Top 10 Real-Life Crimes Inspired by Movies and TV

Though movies and television shows are a form of expression, they can also showcase crimes and situations that are dangerous, painful or lead to unnecessary loss of life. When it comes to violence and illegal activities, we don't always want life to imitate art, but unfortunately, sometimes it has. Join WatchMojo.com as we count down our picks for the top 10 real-life crimes inspired by movies and TV.
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Just because you saw it on-screen, doesn’t mean it’s right. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 real-life crimes inspired by movies and TV.

#10 – “Fight Club”


But that didn’t stop young Americans from posting videos of their own real-life fight clubs online after the film’s release. And that’s not the only real-world connection to this violent flick: it’s also suspected of inspiring two bombers. Luke Helder targeted mailboxes with pipe bombs, while Kyle Shaw set off a homemade bomb near a Starbucks in an attempt to initiate anarchy and start his own Project Mayhem.

#9 – “The Deer Hunter”

This film’s use of Russian roulette was initially criticized for misrepresenting the Vietnam War. However, its depiction of the lethal game-of-chance came under fire even more heavily when reports surfaced of Russian roulette-related deaths. It was estimated that 25 people worldwide died as a result of trying their luck with a version of the game similar to the one played by Christopher Walken and Robert De Niro.

#8 – “Dexter”


Though it’s critically acclaimed, this drama about a blood spatter analyst-by-day, serial killer-by-night has received criticism – especially once it was suspected as the inspiration for several actual murders. After “Dexter” fan Andrew Conley strangled his 10-year-old brother, Mark Twitchell made news by assuming a double life and luring married men in search of illicit relationships through an online dating site. However, he only killed one man before being caught.

#7 – “Magnum Force”


The second installment in Clint Eastwood’s “Dirty Harry” series features a scene where a prostitute is killed with drain-cleaning solution, and it was this scene that supposedly inspired the real-life Hi-Fi murders: perps trying to rob a home audio store forced their hostages to drink the liquid. However, when their victims did not die quickly enough, the criminals tortured, raped and killed the three captives.

#6 – “Child’s Play Series”


The murderous Chucky doll and the “Child’s Play” film franchise have been implicated in several chilling incidents, including 1996’s Port Arthur massacre. After a gang tortured and killed a teenager while making her listen to a tape that repeated “I’m Chucky, Wanna Play?,” the press also linked the movies to a case where two ten-year-olds splashed a two-year-old boy with paint, then mutilated and murdered him.

#5 – “The Matrix”


Because of this sci-fi flick’s stylized violence and the unique look of its characters, “The Matrix” has been blamed for multiple crimes, from the Columbine High School massacre to the 2002 Beltway sniper attacks. Its alternate reality storyline even spawned “The Matrix defense,” which was used in two separate court cases where a landlady was killed and the defendants were eventually deemed insane.

#4 – “Scream”


America’s most commercially successful slasher movie has been linked to numerous real-life copycat slashings. First was 1998’s “Scream murder,” when two cousins stabbed one of their mothers 45 times to get the money required to subsidize their planned killing spree. The next year, two teens stabbed but did not kill a 13-year-old boy. Finally there was Thierry Jaradin, whose unrequited love caused him to kill the teenaged Alisson Cambier while wearing a Ghostface mask.

#3 – “A Clockwork Orange”


This movie allegedly inspired so many crimes and triggered so much public criticism that Stanley Kubrick willingly removed it from British distribution. Related offenses included several murders by teenaged boys, as well as the assault of a woman by a man dressed as a droog. Perhaps most notorious was the film’s “Singing in the Rain” rape scene, which contained scary similarities to a real-life gang-rape where the perpetrators also sang the song.

#2 – “Natural Born Killers”


With a plot inspired by two real-life mass murderers, this film was scandalous from the get-go. In a case of art-imitating-life, then life-imitating art, Sarah Edmondson and Benjamin James Darras decided to become “natural born killers,” murdering one and paralyzing another. They were taken to court alongside Oliver Stone and Time Warner. The controversy worsened when rumors surfaced that the Columbine High School shooters were also fans.

#1 – “Taxi Driver”


After seeing the 14-year-old Jodie Foster play a child prostitute in this vigilante flick, John Hinckley, Jr. became obsessed with trying to catch her attention. He decided to imitate the attempt made by Robert De Niro’s character to assassinate a politician, and set his sights on Ronald Reagan in 1981. Fortunately, the President was only wounded and Hinckley was found guilty by reason of insanity.

Though movies and television shows are a form of expression, they can also showcase crimes and situations that are dangerous, painful or lead to unnecessary loss of life. It’s important to learn about our past so we don’t repeat it. Be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com for more informative top 10s.
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