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Is the "Bundy Club" Real? Serial Killer Motivations Discussed in Based on a True Story

Serial killer motive is examined in Peacock's new series Based on a True Story, as well as the idea of murdering as many victims as Ted Bundy to join an infamous "club." 

By Caitlin Schunn

Jeffrey Dahmer. John Wayne Gacy. Ted Bundy. Serial killers are part of American history and pop culture, and maybe none more so than the notorious Bundy.

But what made Bundy so infamous — and are other serial killers just trying to keep up with him? That’s one of the questions mentioned in in Peacock’s new series, Based On A True Story, streaming now.

“All these creeps have like a weird competition with each other,” Kaley Cuoco’s character, Ava Bartlett claims in the show after learning the West Side Ripper, the fictional show's serial killer, may have killed more women than they knew before. “They want to be in the Bundy Club. 30-plus [victims].”

Is the Bundy Club Real?

No. But although the “Bundy Club” may not be official, there’s no denying that some serial killers are at least partly motivated to kill by the attention and fame they get from mass murder, and more victims leads to more coverage.

Dennis Rader, who called himself the BTK (bind, torture, kill) killer, sent a letter to KAKE-TV during his spree according to The Week, writing, “How many people do I have to kill before I get a name in the paper or some national attention?”

Along with Rader, David Berkowitz (Son of Sam) also was so obsessed with notoriety he penned his own serial killer nickname. The Zodiac Killer also desired fame and celebrity status, sending taunting letters to the Bay Area press in the '60s and '70s.

RELATED: Kaley Cuoco and the Based on a True Story Cast Share Their Favorite True Crime Shows

The FBI defines a serial killer as someone who kills two or more people in separate events. Although Ted Bundy is a notorious murderer, he hasn’t actually killed the most victims in American history. Samuel Little was identified by the FBI in 2019 as the most prolific serial killer in the U.S. to date, after confessing to 93 murders between 1970 and 2005.

 Little confessed to killing more people than Dahmer, Gac,y and Bundy combined. His choice of victims were those in marginalized communities, like people of color, women of color, and sex workers, which may be why he’s not as famous and why he eluded capture for so long.

“He preyed upon a particular kind of victim, who he calculated wouldn’t be missed,” Joe Berlinger, the director of the docuseries Confronting A Serial Killer, told The Daily Beast. “It’s a horrible calculation that he was wrong about, because there were obviously people who missed their loved ones. But he was right that it would be his ticket to eluding real scrutiny, because those kinds of victims don’t raise concern to the highest levels of law enforcement.”

Watch all episodes of Based On A True Story, streaming now on Peacock.

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