While the world of John Wick and its High Tables, gold coins, and email blasts remain mysterious, the one thing that’s obvious is that the bodyguards and assassins who survived John Wick’s bloody, seven-to-eight month killing spree will have their pick of work when things get back to normal. If they were smart enough to not attack Wick in a knife museum, there’s gonna be a corner office with their name on it—because most of their contemporaries now have a copy of an Aleksandr Afanasyev book wedged in their skull.
Peacock’s upcoming The Continental: From the World of John Wick won’t explore the new adventures of these lucky-to-still-be-alive henchmen; instead it fills in some gaps in the lore and focuses on a young Winston Scott’s (Colin Woodell) rise to power in the 1970s. But let’s be honest: The best thing about the new series is that it’s an excuse to think about John Wick again, more specifically the 415 confirmed kills he’s tallied up over the last nine years (in real time, of course, because, again, the entire John Wick narrative somehow spans less than a year).
John’s deadly four-film rampage was orchestrated by director Chad Stahelski and a group of stuntman royalty made up of J.J. Perry, David Leitch, Darrin Prescott, Jonathan Eusebio, Heidi Moneymaker, Stephen Dunlevy, Koji Kawamoto, the 87eleven Action Design team, and about one-third of the world’s available stunt performers. Drawing inspiration from movies and video games like The Villainess, Enter the Dragon, Hard Boiled, Skyfall, and The Hong Kong Massacre, the team has placed Keanu Reeves in more than 30 action scenarios, in which he’s been hit by a Scott Adkins spin kick, shot by Heidi Moneymaker, and beaten up by bad guys from Yayan Ruhian to Cecep Arif Rahman. But when he’s not getting pummeled by Daniel Bernhardt or Donnie Yen, he’s stabbing Tiger Hu Chen in the eye or impaling Mark Dacascos with his own sword. Check out this moment from John Wick: Chapter 4, when he’s battling Marko Zaror (watch Fist of the Condor); it’s beautiful and inventive, and it showcases the skills of the two action icons. Also, it’s really cool to see Zaror survive longer than the combined time of the 200-plus henchmen who get shot in the head by Wick.
In honor of the craft and care that went into killing 415 people across four films, we have carefully and thoughtfully compiled a list that ranks every single confirmed kill in the John Wick franchise. Here’s how the data was collected and completed:
1. Finding and cataloging every single John Wick kill was a tricky job. This man kills so many people so often—and often in dimly lit catacombs or nightclubs full of oddly undisturbed patrons—that you sometimes need to watch the movies at one-sixteenth or one-eighth speed to catch every single headshot. The good news is that each headshot is followed by blood spraying from the victim’s head. That’s bad news for the henchmen, but the CGI-blood spurts helped me a lot.
2. When Killa (Scott Adkins) is kicked off a platform and his fall is broken by his head in Chapter 4, the subtitles read “bones crunching”; the four movies are good about letting the audience know when necks are snapped, which made the data collection a little easier. Another example worth sharing: During the house attack in John Wick, John punches a henchman so hard that his neck snaps (if you’re curious to hear the crunching sound, it happens at the 51-second mark in this clip.)
3. Characters like Cassian (Common), Gianna D’Antonio (Claudia Gerini), and the large henchman who gets shot in both kneecaps in John Wick: Chapter 2 were excluded from the list because they either take their own lives or aren’t dead yet. To be counted in this list, there had to be no question that the person in question was dead. That’s why some of the goons from the Rue Foyatier (Chapter 4), Killa’s Berlin club (Chapter 4), warehouse chop shop (Chapter 2), horse stable (John Wick: Chapter 3—Parabellum), and Dragon’s Breath (Chapter 4) brawls aren’t included. And while only on-screen deaths qualified, one exception was made for Safe House Henchman #2 from John Wick, whose lifeless body is seen next to Wick as he’s about to start shooting Tarasov’s bodyguards.
4. Reading a list of 415 kills is a big ask, so to make this less of a beast many of the kills have been grouped into clearly defined sections.
5. You’re going to see a lot of numbers below. You might be surprised to learn this, but the John Wick brain trust did not individually name every henchman who is dumb enough to walk in front of John Wick’s line of fire, so we’ve had to number them ourselves for identification.In our system, the henchmen are numbered based on when they’re killed in a given action scene. So, for example, during the house attack in John Wick (2014), John kills 13 henchmen. The first to be killed is Henchman #1, and the last to be killed is #13. It might seem a little complicated at first but I think you’ll figure it out.
6. All of the kills are legit, so look at this list as a ranking from “Awesome” to “Most Awesome.”
All right, enough of that. Put on your best bulletproof suit and jump into the list!
415-405. John Wick wipes out henchmen in the background of a shot or blows them up from a far distance (all four films)
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with these kills; you just need to squint to see them. The best thing about these background kills is that when they’re happening, friends of John Wick like Sofia (Halle Berry) and Akira (Rina Sawayama) get to hand out some very memorable punishment in the foreground. Akira’s method of stabbing her way up the back of the beefy henchman during the Osaka Continental brawl in Chapter 4 is easily one of the franchise’s most brutal and memorable stair kills ever.
(Quick note: The Moroccan dog fight and Osaka Continental scenes are great, but when they’re watched at one-sixteenth speed, it becomes clear that some of the fights are out of sync and certain shots are repeated. The numbers above are best-guess estimates.)
404-372. Ridiculously easy headshots (all four films)
I know it’s not possible, but during the rewatch, I wondered whether most of these henchmen have magnets in their heads that attract bullets. Wick is so accurate, and the henchmen’s heads are so shootable. The reason I have these so low in the ranking is because they take place in well-lit areas with very little cover and the thugs aren’t wearing head-to-toe body armor. These lowly henchmen don’t get a chance to throw a punch or even be ragdolled by Johnny Loves Judo (Chad Stahelski’s nickname for John Wick).
Here’s an example from Chapter 2:
371-325. Slightly more difficult headshots (all four films)
These kills are similar to the ones in the category above, but they take place in dimly lit catacombs or during nighttime shoot-outs. They get better placement because Wick has to work a little bit more to shoot the henchmen heads.
324-271. Pretty hard headshots (all four films)
The difference between this clumping of kills and the deaths ranked from 325 to 404 is that this category takes place in dimly lit clubs, hotels, or Paris streets and features variables such as bystanders (all four films), concert attendees (Chapter 3), body armor (Chapter 3 and Chapter 4), cars (all four films), and a set of never-ending steps (Chapter 4). Most people have trouble walking up stairs in general, so imagine how hard it was for an exhausted John Wick to murder dozens of henchmen while hoofing it up a long staircase—twice! In this, I also included the slayings of some of the well-armored henchmen from the sequels (3 and 4) who die quickly because of John Wick’s supernatural aim.
270-259. Headshots in bunches (Chapter 2)
John Wick’s deadliest moment across the franchise happens in Chapter 2, when he needs only four seconds to kill seven of Santino’s bodyguards. At another point in the movie, he opens up the catacomb battle by taking out five of Santino’s henchmen in six seconds. During the commentary for Chapter 2, Stahelski refers to these guys as the “worst bodyguards ever.” Sort of a mean thing to say about a bunch of dead guys, but he isn’t wrong.
258-219. Increasingly more involved kills (all four films)
Things are starting to get more interesting! These henchmen don’t earn name tags or anything, but at least John had to work some judo on them before he finished them off. The best examples from this group come from Chapter 2, when he kills Turtleneck Henchman #15 and #18. These unlucky neck-covered men were elbowed, tripped, or flipped before being shot in the head.
218-185. Shotgun and dragon breath destruction (Chapter 2 and Chapter 4)
It’s neat that Stahelski pulled inspiration from the video game The Hong Kong Massacre for the beautiful carnage in Chapter 4. That being said, these wildly fun kills are memorable only because the victims of each blast become human fireballs. The Spidercam work is legit too, and anything that reminds me of Malignant is cool in my book.
184-166. This is my boom stick (Chapter 3)
During Chapter 3’s Continental battle, Wick and Charon (Lance Reddick) quickly learn that they need more firepower to battle a bunch of High Table goons decked out in full-body armor. They load up with 12-gauge steel slugs that pierce armor and proceed to obliterate these overconfident idiots. The kills are glorious, but they’re over quickly and there’s not much personality to them other than the gigantic explosions.
165-161. Long-range shooting (John Wick)
The thing I love most about the safe house action scene in John Wick is that we get to see Wick be a silent assassin as he methodically picks off guards and then shoots four people with a sniper rifle. The majority of the action scenes in this franchise feature close-quarters mayhem—it’s nice to see Wick not have to be a human bulldozer for a few minutes.
160-124. An odd assortment of kills that are nonetheless memorable (John Wick, Chapter 2, and Chapter 4)
These kills are in an interesting middle ground: The henchmen don’t put up much of a fight, but they still meet visually interesting demises. Fun examples happen when John slides from behind a marble slab to headshot a henchman in Chapter 2 or when he shoots a Parisian henchman’s feet out from under him so that he falls on the ground—which makes it easier for Wick to shoot him in the head. I’m still not sure why the bouncers at Killa’s club have axes readily available, but I’m not complaining about it because it looks cool when Wick steals one of them and wedges it into a bouncer.
123-109. John Wick kills someone from a car, motorcycle, or horse (all four films)
During the filming of the first John Wick, stunt coordinator Darrin Prescott suggested that since they couldn’t afford a massive car chase, they should stick to close-quarters car action, a cost-effective strategy that would become a staple of the franchise. Since then, Stahelski and crew have expanded beyond cars and featured Wick killing people while using a variety of modes of transportation. The kills in this group don’t represent the best in the “John Wick ends a life while riding or driving something” genre, but they’re still a lot of fun.
108-76. John Wick kills in a hilarious variety of ways (all four films)
One of the best kills in this group occurs in Chapter 2, when Wick voluntarily rolls down a set of stairs and then immediately pops up so that he can shoot a bodyguard. You watch him tumble down so many staircases out of necessity, so it’s nice to see him choose to roll down some stairs for once.
75. Barracuda! (Chapter 4)
John Wick will shoot anybody at any time. A great example of this is when Wick kills an assassin from the hood of a 1971 ’Cuda in the middle of Paris.
74. John Wick, consummate performer (Chapter 2)
While a concert is going on, Wick shoots Turtleneck Henchman #1 in front of thousands of people. Everyone cheers.
73. Arrows over Osaka (Chapter 4)
Shout-out Osaka Continental Henchman #3, who takes an arrow to the leg and multiple bullets to his head. This guy is so dead.
72. Very, very sneaky (John Wick)
Sneaky John Wick is my favorite John Wick. He doesn’t get many silent kills in the franchise—seeing him take out Red Circle Club Henchman #2 with an ear stab is a rare treat.
71. An eruption of brain debris (Chapter 2)
During the concert melee, John grabs the hair of Turtleneck Henchman #11, pulls his head back, and proceeds to blow a chunky hole in his head. Everyone in the crowd continues as if it isn’t raining brain.
70. Nicholai should’ve shaved (John Wick)
Poor Nicholai (Red Circle Club Henchman #27). The security guard had enough personality to get a name and stylish beard, but his facial hair aided in his downfall when John took a big clump of his beard, pulled it to a table, and shot him in the head (more than once).
69. Lights out (Chapter 4)
The subtitles don’t explain the sound that happens when Paris Assassin #6’s head meets a metal light pole, but if they tried, I like to think they’d say, “[Metallic clang].”
68. Point Break Neck (Chapter 2)
You know you’d have no chance against John Wick when you see him easily snap the neck of the cauliflower-eared Warehouse Chop Shop Henchman #2. Note to henchmen: Don’t work at the warehouse chop shop that is currently in possession of the car owned by the world’s deadliest hitman.
67. He’s still got it (John Wick)
The elimination of House Attack Henchman #5 is notable because it’s the first time a set of stairs is used. Instead of falling down the stairs, Wick jumps off a staircase ledge, lands like an exceptionally graceful ocelot, and plugs a henchman with a couple of bullets.
66. Johnny Loves Judo (John Wick)
Keanu Reeves loves judo. In 2017, he was given an honorary black belt by three-time Olympian Nomura Tadahiro because of his promotion of the martial art. The first judo throw that really caught my attention in John Wick happens during the house attack, when Wick pulls off an ippon seoi nage (one-armed shoulder throw) on House Attack Henchman #8 before he, obviously, shoots him in the head.
65. John Wick is just really good at killing people (John Wick)
Killing comes so easily to John Wick that he shoots Final Car Chase Henchman #2 while he’s rolling on top of Wick’s car. For most hitmen, this type of kill would be career defining. For Wick, it’s just another dead body.
64. This is embarrassing (Chapter 2)
Imagine this: You’re a henchman battling John Wick inside an Italian catacomb. When you approach him, he throws you to the ground and uses you as a bullet shield while he reloads his gun. Once his gun is reloaded, he dispatches several of your coworkers and then finishes you off with a headshot. It’s a terrible way to die.
63-62. Mr. Ded (Chapter 3)
61-60. John Wick: Reloaded (Chapter 3)
According to Stahelski, there’s a secret to every John Wick fight scene: He starts with a funny thing and ends with a funny thing. The deaths of Casablanca Henchman #32 and #33 happen around the end of the Casablanca action scene, and it’s a nice moment of levity involving Wick reloading faster than his foes. Yes, they were shot in the head shortly after the reloading, but for one brief moment in time, they were stars in a set piece that made audiences laugh.
59. The best underwater gunfight since Mindhunters (Chapter 3)
Renny Harlin’s 2004 film, Mindhunters, is a brutal delight that features an all-time-great underwater gunfight (Top Secret! features the best underwater fistfight, FYI). This underwater battle in the New York City Continental isn’t quite as bombastic, but it’s a different look for the franchise, and you gotta respect Stahelski and crew’s commitment to finding new ways to murder people.
58. Enter the Bogeyman (Chapter 2)
Respect to Ares (Ruby Rose) for doing her best during this Enter the Dragon–inspired mirror fight, but this is a one-sided beating that ends with a knife through her hand and chest.
57. Fooled you! (Chapter 4)
Marquis Vincent Bisset de Gramont (Bill Skarsgard) is a dummy because he fell for the oldest trick in the hitman book. Remember when John nonlethally shot the Doctor (Randall Duk Kim) in the shoulder and right side of the abdomen in Chapter 3? Caine does the same thing to Wick during the duel, so when the Marquis thinks he has John dead to rights, he doesn’t realize that John never fired his gun. This leads to an easy kill for the Baba Yaga.
56. Human pincushion (Chapter 3)
The Gray Jacket Knife Assassin doesn’t get much screen time during the epic knife-throwing fight because as soon as he arrives, he catches two knives to the chest. Then, he promptly gets three more knives thrown into him.
55. Helmets are supposed to prevent cranial injuries (Chapter 3)
The best thing about John Wick’s fighting style is that he’ll use anything to kill a person. For instance, when he’s running out of Grand Central Station, he takes the helmet off Motorcycle Henchman #1 and just pummels his face with it until a loud crunch is heard—then he chucks his newfound weapon at another dude.
54. Off the Table (Chapter 4)
John shoots the Elder of the Table (George Georgiou) in the face during an excellently framed wide shot, proving that he’s done playing by the rules. Also, what’s with the Elder? With age comes wisdom, but he unwisely talks trash to a guy like John Wick?
53. It’s cool; this stab wound will be completely healed by the third film (John Wick)
The best thing about the rain fight in John Wick is that Wick allows himself to be stabbed by Viggo Tarasov (Michael Nyqvist) so that he can use the blade that’s stuck in his stomach later in the fight. It’s a daring move made less important because in John Wick 3 we see that the stab wound and the bullet holes from John Wick and Chapter 2 have healed in, like, a week. John Wick has Wolverine-esque healing powers; a hole in his stomach doesn’t really mean much.
52. This armor isn’t doing me any favors (Chapter 4)
If you’re a henchman and you find yourself squaring off against John Wick, no amount of armor will help you. When it comes to the demise of Osaka Henchman #24 during the Osaka Continental brawl, the armor just means he gets stabbed in the neck multiple times, which is horrible.
51-50. John Wick learns (Chapter 4)
In Chapter 3, Wick needed a shotgun upgrade to take out the armored goons who attacked the NYC Continental. In Chapter 4 he’s learned the armor’s weak spots and has absolutely no problem taking down Osaka Continental Henchman #1 and #2.
49-47. Chain reaction (Chapter 3)
Reeves suggested the motorcycle chase in Chapter 3 after he watched the most excellent South Korean action film, The Villainess. It’s during this scene that the franchise goes full Road Rash as Motorcycle Henchman #5, #6, and #7 become roadkill.
46-44. Michelangelo would be proud (Chapter 4)
There is something supremely satisfying about watching nunchucks being used by a skilled martial artist. That’s why watching John Wick batter Osaka Continental Henchman #16, #17, and #21 with nunchucks before delivering three headshots is such a delight. An added bonus is that Keanu trained for 12 weeks with the nunchucks so that he wouldn’t have to watch a stunt double have all the fun.
43. A well-coiffed henchman gets shot in the head (Chapter 2)
I like the well-dressed foursome who arrive with Ares during the museum battle. They seem to be a group of elite hipster henchmen. Presumably, they’ve had better showings against people not named John Wick. Well-Coiffed Henchman #1 is murdered quickly, but he puts up a respectable fight before being shot in the head.
42. I should be safe here (John Wick)
During the finale of John Wick, Final Car Chase Henchman #5 thinks that a block of concrete will protect him from John Wick and his amazing car-fu skills. It doesn’t.
41. The perks of a well-placed foot stomp (John Wick)
John shows off some veteran savvy when he stomps on the toes of the muscular Red Circle Club Henchman #7 and then shoots him in the face. Note to henchmen: Sometimes it’s totally fine to stay in the hot tub while the world’s best assassin is killing people.
40. A minor victory (John Wick)
I like Red Circle Club Henchman #6—he’s a scrappy guy, and before he’s executed, he showcases his skills by picking up Wick and slamming him through a towel rack. Very few nameless henchmen have caused Wick to leave his feet, so Henchman #6 should be proud of himself.
39. At the very least, John will have to buy a new window (John Wick)
Toward the end of the house fight in John Wick, House Fight Henchman #11 gets thrown through a glass window and shot in the head. At the very least, he can be proud that he’s just necessitated a home improvement project that will cost Wick a few thousand dollars (or, like, four gold coins).
38. Kitchen fight! (John Wick)
The opening house fight in John Wick is important for many reasons. It establishes that Wick is a sharpshooting, judo-throwing killing machine who can hit henchmen (House Attack Henchman #12, in this case) so hard that their necks snap. This one gets bonus points because it takes place during a kitchen fight, which is the best kind of fight.
37. Noise complaint? (John Wick)
Chad Stahelski referred to this kill as a “Coen Brothers moment” because of the dragged-out stabbing and the comical beat when House Attack Henchman #13 dies as the doorbell rings.
36. Victor is a punk (John Wick)
Victor (Toby Leonard Moore) gets his neck snapped while being suffocated in sink water. To his credit, he remains defiant until the end, but that end comes very swiftly.
35. Johnny Demonic (John Wick)
It’s a quick kill, but I like how Red Circle Club Henchman #3’s blood sprays all over a piece of glass. The moment also gets bonus points for the exaggerated noise the henchman’s body makes as it slides down the glass.
34. This one hurts to watch (Chapter 2)
John sticks the muzzle of his shotgun into the chest of Catacomb Henchman #37 while he’s reloading. He then unleashes a percussive shotgun blast that turns the overmatched henchman’s insides into Jell-O.
33. Scott Adkins is the best (Chapter 4)
The actual death of Killa Henchman #2 isn’t anything special, but it gets a high ranking because of the comically exaggerated look of shock on Killa’s face when Henchman #2’s head explodes next to him. The big reaction seems a bit out of place, but knowing that Adkins and Stahelski based the character on Sammo Hung, a guy who once beat up a henchman with tennis rackets, it works beautifully.
32. The low blows continue (Chapter 4)
Before getting his face destroyed by a nunchuck strike, Osaka Continental Henchman #26 absorbs a gnarly groin strike that once again proves that Wick never misses a chance to deliver a low blow. In just the five-minute museum section of the Osaka battle, he delivers eight low blows—the same number of nut shots he executes in the entirety of Chapter 3.
31-30. Problem-solving (Chapter 3)
Before this moment inside the New York Continental, killing people was easy for John Wick. Watching him adapt to body armor–clad NYC Continental Henchman #1 and #2 is wonderful because we get to see him learn and level up in real time.
29. I understood that reference! (Chapter 3)
At the 15-minute mark of Chapter 3, John spends 75 seconds working on a gun that is used to headshot Knife Fight Henchman #1. It’s an odd moment that halts the action in its place, but it works because it’s a fun riff on The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.
28. I have the high ground (Chapter 4)
Just when you think that you’ve seen everything from John Wick, he nails Staircase Henchman #21 with a throwing knife from about 25 feet away. The henchman is then finished off with headshots while in a full tumble.
27. Adding insult to injury (Chapter 4)
John Wick is the type of guy who will shoot you in the head as you’re careening in the air after being hit by a car. Two other henchmen suffer the same fate in the Arc de Triomphe chase scene, but the blood spray from Paris Henchman #22 is the most satisfying.
26. You’re fired (Chapter 4)
After being shot with a bullet loaded with Dragon Fire, Paris Henchman #54 runs around screaming until Wick shoots him again. Aside from the yelping of Motorcycle Henchman #5 in Chapter 3, this is the instance that features the most haunting usage of a henchman’s death cries.
25. This wasn’t an accident, man (Chapter 4)
Scott Adkins continues his trend of dying in theatrically released films. If I had to order his deaths in American Assassin, X-Men Origins: Wolverine (Deadpool stunt double), Doctor Strange, Wolf Warrior, Grimsby, The Expendables 2, The Legend of Hercules, and John Wick: Chapter 4, I’d rank his bone-cracking fall in his nightclub at #1. However, in the John Wick Kills ranking, he’ll have to settle for 25th.
24. This is getting excessive (Chapter 4)
Maybe it’s the nunchucks, or the body armor worn by the goons attacking the Osaka Continental, but John goes low-blow crazy during this fight. Osaka Continental Henchman #23 gets the brunt of it before being slammed through some glass and hit with one final nunchuck headshot.
23. That was a pretty good fight, huh? (Chapter 3)
Zero (Mark Dacascos) is a worthy villain (and Only the Strong is a perfect movie), but he’s no match for Wick, who slowly turns the tables on him and eventually impales him with his own short sword.
22. Oops … (Chapter 3)
After kicking the Yaga out of the Baba Yaga, Shinobi Assassin #2 decides to pull out a wakizashi short sword to finish John off. On paper, stabbing John Wick is a more efficient way to kill him than with front kicks, but the sword gets stuck in a glass case, and John uses the moment to push Shinobi Assassin #2’s throat into the blade. Maybe they should’ve stuck to kicking him.
21. The #2 Pencil (Chapter 2)
Aside from getting the back of his head impaled by a pencil, Pencil Assassin #1 doesn’t have much to do because he’s too busy getting shot, stabbed, and impaled. The best thing about this moment is that the bloody pencil remains intact despite having been lodged into a human skull.
20. Probably the most devious kill in the franchise (Chapter 3)
Just when I thought I’d seen every way to kill a motorcycle henchman, Chapter 3 made me sit up and say, “Did Wick just slice Motorcycle Henchman #2’s arm mostly off from the shoulder, and did that arm get stuck in the motorcycle’s back tire, causing the motorcycle to flip and kill the driver and the motorcycle henchman behind him?” The world of killing motorcycle henchmen now seems limitless to me.
19. It’s all in the reflexes (Chapter 3)
Blue Jacket Assassin is the reason I didn’t assign numbers to the Triad knife fighters. It didn’t feel right numbering Blue Jacket Assassin because he puts up a great fight despite having five knives thrown into him. A stomach stab finally does him in, but I’ll always remember him for being a throwing-knife magnet who got lots to do.
18. Man of eye stabs (Chapter 3)
During the knife brawl in Chapter 3 I remember thinking, “Hey! That’s Tiger Hu Chen, the star of the Keanu Reeves–directed Man of Tai Chi.” My excitement didn’t last long, though, because Tiger quickly gets a knife shoved into his eye. Bonus points go to Reeves for the disgusted look on his face after the kill.
17. This thing that you think you want? You don’t want it. (Chapter 3)
When will assassins learn that they can’t spend the bounty for killing John Wick if they’re dead? Leather Jacket Assassin #2 probably should’ve thought about that before entering the knife fight and getting stabbed in the forehead. It’s the only forehead stab in the franchise, and it’s a doozy.
16. “Pain heals. Chicks dig scars. Axes to the head ... last forever.” (Chapter 3)
John probably could’ve left Leather Jacket Assassin #1 alone to bleed out in peace, but by this point in the franchise he’s super done with all the assassins attacking him. It’s because of his annoyance that he takes a moment to slowly pick an ax and throw it into the guy’s head from about 20 feet away.
15. John gets his purple belt (Chapter 2)
The mirror fight between Wick and Well-Coiffed Henchman #4 is a banger. It starts with John exploding through a mirror and then showcases the fight elements that John loves most: low blows, headshots, and jiu-jitsu. The coolest moment in this fight happens when John headshots Well-Coiffed Henchman #3 while holding #4 in a triangle choke.
14. These dudes are really outmatched (Chapter 2)
I love it when John takes a henchman’s gun, shoots some people with it, and then headshots the henchman he stole it from. This one from Chapter 2 is my favorite of all the gun-stealing moments.
13. Listen, y’all, stop messing with John Wick (Chapter 2)
It’s fun watching John become so angry that he doesn’t care about consequences or rules. His execution of Santino D’Antonio (Riccardo Scamarcio) inside the NYC Continental was ill-advised, but John wasn’t going to take any more of Santino’s shit.
12. Ernest goes to the library (Chapter 3)
After absorbing one of the world’s longest front kicks ever, Wick gets a read on the situation and kills overeager henchman Ernest (Boban Marjanovic!) by snapping his neck over a book. It’s amazing, and almost necessary because the word “Chapter” is in the film’s title.
11. Revenge! (John Wick)
This kill has more meaning than most because by this point in the movie Kirill (Daniel Bernhardt) was up 2-0 on Wick after defeating him at the Red Circle club and knocking him out in the parking lot. It’s a brutal and ugly battle that features eye-gouging, throat punches, and Wick using the zip ties that are binding his hands to choke out a worthy foe.
10. Ballin’ out (Chapter 4)
John Wick never met a low blow he didn’t like. This is easily the most unnecessary and egregious of all his low blows. He could’ve just shot Osaka Continental Henchman #20 in the head, but he went for pure humiliation.
9. The money shot (Chapter 2)
If anybody is going to put two bullets into John Wick, it’s famed stunt-coordinator Heidi Moneymaker’s Violin Assassin, who has a fun battle with Wick that ultimately ends badly for her. What makes this kill memorable is how John knocks the Violin Assassin to the ground and just destroys all the bones in her neck with his bare hands.
8. Seven bullets! (Chapter 2)
Seven bullets! Two headshots! The John Wick world is loaded with superhumans, and the Sumo Assassin is one of them. He gets a bullet shot directly into his brain, and he still gets up looking for more—which he finds in the form of another headshot.
7. John Wick remembers (Chapter 3)
One of the best things about John Wick is how vindictive he is (check out the snarl in the GIF below). After being kicked through six glass cases by Shinobi Assassin #2 during the NYC Continental final fight, he ends up finishing the guy by spin-kicking him through a glass case. A neat tidbit is that Shinobi Assassin #2 is played by Jon Valera, who also worked as a stunt player on John Wick, and later was the fight choreographer (Morocco unit) for Chapter 3. Dude is legit.
6. I have witnessed many things, but nothing as bodacious as what just happened (Chapter 4)
During the Paris battle, John uses a motorcycle to kill motorcycle-riding Paris Henchman #30. It’s amazing that John is just as accurate with a motorcycle as he is with a gun, an ax, a playing card, a knife, or a car.
5. Danny Trejo’s character from Desperado would love this (Chapter 3)
The knife-throwing battle in Chapter 3 is pound-for-pound the best action scene in the franchise. All of the kills are memorable, but it’s the Green Jacket Assassin who gets it the worst. John throws seven knives into him during the melee, and the final headshot is a thing of bloody beauty.
4. The “Steve McQueen” shot (John Wick)
John Wick and his tactical turtleneck don’t mess around. When the time comes to kill Iosef (Alfie Allen) he just shoots him in the face without saying a word. Chad Stahelski calls this the “Steve McQueen moment,” and the Technocrane used for the shot makes Wick look awesome as he walks in slow motion toward his prey.
3. The Tarasovs were right (Chapter 2)
In John Wick and Chapter 2, Viggo and Abram Tarasov (Peter Stormare) mention that Wick once took out several people with a pencil. Their pencil comments pay off during the assassin gauntlet, when Wick stabs a pencil directly into the ear of Pencil Assassin #1. It’s a beautiful moment that Stahelski refers to as “everyone’s favorite kill,” and it might be the only time in cinema history when audiences cheered as a pencil was jammed into a person’s ear.
2. Messing with the Devil’s gonna get you burned (Chapter 3)
The best thing about this kill is that it reminds everyone why John Wick is referred to as the “Baba Yaga.” He’s the type of person who gets so annoyed by the games of an elite shinobi assassin that he stabs him in the neck and dumps him to the ground in the middle of a very busy Grand Central Station. The icing on the cake is that he follows up the kill by talking some shit to Zero—“He with you?”—and then disappearing into the crowd. Wick is the Baba Yaga, and this is one of the moments that truly showcases it.
1. Ah! So that’s why John Wick’s the best. (John Wick)
Every time I watch this kill I think to myself, “Hey John, leave Red Circle Club Henchman #4 alone.” It’s an intimate moment that features Wick going full “reptilian” (per the Blu-ray commentary from Stahelski) as he stares into the eyes of a dying Red Circle club security guard. It’s the only time in the franchise that he does this, and it feels as if Wick is literally draining the guy’s soul. We’ll never know why he’s so pissed at this particular henchman, but it’s an important moment that lets us know that Wick will kill anybody who gets in his way, even if they are just armed bouncers who were unlucky enough to be working for a powerful crime lord and his dog-killing son. Overall, the Red Circle club scene features Wick at his Baba Yaga best as he starts out his hunt like a lithe alpha predator looking for a kill. The song “Think” by the duo Kaleida aids to the effectiveness of the scene as it plays over the red-lit Wick, hitting us with these lyrics mid-henchmen murder:
Think of me, I’ll never break your heart
Think of me, you’re always in the dark
I am your light, your light, your light
Think of me, you’re never in the dark
Once John lost his wife and dog, his light was extinguished, and now he’s embraced the dark and all that goes with it. There isn’t another kill in the franchise that plays out like this, and after spending a lot of time watching John Wick kill people, this is the most memorable because of its intimacy, soundtrack, mood, and aforementioned soul-stealing.
There you have it! There’s an almost infinite number of ways to rank the 415 confirmed kills in the John Wick franchise, but I stand by my picks and plan on never becoming a henchman who works for a powerful crime lord who annoys an all-time serial killer (I mean hitman).
Mark Hofmeyer is an Atlanta-based film critic and script writer who contributes to Fandom, Film Theory, and Rotten Tomatoes. He also hosts the Movies, Films and Flix podcast and Deep Blue Sea: The Podcast.