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Spree Killer

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"The purest surrealist act is walking into a crowd with a loaded gun and firing into it randomly."

A Spree Killer is defined as someone who commits two or more killings in at least two different locations with no significant time period or return to normalcy between the murders. This lack of a "cooling off" period is what differentiates a Spree Killer from other murderous archetypes; all of their murders are part of one single rampage.

Thus any breaks between the killings often amount to hours, occasionally days and rarely weeks (such as if time is required to plan a big attack) but to qualify, at no point do they return to normal during their spree, only after it is over (assuming that they have an end point and aren't going to simply carry on until they are stopped).

Spree Killers are commonly depicted as using guns and going on shooting sprees, as firearms are the easiest way to kill multiple people in a short time frame and lack the personal touch of other weapons. However, this is not a rule and it is not uncommon to see Spree Killers using a variety of different methods to kill, potentially whatever they have to hand at the time.

Reasons for someone becoming a Spree Killer wildly range from insanity, to revenge, to simply snapping and lashing out at the world. It is very common in the media for Spree Killers to be portrayed as homicidal maniacs driven (at least in part) by the sheer enjoyment of killing people. But this does not have to be the case to qualify for this trope. It is entirely plausible for a Spree Killer to appear completely rational or even indifferent towards the deaths they cause.

For particularly sociopathic and unsympathetic depictions the killer may present it as a challenge, with them seeing just how many people they can kill before being stopped, in which case expect a Kill Tally to be involved.

Often their killing spree will initially appear to be completely random, but as events unfold a clear pattern will emerge as more is discovered about the individual. But it is equally likely (especially in cases were the killer is clearly out of their mind) for it to be truly random. Sometimes this amounts to them just killing the nearest person to hand.

Whilst most killing sprees are in at least some part premeditated, this is not a necessity. It's entirely possible (particularly in more sympathetic depictions) for the killer to have never even intended to go on a rampage and events simply spiraled out of their control.

It is also quite common both in real life and in fiction for the Spree Killer to end their rampage with one massive attack where they try to take out as many people as they can and will carry on until they are either killed or captured.

Candidates who kill people over large areas that are technically considered one location (such as in the case of the School Shooter archetype), can still qualify for this trope as long as their spree takes place over more than one building or a significant time frame i.e. over more than one day. Not to be confused with Spree, although the protagonist is a Spree Killer.

Compare Going Postal, which is about the circumstances that lead up to a killing spree. Contrast Serial Killer, the more popular archetype for committing multiple murders, who unlike Spree Killers have a clear cooling off period between kills (although it is possible for one to transition into the other). Terrorist Without A Cause, who can use similar tactics but the goal is random chaos and destruction over a killing spree, Serial Killings, Specific Target where the killing spree is used for covering up a specific target (although they can still count as spree killers). May overlap with a Roaring Rampage of Revenge if vengeance is their number-one motivation, or an Outlaw Couple, if killing people is part of their crime spree.

Note: As a rule, when the killer in a Slasher Movie isn't a Serial Killer, then they will be a Spree Killer (and of the two, Spree Killers are more common to the point the genre is often described as about maniacs on a killing rampage), making the genre a subtrope of this one. Thus, whilst most Slashers count, there is no point including them as examples unless they are specifically described as a Spree Killer In-Universe.


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     Anime & Manga 
  • In Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch from Mercury, Norea becomes this with her second attack upon the Asticassia School of Technology. The first, while it included the killing of a student out of spite, served as a distraction to further the goals of her organization. The second is her lashing out in grief and hatred, attempting to destroy as much of the school as possible and kill everyone there, which due to her weapon of choice being a Gundam she makes some progress at.

    Comic Books 
  • Johnny the Homicidal Maniac: Whilst more commonly depicted as a Serial Killer and a Mass Murderer, the titular Johnny or Nny has gone on several successful killing spree's, with the heavy implication that he has done more offscreen.
  • Judge Dredd:
  • Nova (2007): Harrow is a psychic alien spree killer whose MO is to possess a random person and go on a murderous rampage, jumping into another body whenever his current host is killed or otherwise incapacitated. He does this because he feeds on—and revels in—the pain and terror of his victims.
  • The Punisher:
    • Frank Castle, the titular Punisher, is a vigilante mass murderer and spree killer who targets criminals, having killed thousands by this point with no intention to stop until he is dead. Whilst he often surveys his targets and plans his rampages, once he actually starts he will let nothing stop him, slaughtering his way through criminal after criminal, he has no problem breaking into prisons and hospitals to wipe out any survivors that managed to run away. Several stories and "All There in the Manual" entries also make it clear that the only real downtime he has is when he sleeps - every other moment in the day he is constantly getting ready for his next attack.
    • One arc of Max, "Up is Down, Black is White", is a pure spree, with him killing so many criminals in a single night that the City of New York bows to his demands and re-buries his family (which was dug up and desecrated by the Arc Villain) in order to make him stop.
  • Reborn: The Minnesota shooter was a vicious spree killer who starts the series going on a final murder spree that kills eleven people including Bonnie Black's husband Harry. His one regret before he commits suicide is that he didn't manage to kill more people. Seemingly an inconsequential character in the narrative its eventually revealed he was the human form of Lord Golotha, his soul black enough to conquer the Dark Lands and rule over the damned.
  • Superman: Alexander Trent, the second Bloodsport, was a bitter, racist, hate filled sociopath. Approached by Bloodthirst with the offer of getting revenge on the minorities Trent irrationally hated, he happily agreed to become an agent of chaos. He went on a rampage throughout Hob's Heights, his only goal being to kill as many blacks, Hispanics, Jews, aliens and "race traitors" as possible, his rampage slaughtered thirty people before Superman arrived. As such Bloodsport set fire to the heights and distracted Superman by launching two missiles one at Jimmy Olson, one at Ron Troupe. Seeming killing himself in an explosion, Trent survived and returned after most of Metropolis was destroyed to go on another spree killing, killing dozens more before being defeated.
  • Wonder Woman Vol 1: In issue #204 an unnamed man sets himself up in a tall building and starts shooting the people down below, his highest profile kill being I-Ching, and he only stops killing when he falls out of his perch and dies trying to kill Diana.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • ABCS Of Death 2: "M is for Masticate begins with a crazed man running along a city indiscriminately attacking and trying to kill people.
  • American Psycho: Patrick Bateman is a mentally disturbed Serial Killer. When an ATM flashes a message asking him to feed it a stray cat, he starts to comply and a woman tries to intervene. Bateman shoots her dead and flees, with police officers on his tail. He gets into a gunfight with the cops and becomes a Cop Killer, blowing their cars up in a fiery explosion with his handgun. He then mistakenly enters the office building next to the one where he works and casually murders the nighttime security guard at the desk and a janitor before signing into the correct office. Because the story is told Through the Eyes of Madness this entire sequence might be a hallucination.
  • Assault on Wall Street: Jim Baxford goes on a rampage after losing his savings due to the bad investments of crooked financial advisers causing him to lose his job, his home and his wife. Using his military training he targets professionals in the financial industry and caps it off with a shooting spree inside the bank that screwed him over.
  • Badlands, loosely based on the Outlaw Couple Charles Starkweather and Carli Ann Fugate (fictionalized as Kit Carruthers and Holly Sargis).
  • The 2006 version of Black Christmas contains a scene in which a character describes infamous cannibal killer Billy Lenz as a serial killer, only for another character to correct them by saying, "No, you see, serial killers murder repeatedly for sexual thrill. Billy Lenz was a spree killer. Dude just fucking lost it."
  • After the Columbine massacre (described in more detail under "Real Life" below), a number of films came out that were more or less retellings of the tragedy or otherwise heavily inspired by it.
    • April Showers was written and directed by a survivor of the massacre, and heavily influenced by his experiences during and after it.
    • Duck! The Carbine High Massacre, the first movie made about the massacre, was the Exploitation Film version, a violent Black Comedy about a pair of neo-Nazi teenagers who buy guns at a heavy metal concert and plot to kill everyone at their school.
    • In Elephant (2003), perhaps the most famous of these films, Alex and Eric are heavily based on the Columbine gunmen.
    • Zero Day is a found footage film about the preparations that two school shooters undertake before carrying out their plot, inspired by the many tapes and diaries that the Columbine gunmen left behind.
  • Daniel Isn't Real opens with a man walking into a coffee shop with a shotgun and murdering several people before killing himself. It turns out that he was possessed or otherwise influenced by Daniel, the Faux Affably Evil demonic force that later attaches itself to Luke.
  • William Foster in Falling Down is a character designed to evoke what had already, by 1992, become an archetypal spree killer stereotype in the US: an Angry White Man who one day snaps in frustration with the world around him, as something of a deconstruction of the Vigilante Man archetype. That being said, he only directly kills one person, the neo-Nazi who runs the military surplus store, with everybody else dying either by accident (like the man at the golf course who dies of a heart attack when he sees Foster) or through stupidity (like the Gangbangers who crash their car when they try to perform a Gangland Drive-By on him, as well as the people that they hit instead of him).
  • The Frighteners: The Grim Reaper who turns out to be the ghost of Johnny Bartlett, whose original killing spree was interrupted by his own execution. He's deliberately trying to "beat the record" set by real-world spree-and-Serial Killers such as Charles Starkweather, Andrei Chikatilo, and Ted Bundy.
  • Gamer: Hackman is a gigantic psycho driven by an extreme love of murder. He purposely slaughtered a dozen people in a killing spree, solely so that he could get locked up and participate in Slayers.
  • The Hidden: The villain is an alien parasite who uses human hosts to engage in a general crime spree, including numerous murders through methods varying from shooting, bludgeoning, stabbing, and vehicular homicide (having no compunctions with murdering children or the infirm) all committed in a short timespan. Its ability to Body Surf allows it to extend its rampage even longer, going through a half-dozen hosts throughout the film, all of which are killed in the process as well.
  • Jack Reacher: Subverted. Following the massacre that opens the film, suspicion falls upon a former Marine sniper who Jack Reacher knows executed a mass shooting whilst he was serving in Afghanistan just to scratch his itch for killing someone (which is why he enlisted to begin with), something he only got away with because it turned out that the people he killed were a bunch of Private Military Contractors who were out on the town on a "rape party" and Reacher's superiors ordered him to stop investigating because they didn't wanted that to come to light. Reacher suspects that he has become a Spree Killer. However, it turns out he is being framed and specifically asked for Reacher to investigate because he knows Reacher will realize it's not him. It turns out to be a case of Spree Killing, Specific Target. The real villains, Ruthless Foreign Gangsters who used a construction firm as their cover, were carrying out a hit on the owner of a local rival construction company, and did it as a mass shooting with multiple fatalities in order to make it look like a random bloodbath.
  • Las Vegas Bloodbath: A man loses his mind when he discovers his wife's infidelity, then proceeds to go on a murderous rampage across Las Vegas, killing people (particularly women) in bars, on the streets, and random sleep-overs over the span of about a single day.
  • Thana in Ms. 45 becomes when she goes completely off the deep end, gunning down any man she encounters. In particular, she guns down five White Gangbangers in the park, and the later murders the sheik and his driver in his limo on the same night.
  • Natural Born Killers: Mickey and Mallory Knox are a pair of deranged, vicious spree killers who go on a cross-country murder spree, killing a total of 52 people whilst always leaving one person alive to tell the tale. Unfortunately, the media's fascination with their brutal crimes ends up turning the pair into pop culture icons, and only enables them to kill more people. Notably, a number of real-life copycat murderers have been connected to the film, most infamously the Columbine High School shooters, who loved the film and referred to it as simply "NBK".
  • Office: Kim Byeong-gook is a frustrated, resentful section chief at a big bureau-building who possesses nothing but hatred for his co-workers. After being fired from his job, Kim went home and brutally murdered his family, bludgeoning his wife, son and mother-in-law to death with a hammer. Afterwards he returns to the office and seemingly goes on a rampage killing four of his colleagues, by methods such as hanging one from the ceiling and throwing another from a window. Or so it would seem, in reality Kim committed suicide whilst hiding at the bottom of the elevator shaft. The actual killer is Lee Mi-rye, an introverted intern who is always being bullied by her superiors, except Kim. The film leaves it ambiguous if Kim's spirit is possessing Lee or if she simply snapped from all the pressure and abuse she was under. Surviving after their last co-worker is shot by a detective who mistakes them for the killer, Lee is taken to hospital with the ending suggesting she's going to work at another office and repeat the killing spree.
  • The Purge: The series is based around a Dystopian Edict whereby all crime, including murder, is declared legal by the United States government for a set period of twelve hours once a year. By default, many Ax-Crazy or misanthropic individuals go on killing sprees during the Purge. The third film even establishes that this has caused a rise in "murder tourism" where foreign psychopaths travel to America to indulge their fantasies.
  • Rampage: The film centers on a domestic terrorist named Bill Williamson who plans out a shooting spree in great detail, including building a suit of armor and how to dispose of the local cops first so his mass murder can be carried out unperturbed. His first massacre was mainly to cover up a Bank Robbery, but he also initially advocates Social Darwinism and then violent anarchism as well when he initiates another shooting spree in a television station, before attacking the government itself while calling for a revolt.
  • Run Hide Fight is an action thriller about four teenagers shooting up their school, and one girl waging a Die Hard-esque campaign to stop them.
  • Spree (2020): Kurt Kunkle is a young man who aspires to gain social media fame by livestreaming murders in a rampage he calls "The Lesson." After murdering his mother, he uses his job as a rideshare driver for the Spree app to pick up passengers and kill them with poisoned water bottles. He quickly drops the poison, though, opting for more spectacular and violent kills to get more attention. Kurt ultimately kills at least ten people across Los Angeles, including both his parents, in the space of twelve hours. Afterward, it's shown that some corners of the Internet venerate him and his actions, which is unfortunately Truth in Television.
  • Starkweather is based on the life of Charles Starkweather, who went on a murder spree with his 14-year-old girlfriend Caril Ann Fugate, killing eleven people in three months and introducing America to spree killing.
  • Targets: Bobby Thompson, a recently returned Vietnam Vet who finally snaps one day and goes on rampage. He starts by killing his wife, his mother and a delivery boy in his suburban home. That afternoon, Thompson continues the killing spree, shooting people in passing cars from atop an oil storage tank that sits alongside a heavily traveled freeway. When the police respond and start to close in on Thompson, he flees to drive-in theatre where he murders the projectionist and starts shooting at the patrons.
  • The Terminator: The eponymous cyborg assassin accidentally becomes a spree killer twice in its attempts to kill Sarah Connor. The first time comes in the form of Collateral Damage after killing multiple patrons at Technoir while shooting at both Sarah and Kyle Reese, the second time comes when it tracks Sarah down to a local police station and proceeds to massacre them all to get them out of his way.
  • The original theatrical version of Two-Minute Warning is one of the first realistic depiction of this trope in fiction. At the time (The '70s) it was so unsettling that to have the film released on television the producers had to add additional scenes showing that there was a rational motive for the rampage.
  • Unhinged (2020): The Man kills his ex-wife and her new boyfriend in the prologue, a few hours before the rest of the film takes place. After targeting Rachel, he primarily attacks people she knows, but he also remorselessly mows down anyone who gets in his way, even by accident. In total, he kills at least six people in the span of a single morning.
  • UtÝya: July 22 is a dramatization of the Real Life massacre committed by Norwegian spree killer Anders Breivik.

  • Apt Pupil (Or, Summer of Corruption): Todd Bowden, a seemingly ordinary boy who is secretly a budding psychopath with an obsession with Nazi war crimes fantasies about going on a killing spree, regularly thinking about murdering his loving parents and girlfriend, and at one point pretends to snipe drivers from atop the highway. He only holds off for fear of the reprisal that would occur. At the climax realising it will all come out about his involvement with Kurt Dussander, a former Nazi commander in hiding, and all the homeless people he murdered he decides to embrace it. Taking his .22 rifle he first murders his guidance counsellor Rubber Ed, then heads to a highly-populated location and fires on random citizens for five hours straight before being killed by the police.
  • The invisible Sammy Hoffman from Richard Laymon's Beware! is one of these. When he returns to his hometown after becoming invisible, he stalks and kills his mother and one of her friends before abducting and raping the protagonist Lacey. When she escapes, he hunts her down to a motel, where he sets the building ablaze and attacks random guests with a fire ax, killing at least six people before Lacey and her allies capture him. It later comes out that this rampage is only the tip of the iceberg - Hoffman had previously been a roving Serial Killer, then an assassin for the cult that ultimately turned him invisible, and then a Serial Killer again when he defected from the cult and killed people to live in their homes while on the run.
  • In Richard Laymon's Cuts, the teenage Albert Price combines this trope with the motives of a Serial Killer. Driven purely by a sexual fetish for stabbing, Albert tortures and kills women in their homes after first finishing off any men with them, spends a couple days living in their house, then drives off to a new state to find a new set of victims. Since he's on the run and lives solely off what he steals, he spends nearly all his time hunting and killing, at one point killing a man solely to stay in his house for a couple days. He intends to keep this up forever - he makes it about two weeks, from Illinois to California, killing eleven people and leaving four injured survivors.
  • CHERUB Series: The novel "Maximum Security" features a fourteen-year-old boy named Curtis Key. Mentally unwell and suicidal, Curtis is the son of the novel's main villain Jane Oxford, an Arms Dealer whose number #2 on the FBI's most wanted list. After escaping from an abusive Arizona military boarding school, he went to a nearby liquor store and requested vodka from the clerk behind the counter. When the clerk asked for proof of age, Curtis shot the clerk dead with a handgun and heavily drank the vodka. On the way out, Curtis spotted a man with a Jaguar car. He then killed both the driver and his girlfriend and took the Jaguar and drove more than twenty miles at a dangerous high speed while slugging down a mix of vodka and coke at the same time before his arrest. Following revealing what he had been through to his lawyers, they managed to arrange for him to be sent a mental health facility.
  • Discworld has the following:
    • Men at Arms has Edward d'Eath as a rare accidental version of this trope, killing a clown with a Tap on the Head gone wrong and then shooting a dwarf artisan while under the control of the Gonne.
    • Night Watch Discworld has Carcer Dun, combining this trope with Serial Killer and Cop Killer, killing three cops within a relatively short space of time, then travelling back in time and killing at least one more person shortly after arriving.
  • The Final Girl Support Group discusses this trope. The villains believe that the slasher movies of The '80s, which in this universe were all based on real-life murder sprees, come off as weak today in the modern era of mass shootings, and that the titular Final Girls don't deserve their fame for this reason. As such, when they stage their own modern-day horror movie killing spree during the climax, they swap the old machetes and pitchforks for an AR-15 and a shotgun.
  • Goosebumps, of all things, had examples in the form of siblings Martin and Oswald Manse from the Series 2000 book Attack of the Graveyard Ghouls. In life, the two were preteen psychopaths who killed dozens when they burnt down over half of their hometown of Highgrave. They were hanged for this, but all this did was turn them into Graveyard Ghouls. In the present, the pair manage to possess the story's protagonist, Spencer, and his friend, Audra, and proceed to use their bodies to go on another rampage through Highgrave, setting fires and attacking people and property with axes, at one point nearly killing Spencer's family before being vanquished by him and Audra.
  • J. A. Konrath's Jack Daniels series of crime thrillers has multiple cases:
    • Bloody Mary: Serial Killer Barry Fuller, after his insanity defense falls apart, breaks out of prison and goes after Jack for arresting him. Taking advantage of a rest stop bathroom break, Fuller kills the three cops guarding him and six random people at the rest stop before stealing his last victim's truck and heading for Chicago. There, he attacks Jack's mother Mary, killing her boyfriend and badly injuring her, then carjacking and killing a taxi driver and heading to the man's home, where he kills the taxi driver's wife. In the following two days, he robs and kills two drug dealers to get painkillers for his injuries, bringing the total to fourteen dead.
    • Dirty Martini: The Chemist stages a series of poison attacks in rapid succession against a wide variety of targets, poisoning the food at grocery stores and restaurants, luring police to locations rigged with poisonous traps, and sometimes just shooting people with a jet injector. He ultimately murders at least 55 people in, at most, two weeks.
    • Fuzzy Navel: The Urban Hunting Club is a trio of vigilantes targeting sex offenders, and planned their first strike as a simultaneous sniper attack on three victims. That was supposed to be the end of it, but one of them decided to wait at the scene for responding police officers and attack them, killing ten cops in the ensuing mass shooting. This forces the other two members to aid the mass killer in attacking Jack Daniels' home to eliminate surviving witnesses.
    • Shot Girl: Guthrie "Gaff" Slessinger, an 18-year-old girl obsessed with mass shootings, leaves home to commit a massacre at a faraway videogame store, intending for it to be the first of many mass murders. Along the way, she impulsively kills two sexual predators who threatened or provoked her. When her initial attack wounds seventeen people but fails to actually kill anyone, she heads to a nursing home, where she murders at least thirty people before a resident kills her in self-defense.
  • Mercy Thompson: Cory Littleton of the novel "Blood Bound", is an unconventional supernatural version. Starting off as an evil and psychopathic killer in Chicago, he gains powers and is accidentally freed from the control of his vampiric Sire. Littleton then massacres all of the inhabitants of a motel (4 people in all) and had one tortured to death as well — then he spreads a Hate Plague across the entire Tri cities, Washington which induces rage in the hope of causing people to fight each other to the death which rackets up his body count into the dozens.
  • Edward Lee's Messenger has a supernatural version in the titular demon, Aldezhor the Messenger. Aldezhor possesses people and induces them to go on these sorts of rampages, killing indiscriminately to spread the Devil's message of "atrocity and abomination." One of his hosts shoots 26 people dead at a post office after killing her husband and son, while another murders eight people with a hammer at a Catholic girls' school. After the massacres, Aldezhor makes his hosts commit suicide and continues to the next host. Using a succession of hosts, he ultimately murders about fifty people within a week before being stopped.
  • Robert Kelly's novel Twelve Gauge follows the people of Cedar Bluffs, Tennessee as they deal with two of these, fourteen years apart:
    • The first is Richard McFarland, a vicious psychopath who attacked the Cedar Bluffs Baptist Church during a Christmas Day service in 1978. Using a twelve-gauge pump-action shotgun stolen from a parishioner's truck, McFarland murdered twelve people and injured seven others, including several small children. McFarland wasn't even from Cedar Bluffs - he was passing through after a job hunt came up empty and stormed the church in a random fit of rage. He was arrested at the scene, sentenced to death, and finally executed in 1992. That should have been the end of it, except...
    • The second killer is McFarland's son, 17-year-old Sonny Beechum. Under the influence of his father's ghost, Sonny first kills his mother before murdering a neighbor for his shotgun. After that, he sets off from his native Ohio for Cedar Bluffs, under orders from his father to finish off the survivors of the church massacre. Sonny kills and wounds several people just getting to Cedar Bluffs, where he methodically hunts down the survivors and anyone who gets in his way over the course of the next week, on one occasion killing six people at a dive bar. Near the tail end of his rampage, he shifts his focus to killing the cops pursuing him. By the end, he has killed 23 people and injured nine in a mad attempt to finish his father's "work."
  • We Need to Talk About Kevin: The titular Kevin is a budding sociopath, with a contempt for everyone else in existence and a twisted relationship with his mother. Prompted by the discovery his parents are planning to divorce and she'll lose custody of him, depriving him of his victory over her, Kevin kills his father and little sister. Then he proceeds to his school, where he locks all the doors to the gymnasium and goes on a rampage killing nine classmates, a teacher and a cafeteria worker with his bow (choosing it to avoid any political discussions taking the focus off him), his timing specifically so that he can't be sentenced as an adult, and will avoid life in prison.
  • Worm: The Slaughterhouse Nine are a particularly horrifying, superpowered version of this trope. Actively travelling around the United States, the collective group has a body count well into the thousands, killing multiple victims in each rampage, most prominently women, children and babies. This has come to bite them in the ass at points, as they have lost a fair number of past members they've had to replace, and less evil supervillains will team up with the capes to take them down out of sheer disgust.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 19-2 has an absolutely harrowing 13-minute long one-shot take of a school shooter rampage from the point-of-view of the policeman.
  • On American Horror Story: Murder House, Tate Langdon is revealed to have been one of these, murdering fifteen of his high school classmates before returning home and killing himself. He remains just as evil as a ghost haunting the "Murder House".
  • Blindspot: Following solving a tattoo in "In the Comet of Us", the investigation leads the team to Read's Alma Mater, Hudson University. Only for two shooters to suddenly start a rampage through the campus, seemingly randomly killing people. Its finally revealed that they're both former football stars, who were sexually abused by Coach Mike Jones. However, as the Football program made the university a fortune, the corrupt school board covered up Jones' crimes. Now years later the two of them finally snapped and wanted revenge on those who ruined their lives.
  • Cold Case:
    • Cameron Coulter and Neal Hanlon, from season 4's "Rampage", best friends who were frequently mocked and bullied by their peers, the two were also unstable and psychotic (Cameron writing "I am The Destroyer, The Apocalypse, The Widowmaker. I am a rifle, I am a gun. Look down the barrel of my hate - we're going to have some fun" in his journal, and Neal drawing a lot of disturbing art). Following months of planning and boasting (to which no one took them seriously) the two committed the Woodland Valley Mall Massacre, Cameron using a shotgun whilst Neal had a pistol. Together they rampaged through the mall, killing fifteen people and wounding many others, before finally turning their guns on themselves and committing suicide.
    • Mitch Hathaway, from season 4's "Offender". Following being falsely convicted of the rape and murder of his son Clay and sentenced to twenty years in prison, he is released pending a retrial following the evidence in the original investigation being corrupted. Obsessed with getting justice, Mitch goes on a killing spree, throwing one sex offender off the top of a roof each day, vowing to continue until the detectives find his son's actual killer even if he has to kill "every last piece of garbage" in Philadelphia. He successfully murders two pedophiles, and upon finding his son's actual killer tries to do the same to him, then plans to commit suicide to avoid another stay in prison. However, the team with the help of his ex-wife Tara manage to talk Mitch down, promising him justice for his son.
  • Coroner: The two-parter "Scattered" and "Quick and Dead" see's Jenny Cooper facing Dylan Lee and Randal "Storm" Jeffries, a pair of psychos unified by a shared obsession with death and the fantasy of murder. Having already killed three people previously (including Lee killing his mother), following the police getting close the two embrace their fantasy and go on a killing spree with machetes, starting with them killing Storm's parents, then murdering an electrical engineer for not moving his van out of there way in time, then a mechanic and finally trying to kill Lee's girlfriend Amanda. Dylan secretly plans to kill Storm at the end and be the only survivor.
  • Cracked (2013): The shooters from "Voices" are a pair of reclusive, video game obsessed shut-ins, who randomly decide to become spree killers out of the belief it will make them famous and prove their masculinity. They start off killing their property manager Herman Strunk, and over the next few days proceed to kill more people, planning to wipe out the entire apartment building. Of the duo it's clear the older member with the beard is in change, dragging the younger member along for the ride.
  • Criminal Minds: The BAU has faced and investigated a number of Spree Killers over the years, often facing at least one each season. It is likewise not uncommon for other types of killer to descend into this when the BAU's investigations close in on them forcing them to change tactics. Some notable examples include: Eddie Mayes from season 1's "Blood Hungry". Ronald Weems from season 2's "Sex, Birth, Death,". Owen Savage from season 3's "Elephant's Memory". Animal and Norman Hill from season 4's "Brothers In Arms" and "Normal" respectively. Jeremy Sawyer from Season 6's "Safe Haven". Chloe Donaghy from season 7's "It Takes Village" and Frank Crosgrove from season 10's "Anonymous".
  • CSI-verse:
    • CSI: William Cutler from season 6's "Bang Bang", having been passed over for a promotion, lost all his money gambling trying to win back what he spent celebrating before finding out, and coming home to find his wife cheating on him, William snapped and went on a rampage killing the people he believed betrayed him — first his unfaithful wife, then his boss, then finally the co-worker who got the promotion he believed was his. Framing his dead brother for the spree, William stabbed himself to fool the police into thinking he was also a victim. Later when a Cop tried to break up a fight he was in, William started a second spree, shooting the cop, a croupier and taking a woman hostage. He shot Jim Bass before being killed by the police.
    • CSI: NY:
      • Luke Blade from season 3's "Sleight Out of Hand", who was given up by his biological parents and abandoned by his foster mother. Believing several of his staff had betrayed him, Luke went on a killing spree, murdering them in manners resembling classic magic tricks — sawing a former assistant in half, burning his stunt engineer to death, and finally trying to drown his foster mother in a glass cage.
      • Shane Casey, Danny Messer's Archenemy, whilst originally an avenging killer trying to prove his that his older brother Ian was innocent of the robbery that got him arrested and subsequently committed suicide over, and kill those he blamed for it. Following Danny proving that Ian really did commit the robbery and arresting him, Shane developed an obsessive hatred for Danny. Masterminding a breakout years later right before he was executed Shane went on a killing spree, first poisoning his would be executioner and shooting his accomplice. Several days later after being arrested, Shane strangled a guard with his handcuffs and escaping killed his former cell-mate and accomplice, before trying to kill Danny.
    • Henry Darius, the main antagonist of a CSI: Miami-CSI: NY Crossover is a low-impulse narcissistic sociopath driven by a hatred for his status as the child of a mistress to a wealthy family and a jealousy of his half-siblings getting more attention. Initially a Serial Killer who kills three women who resemble his sisters, he graduates to becoming a Spree Killer. Going on a rampage that involves him bringing down a plane, and shooting numerous people before killing his half-sister Alexa, he then drives all the way to New York and carries on his rampage, going after his other half-sister Sarah.
  • Daredevil: Just like his comic counterpart, Frank "the Punisher" Castle is presented as a vigilante version who hunts criminals. As of his introduction mid-way through season two, his official body count was 37 across numerous locations and at least two states, and it only increased from there.
  • FBI: "Crossfire" see's Bell and Zidan dealing with Cole Cooper, a former decorated Army Ranger who had a mental breakdown following his girlfriends death. With the assistance of his ward Kofi, Cooper went on a killing spree attacking area's associated with his old life. Killing three people in Park Avenue shooting, then six more at his old apartment building, then a police officer, with his final target being a church planning on massacring the Parishioners. Despite Bell's efforts to talk him down, he was shot by a police sniper.
  • FBI: Most Wanted:
    • In "Hairtrigger", Doug Timmons is planning to carry out a mass shooting in a government building in Albany.
    • In "Invisible", Shell-Shocked Veteran Lt. Weitzen snaps shoots and kills five people at the shooting range.
  • The I-Land: Mason was put on death row for shooting up a mall in a run-and-gun massacre.
  • The Law & Order universe is no stranger to Spree Killers, with several of their shows featuring at least one.
    • Law & Order:
      • Justin Laufferty, from season 13's "Sheltered", who was kidnapped at a young age and raised in an environment of near total co-dependence by former sniper Herman Capshaw. Upon discovering that Capshaw's boss, Charlie Rodriguez, planned to fire him, Justin decided the only answer was to kill him, and with Herman's rifle he went on a shooting spree, killing Rodriguez and three other people to disguise the intent.
      • Leon Vorgitch, from season 17's "Deadlock", is a vicious sociopath. Imprisoned for randomly murdering five people a burger join in 1997, whilst being transferred he escaped custody by stabbing two guards to death, then murdered a gun dealer and stole a pistol. Taking a classroom full of elementary school children hostage after killing their teacher, he shoots four children when he mistakes a truck backfiring for the police shooting at him.
    • Law & Order: SVU:
      • Daniel Varney "The Night Ripper," from season 2's "Scourge" was a caring devout family man, who suffered from undiagnosed syphilis. Due to the negligent insurance agency not informing him or the health department of his disease, it was allowed to progress until it attacked his brain inducing Paranoid Schizophrenia. The disorder got so severe that Daniel eventually went on a killing spree with a knife, in a manner that coincidentally resembled Jack the Ripper's killings (minus the organ removal) Daniel killed four people in 24 hours.
      • Charlie Baker from season 4's "Dominance" is an especially twisted example. A monstrous psychopath, he spent years abusing (including once raping) his little brother Billy. In adulthood he forces Billy to go on a rampage, where he would make couples rape each other at gun point before Billy shot them, killing seven people in the span of two days. Then he personally killed four more people to frame his brother, and kidnapped two women and left them for dead.
      • Dale Stuckey from season 10 was an annoying and overly enthusiastic CSU technician, who due his frequent screw ups quickly became the subject of mockery and bullying by the entire SVU. Following an error of his causing the murder weapon in particular case to be declared inadmissible in court and the killer Peter Harrison to be get away, he was publicly humiliated and snapped, vowing to ensure the killing was re-implicated. He murdered a woman and framed Harrison, then killed Harrison's lawyer with a gas trap (mimicking one Harrison himself had used to try to kill the detectives) and set up another trap to kill Judge Donnelly for criticizing him in court (Donnelly managed to get to the hospital on time). When his boss managed to find evidence linking him to the murders, Dale stabbed him through the heart and then kidnaped Detective Stabler, planning to torture him to death for all his former bullying.
      • Craig Rasmussen, from season 14's "Dreams Deferred", a former bus driver whose life had gone down the drain, Craig went on a shooting spree throughout New York that lasted 48 hours. First he murdered his mother-in-law, then going to his wife's office, murdered her and two of her colleagues. He then carried on his rampage throughout the city, shooting up an inn and a maintenance yard, as well as several random people he met, before finally being shot by the police.
      • Gloria Montero, from season 14's "Poisoned Motive", the daughter of Fin's old partner Luis who was injured during a drug bust, that ended with him losing his job and disability check, and Gloria's mother to die of breast cancer due to not being able to pay for her treatment. After being rejected by both the army and the police due to failing the psychological profile, Gloria goes on a shooting spree to get revenge on those she blames for what happened to her father by targeting their loved ones: first Fin's new partner, then the son of the lieutenant who fired Luis, then the drug baron's girlfriend. Descending she killed a traffic warden who put a ticket on her father's car, a security officer at the abandoned hospital were her mother died and finally took the family that moved into their old house hostage.
    • Law & Order: Criminal Intent: Paul Devildis, from season 8's "Family Values", is an conservative Christian. Following being fired from his job, which threatened to bankrupt his family and destroyed his self-image as a provider, over a period of five months he descended into insanity, his beliefs extending into dangerous fanaticism with him going on a killing spree, lashing out at anything that offended it. He bludgeoned his sister-in-law, who he saw as immoral, to death with a hammer, then killed his daughter's teacher for being a lesbian and organizing on a Tennessee Williams play. He killed his former boss with a pipe bomb, and after being questioned panicked, killing his wife, their dog and kidnapping his daughter, planning to kill her to send her to heaven. Goran managed to talk him down; by arguing he himself had sinned and needed to repent.
  • Luther: "Episode 2" has John Luther face Owen Lynch, a former Royal Marine recently returned from Afghanistan, who goes on a rampage murdering police officers. Setting up traps to lure officers out, he would them snipe them, killing six officers over two days. When a SWAT Team raided his supposed hideout he killed four more with a bomb. Luther managed to figure out that Owen's abusive father Terry was behind the rampage. Sentenced to life without parole for murdering a police officer whilst his son was away on tour, Terry forced Owen to go on a killing spree ordering him not to stop until the authorities agreed to release him.
  • Silent Witness:
    • Season 13's "Shadows", features Scott Weston an sociopathic university student, fond of nihilistic and murderous rhetoric. He formed a partnership with two other students, the troubled Neil Corrigan and the bullied Jason Renfrew, and convincing them of mind set, planned a killing spree managing to get his hands on two guns. He murdered Jason, who had gotten cold feet, by slitting his wrists and staged it as a suicide. Then the next day dressed all in leather with a full face mask he went on a rampage with a machine pistol, slaughtering everyone he encountered including the detective investigating Jason's death. Wanting to destroy the entire campus, he planted numerous chemical bombs all over, planning to blow the entire place to kingdom come. Scott was shot by Neil, after goading him and revealing he killed Jason, who Neil had a crush on, but survived. As Neil had taken his gun and was wearing the same outfit, he was mistaken for the shooter and shot dead by the police. Evidence like an outright video manifesto leads to Scott's imprisonment by the end of the episode, still bald-facedly trying to pin the blame on Neil as the real mastermind. Nikki even brings up Charles Whitman's infamous rampage, including the fact they found a large tumor in his brain during the autopsy afterwards.
    • Season 18's "Snipers Nest", see's them facing a long range sniper, who along with his teenage accomplice, seemingly randomly murders eight people in five attacks over the span of two day's to hide the real targets of his murder spree, including his accomplice's abusive father. He even phones Nikki to boast that he's invincible and she will never capture him.
  • Supernatural: In "Slash Fiction", deciding that Sam and Dean are a potential threat to the Leviathan's plans Dick Roman has two take Sam and Dean's forms, then go on a cross country murder spree. Their MO is enter a populated areas such as banks or diners in towns that Sam and Dean have already been to, then slaughter everyone ensuring their always caught on Camera. This causes the actual Sam and Dean to skyrocket to the top of the FBI's most wanted list and have a country wide manhunt after them. Following the real Sam and Dean being caught up the local police whilst trying to stop their Doppelgangers, the two attack the sheriff's station killing and eating everyone before being defeated.
  • SWAT: "Patrol" involves Chris and Mumford dealing with Zack Larabe's rampage. Suffering from both Bipolar and Borderline personality disorder after a long history of violent behavior, following the woman he was dating Brianna refusing him a third date, he snapped and became a Spree Killer. Zack attempted to murder his court mandated therapist, killing another patient and only failing because his gun jammed. He then got it upgraded to a fully automatic machine gun, and killed his Arms Dealer. Storming Brianna's workplace he tried to kill her. His final plan was to board a bus, at the same bus stop he ran away to as a child to escape his abusive mother only to be ignored by everyone, then upon it filling up kill everyone on board.
  • Whitechapel: The last two episodes of season three see the team facing a masked Poetic spree-killer who targets teenage delinquents whilst dressed up as the Boogieman. He kills a woman who had a history of making crank calls by forcing her mobile phone down her throat, sets up a delinquent who threated people with a gun to be shot by the police, and drains the blood of a graffiti artist and then uses it to paint over their graffiti. Finally, for a woman who committed vandalism, including breaking a council flat's elevator, he overpowers then drags her up the stairs specifically so that her head hits each step. It's revealed he is the son of a local helpful resident, who died of a heart attack whilst climbing said stairs which he blames on the delinquents for causing him so much stress.

  • Ninja Sex Party: In "First Date", Danny, in an effort to invoke Evil Is Sexy, decides to take his date on a murder spree that night, killing five people in rapid succession for no other reason than to have fun killing people.
  • It probably would not surprise anybody to know that the Insane Clown Posse has a song about this: "The Tower", loosely based on the University of Texas massacre in 1966 (see "Real Life" below) with the lyrics coming from the killer's point of view.
  • "The Homecoming Queen's Got a Gun" is a 1983 comic song by Julie Brown that parodies both contemporary Valley Girl culture and the Teenage Death Songs of the '50s and '60s. The song and its music video begin as a satire of a '50s Doo-wop song, recounting the homecoming dance in which her best friend, Debi, is crowned queen. Once that happens, the tone changes to '80s Synth-Pop as Debi unexpectedly pulls out a weapon and begins indiscriminately killing classmates and teachers at the parade. Brown admitted in a July 2000 interview that after the Columbine High School massacre she no longer felt comfortable performing "Homecoming Queen".
  • The chorus of "Down Rodeo" by Rage Against the Machine has the singer grabbing a shotgun and shooting up the luxurious Rodeo Drive shopping district in Beverly Hills as an act of class warfare and vengeance for slavery. (Zac de la Rocha had to clarify that he was not actually advocating violence.)
  • "Pumped Up Kicks" by Foster the People is about a boy named Robert who fantasizes about taking his dad's revolver and doing this at his school, though it's left up in the air if he actually follows through.
  • Murder Ballads:
    Measured .32, .44, .38
    I asked that girl which road she was taking
    Said she was walking the road of hate
    But she stopped on a coal-trolley up to New Haven
    Population: 48"
    Crow Jane Crow Jane
    Crow Jane Ah hah huh
    Your guns are drunk and smoking
    They've followed you right back to your gate
    Laughing all the way back from the new town
    Population, now, 28
    • "O'Malley's Bar" is a 14 minute song in which the Villain Protagonist describes in loving detail how he slaughters all of the occupants of the eponymous tavern.
  • Noah: The woman in "Tak Ada yang Abadi" music video is implied (and confirmed in "Kota Mati" video) to be the one who killed all those people in the streets, some rooms, and a building. Then she goes on and shoots the band before killing herself.

    Scripts & Screenplays 
  • Extreme Prejudice (2019): Over the course of a day, Fraser Barton Colborne kills scores of people using a semi-automatic rifle, a handgun, a shotgun, and a knife. By the end, his kill count is 76 civilians, 6 police officers, and 2 other people away from the mall.

    Video Games 
  • Cyberpunk 2077: Cyberpsychos are the sci-fi version of this, people with cybernetic implants and augmentations who go on killing sprees, often as a result of cyberpsychosis. They serve as Optional Boss encounters, and they have become a major problem for Night City, to the point where the NCPD has a special unit of elite cyborg officers called Max-Tac specifically to deal with them.
  • Hatred: The player takes the role of an unnamed Misanthrope Supreme whose goal is simply to kill as many people as possible before the authorities kill him. Taken to extremes, he ends his spree by causing a nuclear meltdown.
  • Persona 2: This is how the JOKER curse works in Eternal Punishment. At first, it was a one-man Murder, Inc., as anyone could ask the JOKER to murder someone and he would do it. However, after his death the curse turned into a Hate Plague, as literally anyone could now turn into a JOKER and go on a spree murdering everyone around them.
  • Postal: The Postal Dude is an mentally ill man who deludedly thinks he is the Only Sane Man in a world gone mad. Becoming a spree killer, he murders his way across his town killing everyone he encounters to destroy the local Air Force base, followed by an elementary school.
  • Super Columbine Massacre RPG!: Exactly What It Says on the Tin. A Role-Playing Game in which you play as the Columbine High School killers as they shoot up their school. The second half has them getting sent to Hell for their crimes, and fighting their way through demons. Interspersed throughout are flashbacks to their planning of the massacre, as well as various incidents in their personal lives that served as red flags in hindsight, all based on the game creator's research into the killing spree.
  • Morimiya Middle School Shooting: As the title indicates, the game is centered around a massacre at a school. The unnamed female protagonist decides to shoot up her school, with the player able to determine their weaponry and buy upgrades earned through playthroughs. There are several overt and subtle references to real life spree killers sprinkled throughout the game.

    Visual Novels 
  • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Despite being referred to as a Serial Killer, Joe Darke from the bonus case in the first game is actually a Spree Killer. Originally an ordinary businessman, Darke's spree began following him accidentally hitting a cyclist with his car, killing him. To cover up his crime he murdered the one witness who saw him, only for another person to catch him murdering them, and so on. Darke proceeded to kill three more people over the next few hours all in the course of trying to hide his original crime. The misnomer is actually justified in that he had been convicted for the murder of Neil Marshall, several days after his killing spree, but said murder was actually a Frame-Up.

    Western Animation 
  • The Simpsons:
    • In the episode "Homer Loves Flanders", Ned's increasing hatred of Homer (thanks to the latter becoming more friendly to him and giving him an unrelenting barrage of his extreme obnoxiousness) manifests in a nightmare in which he goes on a killing spree with a sniper rifle from a clock tower Charles Whitman-style.
      Ned, in his nightmare: [in a very spooky deadpan] There's Homer. (boom!) There's Homer. (boom!) There's Homer! (boom!) THEY'RE ALL HOMER!!! (Opens fire faster).
    • In "The Monkey Suit", Wiggum demonstrates once again how the Springfield Police only works as The Lopsided Arm of the Law by using a SWAT Team to arrest Lisa (who is breaking the law by reading Charles Darwin's Theory of Evolution alongside other anti-Creationist nerds) but does nothing to stop Snake going on a shooting spree from the top of a building just across the street (Wiggum says that it's because the police doesn't has the budget for it, and even tries to ignore it).

    Real Life 
  • On August 1, 1966, the former Marine sharpshooter Charles Whitman seemingly randomly snapped and murdered his wife and mother, leaving a note declaring that he loved both women. Taking three rifles, two pistols, and a Sawed-Off Shotgun, Whitman made his way to the University of Texas. Heading to the top of the university's bell tower, Whitman murdered the receptionist Edna Townsley and two other people inside the tower, then entered the tower's observation deck. With a Remington Model 700 rifle, he began shooting students and bystanders, killing eleven more people (including an unborn baby) and injuring thirty-one others (one person ended up dying 35 years later from injuries received during the shooting). After 96 minutes, two police officers made it to the top of the tower and managed to kill Whitman. Afterwards at his autopsy, the coroner found a "pecan-sized brain tumor" which could have influenced his urge to kill. Whitman's famous rampage has influenced many fictional depictions of spree killers.
  • The other chief influences, especially in more modern works, are the Columbine High School killers, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold. A pair of juvenile delinquents and computer geeks, Harris was an Affably Evil sociopath and Misanthrope Supreme while Klebold was known to be very shy and reserved, though the both of them were also known to have Hair Trigger Tempers. Their friendship was a co-dependent one; Klebold's lack of self-esteem caused him to be easily drawn into Harris' plan to shoot up the school, and Harris in turn sought validation from the more popular Klebold. Before their massacre, in which they killed twelve students and a teacher and injured twenty-four others, Harris and Klebold left behind a treasure trove of diaries, videotapes, webpages, and other documents that afforded investigators and media an in-depth look at their private lives. When it comes to school shooters in particular, fictional depictions will often base their characters on Harris and/or Klebold, from their fashion sense (their trench coats in particular became an enduring symbol of mass murder) to their relationship (one killer holding a dominant position over the other) to their nihilism to even some of the Urban Legends that proliferated after the shooting (such as them targeting Christians and jocks, them being gay lovers, or them having been influenced by violent video games), while numerous other mass shooters have cited the two as an inspiration.
  • Charles Starkweather and Caril Ann Fugate, an Outlaw Couple who went on a killing spree across Nebraska and Wyoming, killing eleven people in December 1957 and January 1958. Their case inspired countless movies about murderous lovebirds, including Badlands, Starkweather, Kalifornia, and Natural Born Killers.
  • On July 22, 2011, a man in Norway brought a grim innovation to the spree killing: namely, using it as a means of lone-wolf political terrorism. Anders Behring Breivik, a far-right extremist who believed that Norway's politicians and left-wing activists were allowing his country to be taken over by Muslim immigrants, set off a car bomb in downtown Oslo that killed eight people before heading to the island of Utøya, which hosted a summer camp owned by the Labour Party's youth group, and killed an additional 69 people in a mass shooting. The 1500+ page manifesto he wrote, which he emailed to over a thousand people before setting out on his rampage, wound up a seminal influence on the more radical and violent elements of the far right, particularly those who rejected political activism in favor of "direct action", with a number of mass shooters in the 2010s citing Breivik as an influence and in turn influencing others.
  • Radical islamic terrorism attacks in Western Europe in The New '10s, with most of the perpetrators having undergone radicalization and training either with branches of Al-Qaeda or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. France has been hit the hardest:
    • Mohammed Merah's rampage between March 11 and March 22, 2012 in South-Western France that killed seven people, including children and a teacher at a Jewish private school and military personel.
    • The attack on Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris by the Kouachi brothers that killed 12 people between January 7 and January 8, 2015 and extended into a kosher supermarket.
    • The five-points November 13-14, 2015 attacks including a bomb near the Stade de France in Saint-Denis (then-President of the Republic François Hollande was nearby) and shootings/knife slaughters at three restaurants/cafés and the Bataclan theatre/concert room in Paris, chiefly organized and carried out by Abdelhamid Abaaoud and the Abdeslam brothers. With 130 dead in total, it is the deadliest terrorist attack to ever be committed on French soil.
    • The Nice attack on July 14, 2016 (France's national day) by Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel, who drove a heavy truck at high speed on the Promenade des Anglais walking way and killed 86 people along the way's seven kilometers.
    • The shootings by one Chérif Chekatt in several streets in the center of Strasbourg on December 11, 2018. Five people died.