Darwin Award Winners, Ranked

Before selfies, there were people

Jean Campbell


Photo by Blake Wheeler on Unsplash

The Darwin Awards began in 1985 as an official commemoration for individuals who either died or sterilized themselves in idiotic ways, thus removing themselves from the human gene pool.

How did the father of evolution, Charles Darwin, come into play?

The award winners took themselves out of the evolutionary competition for reproduction.

It’s impossible to win if you happened to remove anyone else from the gene pool when you went to the other side, however.

In 1993, Wendy Northcutt began a website that eventually turned into multiple books. To win, nominees must:

  1. Be documented by a valid media source. If proved untrue, the award is rescinded. Urban legends need not apply.
  2. Either die or become sterilized.
  3. Do something especially dumb and preferably original or sensational.
  4. The person has to have killed himself or herself, or self-sterilized. Stupidly offing a friend or spectator does not meet the price of admission.
  5. Preferably, the nominee or winner must be over 16.

Is it wrong to poke fun at horrible, stupid deaths? That’s up to you to decide. As a society, we’ve answered with a resounding:

“No way!”

#7 The Bitter Divorce

Louis Dethy, a 79-year-old Belgian retired engineer, wasn’t happy about his divorce. He’d lost contact with his ex and most of their 14 children. Even his own mother turned against him.

His mom willed Dethy’s home, which she had financed, to one of his daughters. Before handing over the place, he decided to set up booby traps so his family could never take up residence.

Dethy built a series of death traps by using camouflaged weapons, rigged to various interior decor such as beer crates, the TV, or stacks of dishes. He finished his task with 19 shotguns in place, ready to fire if anything was disturbed.

He’d placed so many guns he couldn’t keep track of them all, however, and disturbed the wrong furnishing one day. Dethy shot himself in the neck, bleeding to death in the home he…



Jean Campbell

Writer by day, reader by night, napper by afternoon.