. Scream 2‘s Mrs. Loomis and her partner, Mickey Altieri, were shot by several characters multiple times.
Scream 3‘s Roman Bridger essentially went the way of Billy Loomis, while Scream 4 had Jill Roberts’ heart give out thanks to her cousin, Sidney. But this was only after Roberts betrayed her partner, Charlie Walker. Most recently, 2022’s entry (one of the Scream franchise’s best installments) has Amber Freeman set ablaze, stabbed, and shot while her partner, Richie Kirsch, went through a fatal breakup courtesy of Sam Carpenter.
1 Chucky (13 Times)
A movie about a killer doll could have easily been a one-off, not unlike many similar films that came in its wake. Yet Child’s Play has persevered to an impressive extent. The reason is simple: Brad Dourif. The animatronics in the franchise have been downright impressive since the first film, but Chucky’s longevity required a talented performer willing to take it seriously. Dourif has done so even as recently as Syfy’s excellent first season of Chucky’s TV series. While the 2019 reimagining is an underrated film in its own right, most fans would agree it wasn’t quite Chucky.
On one hand, Chucky has died over a dozen times, but his popularity keeps bringing him (and Dourif) back. The most notable was perhaps the first, back when he went by Charles Lee Ray. Detective Norris took him down, which he also did later to little Chucky (who’d already been torched, blown apart, thrown around, etc.). Chucky always gets put through his paces in the movies’ third acts, with Child’s Play 2‘s elaborate Good Guy factory sequence standing as a highlight.