Killing Off Main Characters

Some of your favorite shows, movies and entertainment thrive on keeping you on the edge of your seat, through the anticipation that your favorite could have their ticket punched at any time. While it is not a new concept, it’s usage has gone up exponentially. The surprise of a fan favorite or main character has even been dubbed after one of the recent T.V. examples, “Pulling a Game of Thrones”.

While far from the first, game of thrones utilized this method to leave the viewers with shock value or build up walls to not get too attached. Walking Dead similarly shares no character is safe, and deaths are permanent. Both series have extensive and detailed, written back story, but take liberties to change events and try to still surprise the watcher.

Soap operas have done this even longer, but takes the opposite route of killing off characters conveniently, only to return or bring them back later. The T.V. series friends pokes fun at this idea, when one of the main characters, Joey, is written back into a soap opera “Days of our Lives” after being formerly fired. This is done by the character Joey is playing received a brain transplant from long standing character within the show.

These actions drive plot through reactions of others within the screen. Sometimes a plot device to bring revenge, depression, or fear to the survivors of the event. Sometimes killing one character to give a message to another (still can’t get over the loss of Charlie from Lost).

Rare cases, an actor from the show passes away and the show runners try to respectfully have the character depart from the show as well. This unfortunately circumstance is understandable and it has to be handled delicately.

Is this tool used too much? Does that make it ineffective? My first two examples utilize it and move on, they would likely be left feeling incomplete without these dire consequences for out favorite heroes. However while these shows succeed with it, do not carbon copy the model. New shows should learn from it and try something different to keep the audience engaged.

At the end of the day, when we all sit down on our couches to watch our favorite shows, we are just looking for something exciting and new. Not the repeat of the same episode just done with a different set of characters. Keep it fresh.

2 thoughts on “Killing Off Main Characters”

  1. I don’t have a problem with killing a character if the plot calls for it, but I hate shows that kill characters just for some sort of shock value
    P.S. Please excuse typos in the comment – the font Is white on a white background so I can’t see what I’ve written

    1. I appreciate the comment. I agree that shock value is not a good trade off. There are so many other options to get that same shocked satisfactions.

      Thank you for calling out the issue with the comment box as well. This should be resolved now.

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