Statistics: The Deadliest Month

Statistics: The Deadliest Month

When I was at ClexaCon London, I was chatting with someone and they asked me what the deadliest month was, to be a queer lady on TV. I didn’t know, but guessed it was October.

Once I got home, I sat down with a spreadsheet and rounded up the numbers for the last 11 years. Why 11? Prior to 2008, the overall numbers of death were pretty low. 2000-7 deaths were 1/3 the numbers of 2008-18. I also left December 2018 at 0, since at the time of this post, there were no deaths in December. Yet.

The Data

20182017201620152014201320122011201020092008
January22243212220
February01220002000
March16443030211
April05813330002
May55331312200
June31542120013
July12353401101
August00323210101
September23433402011
October68541323012
November14231101200
December00440233111
Total213745392325161611712

Okay, that’s a nice chunk of data. What does it mean?

Unpacking the Data

The top two worst months ever were April 2016 and October 2017, with 8 deaths. Following that is October 2018 (6 deaths) and June and October 2016 (5 deaths each). So far my theory of ‘October sucks’ is looking pretty good.

But it’s hard to visualize things just from raw numbers, so I shifted to combining the data. This means I adds up the deaths per month from each year. In that way, we can count the total deaths for all the Octobers

Total
January22
February7
March25
April25
May25
June22
July21
August13
September23
October35
November15
December19

Now you can easily see that with 35 deaths over 11 years, October is indeed the deadliest month. For those of you who are visual leaners, here’s a breakdown that may help:

October jumps out into the clear lead, with March, April and May tying it up.

Conclusions

Surprisingly, there’s no correlation with sweeps. Per the Nielsens, sweeps are in November, February, May and July. February is actually the safest month overall. Of all of sweeps, May is the most dangerous, which makes sense as it’s the traditional end of a TV season.

Why are non-sweeps months more dangerous? Because the point of sweeps is to hook us and keep us coming back. If you kill off all your characters before then, we don’t keep watching. However, having spring be a large chunk of the data is logical. The end of a season is more likely to have big stakes and high costs. Since most queers aren’t main characters, they’re expendable.

The most amusing stat in all this is that Sara Lance died twice in October.

Above all, we know that October is the deadliest month.

About Mika A. Epstein

Mika has been deep in fandom since she could say 'Trekkie.' With decades experience in running fansites, developing software, and organizing communities, she's taken on the challenge of delving into the recesses of television for queers long forgotten. Making this site with Tracy is nothing short of serendipity. Mika lives with her wife and their cats in Southern California. Of course she has a hybrid, but she'd rather ride her bicycle.
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