Does Death still Mean Anything in Media?

With many shows and movies introducing elements that enable characters to warp time and reality, do character deaths still mean something if the audience knows they can be brought back to life? Marvel is infamous for killing off characters and then bringing them back. At what point do dramatic death scenes begin to lose their meaning?

  • I approved this topic, but I think it would be helpful if you mentioned Marvel in the title rather than just "media" (since you mention it as a sub-category anyway). Messing with continuity seems like a major issue nowadays with TV revivals and reboots being all the rage. Entire story lines and characters can be discarded or resurrected depending on whether they suit the present needs or not. That includes dramatic deaths, as you mention. Now we, as an audience, are often made to feel as though a character's death may not really be the end for them. Does this make character deaths less poignant? It certainly makes audiences more hopeful and perhaps more open-minded . . . but yes, I do think it can deflate the meaning of mortality in the media we consume. – aprosaicpintofpisces 6 years ago
  • Other examples include Doctor Who and the CW Arrowverse. But here's a possible angle: if a character really does die and then comes back, they probably come back changed. Rory Williams came back as a plastic Roman. Sara Lance and Thea Queen developed bloodlust. This draws into question whether characters should warp time and reality to bring someone back. If their temporary deaths have any meaning it's because other characters and the audience have grown attached to the dead characters, so of course we want them back. But is it worth the price? – noahspud 6 years ago
  • I think that this topic needs to be narrowed down to what tv/movies/books that you want to talk about. the term media is too general. – Sean Gadus 6 years ago
  • I agree with the above about specificity, but not in the type of media. This topic would probably be better if there was clarification on whether this is about rebooting/retconning with deaths or if this is a more general comment on time travel/reverse causation powers in sci-fi and fantasy, or a philosophical discussion on the deeper implications of time travel, or something else. – tedytak 6 years ago
  • Thanks to the abundance of split timelines, alternate realities, and the like, I have all but completely lost interest in both Marvel and DC comics. A world of infinite possibilities opens up a lot of interesting stories to tell, but it does reach a point where death starts truly meaning nothing. It's hard to get invested in the stakes of a story when you know the story can (and will) just reach into another dimension or go back in time to get itself out of any negative situation. – Dimitri Adoniou 6 years ago
  • In "realistic fiction" death usually sticks, but in sci-fi and fantasy there are many ways around it. My favourite fantasy show, Once Upon A Time, made it a rule early on that magic can't resurrect the dead yet wound up making several exceptions. I fear the effect it has on the audience is that it may make people have a harder time accepting death, both in fiction and in reality. Many fans of Once Upon A Time, for instance, simply refuse to accept characters like Robin Hood being permanently dead. – Dawe 6 years ago

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