Killing Characters

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When Characters Come to an End

Recently, a popular character was killed off in The Walking Dead. When popular characters are killed off, there is often a lot of backlash from fans. How does this affect a show’s success? Does it turn fans off? Or are they pulled in even further by the unpredictability of the show?

  • It would probably be helpful to note that shows like Heroes and Lost were at first applauded for their frequency of character deaths, but in Heroes case it is often credited by fans as one of the reasons they quit watching. – Austin Bender 6 years ago
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  • Another very popular show that does this is Game of Thrones. Both the Walking Dead and GOT have strayed from their book/comics when it comes to deaths and that is something that bothers the readers who watch the show. – diehlsam 6 years ago
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  • I think there are a few different things to consider, here. Part of it is the marketing of the show and the target audience: is this an "arc" show with larger, connected storylines, or an episodic show meant to be feel-good and regular? Is the death played up (Who dies on this weeks episode?!) or is it treated as just another plot point? Was the death meaningful to the plot, relevant to real-world problems (actor lost their contract, etc.), or thrown in as a "surprise" ending to an otherwise dull episode? What I suppose I'm saying is this: the context and presentation is what defines the worth and reaction to a characters death, and it would be interesting to see some examples explored in terms of their real-world consequences. – Christopher Vance 6 years ago
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  • I think it would also be important to maybe talk about the aspect of how fans themselves might have a roll in who stays and who goes. For example in Lost, the fans disliked the characters of Nikki and Paulo so much that the writers decided to kill the characters off the show. – BlueJayy 6 years ago
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  • It depends on exactly why a character was killed of a show but when it is a very well loved character, fans tend to not look at the reasons and get angry. There are realistic aspects to consider, such as a shows budgeting and the actor themselves and what other work they are involved in. Then there are fictional aspects to consider and maybe their death was necessary for the continuance of the plot, maybe that was their purpose. Unfortunately, people do not take the time to look at these reasons and when a favorite dies, the show becomes dead to them. – ktartaglione 6 years ago
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  • An interesting sort-of exception to this is possibly Doctor Who, which "kills off" its main character every few seasons in a sense, but keeps him eternally alive in another sense. Sure, the Doctor is "regenerating," but he's the same character. It's only the actor (and the actor's take on the character) that changes. It would also be interesting to look into how that particular situation affects audience perception. – AnneKopas 6 years ago
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