‘The Dark Knight’ Star Heath Ledger’s Death Ruled Accidental Overdose

Toxicology report says that the actor’s death was due to a combination of prescription drugs.

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Heath Ledger died of an accidental overdose of painkillers, sleeping pills, anti-anxiety medication and other prescription drugs, the New York City medical examiner said Wednesday, the AP reports.

The cause of death was "acute intoxication by the combined effects of oxycodone, hydrocodone, diazepam, temazepam, alprazolam and doxylamine," spokeswoman Ellen Borakove said in a statement.

The drugs are the generic names for the painkiller OxyContin, the anti-anxiety drugs Valium and Xanax, and the sleep aids Restoril and Unisom. Hydrocodone is a widely used prescription painkiller.

Borakove wouldn't say what concentrations of each drug were found in Ledger's blood, or whether one drug played a greater part than another in causing his death.

"What you're looking at here is the cumulative effects of these medications together," she said.

The ruling comes two weeks after the 28-year-old Australian-born actor was found dead in the bed of his rented SoHo apartment. Police found bottles of six types of prescription drugs in his bedroom and bathroom.

Ledger's family returned to the actor's hometown of Perth, Australia, on Tuesday to prepare for his funeral. Arrangements were private.

In a statement released through Ledger's publicist, the actor's father, Kim, said Wednesday: "While no medications were taken in excess, we learned today the combination of doctor-prescribed drugs proved lethal for our boy. Heath's accidental death serves as a caution to the hidden dangers of combining prescription medication, even at low dosage."

Ledger, nominated for an Oscar for his role in Brokeback Mountain, had returned to New York from London, where he had been filming a $30 million Terry Gilliam film, days before his death. He said in a November interview that his most recent completed roles in the Batman movie The Dark Knight and Bob Dylan biopic I'm Not There had taken a toll, saying he couldn't sleep.

"Last week I probably slept an average of two hours a night," Ledger told The New York Times. "I couldn't stop thinking. My body was exhausted, and my mind was still going." He said he had taken two Ambien pills, which only gave him an hour of sleep.


TV Guide reports that the federal government is getting involved in Heath Ledger's death. The Drug Enforcement Administration has launched an investigation into how Ledger obtained the multiple prescription drugs that led to his accidental overdose. The DEA has requested copies of Ledger's autopsy as well as the original police report from the crime scene, according to local law enforcement officials.

The Dark Knight was released July 18th, 2008 and stars Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckhart, Michael Caine, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman, Monique Gabriela Curnen. The film is directed by Christopher Nolan.

Sources: Associated Press

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Comments (64)

  1. kingdingaling

    family guy rules man!!! and on the subject of ledger , i think everyone has said enough good things and sadly the small percentage of people who are intent on spoiling this, i feel we need to let the subject rest now and let heath ledger rest in peace

    7 years agoby @kingdingalingFlag


    guys allow me to explain why it turned to this. if you had read through all the comments you would know already...the conversation was turning really ugly between mainly the Joker's and the other guys over Heath..one side defending him and the other say he was a druggy. Everything turned to this conversation to stop the raging conflict that was building. Now if you would read through all the articles, you will notice how alot of us have been truly concerned about the death of Ledger, whether positive or negative. if you were on my profile you would know. Thats the reason Family Guy and everything came up...we needed to find something would could all agree on

    7 years agoby @mcleve02Flag

  3. Ethlenn

    Little respect, people!! This article is about someone's death, not a game!

    7 years agoby @ethlennFlag

  4. Movieguru2

    If someone was posting this article and it was relating to my "accidental drug dose" I sure as hell hope that the conversation wouldn't lead to the World of Warcraft! Come on people a little sympathy for a fine actor please!!

    7 years agoby @movieguru2Flag

  5. Splatter2010

    lol, Quagmire always cracks me up..... I love how he was C3-PO in the family guy Star Wars spoof.... that was hilarious! "Thanx for the sex early 90's printer!"

    7 years agoby @mindscapeFlag


    family guy is freaking sweet! i love family guy! Quagmire Giggity Giiggty Giggity!

    7 years agoby @mcleve02Flag

  7. T.Clark

    Yeah the world of warcraft episode is one of my alltime favs. "You've just been pwned."

    7 years agoby @insertusernamehereFlag

  8. Radimus-83

    lol,, oh my how the topic has changed since i last been on!!! haha

    family guy f*cking rules!!!!

    UPS Woman: Package for Mr. Glen Quagmire.
    Quagmire: Thank you.
    [walks inside with it, returns naked]
    Quagmire: And I've got a package for you. Oh yeah.
    [she maces him]
    Quagmire: Heh he. I've developed immunity to that stuff.

    7 years agoby @radimus-83Flag

  9. Splatter2010

    those episodes were hilarious.... I like how they managed to both show some respect for family guy and also make fun of it. One of my fav eps to date though is the World of Warcraft..... I almost peed my pants when I first saw that one, lol.

    7 years agoby @mindscapeFlag

  10. T.Clark

    No, stuntman, I don't have the actual poster. I don't even think there is a poster of it u can buy. I've never seen it anywhere except for in that issue of Wizard.
    I like family guy too, but south park's better. I loved the cartoon wars 2 parter where cartman tries to get family guy cancelled.

    7 years agoby @insertusernamehereFlag

  11. Splatter2010

    another great show..... family guy..... thanx Saint, I'll check out the link.

    7 years agoby @mindscapeFlag

  12. Scarecrow

    family guy already did it


    7 years agoby @scarecrow924Flag

  13. Marcusx


    7 years agoby @marcusxFlag

  14. Splatter2010

    that would be an awesome comic spoof! I can see something like that on Adult Swim.... I'd love to see a JLM (Justice League Mexico) where they could all be wearing luchador outfits.... now that would be a trip.

    7 years agoby @mindscapeFlag

  15. Marcusx

    the funny thing is that its a poster of JLA justice league of AMERICA. i wana see JLP justice league of Pakistan lol or maybe iraq, hell mexico would be funny too. EL MUCHACHO DEL AQUA (mexican aqua man) lol

    7 years agoby @marcusxFlag

  16. Splatter2010

    Alex Ross is amazing.... every issue of Justice I pick up my jaw drops.... every panel, cover to cover is like a masterpiece.... how he pumps that stuff out so quickly is beyond me.

    7 years agoby @mindscapeFlag

  17. Splatter2010

    that's awesome.... sorry I missed that issue of Wizard mag..... do you have the actual poster on your wall?

    7 years agoby @mindscapeFlag

  18. Splatter2010

    lol, that's funny Rad.... yeah I had my susp*cions about ol' Saddam too..... But I do think that he and the devil make a cute couple, don't you?

    7 years agoby @mindscapeFlag

  19. T.Clark

    Yeah, it's by Ross. It's from a few years ago in Wizard magazine for a "dream poster."

    7 years agoby @insertusernamehereFlag

  20. Splatter2010

    Thanx Andrew... is that an Alex Ross piece of JLA? I love his work. I'm an avid reader of "Justice" by DC. In regards to South Park, no, thank god, they will be back for more seasons. I think as long as life remains somewhat ridiculous those two guys will always have something to say. Can't wait for another season. That's a show where it's very hard to pick a fav. episode.... I crack up with all of them. "Night of the Living Homeless People," I mean, c'mon.... classic! Hands down my fav adult cartoon show.

    7 years agoby @mindscapeFlag

  21. Radimus-83

    yes i agree, south park does teach us things. but i always had a feeling saddam hussain was gay!!

    7 years agoby @radimus-83Flag

  22. T.Clark

    I have to admit, stuntman, that was a pretty good quote. I'd have more to say on the Heath Ledger topic, but I see people have stopped reponding to our comments on why we don't think it's THAT sad, and have changed the topic to South Park. I am now going to join the conversation. heh, heh, heh

    I absolutely love South Park. It's not just a cartoon, it teaches people! They speak thier mind, which I like, and it's f*ckin hilarious. Is the series over with season 11? If it is, thank you Matt and Trey for opening my eyes to what this world truly is: a world of people who can't take a joke.

    7 years agoby @insertusernamehereFlag

  23. Splatter2010

    yep, here's to Matt Stone & Trey Parker for giving us 11 solid seasons of laughter and insight.

    7 years agoby @mindscapeFlag

  24. Marcusx

    yeah i saw it actually, not the first time the ending lesson in a southpark episode made sense. totally moved.

    7 years agoby @marcusxFlag

  25. Lone Wolf

    Man, this is truley a sad thing for hollywood.

    7 years agoby @54729Flag

  26. Splatter2010

    thanx Phatlightning & Marcusx... you guys rock. Btw, if you didn't see that 3 parter from the last season of South Park I highly recommend it. Absolutely hilarious!

    7 years agoby @mindscapeFlag

  27. Radimus-83

    eh, don't mean to ruin the moment here, BUT!! what movie has Heath Ledger starred in that has "made an impact" on your life or what character has he played that you have "fallen in love with"?
    now the only thing i even remotely give a sh*t about is the Dark Knight, and like i said before, its not out till the summer!!! why does every1 say we have lost (quote from Edge 76... "Heath is, and will always be one of the greatest actors EVER!")

    can somebody PLEASE show the proof of that?? i don't mean to run the guy down, i'm just telling it straight! the guy was ok, maybe he had more to show us but we'll never know now. but for the love of god stop talking sh*t like he was one the GREATEST actors ever!! no he wasn't, he wasn't close! stop blowing things up and talking pure rubbish!!

    7 years agoby @radimus-83Flag

  28. Marcusx

    dude that was deep and perfectly poetic in a sense of understanding and i salute u sir . amen brotha

    7 years agoby @marcusxFlag

  29. Phatlightning

    well said

    7 years agoby @sxers2k1Flag

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