Superhero films and TV find their roots in comic books, but the genre has come a long way since its innocent origins. As one of the most explored genres in recent years, writers and filmmakers have had plenty of room to play with its limits. It stands to reason that in a world with superpowered vigilantes going up against menacing threats, such characters would encounter plenty of bloodshed and death. Some films and TV series have leaned into that aspect of the story in a big way, giving us some seriously gory superhero content. With as much fake blood as you may expect from a slasher film, the following movies and TV shows have taken superhuman violence to a whole new level.
I’m ranking the gnarliest entries based on bloodshed, using confirmed death tolls and assuming that the human body has about 1.5 gallons of blood. We’ll look at the worst offenses in each.
‘Gen V’ (2023 to Present)
Death Count: 48 | Blood Spilled: ≈72 Gallons
What happens when you throw together a bunch of hormonal superheroes-in-training? A recipe for death and destruction. At Godolkin University School of Crimefighting, young superheroes compete in battle-royale challenges for the chance to join the morally questionable Vought International’s elite superhero team, The Seven.
“Gen V” is a spinoff of “The Boys,” and although it doesn’t match the bloodshed of the original, the 48 deaths in the first season make us confident it will rank higher on this list given more time on the air. A hemokinetic character with the power to manipulate blood makes for some gruesome deaths by blood spike, and other notable gore includes impalement, through-body punches, decapitation, and a beating with a severed head.
Death Count: 73 | Blood Spilled: ≈109 Gallons
Ultraviolent action meets dark humor in this film about an ordinary teenager (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) who decides to become a real-life superhero despite having no superpowers. Unsurprisingly, he finds himself in a visceral world of violence, full of characters like Hit Girl (Chloë Grace Moretz), trained as an assassin since childhood; mob boss Frank D’Amico (Mark Strong); and vengeful ex-cop-turned-vigilante Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage). The film features some impressive katana kills by Hit Girl, a full body crush by a car, a burning alive with gasoline, explosions, and enough shootings and stabbings to fill a mass grave. Like other entries on this list, “Kick-Ass” plays violence for humor, making it stomachable for viewers who, like me, peer through their fingers during the most brutal scenes.
Death Count: 86 | Blood Spilled: ≈129 Gallons
It’s necessary to give the Blade films their due for trailblazing the superhero gore subgenre. Bloodshed is a guarantee as part of half-human, half-vampire Eric Brooks’ (Wesley Snipes) vendetta to rid humanity of the vampire underworld to avenge his murdered mother. Armed with an array of lethal weapons and his killer martial arts skills, he takes on the undead in intensely gruesome but visually impressive action scenes. Throats are ripped to shreds by the film’s vicious vampires, and other standout kills include several snapped necks, through-head impalements, shootings and stabbings, and exploding vampires splattering flesh across every action scene. Is it ridiculous? You bet, but it’s a classic.
Death Count: 90 | Blood Spilled: ≈135 Gallons
In “Logan,” Hugh Jackman reprises his iconic role as Wolverine in a much bloodier context than the X-Men movies. This emotional, character-driven film takes its violence more seriously than other inclusions on this list. It delves into the personal struggles of aging and ailing mutant Logan (Jackman) in a near-future world in which his kind is on the brink of extinction. He finds himself embroiled in violence when he agrees to escort the first mutant born in decades, a young girl named Laura (Dafne Keen), to a refuge near the Canadian border. The film leans into the brutality of Wolverine’s clawed combat, resulting in some of the most intense and visceral action sequences in the superhero genre. The film is chock-full of stabbing and slashing, but the murder is somberly shown for the toll it takes on its characters.
‘The Toxic Avenger’ (2023)
Death Count: Unconfirmed | Blood Spilled: ≈135 Gallons
“The Toxic Avenger” can’t really be ranked fairly since it has only been shown in early screenings at film festivals so far, but all reports claim it’s a film that shouldn’t be left off the list. With a rumored kill count approaching triple digits, we’re giving it an estimate of 90. The reboot of the 1984 black comedy splatter film promises even more graphic brutality, making it a can’t-miss for fans of the genre. We hope to see some visually dynamic reimaginings of the original film’s most creative kills, such as mouth shredding by milkshake stirrer, buttocks burned off by sauna rocks, and death by tumble dry and steam press.
Death Count: 111 | Blood Spilled: ≈166 Gallons
In Mega-City One, where crime and chaos reign supreme, unflinching law enforcer Judge Dredd (Karl Urban) takes on a drug cartel led by the sadistic Ma-Ma (Lena Headey). This adaptation of the popular “2000 AD” comic series has gained a cult following for its uncompromising portrayal of its titular character and the brutal world he inhabits. With graphic and visceral action sequences featuring slow-motion effects that emphasize the brutality of the combat, “Dredd” uses violence to immerse us in a dystopian world where the rule of law is upheld with extreme force. Dredd is a force to be reckoned with as he explodes heads, skins drug dealers alive, and throat-punches fellow Judges to death. The vast majority of the brutality is done by Dredd himself, making him a fascinating, morally ambiguous character who resonates strongly with audiences.
‘Doom Patrol’ (2019 to 2023)
Death Count: 117 | Blood Spilled: ≈175 Gallons
A team of misfit superheroes who gained powers through personal trauma embraces the bizarre, the grotesque, and the downright weird of the genre in “Doom Patrol.” In some ways, the show is a happy medium of the superhero gore subgenre — dark humor makes the violence not too serious, but character-driven drama adds some emotional weight to the events. From graphic transformations and disfigurations to bizarre encounters with supervillains and otherworldly entities, the series revels in its dark and visceral moments. Robotman (Brendan Fraser) manages some lethal headbutts, and we’ve seen pens to the eye, bodies torn in half, and a 60-kill episode in which almost everyone is incinerated. If you love dark and offbeat storytelling, don’t miss this boundary-pushing, critically acclaimed series.
Death Count: 125 | Blood Spilled: ≈187 Gallons
“Deadpool” serves up an audacious blend of humor, meta-commentary, and unapologetic violence that has already made it a cult classic among superhero fans. Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds), a dishonorably discharged Canadian special forces operative turned freelance mercenary, receives experimental cancer treatment that wakes regenerative cells. Tortured as part of the experiment and now escaped, Deadpool seeks revenge against the lab’s enforcer, Ajax (Ed Skrein). Deadpool is pretty handy with his sword, giving us some great shots of legs being chopped off, bodies sliced in half, throats being run through, and daggers to the eye. The film gleefully subverts the conventions of the genre, with Deadpool serving as a self-aware narrator who frequently addresses the audience. The film dishes up inventive and gruesome action sequences that fully exploit Deadpool’s accelerated healing factor, with his willingness to inflict harm on both villains and himself resulting in darkly comedic moments.
‘The Punisher’ (2017 to 2019)
Death Count: 352 | Blood Spilled: ≈528 Gallons
The grisly Netflix Marvel series “Daredevil” shook the superhero genre when it debuted in 2015. This spinoff series introduces us to a new complex antihero, former marine Frank Castle — aka Punisher (Jon Bernthal) — as he takes revenge on those responsible for the murder of his family and digs into the larger conspiracy against them. Intense action sequences featuring visceral gunfights, hand-to-hand combat, and brutal interrogations make “The Punisher” a near competitor with its predecessor for gore. Imaginative kills include a sledgehammer to the head, hanging, disembowelment, and clever maneuvers to turn enemies’ guns against them. The show explores the consequences of vigilantism, with the violence serving to raise the moral questions that make the franchise beloved.
‘Daredevil’ (2015 to 2018)
Death Count: 400 | Blood Spilled: ≈600 Gallons
The influential Marvel series “Daredevil” follows the journey of Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox), a blind lawyer by day and vigilante crime-fighter known as Daredevil by night. Set against the harsh, crime-ridden backdrop of Hell’s Kitchen, New York, the show was groundbreaking in its sensory fight scenes that emphasize the physical toll on both the hero and his adversaries. Daredevil pits his acrobatic martial arts skills and heightened senses against morally ambiguous adversaries, making for fight scenes that take us into the protagonist’s experience. The bloodiest moments include a fatal beating with a bowling ball, a suicide by a spike to the head, a flight down an elevator shaft, and a few choice explosions. This dark, gritty, drama is complex and unafraid of asking the hard questions.
‘The Boys’ (2019 to Present)
Death Count: 498 | Blood Spilled: ≈747 Gallons
From the first episode, the dark satire “The Boys” lets us know it’s unafraid to play extremely bloody moments for comedic effect when we see a girl torn apart as she is run through by a superhero. In a world where superheroes are revered as saviors by the masses, elite corporate crime fighters are doing dirty business behind the scenes, revealing them not to be the benevolent champions they claim to be. Standing in the perverse name of justice are The Boys, a vigilante group looking to take down corrupt superheroes, who, it turns out, aren’t that easy to kill. Fine moments of creative savagery include butt-bombs, heads ripped in half with bare hands, a laser to the eardrum, and superheroes flying into bodies. This is a show with some meat to it, exploring the dark side of hero worship, corporate greed, celebrity culture, and the abuse of power.
Death Count: 641 | Blood Spilled: ≈961 Gallons
Superheroes meet the occult in visionary director Guillermo del Toro’s offbeat adventure that serves as the runner-up in our ranking. Summoned from Hell by Nazis during World War II, the charismatic demon Hellboy (Ron Perlman) now works with the secretive Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense to fight supernatural threats, such as demon eggs in the sewer. With his iconic Right Hand of Doom and snappy, sarcastic sense of humor, Hellboy lands kills including impaling victims on a boxing-ring post, javelining a giant through the eye, football-punting a head, and slashing a whole crowd with a flaming sword. Grotesque action sequences give a visual spectacle of graphic confrontations with monsters and demons in del Toro’s signature style, while a wicked sense of humor lightens the load.
Death Count: 15,875,068 | Blood Spilled: ≈23,812,602 Gallons
Topping the body count by a big margin, iconic superhero director Zack Snyder’s epic “Watchmen” subverts the genre, making it the perfect choice if you’re not a fan of superheroes. In an alternate 1985 where a controversial law has banned vigilantes, the murder of a former colleague leads a group of retired superheroes to investigate a far-reaching conspiracy, leaving them with a series of moral dilemmas. “Watchmen” has plenty of bloody moments that add to the gritty tone of the film. Creative deaths include electrocution, cyanide, flamethrowers, and that big, old nuclear explosion that wipes out New York City. This thought-provoking and multilayered story challenges the convention of the genre and our society, providing clever commentary on power, morality, and identity.