|VINCENT'S DEATH--COMPLETY UNNECESSARY AND SAD|
DEEP SPACE NINE--STAR TREK. The writers killed off Jadzia Dax and I was furious. FURIOUS. I stopped watching. Rogue Mutt asked me in my Star Trek compilation why Deep Space Nine got no love. The reason...the whole series got tainted in my eyes despite all the great stuff they did when they killed off Jadzia.
|Amber a.k.a. Cutthroat Bitch|
I didn't like it when Robb Stark died in A Storm of Swords. I think George R.R. Martin went way to frickin' far with that. And you know what? His first three books may have been masterpieces, but A Feast For Crows and A Dance With Dragons have been crap. Some of this is (I think) because Robb Stark IS DEAD! He wrote himself into that corner because with Robb alive, the Lannisters would still have someone to fight against and he wouldn't have had to go into the whole Greyjoy thing.
Now I admit, there are times when death is necessary. Charlotte in Charlotte's Web needed to die because her species of spider dies every year. That's just nature. Obi-Wan Kenobi needed to die so that he could lead Luke to Yoda and be with him in the cockpit to destroy the Death Star. Dumbledore needed to die because J.K. Rowling wrote herself into a corner by making Dumbledore more powerful than Voldemort. With him around, NOTHING COULD HAPPEN. But you writers out there who are rubbing your hands together saying, "I'm going to kill off this character because it will tug at the heartstrings of all my readers" followed by an evil cackle--THAT IS NOT A REASON TO KILL SOMEONE OFF. Yes, you will get this reaction and then I WILL HATE YOU FOR IT. You will lose a reader because I will get mad. Think very carefully about who you axe in your books because I am not alone. Make sure the death is necessary please.
Meaningless death is meaningless. There is a reason I read fiction. In everyday life, people for no reason at all end up dead over something as stupid as a fish bone in the throat. When I read, I don't want real life.
LOL, I'm sorry about that comment. When I went to your blog from the group, I knew who I was visiting. By the time I'd finished writing that comment about Bones, though, I evidently had forgotten where I was. Haha. Don't fret, though, I DO know you and have not forgotten. ;)ReplyDelete
Comic books have a similar problem. Circulation goes up when a major character dies, but then you don't have that character around anymore. But they solved this by bringing them back to life whenever they feel like it, Ta da! Even more annoying.ReplyDelete
I can understand your frustration when it comes to series, both TV and books. The main characters make the story. You get to know them so well and the whole story revolves around them. Kill them off and you're killing off part of the story with them. However, in normal fiction books, I do think a death of a main character adds a twist. I'm not talking uneccessary deaths - hey lets kill this person off just to make this boring part more exciting. It has to be a major part of the plot. I don't do it often, but I am guilty of plotting a few murders - and let's face it, these characters aren't being relyed on to make a sequal.ReplyDelete
Killing off beloved characters is just plain wrong. I've killed off a couple of characters in my second novel - though I wouldn't say they're beloved. But killing them off raises the stake.ReplyDelete
I was SO mad at the BONES episode. I thought last season they turned Bones into a crazy lady. The entire show fell apart to me, then when that episode hit, I was like DONE.ReplyDelete
Oh my god. I just have to say: I'm nearly done with A Storm of Swords, and I love almost everything about the book, but I almost threw my Kindle across the room when I read the Red Wedding chapter.ReplyDelete
George R.R. Martin is an asshole. A genius, but an asshole.
You're right - a meaningless death is a really quick way to lose a reader/viewer!! This should be forwarded to all newbie authors as a lesson: Do not do ANYTHING, including but not limited to killing off a beloved character, "just because." To paraphrase Jurassic Park's Ian Malcolm, clearly the authors were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn't stop to think if they should!ReplyDelete
I can't agree with you more. Two characters I like will definitely die in the course of the season, but I have a very good reason for it.ReplyDelete
Otherwise, they wouldn't die.
In TV it's not always the writers fault. As it sounds like it was the case in Bones, the actor is moving on to something else, and they have to figure out what to do with the character. If they -really- want to get rid of the character, they kill him. Fox did this to Cyclops in X-Men 3 when James Marsden left to be with Bryan Singer. They killed the character to make a point to the actor. (Not saying that that was right, but that is what happened.) At any rate, in TV, it's just one of the ways they explain the disappearance of characters, sometimes, and I can't really fault them for that.ReplyDelete
Books are another story.
I agree with Andrew that in movies and TV a lot of times it isn't the writer's fault that someone has to die. I think in DS9 Terry Farrell wanted to do other things (like "Becker" ugh) so they had to get rid of her. Same thing happened on TNG with Tasha Yar. And of course it's happening on "Two and a Half Men" with Charlie Sheen. (which I think they'll regret)ReplyDelete
I don't have a problem with killing characters if it's for a good cause. What was the final body count in "Where You Belong"? Both of Frost's parents (though Jack dies off page), both Maguire parents, Meyer the chauffeur, Mrs. Galloway the cook, Pete Pratchett, Nurse Matilda Frost...and maybe more I'm forgetting about. So clearly I don't mind killing people off!
Though most of those served the plot or else the characters outlived their usefulness.
Hadn't read about Robb Stark yet. *sniff*ReplyDelete
And, yes, I'm the last person to read the series. Spoilers everywhere.
I was upset when Ned Stark was killed in GOT, but Martin had set it up so that there were so many other characters to be concerned about that it didn't ruin the story for me. That isn't always the case. Some authors do ruin it by killing likable characters. I'm a tragic lover of happy endings though.
I've felt the same as you here.ReplyDelete
Also...I've never had the impulse to kill of a major character in one of my stories. Mainly because I get too attached to them.
I feel the exact opposite way: I think that killing off a beloved character can really add something to a story, provided that the death isn't totally meaningless.ReplyDelete
David Gemmell comes immediately to mind--characters die left and right in his books, but it feels awesome because they usually die in some kind of heroic sacrifice that vindicates them in some grand redemptive way. It's awesome. Or like in Wrath of Khan: if Spock hadn't died, the movie wouldn't have been nearly as good.
Point is, everybody dies, but not everybody dies well. I don't read fiction to escape from the realities of death, I read to experience a greater fulness of life, and since death is a part of life, I love it when a story can acknowledge that reality in a way that resonates deeply within me.
That's just me, though. Obviously, YMMV.
I don't like it either when charecters die in books. Sometimes though the writer does not have a choice. Same goes for movies. I remember watching a movie in which the story is all in flash back after Kevin Spacy dies.ReplyDelete
Yeah in India and in Pakistan my generation was frowned upon when we expressed our love to our spouses. It is still the same with our kid's generation there. I think they are paranoid that we might become shameless.
As I read your post and then the comments, I was trying to think of a character who died in a series or book that I thought didn't need to die.ReplyDelete
And I couldn't.
So obviously, I don't care about characters much at all, or as much as everyone else does.
I didn't think Obi Wan "needed" to die -- if you think about the plot in retrospect, his death was as meaningless as Commissioner Gordon's fake death in The Dark Knight (and both of them came back for rousing scene-stealers.) After all, couldn't Obi Wan have just told Luke where Dagobah was, and mentioned (as Luke took off) that he should use the Force to target the missile?
I don't recall the details of Dumbledore's death, either, but I don't think he "needed to die."
On reflection, the only beloved character I can think of that I actually hated to see die was Charlie, on Lost. I knew he was going to die before he did -- Sweetie had read an article about it and accidentally let it slip -- so for a bunch of episodes I was waiting for him to die, and he was one of my favorite characters on that show. When he DID die, I thought it was such a great episode that even though he was dead, I didn't mind. And I went on watching Lost and got to like other characters, even though I missed Charlie.
But, then, I once said that I'd rather watch my football team lose an exciting game than win a boring one, so I'm the odd duck out, here.
If I kill someone in a novel, it's usually a character I can live without - one that causes a whole host of problems and usually not that likeable.ReplyDelete
Can't think of a character that I'm missing from a series, but the only person I can come up with is Vincent D'Onofrio. I really like that guy. Now that series wont be the same if he's not it in. Can't think what's happening with it though as I'm seeing only reruns.
Uh Oh. I'm in trouble . . .ReplyDelete
I am one of those "kill someone off" storytellers, but I make it a point to have a dang good reason for it. No whim killing. If you could handle the body list in Deathly Hallows, I think you'd still enjoy my writing.
You might want to check out my blog today. ;)
I love this post. I love it because you're exactly right that a character shouldn't be killed unless it's necessary. I know some readers have told me it was unnecessary to kill of a certain character in my Cinders novella, but to get the point across that is the entire point of the whole story, I had to kill him off. If readers can't see that, they're missing the true point of the story, or at least why I wrote it. I guess others might see it differently. Anyway, I like what you say here about killing off characters for the wrong reasons. If it's for shock factor, bad idea.ReplyDelete
*sniff* DOBBY! NOOOOO!ReplyDelete
The final Harry Potter movie was in no way enjoyable. It was just bleak and awful and I bawled my eyes out the entire time. Sobbing is not fun.
I hate it too but I know it's all rating. Nigel from Bones knew his contract with Alphas was starting so the writers of Bones used his leaving as rating advantage. That being said, writers aren't really in it for the ratings...hmm, yeah we are.ReplyDelete
And what of all those people on Alderaan? Were they all babes like princess Leia? If so why did they have to die? I think Return of the Jedi could have been a lot better with princess babes instead of Ewoks.ReplyDelete
I guess I've gotten a bit thick-skinned as I go, because I don't mind killing them off myself when it's called for, and generally tolerate it well when another author does it. There is a fine line between needed and gratuitous death, though.ReplyDelete
You have to admit though, it got funny seeing how the Red Shirt would die that episode. Sometimes death is a good cliche if your novel isn't going to be serious.ReplyDelete
Sean Bean. I am sick of directors killing him off. Slightly off-topic, but I just had to get it out there.ReplyDelete
Characters always come back in soap operas and sci-fi. I cried when they killed the original Enterprise. :(ReplyDelete
When a character is killed off in a TV series, the first thing I look for is what the actor is doing next. Most often, the actor wanted out for some reason (new project), so I forgive the writers for doing what the actor wanted.ReplyDelete
If the character was killed off for no good reason, then I'm ticked.
As for books, when a beloved character is killed off...You know, I can't think of an instance where that ticked me off considerably. I guess I haven't been reading too many tragic books lately.
Finally, someone else who was pissed off that Robb was killed! And I'm with you in that I HATED Feast and Dance with the fire of a thousand suns. I felt like I wasted my time reading them. Arg. In other news, hi! I'm a new follower. :)ReplyDelete
I agree with you! It's so sad when people are just killed off for no reason at all! It's sad, and annoying and frustrating!ReplyDelete
Now your comment on my blog makes sense! lolReplyDelete
I especially hate when characters are killed off on a tv show when the reason is due to contract issues with the actor, etc. In books, I'm mostly okay with it, even though my heart breaks. I agree with you about Robb Stark. I hated that and I didn't buy into the reason for it.
Useless deaths are useless and there's no getting around that. Killing of major characters only work when they really, really, really need to be killed.ReplyDelete
I don't mind a beloved character's death, but I hate when it's stupid, or without meaning. Jadzia was bad, but she wanted out of ST and I think they weren't sure until the last minute that she was leaving. So that might have been forced by circumstance.ReplyDelete
Tasha Yar's death was beyond stupid. I'm not sure what the behind the scenes story was with that one though. I just can't believe how poorly they did that one. Although, TNG was entirely cheesy at that time.
One thing I'd point out though, is that it can do something to a reader though, knowing that no one is safe. If you can kill off Ed Stark, Robb Stark (I won't go further in case anyone doesn't want spoilers), then I have to wonder if there is anyone that is untouchable. It gives me, the reader, a sense of unease, knowing that if I'm worried for a character, it's for good reason.
It just has to mean something, that's all.
I quit watching House after that too.ReplyDelete
I'm kind of on the fence on this one. Trust me, I hated seeing the end of half the Weasley twins and Dumbledore and everyone else who died, but if it's important to move the story forward or do something for the good of the story, then I think characters need to go. Even the ones we fall in love with.
I have a very hard time being cruel to my characters too.
The red shirts! *giggle*ReplyDelete
I have never yet forgiven Rowling for killing off Sirius Black and Remus Lupin.
Agreed! There are so many times that characters are killed off just for the emotion and it's just maddening. It should make us stop reading their stuff because it is blatant manipulation. I watch a BBC show called 'Primeval' the main character, whom the show and the story arc was built around was killed off and the show has never been the same and their too dumb to pull things back together. It's so aggravating.ReplyDelete
Aaah, yes. I have a series I loved to pieces until one of the MCs was killed off and I couldn't bear to read it anymore. The death of a character definitely has to serve a purpose other than for the sake of drama.ReplyDelete
lol. I learned early on not to get too attached to any of George R R Martin's characters. To be honest, I think the writers have done a good job when we wail over a dead character. Killing them off just for the sake of it is wrong, though.ReplyDelete
Omigod! Thanks you for saying this. I have quit so many series because they killed off my favorite character needlessly. Meanwhile, the heroine gets nine lives or amulets or ancient magic to come back to life all the freaking time but the most interesting person is just dead? GRRRRrrrr.ReplyDelete
This is always happening to me. Finally, someone has come out and said it - stop killing characters we love! Awesome post.ReplyDelete
Here, here! Stop killing them. We love them. I agree with the whole House thing--that totally sucked. Some of the other shows, I have never seen.ReplyDelete
I think the only time you kill off a character people love is if you're writing a soap opera. Because as fans, we know you'll bring them back (characters die in soap operas hundreds of times--or they come back as the evil twin).
I totally agree with you about Bones and House! I'm pissed as well and I'll share another instance...when The Next Generation killed off Tasha Yar? I never watched another episode. My sis-in-law explained to me that the actress wanted out, but I DO NOT care. I loved the Data and Tasha story, she was a strong woman who was still a woman...ya know? and there were too few characters written that way for us on TV when I was growing up - hell, there are too few characters written that way still!ReplyDelete
I enjoy it when any character can die, no matter how important they seem. Give me realism anytime over fairy tales.ReplyDelete
Lots of politics in the film industry, these days, although sometimes I wonder why they don't do more replacements instead of "terminations." Especially when the shock response ends up in loss of viewers. Getting a new actor for the role might cause people to grumble a bit at first (look at soap operas) but often they end up liking the new portrayal more than the old. Part of that "willing suspension of disbelief" I guess.ReplyDelete
I used to kill a lot more characters off in my younger writing days, when drama appealed to me above emotional impact. Now, I'm much more careful with those things. Because -- like you, Michael -- I can think of nothing much worse in the real world than a senseless death. It's so final. And if those of us who escape into fiction (writers included), in search of a world with more order and reason to it, are disappointed...
Ah, well, that's pretty final, too.
Great post, you pushed some buttons.
I totally agree. Sometimes its OK to shake things up, but when it serves no narrative purpose it makes me mad. Of course, sometimes people leave a show. In that case, just make them go on vacation like "Three's Company."ReplyDelete
I still watched after Dax died.ReplyDelete
Sometimes you can tell it's forced. That's when it really sucks.
And sorry, I killed off a main character in my first book. The story couldn't have the same ending if he lived though. So far, no one's been mad. But I have made a slew of women readers cry...
Sorry, Michael...I just wrote a response and was told by google (which deleted the comment in the process) that I have cookie problems. I wished someone would clue me in about those chocolate chips before I go completely coconut.ReplyDelete
I am about ready to put my blogspot into boxes and move to another host.
I allowed google.com on my cookies thing. Still nothing.
So, what I was trying to say was that death of a character is much like real life. We are never prepared for it, and we don't ever want it, yet it happens just the same.
A character who fades away is worse than one who dies instantly. By the time a character out-runs his/hers purpose, we reach a point of disinterest. If a character dies suddenly, we grieve (just like in real life), yet we hopefully adapt to the changes and move on.
Thanks for another great topic and sorry for being such a stranger over here in your place.
I like it. Keeps things nice and unpredictable.ReplyDelete
I don't like unnecessary deaths either. Still a little mad at Tonks and Remus and Fred.ReplyDelete
I agree on some points... but see the difficulty of preserving the lives of all potentially favorite characters is IMPOSSIBLE because every character usually has a fanbase, small or big.ReplyDelete
Also, this reminds me of the last series I read: The Hunger Games. One of the deaths at the end was necessary but I would've traded the life of the protagonist just so that girl would live on! Darn the sadistic author. <_<
I agree about Amber's death, it was pointless. And I agree that the reason for killing someone off should be good.. as it is in life.. not that you should kill people...
Finally, I wish you didn't tell me Charlotte dies at the end of Charlotte's Web. I haven't seen it yet!!! :b