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 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 premediated, this is not a necessity. Its entirely possible (particularly in more sympathetic depictions) for the killer to have never even intended to go on a rampage and events simply spired 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 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.
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 goal is random chaos and destruction over an 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 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 inverse.
- 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:
- Spree killers are a pretty regular phenomenon in the Mega-Cities, as the stress of living packed together with hundreds of millions of fellow humans (and no job to go to, as almost everything has been automated) causes many citizens to go Ax-Crazy before they're stopped by the Judges.
- Mega-City One is enough of a Wretched Hive to have an underground club of serial killers. Their leader organizes a "save the orphans" beneficiary by having all their members simultaneously go on a killing spree in an attempt to break the city record. It ends when the leader tries to blow up a city sector with a nuclear device he had stolen, which Judge Dredd disposes off in the Black Atlantic.
- 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.
- 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 capping 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).
- 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, 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.
- Alex and Eric in Elephant, a film loosely based on the Columbine massacre.
- 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 Gang Bangers 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.
- 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 the people he killed were a bunch of Private Military Contractors that were out on the town on a "rape party" and Reacher's superiors ordered him to stop investigating as 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 realise its not him.
- 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 Gang-Bangers 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 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.
- 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 centres 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 also to cover up a Bank Robbery, but later he starts to espouse Right-Wing Militia Fanatic views as well when he initiates another shooting spree in a television station and starts attacking the government itself.
- 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 travelled 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.
- 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 a top 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 heading to a highly-populated location open fires on random citizens for five hours straight before being killed by the police.
- 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.
- Mercy Thompson: Cory Littleton of the novel "Blood Bound", is an unconventional supernatural version. Starting off as an evil and psychopathic killer in Chicago. After gaining powers and being accidentally freed from the control of his vampiric Sire, Littleton massacred all of the inhabitants of a motel (4 people in all) and had one tortured to death as well. He then 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.
- 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 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.
- 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 arrested for twenty year for being falsely convicted of the rape and murder of his son Clay, 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 sons actual killer even if he has to kill "every last piece of garbage" in Philadelphia. He successfully murders two paedophilias, 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 psycho's, 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 machete's, 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: The shooters from "Voices", are a pair of recluse, 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 its 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: New York:
- Luke Blade from season 3's "Sleight Out of Hand", given up by his biological parents and abandoned by his foster mother, following 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: New York Crossover is a low-impulse narcissistic sociopath driven by a hatred for his status of 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 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 Castle the Punisher, 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.
- Law & Order: the Law and 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", 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 criticising 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 daughters teacher for being a Lesbian and organising 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.
- Law & Order:
- 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 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. Scott the only survivor was free to play the traumatised victim and blame Neil for everything, claiming he told him it would be just a prank and he had no idea anyone was actually going to die, allowing him to effectively get away with everything. Nikki even brings up Charles Whitman's infamous rampage, including the fact they found a large tumour in his brain during the autopsy afterwards.
- Season 18's "Snipers Nest", see's them facing a long range sniper, who along with his teenager 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 accomplices 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 behaviour, 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. 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.
- 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.
- 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 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.
- 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).
- 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 entering 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 Carli 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, 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.