Burns on the Big Screen

To learn how burn survivors specifically are portrayed in film, we embarked on a research project to put data behind the problem we’ve all identified. Our findings were grim, but unsurprising.

We identified 32 English-language films with burn survivor characters, with release dates between 1933 and 2017. In the 32 films we surveyed, the same stereotypes surfaced again and again: these characters were corrupted by their injuries, evil, masked, alone – and often, by the end of the movie, dead.

Here are a few striking findings:

  • Almost all the character were isolated from other people; only 5 had any friends.
  • 50% of the characters were good before they were injured, only to become evil after their burn.
  • We started out looking for happy endings, but couldn’t find any that were purely happy. So we settled on “hopeful.” Just 4 characters qualified.

Here's what we learned:

Characters with burn Scars: 62.5% Villains; 15.6% Vigilantes; 15.6% Complicated; 6.2% Heroes


68.7% of movie characters with burn scars were ashamed of their scars.

Just 15.6% of movie characters with burn scars had any friends.

62.5% of movie characters with burn scars were out for revenge.

68.7% of movie characters with burn scars hid their scars; 53.1% had them revealed as a plot point.

Only 12.5% of movie characters with burn scars had a hopeful ending.

40.6% of movie characters with burn scars died at the end.

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Recent Comments

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10:16am - Nov 27, 2019

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NobelCat    Moderate:
7:14am - Nov 20, 2019

I have seen this character in Egyptian movies, too. There are special characters in their movies and they are mentioned on http://scoopempire.com/16-types-of-people-you-see-at-the-movies-in-egypt/ So, I find it very interesting and I often read about national movies.

Annette Swann    Moderate:
6:07pm - Feb 3, 2018

Shocking statistics.  If my memoir were to be made into a movie there would certainly be a happy ending!!