Afraid to commit (fictional) murder

In an interesting trend media throughout its existence seems to be afraid to kill off characters, especially important ones. From "Superman" to "Sherlock Holmes" key characters die, only to return due to some thought-up Deus Ex Machina in order to both have a sad catharsis followed by triumphant victory. But is it a true victory when the loss of death is negated? In a world where characters cannot die (IE, Digimon or Pokémon), versus one where characters do meet their permanent untimely end (Game of Thrones) what difference (in message or otherwise) does the audience experience as a result and what is the overall effect each technique causes for understanding of the stories?

  • Being unable to commit to the ending of a character definitely hurts plot development... anime is notorious for it; nothing changes ( maybe something minor in 100 episodes or so). Some people (usually concerned parents not fighting against the violence in shows) address this issue saying it creates an unrealistic perspective and even de-values life itself. Kids who grow up watching these shows where characters always come back don't register the severity of certain brutalities, and in an extended way are those who don't think through their actions before resorting to gun violence (for example?). I do like how Sherlock deals with the circumstance though. John's acting clearly shows the hurt and pain behind losing someone, he keeps it realistic when Sherlock is re-introduced. – Slaidey 7 years ago
  • An interesting note with Sherlock Holmes is that he was intended to die. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wanted to end him. However, the pressure from the fans for him to return was so big that eventually Dues Ex Machina was forced to come in an save the day. While looking at this topic, consider the role fans play in preventing their favourite character's deaths. – OddballGentleman 7 years ago
  • OddballGentleman's observation is super important. I think genre is also super important in determining how much leeway we, the audience, give to Deux ex Machina. With comedies, like The Threepenny Opera (a takeoff of The Beggar's Opera by John Gay), because it's a dark comedy, we grant it the ridiculous ending. But for a realistic drama-- like Sherlock-- we need it to make sense. – meganhennessey 7 years ago

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