Criminal Minds: Fiction to Real-Life Crimes

by Sherif M. Awad

Criminal Minds Fiction to Real-Life Crimes


Explore the intriguing relationship between films and real-life crimes in this article. While movies have been associated with criminal behavior, it is crucial to recognize the complexity of factors contributing to such incidents. Responsible consumption and critical thinking are vital in understanding the influence of media. Let’s delve into the notable films and crimes they have been linked to, while keeping in mind that the majority of individuals who watch movies do not engage in illegal activities.

Films Associated with Real-Life Crimes

Natural Born Killers (1994)

  • A film about a couple who go on a killing spree and become media celebrities.
  • Associated with several murders committed by individuals influenced by the film.
  • Examples: Sarah Edmonson and Benjamin Darrus, Nathan Martinez, Jeremy Steinke, and a 14-year-old boy who decapitated a 13-year-old girl.

Money Train (1995)

  • A film about two brothers who rob a subway train.
  • Blamed for a series of copycat crimes in New York, involving subway booth attacks.
  • Instances of setting fire to subway booths and attacking clerks.

Child’s Play Series

  • Films featuring a killer doll named Chucky.
  • Cited as an influence for some violent crimes:
  • – The torture and murder of 16-year-old Suzanne Capper by a group of teenagers in England.
  • – The stabbing of a 44-year-old woman by two boys in France.

A Clockwork Orange (1971)

  • A film about a gang of violent youths in a dystopian society.
  • Banned in the UK for years due to its association with crimes:
  • – The rape of a Dutch girl by men singing “Singin’ in the Rain” (a song used in the film).
  • – The beating of a homeless man by a group of boys.

The Collector (196


  • A film about a man who kidnaps and imprisons a woman in his basement.
  • Inspired Leonard Lake and Charles Ng, two serial killers who abducted, tortured, and killed at least 11 people in California.

The Basketball Diaries (1995)

  • A film about a teenager who becomes addicted to drugs and turns to crime.
  • Blamed for the shooting of a teacher and two students by Michael Carneal, a 14-year-old boy in Kentucky.
  • Carneal claimed he was influenced by a scene in the film where Leonardo DiCaprio shoots his classmates.

The Matrix (1999)

  • A film about a computer hacker who discovers reality is a simulation controlled by machines.
  • Used as a defense by criminals claiming to live in an alternate reality:
  • – Lee Boyd Malvo, one of the Washington snipers.
  • – Tonda Lynn Ansley, who shot her landlord in the head.

Taxi Driver (1976)

  • A film about a lonely taxi driver plotting to assassinate a presidential candidate.
  • Motivation for John Hinckley Jr., who attempted to kill President Ronald Reagan in 1981.
  • Hinckley hoped to impress actress Jodie Foster, who played a child prostitute in the film.

Scream (1996)

  • A film about a masked killer terrorizing a group of teenagers.
  • Imitated by murderers in several cases:
  • – Thierry Jaradin, who stabbed his neighbor 30 times while wearing a Ghostface costume.
  • – Mario Padilla and Samuel Ramirez, who killed Padilla’s mother and sister after watching the film.

Wedding Crashers (2005)

  • A film about two men crashing weddings to meet women.
  • Joseph Brice and Ryan Thompson replicated the concept, sexually assaulting two bridesmaids at a Wisconsin wedding.

The Saw Franchise

  • Films about a serial killer trapping victims in deadly games.
  • Emulated by criminals in some instances:
  • – Matthew Tinling, who tortured and killed his neighbor with a drill.
  • – Two 13-year-old boys planning to kidnap, torture, and kill their classmates.

Magnum Force (1973)

  • A film about a rogue cop killing criminals.
  • Inspiration for Craig Peyer, a highway patrol officer who strangled Cara Knott, a 20-year-old student.
  • Knott was pulled over by Peyer on an isolated road.

Dhoom (2004)

  • A Bollywood film about motorcycle gangs robbing banks.
  • Replicated by thieves

    in India, using similar bikes and methods to loot several ATMs.

Project X (2012)

  • A film about a wild house party spiraling out of control.
  • Mimicked by teenagers worldwide, resulting in vandalism, violence, and arrests.

Special 26 (2013)

  • A Bollywood film about con artists posing as government officials to raid businesses.
  • Duplicated by fraudsters in India using fake IDs and uniforms to rob jewelry shops.


The association between films and real-life crimes is a complex and multifaceted topic. While some individuals have been influenced by movies to commit heinous acts, it is essential to remember that the majority of viewers do not engage in illegal behavior. Films are a form of art and entertainment, and they should not be used as excuses or justifications for harming others.

Responsible consumption and critical thinking are crucial when engaging with media. Understanding the complexities behind criminal behavior involves considering various factors, such as personal circumstances, mental health, and social environment.

Movies, while capable of inspiring some negative actions, also have the power to entertain, educate, and inspire positive change. It is important to approach them with an open mind, recognizing the boundaries between fiction and reality.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Do movies directly cause people to commit crimes?

No, movies do not directly cause people to commit crimes. The influence of movies on individuals’ actions is complex and varies from person to person. Many other factors contribute to criminal behavior, and it is essential to consider the broader context.

2. Should movies be blamed for real-life crimes?

Blaming movies as the sole cause of real-life crimes oversimplifies the issue. Movies can be influential, but personal responsibility, mental health, and societal factors all play a role in criminal behavior. It is important to approach the topic with nuance and not generalize.

3. How can we address the potential impact of movies on viewers?

Addressing the impact of movies on viewers requires a multifaceted approach. Promoting media literacy and critical thinking skills can empower individuals to analyze and interpret what they consume. Additionally, open discussions about the influence of media can raise awareness and encourage responsible consumption.

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Sherif M. Awad
Sherif M. Awad
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