TV Character Deaths

Fear the Walking Dead as on last night. I saw a headline from a TV website I follow that indicated that someone had died in the episode. I watched the episode this morning and the character who dies was an actual main cast member, Earlier this week we watched a show faster than usual because this same TV website had a headline that said this show had killed a character off. In this case they brought back someone who had not been on the show for a long time and was not a vital character and had them die in the episode. The latter is too often the case when a show decides to kill someone and I think it cheapens the storyline.

I watch several shows where characters are routinely placed in life threatening situations. Cop shows. Firefighter shows. Zombie shows, When the characters are routinely placed in life or death situations an always come out unscathed it lessens the drama of the situations. If the firefighters are in a burning building that collapses and then the next week they are all fine there is no real tension the next time it happens. Same with law enforcement people being shot or people being attacked by zombies. If you aren’t willing to kill a character here and there you lose any sense of drama in these life and death situations. It doesn’t help if you pull the stunt of bringing on a new character for an episode or two just to kill them off. There needs to be a real chance that a main character from the show can actually die for these scenes to really have any punch at all.

The Walking Dead used to be good at this. Several main characters have been killed through the years. Lately, though, it has lacked the sense that anyone is ever in any real danger That’s one of the many ways Fear the Walking Dead is not better than the original. There was no cop put last night. They could have easily ended the episode with the reveal that the character had survived. Viewers would have been happier. I think it is better for the show this way. I will miss the character, but a show like this needs viewers to believe their favorite character could die at any time.

Chicago Fire has a bad habit of ending episodes with several characters in danger and then coming back the next week to show they are all fine. They’ve also pulled the “bring in a new character to kill them” trick a couple of times. Recently, though, they actually killed off one of my favorite characters. The show runner said in the interview that they realized that these dangerous situations had to eventually lead to a big death or they lose their impact. They are right about that. Why would I care about an episode ending cliffhanger if nothing big ever happens?

A character on SWAT was just shot for the second time this season and he’s fine but they killed a new character they brought on recently instead. They just introduced another random new SWAT recruit. I am expecting him to die before the end of the season. I guess they think they can show the danger of SWAT while keeping their man cast invincible.

If you want the dangerous situations on your show to have any real impact you have to make the viewer believe something bad can actually happen. To do this you have to be willing to let character die.


8 thoughts on “TV Character Deaths

  1. This brings to mind the red-shirt characters in the Star Trek original series. If a team went to the surface of a planet, you knew the guy (or guys) in the red shirt wouldn’t make it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think the normal reason is because an actor needs some time off for another part, that’s what killed off Lance Sweets in Bones. It seems to be pretty fatal.

    Liked by 1 person

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