[Infographic] Was 2016 Actually The Biggest Year For Celebrity Deaths? How Bad Was It, Really?
“Can 2016 just stop?”
That’s been an undying refrain all year long. And with a long list of notables the reaper’s claimed this year — from Bowie to Prince to Muhammad Ali to Gene Wilder to Merle Haggard to Carrie Fisher (just to name a very few) — it certainly feels like we’ve set an all-time bar for notable deaths this year.
But have we, really? And even if we have, is it the new norm? Many have argued that, as time has gone on, we’ve created more celebrities — and with things like the internet, viral videos and reality TV, there are indeed an increasing number things a person can be notable for — it only stands to reason that, from here on out, more celebs will die each year than the one before it.
But if that were the case, one would expect something of a slow and steady climb in the celebrity death toll. To see if that’s what’s really been happening — or if 2016 is just some sort of weird anomaly — we decided to check Wikipedia’s list of celebrity deaths by year for the past 20 years.
As suspected, 2016 saw a major spike. It remains to be seen, though, whether things will level off a bit next year or if we’ll continue the upward trend indefinitely.
There’s only one real way to find out, I suppose. But the following graph is still pretty interesting nonetheless, we think.
2016 (450 celebrity deaths)
Most notable deaths: David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Boutros Boutros-Ghali, Harper Lee, Nancy Reagan, Patty Duke, Prince, Muhammad Ali, Gordie Howe, Anton Yelchin, Ralph Stanley, Gene Wilder, Sharon Jones, Merle Haggard, Leon Russel, Leonard Cohen, Janet Reno, Fidel Castro, John Glenn, George Michael, Carrie Fisher.
2015 (309 celebrity deaths)
Most notable deaths: King Abdullah, Leonard Nimoy, Terry Pratchett, Percy Sledge, B.B. King, Christopher Lee, Yvonne Craig, Jackie Collins, Yogi Berra, Lemmy.
2014 (218 celebrity deaths)
Most notable deaths: Ariel Sharon, Shirley Temple, Sid Caesar, Mickey Rooney, H.R. Giger, Maya Angelou, Casey Kasem, James Garner, Robin Williams, Lauren Bacall, Joan Rivers.
2013 (179 celebrity deaths)
Most notable deaths: Roger Ebert, Margaret Thatcher, Cory Montieth, David Frost, Ken Norton, Sr.)
2012: 153 (Etta James, Mike Wallace, Ray Bradbury, Ernest Borgnine, Phyllis Diller, Neil Armstrong, Michael Clarke Duncan, Larry Hagman.
2011 (172 celebrity deaths)
Most notable deaths: Gerry Rafferty, Jane Russell, Elizabeth Taylor, Osama bin Laden, Jack Kevorkian, Peter Falk, Betty Ford, Steve Jobs, Muammar Gaddafi, Joe Frazier, Kim Jong-il.
2010 (172 celebrity deaths)
Most notable deaths: Gary Coleman, Dennis Hopper, Tony Curtis, Leslie Nielsen.
2009 (140 celebrity deaths)
Most notable deaths: John Updike, Bea Arthur, Dom DeLuise, David Carradine, Farrah Fawcett, Michael Jackson, Walter Cronkite, Ted Kennedy, Patrick Swayze, Claude Levi-Strauss.
2008 (189 celebrity deaths)
Most notable deaths: Sir Edmund Hillary, Heath Ledger, Charles Heston, Sydney Pollack, George Carlin, Jesse Helms, Isaac Hayes, Paul Newman, Michael Crichton.
2007 (229 celebrity deaths)
Most notable deaths: Yvonne De Carlo, Bam Bam Bigelow, Anna Nicole Smith, Boris Yeltsin, Chris Benoit, Lady Bird Johnson, Merv Griffin, Luciano Pavarotti, Jane Wyman.
2006 (177 celebrity deaths)
Most notable deaths: Shelley Winters, Betty Friedan, Don Knotts, Slobodan Milosevic, Floyd Patterson, Billy Preston, Aaron Spelling, Steve Irin, Gerald Ford, Saddam Hussein.
2005 (111 celebrity deaths)
Most notable deaths: Johnny Carson, Sandra Dee, Pope John Paul II, Saul Bellow, Rosa Parks, Eddie Guerrero, Pat Morita, Richard Pryor.
2004 (112 celebrity deaths)
Most notable deaths: Ronald Reagan, Ray Charles, Marlon Brando, Fay Wray, Johnny Ramone, Christopher Reeve, Janet Leigh.
2003 (132 celebrity deaths)
Most notable deaths: Maurice Gibb, Fred Rogers, Nina Simone, Gregory Peck, Katharine Hepburn, Barry White, Bob Hope, Idi Amin, Charles Bronson, Johnny Cash.
2002 (109 celebrity deaths)
Most notable deaths: Peggy Lee, Princess Margaret, Milton Berle, Dudley Moore, Queen Elizabeth, Dee Dee Ramone, Bob Hayes.
2001 (109 celebrity deaths)
Most notable deaths: Dale Earnhardt, Joey Ramone, Anthony Quinn, Jack Lemmon, Jane Greer, George Harrison.
2000 (173 celebrity deaths)
Most notable deaths: Hedy Lamar, Charles Schulz, Ian Drury, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Walter Matthau, Sir Alec Guinness, Steve Allen.
1999 (226 celebrity deaths)
Most notable deaths: Dusty Springfield, Stanley Kubrick, Joe DiMaggio, Owen Hart, John F. Kennedy Jr., Wilt Chamberlain.
1998 (250 celebrity deaths)
Most notable deaths: Sonny Bono, Carl Wilson, Benjamin Spock, Pol Pot, Frank Sinatra, Phil Hartman, Florence Griffith Joyner.
1997 (233 celebrity deaths)
Most notable deaths: Michaell Hutchence, John Denver, Mother Teresa, Princess Diana, James Stewart, Allen Ginsberg.
1996 (261 celebrity deaths)
Most notable deaths: Carl Sagan, Timothy Leery, Spiro Agnew, George Burns, Gene Kelly.