Everyone knows that Sean Bean is Hollywood’s dying-est actor, right? But, as this Nerdist blog post presupposes, maybe he isn’t? Yes, the notion that the GoldenEye and Game Of Thrones actor dies in every movie he’s in has long since joined the “Nickelback sucks” realm of completely trite pop culture pseudo-jokes. However, Nerdist’s new analysis suggests that the next Internet commenter to type “hope he doesn’t die in this one lol” on a Sean Bean-related news story should at very least throw in a couple footnotes.
As it turns out, the observation has become a cliché for a reason: Sean Bean really has died in a higher percentage of film and TV projects in which he appears than any other living actor of note (the analysis presumably leaves out stuntmen and people who specialize in playing swiftly dispatched henchmen). With 0.32 deaths per film, Bean is tied with only Bela Lugosi for the most deaths per screen appearance, though Mickey Rourke and John Hurt are close behind, at 0.31 deaths per film.
Yet the prolific Hurt, having appeared in many more movies than Bean, has quietly earned the distinction of dying in more movies and TV shows overall, racking up nearly twice as many on-screen deaths as Bean. Perhaps unsurprisingly, given their shared late-career propensity for playing vaguely foreign madmen who get killed on cheap-looking laboratory sets, Lugosi and Vincent Price also died on screen more times overall than Bean has in his career thus far.
Other big-time dyers include Gary Busey, character actor Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, and Robert De Niro. We remain hopeful that the Internet will someday also be able to complicate or eradicate that other tiresome Sean Bean meme.