Shakespeare’s Body Count – Or Who Gets Whacked and Where?

I’m a big Shakespeare fan and while I haven’t read all the plays (I’m about ten short of the total), this is a guide to the body count in each of his plays. I did this ages ago for a project looking at the violence in classic literature. It’s a bit of fun really, and I thought I’d share it here. Note that I only include in the body count characters who are shown to die or who are named as having been killed. The anonymous hoards killed in battle scenes are discounted in the name of brevity. Thus Henry V’s body count is in single digits rather than tens of thousands. 

Shakespeare Body Count:

All’s Well that Ends Well – No deaths

Antony and Cleopatra

  1. Enobarbus dies (of ‘shame’ at having betrayed Anthony, his friend)
  2. Mark Antony falls on his own sword
  3. Iras dies of poison (asp)
  4. Cleopatra kills herself via poison (asp)
  5. Charmian kills herself via poison (asp)

As You Like It – No deaths

The Comedy of Errors – No deaths


  1. Coriolanus is killed by the mob


  1. Guiderius kills and decapitates Cloten
  2. The Queen dies of fever


  1. Hamlet kills Polonius
  2. Hamlet sends Rosencrantz to his death
  3. Hamlet sends Guildenstern to his death
  4. Ophelia drowns herself
  5. Hamlet kills Laertes
  6. Queen Gertrude dies from drinking poison (meant for Hamlet)
  7. Hamlet kills King Claudius
  8. Hamlet dies from poison (received from Laerte’s sword)
  9. (Yorick the jester dies at an unspecified time; old King Hamlet is murdered by Claudius before the start of the play)

Henry IV part One

  1. Hotspur is killed in battle by Prince Hal
  2. Henry IV orders the execution of Thomas Percy, Earl of Worcester 
  3. Henry IV orders the execution of Sir Richard Vernon 

Henry IV part Two

  1. Prince John orders the death of Coleville after tricking the rebels into surrendering 
  2. Henry IV dies (of illness / old age)
  3. (The leaders of the rebellion including Mowbray, the Archbishop of York and Hastings are captured and presumably executed. Northumberland is ‘overthrown’ but it is not said if he is captured or not) 

Henry V

  1. Henry V orders the execution of Scroop
  2. Henry V orders the execution of the Earl of Cambridge
  3. Henry V orders the execution of Grey
  4. Henry V orders the execution of Bardolph
  5. Henry V orders the execution of Nym
  6. (We are told either Mistress Quickly or Doll Tearsheet is dead – but it is unclear which. We are also told Falstaff has died but he does not appear in the play).

Henry VI part One

  1. Mortimer dies in the Tower (of old age / illness)
  2. Talbot is killed in battle
  3. Talbot’s son is killed in battle
  4. Richard, Duke of York orders the death of Joan Purcelle / Joan of Arc (by burning) 

Henry VI part Two

  1. The Duke of Suffolk has the Duke of Gloucester murdered
  2. Winchester dies (from illness?)
  3. Pirates kill and decapitate Suffolk
  4. Alexander Iden kills Jack Cade
  5. The Duke of Somerset is killed by Richard of Gloucester
  6. Richard, Duke of York kills Lord Clifford

Henry VI part Three

  1. Edward, Clarence and Richard of the house of York kill Edward, Prince of Wales
  2. Richard of Gloucester murders Henry VI

Henry VIII

  1. Henry VIII orders Buckingham’s death
  2. Cardinal Wolsey dies (of old age / illness)

Julius Caesar

  1. Caesar is murdered by the conspirators led by Cassius and Brutus 
  2. Cinna (poet) is killed by the mob who ‘tear him for his bad verses.’ 
  3. Portia (Brutus’ wife) kills herself by eating hot coals
  4. Cassius stabs himself with assistance of servant
  5. Brutus stabs himself with assistance of soldier

King John

  1. Austria is beheaded by the Bastard
  2. Arthur dies after leaping from a castle wall
  3. John is poisoned by a disgruntled monk

King Lear

  1. Regan kills a steward
  2. Steward fatally wounds the Duke of Cornwall
  3. Gloucester dies of shock / grief after eyes plucked out
  4. Goneril poisons Regan (dies offstage)
  5. Goneril stabs herself (dies offstage) 
  6. Edgar kills Edmund in a duel 
  7. Cordelia is hanged on Edmund’s orders (dies offstage)
  8. Lear dies of grief
  9. (The Fool may have been hanged – he disappears from action and his death is alluded to by Lear – some productions have the Fool and Cordelia played by the same performer)

Love’s Labours Lost – No deaths


  1. Macbeth kills Duncan
  2. Macbeth kills Duncan’s first groom
  3. Macbeth kills Duncan’s second groom
  4. Macbeth orders Banquo’s murder (Fleance escapes)
  5. Macbeth orders Lady Macduff’s murder
  6. Macbeth orders Macduff’s son’s murder
  7. Lady Macbeth kills herself
  8. Macbeth kills Young Siward
  9. Macduff kills Macbeth

Measure for Measure – No deaths

The Merchant of Venice – No deaths

The Merry Wives of Windsor – No deaths

A Midsummer Night’s Dream – No deaths

Much Ado About Nothing – No deaths


  1. Iago kills Rodrigo 
  2. Othello kills Desdemona (by smothering / strangulation) 
  3. Iago kills Emilia
  4. Othello kills himself
  5. (Brabantio possibly dies off-screen)

Richard II

  1. John of Gaunt dies of old age / illness
  2. Bollingbroke orders Bushy’s execution 
  3. Bollingbroke orders Green’s execution
  4. Richard kills a servant
  5. Richard kills another servant
  6. Sir Piers Exton murders Richard with an axe
  7. At an unspecified time, Thomas Mowbray, Duke of Norfolk dies abroad having been exiled by Richard
  8. (Bollingbroke orders a number of executions including Oxford, Salisbury, Blunt, Kent, Brocas, Sir Bennet Seely – plus the Abbot of Westminster who dies before he can be executed. All happen off-stage and most of these do not feature in the play).

Richard III

  1. Richard orders Clarence’s murder
  2. Edward IV dies of shock / grief upon learning of Clarence’s death
  3. Richard orders tbe execution of Hastings
  4. Richard orders the execution of Rivers
  5. Richard orders the execution of Vaughan
  6. Richard orders the execution of Gray
  7. Richard orders the murder of Prince Edward (the uncrowned Edward V)
  8. Richard orders the murder of Richard, Duke of York (Edward V’s younger brother)
  9. Queen Anne dies (possibly at Richard’s hand)
  10. Richard orders Buckingham’s execution
  11. (Pre-play – Richard has killed both Henry VI and Edward, Prince of Wales. He also attempts to have Lord Stanley’s son executed but this apparently does not occur)

Romeo and Juliet

  1. Tybalt kills Mercutio in a duel
  2. Romeo kills Tybalt in revenge for Mercutio
  3. Romeo kills Paris
  4. Romeo kills himself by poison
  5. Juliet kills herself with Romeo’s dagger
  6. Lady Capulet dies

The Taming of the Shrew – No deaths

The Tempest – No deaths

Timon of Athen

  1. Timon is found dead in a cave (possible suicide)
  2. (Timon offers the delegates is fig tree upon which they may hang themselves – it is not clear if they take him up on this ‘generous’ offer)

Titus Andronicus

  1. Titus orders the execution / sacrifice of Alarbus
  2. Titus kills his son Mutius in a quarrel
  3. Charon and Demetrius murder Bassanius
  4. Martius is beheaded (having been blamed for Bassanius’ murder)
  5. Quintus is beheaded (having been blamed for Bassanius’ murder)
  6. Titus kills Lavinia (after she has been raped and mutilated by Charon and Demetrius)
  7. Titus kills Charon (and bakes him in a pie)
  8. Titus kills Demetrius (and bakes him in a pie)
  9. The Clown is hanged
  10. The Nurse is stabbed
  11. Titus kills Tamora
  12. Saturninus kills Titus
  13. Lucius orders the execution of Aaron by burying him up to his chest and leaving him to die of thirst / hunger.

Troilus and Cressida

  1. Hector kills Patroclus
  2. Achilles orders the Myrmidons to kill Hector

Twelfth Night – No deaths

The Two Gentlemen of Verona – No Deaths

The Winter’s Tale

  1. Antigonus – ‘Exit pursued by a bear’ (presumably eaten?)



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