John Wick's 12 Best Kills, Ranked By Brutality

"John Wick" is undoubtedly one of the most brutal action franchises of all time. Just look at the numbers. In the first three "John Wick" films, the beloved assassin kills a total of 299 people, with "John Wick: Chapter 2" serving as the deadliest film in the series. One eagle-eyed fan claims that John offs 140 people in "John Wick: Chapter 4" (depending on how you count), bringing his total kills to 439. This makes him one of the most prolific murderers in all of film history, as his body count is even higher than Michael Meyers' and Jason Voorhees' — combined!

Of course, not every kill makes a huge impact. John's weapon of choice is a pistol, and gunshots become almost mundane after a while (what that says about the state of our psyches ... well, we're not sure we care to answer that question). Don't get us wrong, being shot in the head is an absolutely brutal way to go, but there are different levels of viciousness in the "John Wick" universe. Basic bullet wounds rank pretty low.

No matter which weapon he's wielding, John can get quite inventive with his slayings, and those moments often have the most impact. As Laurence Fishburne puts it in the franchise's greatest line-read, "Somebody please get this man a gun." Or a sword, or a horse, or a pencil, or a book, or ... you get the picture. The instrument isn't important. As these killings show, you don't want to mess with John Wick under any circumstance.

12. Ruby Rose can't stop a knife to the chest (John Wick: Chapter 2)

John Wick has faced numerous enemies over the years. In "John Wick: Chapter 2," we meet Ares (Ruby Rose), a member of crime boss Santino D'Antonio's (Riccardo Scamarcio) security detail. D'Antonio orders Ares and the rest of the team to take out John; you can guess how well that goes.

Ares and John have a cheeky dynamic. Because Ares doesn't speak, they exchange one-liners using sign language. Though Ares is committed to her job, she's no match for John's ferocious skills. After a magnificent shootout in the catacombs, Ares and John reunite in a multicolored hall of mirrors for one of the film's best set pieces.

Ares comes at John with a knife and performs some impressive acrobatic work, but John grabs the weapon from her before she can get any stabs in. This is the kiss of death for Ares, as John plunges the knife through her hand and drives it with all his might through her chest. Luckily for Ares, it seems to be a fairly quick death. It's not nearly as brutal as it could've been, but it's still hard not to wince when someone gets knifed in the hand.

11. Zero gets a sword in the torso (John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum)

One of the best parts of the "John Wick" franchise is the roster of formidable side characters, many of whom are played by martial arts greats. One of John's most fearsome opponents is Zero, an assassin played by actor and martial artist Mark Dacascos in "John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum." Zero is the leader of a group of assassins-in-training who are hired by the Adjudicator (Asia Kate Dillon) to take out John Wick and his allies.

Despite being a major John Wick fanboy, Zero does his best to take John down. In Zero and John's final showdown, which is the last fight in the film, the two men face off in a glass skyscraper with mirrored floors and ceilings. Zero puts up an honorable fight, but can't survive John's brute force. Eventually, John pins Zero to the floor, pointing a sword at his chest. Zero attempts to fend off the blade with his gloved hand, but John overpowers him and hammers the sword into his chest, pounding the hilt for good measure.

This hammer technique is one of John's go-to moves when he uses swords or knives, and it's especially effective here. It's not John's most brutal kill involving blades – there's not a lot of blood and the duel is pretty evenly matched – but it's still rough to watch, especially since Zero was such a big fan.

10. John stabs himself to defeat Viggo (John Wick)

This next kill on this list isn't brutal because John maims his opponent, but because he injures himself in the process. In the first "John Wick," Russian mobster Iosef Tarasov (Alfie Allen) kills John's dog and steals his car, a misguided crime that kicks off the events of the next three films. Iosef's father, Viggo (Michael Nyqvist), who also happens to be John's former employer, is pissed at Iosef for his reckless actions. However, as a family man, he must avenge his son's death, and thus becomes John's enemy.

Being on John Wick's wrong side never ends well, so Viggo's death comes as no surprise, even to Viggo himself. Viggo does his best to escape John's clutches, but John tracks him to the New York Harbor. They begin dueling with knives, then John tricks Viggo. Viggo points his knife at John's chest; instead of blocking him, John pulls the knife into his own stomach and breaks Viggo's arm with a sickening crack.

John extracts the knife from his stomach and drives it into Viggo's chest, which eventually kills him. It's not clear whether John stabbed himself as a strategic move or if it's a signal that he's lost the will to live – it's probably a bit of both – but the stunt is startling either way.

9. Brains blown out in the club (John Wick: Chapter 2)

The majority of John Wick's kills involve guns, and many of these shootouts bleed together (no pun intended) after a while. However, a few pistol hits stand out because of how grotesque they are. Case in point: the club shootout in "John Wick: Chapter 2," which includes a particularly gruesome killing.

John runs through a frenzied crowd, taking out his would-be assailants with his trusty handgun. When one of the goons gets a little too close, John grabs his hair and pulls his head back, shooting him point-blank in the back of the skull. His brains fly up into the air, dirtying the club's already bloody floor. This short sequence is a great example of how the series' close-range shootings are always more brutal to watch than the long-range ones, especially when brain matter is involved.

8. A shotgun to the chest at extremely close range (John Wick: Chapter 2)

John's favorite weapon is a pistol with lots of extra rounds, but really, any gun will do. During the action-packed sequence in the catacombs in "Chapter 2," John gets a shotgun, which he uses to deadly effect. Many of the pauses that punctuate the fight scenes in the "John Wick" series result from combatants either reloading their weapons or finding new ones entirely, and one of the most thrilling moments in this fight is no exception.

John deftly takes out his opponents with the shotgun, but runs out of ammo while face-to-face with one of his foes. Rather than letting the baddie get a leg up, John presses the shotgun against the man's chest and forces him to the ground. While he's pinned to the floor, John reloads the shotgun, and then shoots the man in the chest, sending blood bursting forth. It doesn't get more brutal than that.

7. Hooves to the face (John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum)

Sometimes, animals are the best allies. We've known from the start that John's a dog lover — in "John Wick: Chapter 3," we learn that he has a way with horses, as well. 

While fighting some goons in a stable, John reaches for his beloved gun, only to get shot at. Always a quick thinker, John grabs a beautiful black stallion and uses it as a weapon. As one of the henchmen stalks him from behind, John slaps the horse on its rear, and the man receives a kick to the face. Since this horse trick worked out pretty well the first time, John uses it again. When the next assailant comes after him, John — who is still without a gun — tackles him to the ground. Just as his opponent scrambles to his feet, John finds another horse, who kicks the man in the face not once but twice, sending him flying backward into one of the stables.

It's a brilliant move from John, who doesn't have to do any of the killing himself (horses can't be tried for murder, right?). As far as face-smashing goes, these two deaths are some of the most ruthless the series has to offer.

6. A knife to the skull (John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum)

This sequence in "John Wick: Chapter 3" is one of the franchise's most brutal, which is why it claims two spots on this list. John finds himself surrounded by assassins in a knife shop, and it goes about how you'd expect. A knife store is probably the worst possible place to encounter John Wick, which these assailants learn the hard way.

John grabs as many knives as he can and throws them at his opponents with precision, almost like he's playing a very deadly game of "Operation." One of the baddies — who happens to be bald – comes at John unarmed. He doesn't last long. After a few elegant jiu-jitsu moves, John delivers a deadly blow to his skull. Making it even more horrific, John proceeds to hammer the knife into the man's head. The victim crumples to the ground looking like a human shish kabob. Hey, at least it was a quick death, right?

5. Loss of limbs on a motorcycle (John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum)

The next kill on this list takes place during one of the coolest sequences in the entire series. Yeah, John Wick fighting on a horse with a gun is pretty neat, but what about John Wick on a motorcycle with a sword? Even better! John has just evaded Zero and his students in Grand Central Station when he encounters two more assassins-in-training on motorcycles. He throws them off their bikes, then takes one of the motorcycles before Zero catches up with him. Thus, the chase begins.

John starts the scene wielding a gun, but eventually steals one of the motorcyclists' swords. From there, it's a whole new ballgame. John's next victim meets one of the worst fates imaginable: John stabs this poor sucker in the chest, wacks him on the head, and slices his arm off. This fellow's dangling limb gets stuck in his back wheel, making his motorcycle fly backward and crash into another bike at high speed. Dismemberment is always shocking to behold, and the addition of not one but two motorcycle crashes makes this kill a literal double whammy, not to mention one of the gruesome we've seen.

4. Death by pencil (John Wick: Chapter 2)

In the criminal underworld, John Wick is a legend. Rogues of all sorts swap stories about his impossible feats; these tall tales must be exaggerated, right? But by the end of the fourth film, it's clear that John has pulled off all those inconceivable moves — or, if he hasn't, he certainly could. 

We first learn about John Wick's mythic status in the first movie; one line in particular really sells the Baba Yaga's reputation. While speaking to Iosef about the monster he just unleashed, Viggo describes John Wick, claiming, "I once saw him kill three men in a bar ... with a pencil. With a f***ing pencil!"

The line was just too good to ignore. In "Chapter 2," John finds a desk littered with several pencils in the middle of a fight. After shooting a goon, John stabs the man in the chest with one pencil. In order to get a different opponent off his back (literally), he drives another through his hand and, later, his ear. The kill even comes with John's signature hammer move. But Wick's not done with the writing implement just yet. In his final act of deranged brilliance, John slices a foe's neck, and then whacks his head into the wall, where a trusty No.2  waits. Who knew a humble pencil could be so deadly and so disgusting?

3. Knife to the groin (John Wick: Chapter 2)

It's hard to imagine a worse place to be hit — never mind stabbed or shot — than the groin. Naturally, John frequently uses this fact to his advantage, delivering an extra dose of agony to his opponents. He's not alone, though. John Wick's shadow, Mr. Nobody (Shamier Anderson), uses similar techniques, often ordering his trusty German shepherd to bite attackers right where it hurts.

John Wick's most brutal groin shot comes in "Chapter 2," when John battles a group of assassins in a shiny white subway station. Armed with a knife, John outmaneuvers his pistol-toting opponents with bloody potency. When one of the men, who is already wounded, tries to shoot John, John flips him around and slashes between his legs. But the man isn't not dead yet, just in unimaginable pain. So, John flips him onto his back and knifes him in the chest.

It's an absolutely brutal way to go, and John shows no mercy. When people are anxiously crossing their legs in the theater, you know a fight scene has reached maximum savagery.

2. Killa's drawn-out assassination (John Wick: Chapter 4)

John Wick performs some incredible stunts in "Chapter 4," but he isn't the only one who gets some jaw-dropping kills. We also have to give a shout-out to Akira (Rina Sawayama) and her incredible staircase maneuver, Caine (Donnie Yen) and his brilliant tactics in the kitchen, and Mr. Nobody's encounter with dog-kicker Chidi (Marko Zaror). But this is a list of John Wick's kills, and there's one fight in "Chapter 4" that stands alone in its depravity.

John's most amusing opponent in "Chapter 4" is Killa (Scott Adkins), the head of Germany's high table and the man that John must kill in order to rejoin the Ruska Roma family. Killa is a gambler, a cheat, and absolutely enormous. Killa's strength and size make him a tough adversary, but as always, John gets the job done in the most brutal way possible.

The first and second "John Wick" films includ e show-stopping club scenes, and "Chapter 4" continues this wonderful tradition. John and Killa might be attending a sprawling rave with sky-high waterfalls, but that doesn't stop them from enacting ruthless violence on one another. In one of John's most drawn-out kills, he slices Killa's neck with a card, shoots him in the posterior, smashes his face in, and throws an ax into his back. After all of this, Killa is somehow still alive, so John throws him over a railing. Killa's head smashes into the staircase, which finally kills the guy. It's an exhausting and disgusting sequence, and it makes for one of John's goriest kills.

1. A slow knife to the eye (John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum)

John Wick's assassination of Killa is his most diverse kill, but there's one other execution that we just can't get out of our heads. The knife shop scene in "Chapter 3" remains an exceptional showcase for awe-inspiring violence; John's penultimate kill in the establishment is so gory that, even after enduring all the brutality mentioned above, we still want to look away.

After mercilessly hammering the knife into that bald man's head, John is attacked by another blade-wielding assailant. Without a weapon of his own, John grabs the man's hand and overpowers him. Then, John ever-so-slowly lowers the knife toward his opponent's eye. After a struggle, he slides the knife into his attacker's eye socket, presumably puncturing his brain. It's like the most disgusting arm-wrestling match you've ever seen.

What makes this kill scene so disturbing is not just the manner of the death, but also its speed. The fight itself only lasts about 15 seconds, but John's prolonged struggle to stab a man in the eye is absolutely brutal to watch. It's often said that the anticipation of seeing violence on screen is as harrowing as the violence itself. That's very much the case here. We can't in good conscience rank any of John Wick's kills higher than this one, which makes us want to close our precious eyes just thinking about it.