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Riddick: Remember that favorite game of yours?

Kyra: "Who's the Better Killer?"

Riddick: Let's play.
The Chronicles of Riddick

Both fiction and real life are no strangers to massive battles between enormous armies consisting of thousands of soldiers. Needless to say, such a battle will invariably result in obscene amounts of bloodshed, carnage, death, slaying, maiming, slaughtering, stubbing of toes, and generally any other word for mass killing you can think of. Often times there will be one or more Badasses involved in the battle and said Badasses will be responsible for most of the killing of the other side's Mooks.

Sometimes you'll have two or more Badasses on one side of the fight. They may be best friends or bitter rivals, or any other kind of relationship. One of them may propose a contest to see who's the bigger Badass. And what kind of contest could possibly determine such a thing? See which one of them can kill the most of the other side's Mooks. Right before a huge battle, or during one, they agree that whoever kills more Mooks is officially the better fighter, and has superior combat skills.

The level of hostility in the challenge can vary from a friendly jest between comrades to the participants trying to kill each other as well during the ensuing ruckus. Can also be done when the two are simply infiltrating an enemy base by themselves or fending off a horde of enemies that ambushed them. It is a frequent subject of mini games and contests between players in certain video and tabletop games.

Compare Back-to-Back Badasses, which may very well happen during the fight.

Examples of Body Count Competition include:


Anime & Manga

  • Ichigo and Uryu in Season 1 of Bleach. Although Uryu is the only one playing. All Ichigo cares about is saving everyone from the buttload of Hollows that were just summoned.
  • Beet and Slade from Beet the Vandel Buster do this on multiple occasions. Slade usually wins, but Beet takes out the stronger monsters.
  • Naruto
    • Suigetsu and Sasuke do this in an episode, but Suigetsu is the only one playing.
    • Earlier on, during the invasion of Konoha, Gai is the one trying to keep ahead of his Eternal Rival... but interestingly enough Kakashi keeps count of his own Mooks as well.
  • Mai-Otome: Haruka declares one of these just before a battle against a swarm of Slaves.
  • Saiyuki: Sanzo and Gojyo count up their respective kills, and Gojyo argues that Sanzo has an unfair advantage in using a gun, while Gojyo must get a bit closer to his victims.
  • Claymore: Sophia and Noel were first seen while they were in the middle of doing this.
  • In one battle in Strike Witches, Gertrude and Erica do this. Gertrude won, with 20 kills to Erica's 10.
  • In an episode of Nurarihyon no Mago, Aotabou and Kurotabou do this.
  • He's not competing with anyone, but Amuro Rei of Gundam has a habit of counting how many enemies he's downed in a battle.
  • Gunslinger Girl. Cute Bruiser Henrietta in a combination of Creepy Child and Funny Moment.

 Henrietta: I know I only killed four people this month, but last month I killed at least ten! That's more than Triela even!


Comic Books

  • Asterix
    • Asterix and Obelix in Asterix the Legionary: not actual killing, since no humans are ever killed in Asterix, but collecting of helmets of defeated Romans instead. Obelix always won, because Asterix would never bother to actually collect the helmets.
    • Asterix in Belgium has a contest with Asterix, Obelix, and Vitalstatistix competing against a Belgian village to see who could wreck more Roman forts.
  • In a slightly less violent vein, the original Hourman and Atom of the Justice Society of America would often keep count of the people they beat up as a contest.
  • Batman villains the Trigger Twins liked to have little contests like this, though in one case where there were only two men, each killed by a different Trigger, Tom insisted that "Mine hit the ground first," and Tad answered "Mine was taller." This is in reference to the John Wayne film The War Wagon.
    • Another Batman Villain, Victor Szasz, keeps an obsssive count of the number of people he's "liberated", by carving marks into his own flesh. These marks are so important to him that, on one occassion when he thought he'd killed the Bat and made his mark, he went crazier than usual when he found out Batman had survived. Ditto when he made a mark for Alfred.
  • That specific film was also referenced in the GI Joe Reloaded series, specifically laid out and lampshaded by Beach-Head... to Snake Eyes.
  • The first time Wolverine appeared in Daredevil's comic he invoked this truth during a mook brawl.

 Wolverine: When you gonna pull your weight? I've taken down a dozen and you've only got what? Four?

Daredevil: This is a necessity, not a contest, (PUNCH!) five.


Films -- Live-Action

  • The Lord of the Rings
    • In the movies, the competition between Gimli and Legolas started at Helm's Deep was kept longer, onto the Battle of Minas Tirith. This lead to a particularly humorous exchange between the two. After Legolas single-handedly killed a rampaging 60-feet-tall Oliphant, including its riders, an irate Gimli declares, "That still only counts as one!"
    • The Two Towers began the competition, and featured several exchanges on the theme:

 Gimli: Legolas! Two already!

Legolas: I'm on seventeen! (shoots two Uruk-Hai as they come over the battlement) Nineteen!

Gimli: Argh! I'll have no pointy-ear outscoring me!

(later in the battle, as the camera pans away, his cries echoing throughout the battlefield...)

Gimli: ...twenty-one-ah! Twenty-two-ah!...

(and finally, in the Extended Edition, after the battle)

Legolas: Final Count: forty-two.

Gimli: (chuckles)Forty-two? Oh that's not bad for a pointy-eared Elvish princeling. I myself am sitting pretty on forty-three.

Legolas: (shoots an Uruk-Hai beneath Gimli) Forty-three

Gimli: He was already dead!

Legolas: He was twitching.

Gimli: He was twitching... because he's got my axe embedded in his nervous system! (shakes axe; Uruk twitches violently)

 Dr. Einstein: You cannot count the one in South Bend. He died of pneumonia!

Jonathan: He wouldn't have died of pneumonia if I hadn't shot him!

Dr. Einstein: No, no, Johnny. You cannot count him. You got twelve, they got twelve. The old ladies is just as good as you are!

  • The 2008 movie Pathology, although it has less to do with quantity and more to do with "quality" (the competitors must try to find out how the others killed their recent victims).
  • Spoofed in Hot Shots Part Deux. During a shootout, there is a counter running which declared at different numbers to have a bigger body count as other movies. At the end, the counter declares the movie to be the most brutal ever. The numbers are a joke, but the movie's real body count was still a record at the time with 114.
  • Played straight in Hunting Humans, wherein 2 clinical psychopaths and methodical serial killers find themselves having to one-up each other in body-count (with the main character being more or less blackmailed to do so, ironically enough).
  • In The Frighteners, a deranged civilian version occurs with Serial Killer Johnny Charles Bartlett, who is obsessed with his own body count and constantly compares it to other legendary serial killers. This habit continues even after his death.

Literature

  • Gimli and Legolas during the Battle of the Hornburg in The Lord of the Rings. Gimli wins by a point, but Legolas doesn't begrudge it, because he was just glad Gimli was alive.
  • In the Thursday Next book Lost in a Good Book, Thursday and Spike escape a zombie infested churchyard while seeing who can kill more of them.
  • The opening of Kenneth Oppel's novel Silverwing has a bat named Shade and his friend racing to see who can eat (something like) 600 mosquitoes first.
  • An amusing scene in Assassin of Gor has Tarl and a group of warriors fighting some two hundred enemies. When the one of the men tries to start a competition another makes fun of him.

 Relius: I have slain nineteen!

Ho-Sorl: Four-hundred and six.

  • Drizzt and Wulfgar have one in The Icewind Dale Trilogy
  • In Red Dragon, Hannibal Lecter's first literary appearance, Dr. Lecter apparently thinks of God as being in such a competition, and uses this claim to try and get the protagonist, Will Graham, to give in to what he smugly describes as his basic nature. (At this point, by his own admission, Graham mostly seems to be becoming tired of him.)
    • Variations on the same scene made it into Manhunter, where Dr. Lecktor gives pretty much the same speech over the phone, in 2002's Red Dragon, where he gives a similar one in person, and something teetering on the same idea in an early episode of Hannibal when he's still faking not being a murderer.
    • Much later, in Hannibal, Clarice learns in the mail that the Guinness Book of World Records is planning to list her as having killed more criminals (they're very careful about that word) than any other female law enforcement officer in the history of the United States. In the movie, they specify "FBI", and it sounds like she's already on the list and they're just "congratulating" her.
    • Back in Red Dragon, the 2002 movie shows Graham snapping when tabloid hound Freddy Lounds not only pesters him about whether or not the "Tooth Fairy" killer will be a bigger story than Lecter, but adds that he's already "beaten" Lecter's "score".

Live-Action TV

  • From Stargate Atlantis, episode 3x04: "Sateda". Sheppard gives his body count of Wraith, Teyla gives hers, and Sheppard changes his to one more than hers.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: This serves as a conflict point between Buffy and Riley in that Buffy outscored his season four total by the end of the first season, three years before she even met him. He's somewhere between emasculated and impressed, and on top of it now has to learn the plural of Apocalypse. The proud way with which Maggie Walsh notes he's personally taken down a bit less than two dozen HSTs only serves to underscore the humor.
  • While never a major plot point, the Viper pilots in the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica Reimagined are occasionally seen doing this. In "Scattered", Kat takes advantage of Starbuck's absence to get a high score. Admiral Cain is also mentioned to have encouraged this.


Myths & Religion

  • In The Bible, a young David had to collect one hundred foreskins of the Philistines in order to earn the hand of King Saul's daughter Michal in marriage. So this is Older Than Feudalism. And then he went double for nothing and collected two hundred, which made him a cut above the rest.
    Squicky as it may be, collecting the foreskins of slain enemies was surest way to tally up kills without cheating; men have two ears, ten fingers... only one foreskin. Lips and nose are one each, but they could come from women. Furthermore, Judeans were circumcised and Gentiles were not, so that meant David couldn't harvest from his own dead soldiers.


Tabletop Games

  • In a short story published in the Inferno! magazine, it transpires that that Khornate Champion Kharn the Betrayer has a kill-counter built into the H.U.D. of his helmet, and regularly amuses himself by trying to break his own Personal Best in every battle and campaign that he takes part in; a tally of 5,000 in a day being merely "quite good" by his own reckoning.


Video Games

  • The community for pretty much every online shooter in existence, to the point where your opinion usually doesn't count if someone with a better K/D ratio argues against you.
  • Eve Online has entire websites dedicated to tracking exactly who killed who with what where. They are known as killboards.
  • One early mission in Fable I has your character and Whisper pitted against each other to see who can kill more goblins. The game won't proceed unless you win. If the two of you tie, she says that because she got there first, she won. So unfair.
  • A fairly twisted version of this occurs in Warcraft III, in which Prince Arthas must prevent dreadlord Mal'Ganis from turning the sleeping occupants of a human city into an unstoppable army of the undead by finding and killing them himself first. (In his defense, they had already been infected by a plague which caused undead transformation.) A scoreboard at the top of the screen even keeps track of how many each of them has converted or culled while Arthas and his men set fire to their homes and slaughter them in the street. Is it any wonder that Arthas ends up becoming The Evil Prince?
    • A quest in Sholazar Basin from Wrath of the Lich King. Gets treated this way. The quest has you kill 50 of any beast in the basin in a race against the quest giver. He shows up at certain milestones to taunt you with his kill count, and is ahead of you by a considerable amount, then decides to take a nap, allowing you to surpass him in the meantime.
      • In very much the same manner as the shooter example above, PVP battleground disputes descend into this (especially on the losing faction of the particular battleground), even among veteran players.
  • Fire Emblem 4 has Yurius and Ishtar have such a competition. The problem is, they're the most powerful units in the game, and they're the enemies. They will not leave until they kill someone, and let's say without the Valkyrie staff, you start to really hate Yurius.
  • There's a mission in the Crimson Skies Xbox adaptation in which you have to man a turret and shoot down Die Spinne cargo zeppelins, competing with a tourist.
  • Left 4 Dead has an amusing Bathroom Stall Graffiti version in the safe room of No Mercy 4. Each post one-ups the previous, culminating in someone posting their 53,595 kill-count (which itself had several replies calling bullshit on it). Killing that many Infected yourself gets you an achievement.
    • This number is actually a reference to the previous zombie-killing game Dead Rising, where the "Zombie Genocider" achievement required 53,594 zombie kills. Which is, in itself, based on chopper pilot Ed's conversation during the intro of the game.

 Ed: Here she is. Hahaha! Willamette, Colorado. Population: 53,594. Distinguishing characteristics: Jack shit!

    • Then comes Prototype, which takes it one step further with its "Trail of Corpses" achievement, the amount sitting at 53,596 infected kills. This is gonna be an industry Running Gag, isn't it?
      • Looks like it, and even non-zombie games are in on it too: Rock Band 3 has an achievement, "HOPO-cidal maniac" that reads, "Kill 53,596 Hammer-ons and Pull-offs."
    • A more traditional example from the second game; a soldier has kept a tally of how many zombies he's killed. He's also kept a tally of how many people he's killed.
  • In Deus Ex Gunther Hermann and Anna Navarre seem to have such a competition, though it serves more to underscore how far gone they are. If the Player Character is killed by Anna, she'll sometimes say "Nine hundred and ten. I'm catching up, Gunther."
  • Several of the Wing Commander games had a scoreboard on the ship, showing the kills of all the pilots on board. The wingmen would gain kills despite not going on missions (at least, not with you), and some were much better at killing than others. Maniac would sometimes have more kills than you even if you didn't take him with you, ever, in the later games.
  • Republic Commando has Sev and Scorch, two of your commando team, constantly chattering about their kill count. In the novelisation, it's revealed that Sev has his heart set on getting 4,982 kills, one for each commando killed on Geonosis.

 Sev: Damn, I don't believe it!

Scorch: What's wrong, Sev?

Sev: I've lost count of my kills!

  • The WAR update on Team Fortress 2 did this between the Demo and Soldier, seeing who could kill the most of the other class to decide who would be given the privilege of using the Gun Boats. Individual players were given a kill count at the corner of their HUD telling them how many Soldiers they've killed as a Demo, or vise-versa. The Soldier won. Naturally, most of the players cheated.

 The Announcer: Now, I have no actual proof that these men cheated. Lucky for me, then, that I am still in possession of basic common bloody sense. The top Soldier, for example, would have had to kill a Demoman every 2.5 seconds for a week straight, somehow circumventing respawn timers or the need to actually traverse across a map, without once pausing to sleep or go to the bathroom. In other words, he is either cheating, or he is a hallucinating sleep-deprived psychotic with severe constipation and unerringly good aim. In either event, I am confident he is ashamed of himself.

  • Bringing both Special Weapons marines in Alien Swarm will cause competition-specific dialogue.
  • In Iji, Annihilators have these. At times, they've attacked their own forces to up their kill count. Of course, you never see that in-game because after Ciretako (the most famous Annihilator friendly fire incident) the kill counters were removed and the annihilators were given new stimulants making them more likely to attack their enemies.
    • Actually, they were removed, then put back when it was proved how much they improve combat performance. One log you can find has the Komato who wrote the kill count display shitting himself because the counter only has four characters and will eventually roll over from 9999 to 0, and he knows how that will end for him.
    • Ansaksie plays with this trope: she has a body count competition with Iji, except the goal is to keep the numbers as low as possible.
  • Every FPS death match ever.
  • In Darksiders, War and Ulthane's brawl is interrupted by a band of angels out for War's blood. Ulthane is miffed that they interfered in the first good fight he's had in a while, so he and War have an impromptu "pigeon plucking" contest. If War has a higher kill count by the end, Ulthane gives him a weapon enhancement as an award.
  • In Mass Effect, Garrus' visor includes an optional mode that allows him to track the number of kills he has made in comparison to teammates whose suits are synced to his (though this information is only available from his dossier after completing the Lair of the Shadow Broker DLC).
  • Though the characters don't actually keep count, Silly!Hawke and Varric have dialogue during combat that implies this is going on in Dragon Age 2.
  • Dawn of War: Dark Crusade has a mission where you need to kill between seventy to over a hundred bodies before your enemy does to win the favor of a daemon of Khorne. Hilariously easy if you're facing the Imperial Guard.
  • Pretty much any co-op game of Dynasty Warriors has the potential to turn into this.


Web Animation

  • Played for laughs in Red vs. Blue, Season 3, when Sarge and Caboose happen upon a pile of dead Blues while chasing Doc/O'Malley:

 Sarge: Once again I find myself torn. On the one hand, there's one less Blue in the universe. But now Doc's got a bigger body count than me! And that just won't do.

Mind that Sarge's body count up to that point is effectively zero.


Web Comics

  • Season Two of Ansem Retort had a "murder-off" between Axel and Cloud. It ended when Aerith cheated on Axel's behalf and played One-Winged Angel, driving Cloud insane. It also drove Axel insane. It was awesome.
  • Inverted in Flaky Pastry, when the normally bloodthirsty Zintiel competes with her arch rival Mona to see who can rescue the most people.
  • In Wily's Defense's 200th comic starts off with God demanding that his Angels go down to Earth and get them to convert to him. Somewhere along the line Death and Magdelena, the Angels of Death and Destruction, respectively, turn the trip to Earth into one of these. Death ends up winning by forecasting a hurricane at the last minute.
  • This strip of Nodwick.
  • Done in Sluggy Freelance between Riff, Torg, and Gwenn to see who can kill the most zombies. This strip has a running score count.

 Riff: New plan. Whoever bags the most wins.

  • The Zombie Hunters not only has a competition between characters but a points scale for the different types of zombies. (Night of the Living Mooks are worth a paltry 10.)
  • DM of the Rings: The player running Legolas tries to start the same competition with Gimli's player at Helm's Deep as occurred in The Lord of the Rings. Gimli points out that Legolas has a head start being able to pick off targets at range but will be forced to resort to daggers once he runs out of arrows, at which point Gimli will pwn him.
  • Seen in Girl Genius when the Jäger Generals finally take the field. Quite a friendly competition, albeit with much quibbling about what does and doesn't count.

 General 1: Hoy! Does dot count? Does killink dem ven dy iz in the air count?

General 2: Killink hyu enemies alvays counts.

    • The competition culminates in General 1 quibbling over the following aspects: killing enemies who are still in the air as opposed to deployed for combat, using the enemy's weapons, and killing fleeing enemies before they can regroup. He then tears the cannon off a fallen enemy gunner clank, shoulders it, and uses it to bring down an enemy troop carrier dirigible loaded with hundreds of enemy infantry.

 General 1 Den hy vin.


Western Animation

  • In Code Lyoko, Ulrich and Odd have the friendly competition kind ongoing about who kill the most of XANA's monsters. In episode "The Pretender", backed up by statistics, Jérémie declares the winner of the month to be... Aelita, to Odd and Ulrich's dismay.
  • In Batman the Brave And The Bold, Batman and Green Arrow have one of these... much to Merlin's annoyance.
  • Road Rovers: Although he was the only contestant, Blitz has the goal of biting one-thousand tooshies. His prize? A new flea collar.
  • Anakin and Ahsoka has an ongoing game in Star Wars the Clone Wars about who can destroy the most droids. Ki-Adi-Mundi joins in one episode.
  • Drew and Doyle on The Secret Saturdays do an inverted version in one episode, who can save the most people from an erupting volcano.
  • There's one between Hulk and Thor in Avengers Earths Mightiest Heroes, to see who could destroy the most of Kang's scarabs during his invasion. Later, Hawkeye joins in on the fun.
  • In the Thundercats 2011 episode "Old Friends" Captains Grune and Panthro are Back-to-Back Badasses, quite unfazed by the long odds against them on a battlefield full of their Lizard enemies

 Grune: If y'wanna make it ta general, you'll have to do better than that.

Panthro: (laughs) I'm eleven lizards ahead a' you, Captain!

Grune: (swings his mace, hitting two Lizards, laughs) Make that nine!

  • Wakfu: Sadlygrove and Rubilax have an impromptu competition in season 2 episode 9 during "Le Rush" in Rushu's world -- that is, fighting 666 minor shushus as a form of execution. There's just the little problem that Sadlygrove can't count.


Real Life

  • There was a competition between two Japanese officers during the second world war in China to be the first to kill one hundred people. With swords. Most scholars correctly point out that, realistically, the only way to achieve such numbers would be through the execution of prisoners of war rather than actual hand-to-hand combat with the enemy in the middle of battle. Modern studies concluded that the story was probably fabricated by the newspapers with the help of the two soldiers, but it still says the lot about the political climate of the era.
    • And according to one newspaper headline, the scores were so close (106-105) that they entered an extra "inning." Yes, that's the actual terminology used. And this was just a small part of the campaign commonly referred to as the Rape of Nanking.
    • This eventually comes from the feudal practice called Kubi-jikken, which is literally counting heads at the end of battle. This is important, as by the time samurais' pay are directly related to how many and who he killed.
  • The strict definition of "air ace" is "a fighter pilot who has shot down a certain number of enemy fighters" (usually 5). Manfred von Richtofen's record of 80 kills was unbeaten in World War I. In all of the history of air warfare, though, the highest scoring ace is Erich Hartmann of the WWII Luftwaffe, who was credited with 352 kills over the Eastern Front. The highest scoring Allied ace is rather farther down the list of WW2 aces, Ivan Kozhedub of the Soviet Union with 62 kills (the Allied air forces had a policy of rotating out the best pilots to serve as trainers, so this isn't unexpected). Gun-cams were invented to keep track of the fighter pilots' kills, for the very reason of invoking this trope.
    • Note that the gun-cams had a purpose beyond kill-counts -- it was used to accurately gauge how much enemy material had been destroyed.
  • In an example similar to the one about the two Japanese officers, there is an infamous story of how, during their WW 2 liquidation of Croatia's Jews, Romani, Serbs, non-Catholics, and the like, the Ustaše (basically, Croatian SS, although even the actual SS death camp guards were sickened by their brutality) guards at Croatia's Jasenovac concentration camp used knifes called "Serb Cutters" in sadistic body count competitions to see who could cut the throats of the most newly arrived inmates. One of the guards, Petar Brzica, boasted cutting the throats of about 1,360 new arrivals. Even the lower estimates put his body count at at least 800 murdered prisoners. Other participants who confessed to participating in the bet included Ante Zrinusic, who killed some 600 inmates, and Mile Friganovic, who gave a detailed and consistent report of the incident. Friganovic admitted to having killed some 1,100 inmates.
  • Snipers. That is all.
    • Simo Hayha has the largest body count ever, standing at 705 confirmed kills. The next best, Francis Pegahmagabow, had 378 kills.
    • Which like aircraft is more about keeping track of how many enemy forces are left for the spotter to find out if it is safe to go in yet or not. Snipers keeps detailed notes about every kill.
  • Most modern army servicemen however look down heavily upon anyone asking how many men they had killed in wars and often reject trigger-happy recruits who would brag about kill counts.
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