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Strife Warzeal
2012-08-03, 03:40 AM
This is something that often bugs me in books I read and shows/movies I watch. Personally, I really dislike when an author writes out the plot to have an important person die as part of the story. I know that character death, especially when they are important to the main protagonist, can be a great driving force/motivation, but it still bothers me.

So, I'm curious, what are your stances on a main character's death?

Traab
2012-08-03, 08:41 AM
Main character death can be good or bad, like any other writing tool. What I personally hate more than brussel sprouts is when the author kills off a character, then takes it back. Over, and over, and over again. Until all drama is gone. You stop worrying about whatever situation the characters are in because you know the author wont let bad things happen. Or if it does, it will just be rolled back.

Fragenstein
2012-08-03, 08:59 AM
I feel as if character death needs to be in line with the story itself. If you have a squad of soldiers going into a suicide mission and they all make it out alive...? I don't think that's right unless we're talking light-hearted storytelling or even outright satire.

If the death is not meant to reflect a world's realism or to provide motive force for the protagonist, what's the point?

SlyGuyMcFly
2012-08-03, 09:06 AM
So, I'm curious, what are your stances on a main character's death?

Depends on what is lost and gained from that death, dramatically and narratively. All too often I find that interesting characters who are on fascinating arcs die midway because the author(s) figured they needed a death to get things moving. It's a waste of a good character, that. The other extreme is, of course, when a completely story-irrelevant, uninteresting character dies and you can't care care because who the hell was that guy anyway.

It's hard to find a happy medium where the character is important/interesting enough that the audience cares enough to feel bad about the death, but not so much that they think all the fun has been taken out of the story now that said character won't be showing up again.

Tengu_temp
2012-08-03, 09:07 AM
The death of a main character can create an extremely memorable and emotional scene. Many of my favorite stories would be a tiny, or a big big worse if they didn't contain such an element anymore.

Of course, this has to be handled carefully. Making it look like the writer killed off the character to spite the audience and/or for cheap drama is a big no. Other characters getting over the death too quickly or forgetting about their fallen friend is bad too. What requires even more care is bringing the character back to life - generally, if you're not certain the audience's reaction will be "hell yeah, he's back!", it's better not to do so at all.

mangosta71
2012-08-03, 09:15 AM
It can be done well or poorly. The way it's done in ASoIaF, it doesn't bother me so much because it adds to the sense that nobody is really safe/immune. Nobody has an irritating set of plot armor that turns so many characters with potential to be great into Mary Sues.

The way it's done in comic books annoys me. Oh, Superman is dead. Just kidding! He was sleeping. Wolverine died. Oh, wait, he was just hiding behind the sofa. Someone managed to kill Magneto! Or rather, his clone, who apparently was hanging around for years without producing any evidence of his existence until he got into that fight.

Fragenstein
2012-08-03, 09:17 AM
The death of a main character can create an extremely memorable and emotional scene.

How did I not think of Mufasa the first time I posted? So perfectly done to leave me in tears every time I see it.

WalkingTarget
2012-08-03, 09:35 AM
The death of a main character can create an extremely memorable and emotional scene. Many of my favorite stories would be a tiny, or a big big worse if they didn't contain such an element anymore.

Of course, this has to be handled carefully. Making it look like the writer killed off the character to spite the audience and/or for cheap drama is a big no. Other characters getting over the death too quickly or forgetting about their fallen friend is bad too. What requires even more care is bringing the character back to life - generally, if you're not certain the audience's reaction will be "hell yeah, he's back!", it's better not to do so at all.

Best done version of this (in my opinion): Gandalf. Major hero moment when he goes out, cries of joy when he returned - but the experience has changed him and didn't seem cheap when I first read LotR in high school and is still fitting, thematically, on later readings.

Maxios
2012-08-03, 11:32 AM
If it's handled well, it can be one of the greatest parts of the work (like John's death in Red Dead Redemption)

snoopy13a
2012-08-03, 11:52 AM
It can be done well or poorly. The way it's done in ASoIaF, it doesn't bother me so much because it adds to the sense that nobody is really safe/immune. Nobody has an irritating set of plot armor that turns so many characters with potential to be great into Mary Sues.



Selectively killing off a few characters is alright, assuming that the only one killed off isn't the obvious one (the wise old mentor). My issue with ASoIaF isn't the killing off of characters, it is that too many of the characters I liked got killed off. So, I don't have much interest anymore.

So, there's a possible danger in going overboard.

Also it can be distracting:

In the "Fortress Draconis" trilogy by Michael Stackpole, the protagonist is killed off in the second book (the third chronological book as a prequel book was added). However, the death is one of those "hanging" deaths in that the character may return. The character doesn't, and this subplot kinda hangs over the last book. I'm not sure if Stackpole wanted to throw a curveball or if as the trilogy progressed, that he didn't like the protagonist's arc so he decided to cut costs and shift focus onto the secondary protagonist.

Lord Seth
2012-08-03, 12:07 PM
Main character death can be good or bad, like any other writing tool. What I personally hate more than brussel sprouts is when the author kills off a character, then takes it back. Over, and over, and over again. Until all drama is gone. You stop worrying about whatever situation the characters are in because you know the author wont let bad things happen. Or if it does, it will just be rolled back.Meh, depends on the circumstances. I thought it worked in Dragon Ball.

Xondoure
2012-08-03, 12:59 PM
Full Metal Alchemist. That is all I have to say on this matter.

*Salutes with tears in eyes*

razark
2012-08-03, 01:26 PM
Killing off major characters has been going on a long time. Ever seen Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, Julius Caesar, or Macbeth? In every single one, the title characters (and others) end up dead by the end. Would these stories be as powerful without major character deaths?

Aside from that, in real life, people die. If art reflects life, it only makes sense that, in some stories, characters are going to die.

Yora
2012-08-03, 01:44 PM
It depends on the story. Sometimes is highly dissatisfactory. In other stories it pretty much needs to be there. I know, I'm not going deep into the high art of plot writing here, but Halo: Reach is based on the premise "You already know that there will be a massive invasion and only a single ship will escape, and that this story is going to be all about watching as the last human army gets wiped out".
And that means pretty much everyone HAS to die. If they somehow escape on a tiny ship and don't make it in time to join with the characters of the main series, then the entire story does not work. And that involves main characters getting killed by a random bullet on the way to the dropship. (The only reason for disappointment is, that it happened to the one character who would probably have been the most entertaining to watch going down in a blaze of glory.)

Metal Gear Solid made major characters dying into an art. At the end I did I final tally and was all like "What? Almost 20% of all named characters are still alive?! How can it be that many?!" :smallbiggrin:
But it fits the story. It's all about people knowing they won't live happily ever after and hopefully be able to get over with it in a reasonably good way. It's a great series, because it's incredibly fatalistic but always gets some decent closure for all characters.

When we were reading Elfen Lied when it was released, a friend and I both cheered when one character was not able to be redeemed and just died when mortally injured. And then we were both quite pissed that the same character was reincarnated in the epilogue. That was not neccessary.
And in Monster there is also one of the good guys who dies. Tragically, but it's okay. But yeah, he could have been straight out of Metal Gear Solid. :smallwink:

TheWombatOfDoom
2012-08-03, 01:54 PM
I feel as if character death needs to be in line with the story itself. If you have a squad of soldiers going into a suicide mission and they all make it out alive...? I don't think that's right unless we're talking light-hearted storytelling or even outright satire.

If the death is not meant to reflect a world's realism or to provide motive force for the protagonist, what's the point?

Idea for a story: Suicide squad goes into a mission and comes out alive! The twist? They get home and the city they left from was bombed. Everyone they knew and loved died. Irony. But I like it.

PlusSixPelican
2012-08-03, 02:22 PM
I like deaths when they're done right. Example of it being done wrong:

The Dark Knight Rises: Bruce Wayne.

Evrine
2012-08-03, 02:45 PM
For me it can go both ways. Sometimes, a character death is emotionally important and lets the story go in new directions that it might not have otherwise.

Other times, when it's done it's drama for drama's sake alone. This really annoys me, especially when it's very transparent.

Dr.Epic
2012-08-03, 03:44 PM
This is something that often bugs me in books I read and shows/movies I watch. Personally, I really dislike when an author writes out the plot to have an important person die as part of the story. I know that character death, especially when they are important to the main protagonist, can be a great driving force/motivation, but it still bothers me.

So, I'm curious, what are your stances on a main character's death?

Killing off a main character isn't a bad thing. For one, it shows that anyone can actually die, something that mimics real life. Though if you do it just to evoke an emotion and make it exploitative, then it can become trite or bad.

Tengu_temp
2012-08-03, 04:02 PM
Meh, depends on the circumstances. I thought it worked in Dragon Ball.

Hah, for me Dragonball is the epitome of death scenes done wrong: there is no tension and no drama, because you know everyone will just be returned to life at the end of the arc anyway. Same with Marvel and DC comic books.

mangosta71
2012-08-03, 04:04 PM
Yes, Shakespeare wrote many tragedies. But the point being raised is that, in modern storytelling, it's become rare for non-villains to die. That's part of what triggered the reactions to the later Harry Potter books, particularly Deathly Hallows - the audience was freaked out by the good guys suffering losses because we're used to getting Hollywood endings where everyone that deserves to lives happily ever after.

Then you have games like Alpha Protocol, in which the player decides whether or not almost every important character dies. Some of those characters are friends, some are enemies, and you don't always know which camp someone falls into even after finishing the game the first time. And, of course, some can be either, depending on the choices you make as you play. It's top-notch roleplaying but the shooty bits are pretty glitchy, which drove the reviews way down.

Logic
2012-08-03, 07:10 PM
Things that usually do it poorly are comic books. The only people that stay dead are Uncle Ben, Thomas and Martha Wayne, and Jor El. (And there are even exceptions to this rule.)

George R. R. Martin does a good job with character death, but I wish that he didn't kill of so many of my favorites before what I think their character arc is done.

Battlestar Galactica did a fine job with most of the character deaths during its run. There are a few I dislike, but I won't go into detail potentially spoiling the show for the select few that haven't seen it.

Devonix
2012-08-03, 07:21 PM
It can be done well or poorly. The way it's done in ASoIaF, it doesn't bother me so much because it adds to the sense that nobody is really safe/immune. Nobody has an irritating set of plot armor that turns so many characters with potential to be great into Mary Sues.

The way it's done in comic books annoys me. Oh, Superman is dead. Just kidding! He was sleeping. Wolverine died. Oh, wait, he was just hiding behind the sofa. Someone managed to kill Magneto! Or rather, his clone, who apparently was hanging around for years without producing any evidence of his existence until he got into that fight.

The thing is that in reality Superhero deaths usually do stick. And the ones that don't usuall still last at least a couple of years.

Superman was never ment to stay dead and we were never supposed to think that. The story wasn't so much about his Death but in evaluating how the world gets on without him. The crux of the story was following those people left be hind and what happens when someone that importaint is lost to them.

Thats why the storylines Funeral for a Friend and A world without Superman were so poiniant. We were told almost immediatly following his death that he would be coming back and to wait for it.


Villan Death on the other hand never stick.

KillianHawkeye
2012-08-03, 09:13 PM
Hah, for me Dragonball is the epitome of death scenes done wrong: there is no tension and no drama, because you know everyone will just be returned to life at the end of the arc anyway. Same with Marvel and DC comic books.

Actually, the way Dragonball did it kinda worked because they had firmly established rules which limited how much a person could come back to life, at it wasn't like collecting all the dragon balls was super easy. Especially when the enemy that was killing you was ALSO after the dragon balls, and losing the fight meant losing your team's ability to bring you back to life.

At least until the end of the Frieza Saga when they got new dragon balls and the rules changed to allow unlimited ressurections, and finding all 7 dragon balls became something they could accomplish in a 5 minute musical montage.

MLai
2012-08-03, 10:41 PM
Worst character death-resurrection in my experience, ever. That was also a milestone in making me hate American comics:

Wolverine issue #78:
http://loganfiles.com/WOLVOL1num78.html
http://loganfiles.com/WOLVOL1num78-sm.jpg
In this issue, after an issue-long chase, Wolverine defeats and apparently kills Bloodscream. The entire narrative was constructed well with flashbacks explaining the pair's history, and adorned with visual and text poetry and prophesy. Cemented my respect for Kubert as an artist. Comic book as narrative art. I loved this issue as a stand-alone Wolverine tale.
Bloodscream's death was an integral epilogue to the narrative, and was done very well. He's a minor minor character AFAIC, but this issue and this death elevated his status in my memory. He had a purpose and he served it well.
Then, in the next issue, he's back to life. Completely negating everything that was prophesized in the previous issue. We don't know how he's alive. He just is.
At this point, I mentally said F U to Wolverine comics. Never bought another one again.

Forum Explorer
2012-08-03, 11:02 PM
It's one of the more powerful tools in fiction. Killing off a character can ultimately be the moment that makes a story truly epic and amazing. It can also completely destroy whatever respectability your story has.

Should it exist? Yes for without it there would be no tension. Does it need to happen in every story? Not necessarily.

For those comic book death take-backs I don't mind those if it's immediately done. Like next page it's revealed or at least by the end of the issue. It still needs to be addressed though. It can't just be ignored.

Whiffet
2012-08-03, 11:26 PM
The death of a major character can be good or bad for the story depending on how the author handles it, just like anything else. It happens to be one of the things where if it's done poorly, it's done really poorly, but it also can make a story great if it's done right.

It's hard to do it right, though.

Rake21
2012-08-03, 11:42 PM
Full Metal Alchemist. That is all I have to say on this matter.

*Salutes with tears in eyes*

Good Lord, yes. If there's one thing the series does well, and it does alot of things well, it's making the death of a main charecter feel important, emotional, and (most importantly) permanant... Especially that one everyone remembers:smallfrown:


I like deaths when they're done right. Example of it being done wrong:

The Dark Knight Rises: Bruce Wayne.

But
he didn't die...

MLai
2012-08-04, 12:48 AM
Good Lord, yes. If there's one thing the series does well, and it does alot of things well, it's making the death of a main charecter feel important, emotional, and (most importantly) permanant... Especially that one everyone remembers.
Which is... which one? :smalltongue:
I know FMAB is the author-canon anime, and basically no death in it affected me in any manner. You mean that person Envy killed? Well... meh?

1st FMA series (the non-author-canon one), however, WOW. So many character deaths I was affected by, and many of those either never died in FMAB, or died in shonen ways that you wouldn't think twice about. But in FMA, full-on emotional "OH NOOOOOES :smallfrown:" impact.

Tragic_Comedian
2012-08-04, 12:51 AM
Sometimes a death has to happen for the story to advance. Or it won't be something the author really planned, but realized was the natural course for the story to take.

Traab
2012-08-04, 09:59 AM
Which is... which one? :smalltongue:
I know FMAB is the author-canon anime, and basically no death in it affected me in any manner. You mean that person Envy killed? Well... meh?

1st FMA series (the non-author-canon one), however, WOW. So many character deaths I was affected by, and many of those either never died in FMAB, or died in shonen ways that you wouldn't think twice about. But in FMA, full-on emotional "OH NOOOOOES :smallfrown:" impact.

FMA just had a ton of heart wrenching scenes period, character death was just one of a long list. Poor Rose. Seriously, Poor freaking Rose. Its been awhile since I watched the anime, but iirc, first she is tricked by a charlatan that promises to bring her love back to life, Ed doesnt exactly help much there with his attitude. Then later on we run into rose again, and apparently she was horribly raped and abused and doesnt speak anymore, oh, and she has a rape baby too. Then I THINK Dante takes her over, or was planning to. I think she even sacrificed Rose's baby to open the gates at one point right? Her life was a horror show.



One of the biggest bits of horror to me was the time when Pride shoved a sword blade through a gap in als armor, to kill the person hiding inside of him. HOLY. CRAP. Maybe horror is the wrong word, but just the way that entire scene went down, brrr

PlusSixPelican
2012-08-04, 10:04 AM
Personally, I would undo the first couple protagonist deaths, to put people in a comfort zone...then hit them with some HARD Joss Whedon-style punch-in-the-soul character deaths I wouldn't take back. I'm not even like, evil or anything, just...yeah, sometimes people stay down.

Tengu_temp
2012-08-04, 10:43 AM
Which is... which one? :smalltongue:
I know FMAB is the author-canon anime, and basically no death in it affected me in any manner. You mean that person Envy killed? Well... meh?


I hope what you mean here is "it was much more impactful in the first anime", not "I didn't care about that character". Although while in the first anime the scene and funeral afterwards are much more emotional, in Brotherhood and the manga it has much more long-term consequences: even much later you can see that the characters remember about their dead friend, haven't forgotten him and some still haven't gotten over his death. One way or another, this is one of the best deaths in anime... except that it's not really a major character. More like a secondary one.


FMA just had a ton of heart wrenching scenes period, character death was just one of a long list. Poor Rose. Seriously, Poor freaking Rose. Its been awhile since I watched the anime, but iirc, first she is tricked by a charlatan that promises to bring her love back to life, Ed doesnt exactly help much there with his attitude. Then later on we run into rose again, and apparently she was horribly raped and abused and doesnt speak anymore, oh, and she has a rape baby too. Then I THINK Dante takes her over, or was planning to. I think she even sacrificed Rose's baby to open the gates at one point right? Her life was a horror show.


You remember slightly wrong.
Both Rose and her baby survive, and while Dante plans to take over her body, she never actually manages to do that. The rest of what happens to her is still tragic, though.

It's worth noting that in the manga/Brotherhood, the part after the whole charlatan priest thing doesn't happen. The only time Rose appears again is for a one-page cameo to show that both her and her town are fine and none of the horrible events there took place.

TheSummoner
2012-08-04, 11:23 AM
I see character death as something that becomes essential as your cast of characters grows. If a story has a huge cast of characters, but none of them ever die (or otherwise suffer something horrible), then it kills any suspense in the series. There's no risk anymore. The series becomes stale and boring (Bleach).

Character death should not play favorites. Major characters tend to have better survivability than minor ones. Why would the author spend time to build up a character if he/she is just going to die at the end of the chapter. It's fine if minor character tend to die more often than major ones, but major characters should not be given full immunity. A well executed death of a major character is incredibly memorable and usually has a major impact on the plot (The Lion King, Fullmetal Alchemist, A Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones). On the flip side of this, when "major" characters aren't particularly likable or their deaths are glossed over and have little effect on the plot or even the other characters (Black Company books) then it's just as bad, if not worse than giving them full on plot armor.

willpell
2012-08-04, 11:34 AM
This is something that often bugs me in books I read and shows/movies I watch. Personally, I really dislike when an author writes out the plot to have an important person die as part of the story. I know that character death, especially when they are important to the main protagonist, can be a great driving force/motivation, but it still bothers me.

So, I'm curious, what are your stances on a main character's death?

In books it varies, but in general I'd rather continue getting interesting moments ouf of a character, rather than just one moment of interest from their death. Though of course you can always write a prequel or something.

One of my many pet theories concerns the comic book medium. We all know nobody stays dead in a superhero comic; the writers love to milk the deaths of main characters for cheap drama, but then a new editor comes on board and wants to write about the dead character, so everything's handwaved. What I want to see one of the Big Two companies do, therefore, is openly admit in-universe that death doesn't work. Have the incarnation of Death Itself sit in a bar and kvetch about how easy his/her job used to be, and how now s/he might as well be a shoe salesman in a snake pit. I think it'd be a nice lampshade of one of the genre's inevitabilities, just outright confiding in the audience that they're aware of what they've created.

Aotrs Commander
2012-08-04, 01:04 PM
Generally, I'm against it, unless it can be EXTREMELY well justified in the narrative. At best, it's an admission that the author can no longer think of an use for the character . At worst - which has become popular into the current media's obesession with "gritty" and "realistic" (*snerk*) - it's used a cheap short cut to go "lookit, lookit, reader/viewer/player! It is the tensions and anybody can die! I'm a good writer, really I am!* which falls utterly flat, especially when done to, aha, death and especially if done to show how badass some new villain is (see: many comics, but far too prevalent in modern media of all types.)

It is completely and utterly possibly to tell a good story with the protaognists suffering minimal or no non-recoverable character losses. See: pretty much the last twenty years of my gaming life as DM, David Eddings (esp. early works), Babylon 5 (who, aside from Kosh, pretty much only lost characters as the actors left), Stargate SG-1 (and by extension, many sci-fi TV shows, for that matter), Proper Avatar (i.e. the animation, not the film of the same name, nor the live-action rubbish adaption), Star Wars's Thrawn trilogy, large numbers of Discworld novels etc etc etc etc... I wish more of the current crop of media writers would get that through their thick skulls.

Character death =/= automatically good writing or storytelling.

Forum Explorer
2012-08-04, 01:10 PM
I hope what you mean here is "it was much more impactful in the first anime", not "I didn't care about that character". Although while in the first anime the scene and funeral afterwards are much more emotional, in Brotherhood and the manga it has much more long-term consequences: even much later you can see that the characters remember about their dead friend, haven't forgotten him and some still haven't gotten over his death. One way or another, this is one of the best deaths in anime... except that it's not really a major character. More like a secondary one.



well what do you consider to be a major character? He was in pretty much every episode before he died.

Whiffet
2012-08-04, 07:51 PM
Character death works better if your story is just one story. If the movie gets multiple sequels that weren't planned out beforehand simply because the original made money (and the original was made with that possibility in mind), if the TV show has no overarching plot and each episode is unrelated to the others, if the TV show does have an overarching plot but it keeps going after the plot is over, and if the comic book... is a comic book... yeah, it's a lot harder to pull off. But if we're talking about one story, a story that is planned out (including the death) from the beginning? A story where the end is the end, no more, that's it? That's more likely to be done well.

dehro
2012-08-05, 02:41 AM
I do get a bit bored with the "yeah, you thought he'd died, but it turns out he's still alive after all". especially so in a movie
mostly because way too often it's done really badly, there is not a hint towards it for the rest of the movie until the big reveal, and becomes a bit of an asspull that kind of makes all the efforts the main character went through entirely pointless because he always had a guardian angel/backup problem-solver.
occasionally it works really well, but more often it doesn't.
other than that, I have no problem at all with the death of major characters.. except maybe in TVshows/comedy where they're part of a long running cast that will inevitably suffer from the decision of the actor to move on to other projects. But it's really a rare occurrence for something like that to bother me.

WalkingTarget
2012-08-05, 08:13 AM
What I want to see one of the Big Two companies do, therefore, is openly admit in-universe that death doesn't work. Have the incarnation of Death Itself sit in a bar and kvetch about how easy his/her job used to be, and how now s/he might as well be a shoe salesman in a snake pit. I think it'd be a nice lampshade of one of the genre's inevitabilities, just outright confiding in the audience that they're aware of what they've created.

From what I've heard, DC kind of did that with the whole Blackest Night thing.

What I'd heard was that the deal with the Black Lantern Rings were that anybody who had died was a valid wielder - therefore all of the character resurrections were part of a long con pulled by Nekron (one of DC's personifications of Death) since all of those now-living heroes, like Superman, were open to their power.

I could have been misinformed, though. I haven't read the series, myself.

HeadlessMermaid
2012-08-05, 08:53 AM
So, I'm curious, what are your stances on a main character's death?
The first stories I ever read were from Greek mythology. If there weren't a huge bodycount in the end, beginning with the protagonists, something felt... off. :smalltongue:

So, with that in mind, the main character's death only bothers me when it happens for no other reason than shock value. And when this is the case, the fiction in question is usually rubbish anyway. But if it serves an actual purpose, even if it's not handled well, I won't cry "oh noes, you killed the character! you bastards!". At most, I'll say "you idiots, you should have written that better, now you ruined it".

Cheesegear
2012-08-05, 09:29 AM
As long as the Death isn't a 'Woman In Refigerator', I'm okay with it. Certainly DragonLance would be far worse off if none of the characters in it died. Some deaths are written extremely well, and are meaningful and impact the story and characters around them. Other deaths happen without warning and without 'purpose' behind them and it's just '...and then he died.', which can sometimes be just as important as the heroic deaths because it highlights the fact that well, not everyone can be heroic.

Tanis Half-Elven's death seems to divide fans. In that it's quick, pointless, and without warning. Compared to Sturm's or either of Tas' deaths, it's kind of a slap in the face. Other people say that being stabbed by a 'random blue dude' is kind of the point. That Tanis doesn't get the hero-death he deserves. And a lot of other people just hate Tanis and that was the death he deserved.

Then, other times characters just have to die to show the passage of time, especially in those series that span many books. The main character from the first book is now 80+ years old. He has to die now because that's how life works, very rarely do people live forever. Like at the end of Raymond E. Feist's Serpentwar Saga, many of the characters die after being around for 4 Trilogies to signify that this is the end of their journey.

Devonix
2012-08-05, 10:39 AM
From what I've heard, DC kind of did that with the whole Blackest Night thing.

What I'd heard was that the deal with the Black Lantern Rings were that anybody who had died was a valid wielder - therefore all of the character resurrections were part of a long con pulled by Nekron (one of DC's personifications of Death) since all of those now-living heroes, like Superman, were open to their power.

I could have been misinformed, though. I haven't read the series, myself.

Crazy thing is that both DC and Marvel don't have nearly as many characters die and come back as they are said to have had.

douglas
2012-08-05, 10:43 AM
In books it varies, but in general I'd rather continue getting interesting moments ouf of a character, rather than just one moment of interest from their death. Though of course you can always write a prequel or something.
You should read the Mistborn trilogy by Brandon Sanderson for one brilliant exception to this. There's a character that dies (and stays dead), and the reaction of everyone else to this character's death is a critical plot element for the remainder of the series. You keep getting more interesting moments out of the character despite and even because (s)he died, in ways that the alive character would have found difficult to match.

HandofShadows
2012-08-05, 10:50 AM
Did someone mention Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "The Body" and I missed it?

dehro
2012-08-05, 11:34 AM
Dunno.. I'm surprised nobody has mentioned George R.R. Martin yet.
edit: oh wait..someone did!
also, what about every crime story ever, where one of the main characters (in the other character's lives) dying is what sets the entire plot in motion? :smallamused:

Traab
2012-08-05, 11:44 AM
Crazy thing is that both DC and Marvel don't have nearly as many characters die and come back as they are said to have had.

I think its less they die and come back, as they "die" only to find out later that they escaped somehow. "Oh yeah, the joker was in the building that blew up, but the force of the explosion launched him through a window and down an embankment. He was badly injured but is all better now and ready to resume business as usual." That sort of thing.

Xondoure
2012-08-05, 11:50 AM
I think its less they die and come back, as they "die" only to find out later that they escaped somehow. "Oh yeah, the joker was in the building that blew up, but the force of the explosion launched him through a window and down an embankment. He was badly injured but is all better now and ready to resume business as usual." That sort of thing.

But the force of the explosion would have shattered every bone in his body! :smallcool:

Aotrs Commander
2012-08-05, 11:52 AM
I think its less they die and come back, as they "die" only to find out later that they escaped somehow. "Oh yeah, the joker was in the building that blew up, but the force of the explosion launched him through a window and down an embankment. He was badly injured but is all better now and ready to resume business as usual." That sort of thing.

I think the bigger problem is them killing off less major characters, just for the sake of killing them off or to show how big the new big bad is. (E.g. Banshee.)

But to be grudgingly fair, most of the back-from-the-dead characters I've personally seen (admittedly confining my experiences to mostly Marvel and X-Men) tend to be very actually coming back from the actual dead (usualy by the Hand or resurrection magic or alien tech or somesuch.)

Xondoure
2012-08-05, 12:02 PM
I think the bigger problem is them killing off less major characters, just for the sake of killing them off or to show how big the new big bad is. (E.g. Banshee.)

But to be grudgingly fair, most of the back-from-the-dead characters I've personally seen (admittedly confining my experiences to mostly Marvel and X-Men) tend to be very actually coming back from the actual dead (usualy by the Hand or resurrection magic or alien tech or somesuch.)

I recall a time where the entire New Mutant squad got not only killed but erased from existence by an omnipotent being. Who later returned them all to existence to keep the heroes (not just x-men) busy while he sought after the meaning of life the universe and everything. (He had a machine that would make him mortal and the sensation was so overwhelming he both couldn't stand it for more than a few seconds and had never experienced anything so wonderful. Eventually he sort of became his own parallel universe for the new universe spin off... I love old comics.) I recall my favorite part of his dialogue was when he thought to himself the only reason cows don't have wings was because he didn't want them to.

Anyways there were problems. At the start no one remembered who they were, the psychological trauma wasn't something they beat over night and it took a while for them to get used to being alive again( their powers stunted until they got a feel for the new bodies.)

Aotrs Commander
2012-08-05, 12:06 PM
Anyways there were problems. At the start no one remembered who they were, the psychological trauma wasn't something they beat over night and it took a while for them to get used to being alive again( their powers stunted until they got a feel for the new bodies.)

Sometimes, they do it right - those deaths would sorta have had a point, i.e. to set up that it of drama...

But they don't do it very often these days... The stupidly high mortality rate a year or few back around the whole M-day period, for example.



Also, as a counter point to my own earlier point: Optimus Prime. Yes, even just in the Marvel continuity...!

dps
2012-08-05, 01:19 PM
This is something that often bugs me in books I read and shows/movies I watch. Personally, I really dislike when an author writes out the plot to have an important person die as part of the story. I know that character death, especially when they are important to the main protagonist, can be a great driving force/motivation, but it still bothers me.

So, I'm curious, what are your stances on a main character's death?

As others have already pointed out, from an artistic standpoint, it's just like any other plot event--it can be handled very well, very poorly, or somewhere in between. How well a particular death is handled can, of course, be debated.

As far as you liking it when it happens or not, I don't think anything anyone can say here can either validate or invalidate your personal likes.

Rake21
2012-08-05, 02:22 PM
But the force of the explosion would have shattered every bone in his body! :smallcool:

I think Mr. J says it best himself:

"Oh who cares? I've been blown up, thrown down smokestacks, fed to sharks; I'm the Joker! I always survive!"

Omergideon
2012-08-05, 05:30 PM
Character death =/= automatically good writing or storytelling.

I agree with this statement whole heartedly. The bad type of character death (or any major painful event for the good guys) is when it happens just to show how serious or grown up a work is. As in the only point is to put a stamp of "see how grown up my work is, major characters die" much like excessive swearing, nudity, drug use or anti-heroes does. I dislike this.

For me good character death requires 2 things. Firstly the character must have more use to the narrative dead than alive. It should be a better story with the death than without.
Secondly, the death needs to matter. Character death should never be throwaway in the story. Other characters should respond to the event. It should colour how they act towards other people. It needs to matter to the others in the story, and the audience.

For a bad example of death in a film, lets use the example of Norrington in PoTC. It ends up not being remarked on by the other characters as the film progresses. It adds nothing and removes one of the most complex and interesting characters in the series. The narrative could easily be altered to remove this death, and improved without it by adding another interesting person and twist to the romance plot of the ending.

Or as a good example, Mufasa in the Lion King, Optimus Prime in Transformers: The movie (1986), or Kate in NCIS. In each case the deaths ended up being major driving forces in subsequent plotlines. The drove the sotry forward and fundamentally changed things. They affected the main characters in many and varied ways. These moments really mattered. And each led to fascinating and powerful stories that could be explored very deeply. Stories that could not be told without the death.


Just how I feel (and as always, every rule has some exceptions. Few, but some)

Whiffet
2012-08-05, 05:49 PM
Well. I'd like to thank everyone posting here. I'm working on a story (realistically it will probably never be read by people, but whatever, who cares?) and there are a couple important characters who need to be killed for the sake of the narrative. Trying to work out the way to write these characters up to this point and what should come after is hard. Reading what you're all saying tells me that I'm on the right track, and I now have a couple ideas on how to make it better.

Thanks!

Traab
2012-08-05, 08:23 PM
I think Mr. J says it best himself:

"Oh who cares? I've been blown up, thrown down smokestacks, fed to sharks; I'm the Joker! I always survive!"

Has he ever met Deadpool? I ask because I swear those two would get along great.... or blow up the world with their mutual hatred. Joker is probably the closest guy I can think of to assault the 4th wall like deadpool does. Though nobody is on his level.

Devonix
2012-08-05, 10:54 PM
Has he ever met Deadpool? I ask because I swear those two would get along great.... or blow up the world with their mutual hatred. Joker is probably the closest guy I can think of to assault the 4th wall like deadpool does. Though nobody is on his level.

You're forgetting
She-Hulk
Squirrel Girl
Mxyzpidlik
Ambush Bug

All of them break the fourth wall as much or more than Deadpool.

elizasteave
2012-08-06, 01:24 AM
Probably sometimes the has to be like that and we cannot do anything. I guess everyone hates whenever this situation occurs. I have seen many plays in my life and most of the time I find it impossible whenever I see the death of the main character's death. Now its very rare that I go to watch the plays.

Omergideon
2012-08-06, 02:41 AM
Well. I'd like to thank everyone posting here. I'm working on a story (realistically it will probably never be read by people, but whatever, who cares?) and there are a couple important characters who need to be killed for the sake of the narrative. Trying to work out the way to write these characters up to this point and what should come after is hard. Reading what you're all saying tells me that I'm on the right track, and I now have a couple ideas on how to make it better.

Thanks!

I have the same issue. I was writing a story that has one character where as I prepared the tale she ended up dying. And once I had that happen I fully changed a subsequent scene so as to have the main protagonist be massively affected by it.

The trouble for me is having the energy to provide extra characterisation for this character before her death when I know she won't last beyond the end of the story. I know I need to and should do so, but it takes effort.

TheSummoner
2012-08-06, 02:49 AM
The trouble for me is having the energy to provide extra characterisation for this character before her death when I know she won't last beyond the end of the story. I know I need to and should do so, but it takes effort.

Writing in general takes effort. If you fail to give adequate characterization to a character who dies, then why should the reader care about his/her death? Up until the moment the character dies (Or is mortally wounded. Or is put in a situation where their death is guaranteed), they should be written no differently than any other character would be.

grimbold
2012-08-06, 07:04 AM
i like major character death
i think it can add a lot of flavor to the book
GoT is a prime example of this

Friv
2012-08-06, 07:35 AM
Crazy thing is that both DC and Marvel don't have nearly as many characters die and come back as they are said to have had.

I beg to differ.

DC is tricky, because they've had three major reboots in the last twenty-five years, and every time they resurrected everyone who had died, so I'm not really sure who got brought back the old-fashioned way and who got brought back via reboot. But Marvel, oh Marvel...

The Human Torch, Mister Fantastic, Thor, Captain America, Iron Man, Hulk, Hawkeye, Jean Grey (six times!), Professor X (at least twice), Angel, Colossus, Nightcrawler, Psylocke, Cable, Darwin, Magik, Northstar, Shadowcat, Punisher, Elektra, Bucky, Ant Man (Scott Lang), Mockingbird, Aunt May, Betty Ross, Black Bolt, Cypher, Daredevil, Havok, Hellcat, Jolt, Atlas, Beetle, Hercules, Iron Fist, Jocasta, Namorita, Nick Fury, Odin, Wonder Man. Those are forty that I know of, or could find with little effort, with forty-six revivals between them. That's one a year, if you space them out.

And that's just the heroes! If I get started on the villains, or on people that bounced back and forth (Magneto, say) I'll be here all day.

And it doesn't count depowerings and revivals or people "lost in time forever".

Killer Angel
2012-08-06, 08:20 AM
I do get a bit bored with the "yeah, you thought he'd died, but it turns out he's still alive after all". especially so in a movie

But sometime, it's done with style.

James Bond — 007 “Skyfall” “Everyone needs a hobby. What’s yours? Resurrection” says Daniel Craig. :smallcool:

On a more serious note: sometime, the death of a major character, is the necessary mean to drive the message home. Take Gundam - War in the Pocket.

Devonix
2012-08-06, 09:13 AM
I beg to differ.

DC is tricky, because they've had three major reboots in the last twenty-five years, and every time they resurrected everyone who had died, so I'm not really sure who got brought back the old-fashioned way and who got brought back via reboot. But Marvel, oh Marvel...

The Human Torch, Mister Fantastic, Thor, Captain America, Iron Man, Hulk, Hawkeye, Jean Grey (six times!), Professor X (at least twice), Angel, Colossus, Nightcrawler, Psylocke, Cable, Darwin, Magik, Northstar, Shadowcat, Punisher, Elektra, Bucky, Ant Man (Scott Lang), Mockingbird, Aunt May, Betty Ross, Black Bolt, Cypher, Daredevil, Havok, Hellcat, Jolt, Atlas, Beetle, Hercules, Iron Fist, Jocasta, Namorita, Nick Fury, Odin, Wonder Man. Those are forty that I know of, or could find with little effort, with forty-six revivals between them. That's one a year, if you space them out.

And that's just the heroes! If I get started on the villains, or on people that bounced back and forth (Magneto, say) I'll be here all day.

And it doesn't count depowerings and revivals or people "lost in time forever".


Sorry but a reboot isn't a ressurection its a different universe entirely and those are different characters. That's like saying the new batman movie Ressurected Bruce wayne from the previous tim burton movies.

Jean Grey died 2 times and is still dead. Hawkeye came back once Psylock never died I'll get into the others but it's time for work.

But yean Villans come back a lot. Never went against that saying.

Maxios
2012-08-06, 10:23 AM
Three things: One, Cypher died in the 80s, and wasn't resurrected until very recently. Two, I'm pretty Shadowcat never died; stuck in a space "bullet" yeah, but I don't recall her dying. Three, IIRC, Colossus never died, he was replaced with a dead clone body or something then kidnapped by a company for a reason that I have forgotten (which is sad because Colossus is my favorite X-Men member) :smallconfused:

Traab
2012-08-06, 12:40 PM
Three things: One, Cypher died in the 80s, and wasn't resurrected until very recently. Two, I'm pretty Shadowcat never died; stuck in a space "bullet" yeah, but I don't recall her dying. Three, IIRC, Colossus never died, he was replaced with a dead clone body or something then kidnapped by a company for a reason that I have forgotten (which is sad because Colossus is my favorite X-Men member) :smallconfused:

A dead clone body? That sounds an awful lot like, "They killed him, but then later on wanted to use him again." Unless we the readers knew about the clone body and it was used from the start as a story arc to find collosus, its just one of a billion ways to bring back someone the writers killed.

Friv
2012-08-06, 01:06 PM
Sorry but a reboot isn't a ressurection its a different universe entirely and those are different characters. That's like saying the new batman movie Ressurected Bruce wayne from the previous tim burton movies.

I will accept that argument. What I meant was, I haven't followed DC enough to know who actually came back from the grave and who was merely rebooted, beyond a few of the big leagues such as Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern and Batman.


Jean Grey died 2 times and is still dead.
The Many Deaths of Jean Grey (http://www.alternatecover.com/features/how-many-times-has-jean-grey-died/) lists 14. I chose only to count the three iterations where her death wasn't either part of a canonical reality alteration, or where she didn't resurrect in the same issue. That gave me deaths in 1980, 1991, 2003 and 2005. Three of those four deaths she came back from. Three revivials.


Hawkeye came back once
For everyone on that list save Phoenix and Xavier once was all I mentioned.

Psylocke never died
Died in 2001, resurrected in 2002. (http://marvel.wikia.com/Elizabeth_Braddock_%28Earth-616%29#Death_and_Resurrection)

But you made me look it up so now I'm adding Sunfire (twice), Mimic, Vision, Wonder Man, Dagger, Deadpool and the Sentry. Also sort of Captain Marvel, who was resurrected twice, but both times he re-sacrificed himself at the end of the storyline that revived him so I don't know if he should really count.


A dead clone body? That sounds an awful lot like, "They killed him, but then later on wanted to use him again." Unless we the readers knew about the clone body and it was used from the start as a story arc to find collosus, its just one of a billion ways to bring back someone the writers killed.

Correct. I absolutely count "revealed to never have died a year or more later without foreshadowing" as a resurrection.

(Also, I had remembered the end of Whedon's "Kitty fused in a bullet" arc being everyone saying that she was now definitely dead, but secondary sources seem somewhat conflicted on the subject of whether she was presumed dead or not, so I'm willing to drop her from the list.)

Traab
2012-08-06, 01:41 PM
I will accept that argument. What I meant was, I haven't followed DC enough to know who actually came back from the grave and who was merely rebooted, beyond a few of the big leagues such as Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern and Batman.


The Many Deaths of Jean Grey (http://www.alternatecover.com/features/how-many-times-has-jean-grey-died/) lists 14. I chose only to count the three iterations where her death wasn't either part of a canonical reality alteration, or where she didn't resurrect in the same issue. That gave me deaths in 1980, 1991, 2003 and 2005. Three of those four deaths she came back from. Three revivials.


For everyone on that list save Phoenix and Xavier once was all I mentioned.

Died in 2001, resurrected in 2002. (http://marvel.wikia.com/Elizabeth_Braddock_%28Earth-616%29#Death_and_Resurrection)

But you made me look it up so now I'm adding Sunfire (twice), Mimic, Vision, Wonder Man, Dagger, Deadpool and the Sentry. Also sort of Captain Marvel, who was resurrected twice, but both times he re-sacrificed himself at the end of the storyline that revived him so I don't know if he should really count.



Correct. I absolutely count "revealed to never have died a year or more later without foreshadowing" as a resurrection.

(Also, I had remembered the end of Whedon's "Kitty fused in a bullet" arc being everyone saying that she was now definitely dead, but secondary sources seem somewhat conflicted on the subject of whether she was presumed dead or not, so I'm willing to drop her from the list.)

Exactly, if the story went something like this.

Evil Bad Guy 1: "Ok, here is the plan, we shall kidnap Collosus and make his team think he is dead. Then we shall brainwash him and make him our slave."
Evil Bad Guy 2: "BRILLIANT!"

Then the fake clone death thing doesnt count as a death. If nonthing like that was said and a year later metal man showed back up and they explained it because it was really just a dead clone body, thats a resurrection.

Telonius
2012-08-06, 02:09 PM
In some stories, people are going to die. Sometimes it's people you don't know (Soldier #174 guarding the wall); sometimes it's going to be people you do know (Boromir, Gwen Stacy). Sometimes it makes sense for them to come back because it's an essential part of the plot, the character, or the mythos (Gandalf, Jack Harkness); sometimes it feels like a silly add-on (Wolverine & co.); sometimes it's something in-between (imo, Rory Williams).

Whatever, death should never be treated cheaply, and usually not as an end in itself. (I make an exception for some genres like horror, where it's often an essential and expected part of the story). Especially if it's for a secondary-to-main character. It should always do something for the plot, affect the surviving characters, reveal something about the characters, reveal something about the setting, or a combination of the above.

I've tried to take this to heart when writing my own stories. There is a character death in my book. That death is what drives the whole plot. Doing it right, is hard. (I hope I succeeded). Doing it wrong is easy, and that's why it happens so often.

Maxios
2012-08-06, 02:35 PM
Exactly, if the story went something like this.

Evil Bad Guy 1: "Ok, here is the plan, we shall kidnap Collosus and make his team think he is dead. Then we shall brainwash him and make him our slave."
Evil Bad Guy 2: "BRILLIANT!"

Then the fake clone death thing doesnt count as a death. If nonthing like that was said and a year later metal man showed back up and they explained it because it was really just a dead clone body, thats a resurrection.

I'm sorry, as a writer, I disagree with you here. Why would the writer spoil a major plot twist by showing the villains say "Oh hey, let's kidnap that metal guy and make his friends think he's dead"?
Now, if there's some subtle foreshadowing, that would be fine but flat-out spoiling the twist :smallyuk:?

Friv
2012-08-06, 03:02 PM
I'm sorry, as a writer, I disagree with you here. Why would the writer spoil a major plot twist by showing the villains say "Oh hey, let's kidnap that metal guy and make his friends think he's dead"?
Now, if there's some subtle foreshadowing, that would be fine but flat-out spoiling the twist :smallyuk:?

That works fine as long as you don't do it often. If too many characters die, and a twist reveals that they didn't die later, what happens is that when you kill a character for real everyone just yawns and files their nails.

When someone comes back from the dead in Game of Thrones, it's generally a huge deal because that happens pretty rarely. When someone dies in Marvel, everyone just shrugs and starts a betting pool on how long until they're back.

(I'm going to add Moon Knight to the list. Dust died, but came back one issue later so it's probably not a count. Doctor Voodoo died last year; anyone want to place bets on how long he's gone?)

Whiffet
2012-08-06, 03:10 PM
I'm sorry, as a writer, I disagree with you here. Why would the writer spoil a major plot twist by showing the villains say "Oh hey, let's kidnap that metal guy and make his friends think he's dead"?
Now, if there's some subtle foreshadowing, that would be fine but flat-out spoiling the twist :smallyuk:?

It sounds like the sort of thing writers make up later to justify bringing back a character. That happens often enough that if it really was planned in advance, readers need to know about it for the comic to keep its credibility.

Keep in mind that not everyone has read the relevant comics. Just hearing about it, it sure sounds like "Let's make up some plot element to bring back a character we killed!"

Friv
2012-08-06, 03:24 PM
It sounds like the sort of thing writers make up later to justify bringing back a character. That happens often enough that if it really was planned in advance, readers need to know about it for the comic to keep its credibility.

Keep in mind that not everyone has read the relevant comics. Just hearing about it, it sure sounds like "Let's make up some plot element to bring back a character we killed!"

Part of the question is whether we are discussing this in the abstract or in the specific. If in the abstract, there is a whole set of things.

If we are now specifically discussing Colossus' death and rebirth, the facts are as follows:
*) Colossus sacrificed himself in Uncanny X-Men #390, written by Scott Lobdell, which I didn't read. It came out in March of 2001, and involved him deliberately injecting himself with a deadly disease because it needed to metabolize inside someone and kill them to finish turning into a cure. He then died of disease and got cremated, and his ashes were scattered. It was pretty final.
*) Colossus returned from the dead in Astonishing X-Men #4, written by Joss Whedon, which I did read. It came out in October of 2004, and in it the team discovered that the lethal virus was only mostly lethal, and that an alien had stolen Colossus's nearly-dead body and replaced it with a perfect duplicate that was then cremated. Colossus's virus-infected body was then used to develop a drug that shut off mutant powers without killing mutants, until the X-Men found him again. Their first clue that he might be alive came in September of 2004, when they discovered strange things in the "mutant cure" that suggested it was being synthesized from someone's DNA. He went on to be a fairly major part of the next few storylines that Whedon did for his run on X-Men. Aside from Colossus's painful resurrection, and some awful stuff with the Danger Room, the series was quite good.

Maxios
2012-08-06, 03:35 PM
I liked that awful stuff with the danger room :smallannoyed:!

Friv
2012-08-06, 03:42 PM
I liked that awful stuff with the danger room :smallannoyed:!

To each their own. It was certainly still better than most of the shlock that gets pumped out by Marvel and DC these days.
I found that the Danger Room's motives started okay, but didn't gell well. More importantly, the Danger Room storyline kind of made Professor X into a monster on multiple levels. He deliberately enslaved a sentient being just 'cause, and he deliberately left a now-murderous sentient being within murder-reach of his students. Results were predictable.

mangosta71
2012-08-06, 03:49 PM
From an outside viewpoint, the inability to die and stay dead cheapens a character. Instead of their loved ones/team members saying "How will I/we go on without you?" their reaction is "See you a few days/weeks/issues." And seriously, if they're just gonna come back soon anyway, it would take a special kind of jerk to not throw himself in front of that bus/step into the nuclear reactor/whatever crisis popped up this week. The "heroic sacrifice" becomes an empty gesture. Completely meaningless if it's not final.

Traab
2012-08-06, 05:53 PM
I'm sorry, as a writer, I disagree with you here. Why would the writer spoil a major plot twist by showing the villains say "Oh hey, let's kidnap that metal guy and make his friends think he's dead"?
Now, if there's some subtle foreshadowing, that would be fine but flat-out spoiling the twist :smallyuk:?

When it happens once I agree, but when there are dozens upon dozens of scenarios where things like this happens. The character dies. Then a year or three later the writers just say, "screw it, we want him back" and make up whatever twist they can think of and bring him back, it ruins it. It isnt being done as a plot twist, its being done because they want the character back again.

MLai
2012-08-07, 05:41 AM
It doesn't matter if a character is resurrected in the very next issue; that is just as cheap. In fact even more so, because the character didn't even have the decency to stay dead for a little while! What was the point of killing him if he immediately comes back next month?!

I run into the opposite problem in my webcomics. The storyline will culminate in a showdown in which both sides should suffer numerous casualties, but I'm hemming and hawing and trying to minimize the body count. My co-artist and my idea man are both saying "This is a big fight, and this villain is completely vicious... shouldn't ppl die?" It's just I'm attached to these characters and it's hard to treat them like mooks to die unheroically in a big brawl.

But I understand that in an actual big fight, ppl actually die. Especially ppl with superpowers.

Friv
2012-08-07, 11:42 AM
It doesn't matter if a character is resurrected in the very next issue; that is just as cheap. In fact even more so, because the character didn't even have the decency to stay dead for a little while! What was the point of killing him if he immediately comes back next month?!

If the character revives in the same arc/book in which he died, I'm more willing to give the writers a pass on planning and the like. This is, in large part, because I read comics entirely in trade format, so I'm reading six issues at once every six months or so. If someone dies, and is back the next issue? That took me fifteen minutes to reach. If characters only (or nearly only) revive in the same arcs in which they die, I will end a trade with a dead guy in it saying, "Man, so-and-so is dead, that is tragic." I did this a few times in Fables, for example.

If characters routinely come back later, my response is more of a "Yeah, that'll stick. :smallsigh:"

On which note...

One more revival for Jean Grey. (http://www.digitalspy.com/comics/news/a391287/marvel-reveals-jean-grey-return-future-titles.html) Although apparently it's time travel so it might not stick.

MLai
2012-08-07, 09:23 PM
You're getting too used to comic books when you say "death is not death if it doesn't last one tp. I'll let it pass." I mean c'mon, if you just want to put a character MIA, you put him in a body cast in a hospital (see DBZ, Goku after fighting Vegeta first time), or you put him on a long voyage (Goku en route to Piccolo's home planet). You don't use DEATH. Might as well quit being a writer.

You know one cheesy genre that actually always honors death as a finality? Old kung fu movies. I'm glad I was raise right. :smallredface: I pity the ppl who was raised on comic books.

TheSummoner
2012-08-07, 09:29 PM
You're getting too used to comic books when you say "death is not death if it doesn't last one tp. I'll let it pass." I mean c'mon, if you just want to put a character MIA, you put him in a body cast in a hospital (see DBZ, Goku after fighting Vegeta first time), or you put him on a long voyage (Goku en route to Piccolo's home planet). You don't use DEATH. Might as well quit being a writer.

You know one cheesy genre that actually always honors death as a finality? Old kung fu movies. I'm glad I was raise right. :smallredface: I pity the ppl who was raised on comic books.

I find it hilarious that your example for a good way to temporarily get rid of a character is from a series that may as well be the poster boy for revolving door afterlife. I don't diagree with the point you made... Just find the source of your example funny.

More on topic, I still call it cheap if they come back right away. Bad writing isn't something you should accept just because it was planned.

Dragonus45
2012-08-07, 09:32 PM
I'm sorry, as a writer, I disagree with you here. Why would the writer spoil a major plot twist by showing the villains say "Oh hey, let's kidnap that metal guy and make his friends think he's dead"?
Now, if there's some subtle foreshadowing, that would be fine but flat-out spoiling the twist :smallyuk:?

There we have whats called a trust issue. If we have no trust that the writer is acting in good faith then we can't extend credit that just wants to let us think colosus is "dead" over colosus being dead and then it being retconed form a later perspective. Comics have used up there trust, big time.

Kitten Champion
2012-08-07, 09:48 PM
I don't care, I just never want to read another Christ analogy again. I want more Buddha analogies, perma-death is awesome.

willpell
2012-08-12, 12:45 AM
And seriously, if they're just gonna come back soon anyway, it would take a special kind of jerk to not throw himself in front of that bus/step into the nuclear reactor/whatever crisis popped up this week. The "heroic sacrifice" becomes an empty gesture. Completely meaningless if it's not final.

This is an interesting possible implication if the setting openly acknowledges the inability to perma-die, and sets rules on how it can happen (an ironclad "must have superpowers" or "must have gained the attention of the gods" kind of distinction that clarifies why Captain America can rez while Gwen Stacy's father can't...I may have my examples wrong but you get what I'm saying). But as of now, while resurrections happen very frequently, they don't happen in any consistent or reliable way, so death can still be taken somewhat seriously. It's not "death lasts forever and I don't want to die", it's "death might last forever and I don't want to take the chance". Which is kind of lame, but at least allows them to preserve a tenuous shred of drama (which is exactly why the editors keep signing off on it).

JetThomasBoat
2012-08-12, 01:32 AM
I know it's not really at all the point of the thread, but I found it kind of odd no one made any mention of cases where a character that SHOULD die doesn't and all the connotations of that kind of thing.

I usually don't think overmuch about the deaths in stories, so I'm not one way or the other, but if the death is REALLY DUMB then it will bug me. My best example of this would be Rory from Doctor Who. And it mostly bugs me because it just keeps happening. After that, I'm willing to forgive comics.

willpell
2012-08-12, 02:49 AM
I know it's not really at all the point of the thread, but I found it kind of odd no one made any mention of cases where a character that SHOULD die doesn't and all the connotations of that kind of thing.

Do you have an example in mind?

Knaight
2012-08-12, 03:00 AM
Something that hasn't been mentioned yet is stories with long time frames. If a story takes a hundred years of time in setting and is even slightly realistic, everybody in the first few chapters is going to be dead in the last few. Take Romance of the Three Kingdoms, in which literally every character introduced in the first quarter is dead by the end (in some versions, it's one of those books that gets republished a lot and that doesn't really trace to a single author all that well).

Man on Fire
2012-08-12, 07:18 AM
when "major" characters aren't particularly likable or their deaths are glossed over and have little effect on the plot or even the other characters (Black Company books)

The hell are you talking about? Black Company had handled a lot of death pretty well, entire "Soldiers Live" is focused on how soldiers are affected by death of their commrades and even before that we had a lot of good impact of death being shown to us.


One-Eye spends lot of time being obsessed about avenging his brother and once Goblin died, he broke apart and never really pulls himself back together.

In "the White Rose" Darling says that if Raven is alive, she won't forgive him all the tears she cried for him. Then in "Silver Spike" she sees him kileld again, this time for real, right after Silent's demise and it breaks her down, her last scene in the book is of her crying and begging for it all to stop. She then abbandons her rebelion because she cannot take it anymore.

Entire "Grim Seasons" is pretty much about how Murgen fallen apart when his wife died and it's clearly sticks to him through "She is the darkness".

Sleepy doesn't take Cerber's death in "Waters Sleeps" to well either.


I don't really know what you mean at all. Just because people don't cry and don't spend all remaining time in following books whining over it it doesn't mean the death didn't affected them. Most of the cast are hard-boiled professional mecenaries, they live with awareness of how short their life may be. Death still affects them, but not in the way it would affect average Joe or your typical farmboy hero.

And as for likeablity - to each their own, I loved lot of characters who have died, ome even were among my favorites.

Now, one thing I would like to mention on the topic - a lot of people seems to assume that character's death must be either heartbreaking, erve some point or at least make him go in the blaze of glory and that pointless, meaningless death or death out of nowhere is always bad. I would generally agree, except for "must" and "always" parts. You see, there are cases where giving character such death may be out of place or even ruin the tone of the story. I'm expecting deaths in serious stories about war to be pointless, meaningless and coming out of nowhere - just as most of deaths on real wars are. I want the war to be shown as hell it is, not glorious spectacle where even your death is awesome. Perfect example for me would be "soldiers Live" from Black Company series, where most of deaths could have been easy to avoid and none of them is in slightless epic or dignifying - nobody goes down in the blaze of glory. Death is tragedy that strikes whenever it wants.


One of my many pet theories concerns the comic book medium. We all know nobody stays dead in a superhero comic; the writers love to milk the deaths of main characters for cheap drama, but then a new editor comes on board and wants to write about the dead character, so everything's handwaved. What I want to see one of the Big Two companies do, therefore, is openly admit in-universe that death doesn't work. Have the incarnation of Death Itself sit in a bar and kvetch about how easy his/her job used to be, and how now s/he might as well be a shoe salesman in a snake pit. I think it'd be a nice lampshade of one of the genre's inevitabilities, just outright confiding in the audience that they're aware of what they've created.

There is a comics in which Lex Luthor meets Death of Endless and she openly admits she doesn't care about people coming back to life. At all. Considering she is death of everything there is, was and ever will be and one day will take the Universe itself, few people coming back to life aren't even worth noticing.


I run into the opposite problem in my webcomics. The storyline will culminate in a showdown in which both sides should suffer numerous casualties, but I'm hemming and hawing and trying to minimize the body count. My co-artist and my idea man are both saying "This is a big fight, and this villain is completely vicious... shouldn't ppl die?" It's just I'm attached to these characters and it's hard to treat them like mooks to die unheroically in a big brawl.

I need to know more about the story and characters to tell, but it depends on the scale of the battle, on what's at stake, on what kinds of deaths you plan for them and what's the genre, style and general tone of your story.

Traab
2012-08-12, 09:05 AM
Something that hasn't been mentioned yet is stories with long time frames. If a story takes a hundred years of time in setting and is even slightly realistic, everybody in the first few chapters is going to be dead in the last few. Take Romance of the Three Kingdoms, in which literally every character introduced in the first quarter is dead by the end (in some versions, it's one of those books that gets republished a lot and that doesn't really trace to a single author all that well).

Does that include series? I ask because Raymond Feist has a series of books that starts with Magician: Apprentice, and goes on for another 20 or so titles where it is generational. The first 4 or so involve the original cast, then their kids start to play a role while they age, then another series later and the last of the original cast, (for the most part) is dead of old age or whatever and its the kids and grandkids that take over. Eventually it goes so far that the original cast is (mostly) forgotten and its a 99% new cast that isnt even connected to the originals. Seriously, from Magician: Apprentice, to Talons of The Silver Hawk, in that book the closest thing to a connection to the original cast is something like the children of one of the long lived characters by a second marriage who doesnt talk about his family much. Some of the long running characters ARE there, but they play a fairly minor role, and the main character is a stereotypical last of his tribe type, only its a tribe that had never been mentioned as existing in the last 24+ books combined. And the Talon trilogy isnt the end, its moving on even further from there, but I have honestly lost interest.

MLai
2012-08-12, 11:03 PM
There is a comics in which Lex Luthor meets Death of Endless and she openly admits she doesn't care about people coming back to life. At all. Considering she is death of everything there is, was and ever will be and one day will take the Universe itself, few people coming back to life aren't even worth noticing.
Hurray for comic book self-rationalization?
I know what you're trying to say, but it doesn't mean ppl have to like it or swallow it from DC. There's a reason the saying goes "Nothing is certain but death and taxes." Nobody thinks of the personification of death as a laid-back teenager who acts on whim or says "Meh, who cares, I got a date so I'll let you off for 50 more years." Except comic book writers, obviously.

JetThomasBoat
2012-08-12, 11:29 PM
Do you have an example in mind?

Just a certain duel wielding ranger that the author himself wanted to kill like a trilogy and a half ago....

Xondoure
2012-08-13, 02:08 AM
Hurray for comic book self-rationalization?
I know what you're trying to say, but it doesn't mean ppl have to like it or swallow it from DC. There's a reason the saying goes "Nothing is certain but death and taxes." Nobody thinks of the personification of death as a laid-back teenager who acts on whim or says "Meh, who cares, I got a date so I'll let you off for 50 more years." Except comic book writers, obviously.

Actually death playing the long game makes tons of sense to me, afterall, even Superman will eventually stop being written.

oblivion6
2012-08-13, 02:58 AM
fixing new page error for xondoure:smallsmile:

Triscuitable
2012-08-13, 03:33 AM
If it's handled well, it can be one of the greatest parts of the work (like John's death in Red Dead Redemption)

Dude, spoilers. Holy crap.


I like deaths when they're done right. Example of it being done wrong:

The Dark Knight Rises: Bruce Wayne.

That's a very one-sided opinion. If you asked me, there's plenty of evidence that he survived. The ending for one, proves it.


Personally, I would undo the first couple protagonist deaths, to put people in a comfort zone...then hit them with some HARD Joss Whedon-style punch-in-the-soul character deaths I wouldn't take back. I'm not even like, evil or anything, just...yeah, sometimes people stay down.

I've been the storyteller for a few games in which I established an NPC everyone liked, and had him seem to be the most capable member of the party. He was pretty quickly struck down by some Wyld beasts when the party was at camp. Everyone hated me for killing him off, saying he was an awesome character who had more potential. I gave him a realistic death so it WOULD be an anti-climax. Not everyone dies in this glorifying spectacle of saving another's life, or stopping the big bad once and for all. Accidents happen; and this one did. For that reason, I'm really proud of myself.


Crazy thing is that both DC and Marvel don't have nearly as many characters die and come back as they are said to have had.

Right, because Franklin Richards totally isn't a walking Deus Ex Machina 88% of the time.


You're forgetting
She-Hulk
Squirrel Girl
Mxyzpidlik
Ambush Bug

All of them break the fourth wall as much or more than Deadpool.

That's Mxyzptlk (pronounced Mix-ee-eh-spit-el-ick). :smalltongue:

Anyways, this thread started off as an interesting read, but quickly degenerated into "DC and Marvel resurrect too many characters" (which is all too true). However, that's not what I wanted to read, so I'll leave this post here and bid you all a good day. :smallsmile:

Omergideon
2012-08-13, 05:04 AM
Was not the Blackest Night event in DC comics largely driven/affected by and aware of the trend towards ressurection in DC comics? Not the best addressing of the issue mind, but certainly interesting to see them actively look into the issue.

Though of course the trouble with long running ongoing series is that the audience often want to ressurect dead characters/do not want them to die. When you know the story will end after 7 years (a tv show) or 4 hours (a film series) it is easy to make deaths stick. They can serve their purpose in the story and have a lasting impact. But for a series with NO end in sight it gets harder to do this. Killing characters gives you a good big story to tell. But once that one run outs you need either to introduce a new character, or to bring the dead one back. New characters are risky, and often go over badly so finding a way to bring back an old fan favourite is the "smart" option.

My not too clear thoughts on the matter. Applies equally well to comics and any long running soap opera/series. Eventually stories start to run out so shocking big events (deaths) are needed. But since fans got attached to the old characters you eventually need to bring them back.

Of course were I more cynical I would suggest it is all motivated by money, not a desire to please the fans.

Man on Fire
2012-08-13, 05:17 AM
Hurray for comic book self-rationalization?
I know what you're trying to say, but it doesn't mean ppl have to like it or swallow it from DC. There's a reason the saying goes "Nothing is certain but death and taxes." Nobody thinks of the personification of death as a laid-back teenager who acts on whim or says "Meh, who cares, I got a date so I'll let you off for 50 more years." Except comic book writers, obviously.

First of all, the poster I was answering wanted to see self-realization like that, so I just told him it exist.
Second, you clearly haven't read Sandman, haven't you? Or at least "Death: High Cost Of Living".
And look at it from Death's perspective - she is one of the Endless, beings that always existed and will exist a long, as concepts they represent will be present. As long as any creature will have dreams, there will be Dream of Endless, as long as any being will long for love or sex, there will be Desire of Endless. As long as there is anything to die, there will be Death of Endless. And considering that she comes not only for living beings as we understand them, but also for planets, stars and one day will come for Universe itself, it really puts things in perspective.
Not only that, but she exist in Universe where all gods from all mythologies exist, and a lot of them have come back to life, some even more than once. yet, one day, when belief in them will fade completely, they will permamently die. Superheroes will die even sooner thant that. Who cares if they will die before and then return? In the end she till wins.

Devonix
2012-08-13, 06:11 AM
Was not the Blackest Night event in DC comics largely driven/affected by and aware of the trend towards ressurection in DC comics? Not the best addressing of the issue mind, but certainly interesting to see them actively look into the issue.

Though of course the trouble with long running ongoing series is that the audience often want to ressurect dead characters/do not want them to die. When you know the story will end after 7 years (a tv show) or 4 hours (a film series) it is easy to make deaths stick. They can serve their purpose in the story and have a lasting impact. But for a series with NO end in sight it gets harder to do this. Killing characters gives you a good big story to tell. But once that one run outs you need either to introduce a new character, or to bring the dead one back. New characters are risky, and often go over badly so finding a way to bring back an old fan favourite is the "smart" option.

My not too clear thoughts on the matter. Applies equally well to comics and any long running soap opera/series. Eventually stories start to run out so shocking big events (deaths) are needed. But since fans got attached to the old characters you eventually need to bring them back.

Of course were I more cynical I would suggest it is all motivated by money, not a desire to please the fans.

One thing about Blackest Night is that the people who became Black lanterns were people who Haven't come back to life only a very small handful of them were ones that had been resserected. and a couple were kill during that story for the express purpose of becoming black lanterns.

Devonix
2012-08-13, 06:29 AM
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_dead_comic_book_characters#List_of_dead_co mic_book_characters

I want some people to take a look at the lists,

Compare the listings of dead characters who have not come back to the list of one that have come back.

The list of one that were revived isn't even close to half of the ones that stay dead.

Dragonus45
2012-08-13, 08:48 AM
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_dead_comic_book_characters#List_of_dead_co mic_book_characters

I want some people to take a look at the lists,

Compare the listings of dead characters who have not come back to the list of one that have come back.

The list of one that were revived isn't even close to half of the ones that stay dead.

Yea, but look at the dead list and look at the live list and tell me how many of the people who died matter or are marketable in any way.

mangosta71
2012-08-13, 10:25 AM
First of all, the poster I was answering wanted to see self-realization like that, so I just told him it exist.
Second, you clearly haven't read Sandman, haven't you? Or at least "Death: High Cost Of Living".
And look at it from Death's perspective - she is one of the Endless, beings that always existed and will exist a long, as concepts they represent will be present. As long as any creature will have dreams, there will be Dream of Endless, as long as any being will long for love or sex, there will be Desire of Endless. As long as there is anything to die, there will be Death of Endless. And considering that she comes not only for living beings as we understand them, but also for planets, stars and one day will come for Universe itself, it really puts things in perspective.
Not only that, but she exist in Universe where all gods from all mythologies exist, and a lot of them have come back to life, some even more than once. yet, one day, when belief in them will fade completely, they will permamently die. Superheroes will die even sooner thant that. Who cares if they will die before and then return? In the end she till wins.
So, what I'm getting out of this, is that after the eventual heat death of the universe, this silly emo/goth Death chick will cease to exist because nothing will die any more. Because all that's left at that point will be the superheroes.

Back to more interesting stuff: aside from the Black Company series (which, as noted, has numerous examples of well-done major character death), Glen Cook is also responsible for the Instrumentalities of the Night books. The basic premise is a variation of the historical era in which the Crusades occurred; the catch is that everything that everyone has ever believed (in a religious sense) is true - all of the different gods actually exist. And, being set in the middle of a succession of wars, it has plenty of delightfully senseless death. Hagid's death on the way to deliver his message was great - most authors would have had him survive just long enough to pass the message along.

Emperor Johannes being killed by an anonymous archer, Peter getting his head bashed in by a nameless knight, Regard getting nailed by a peasant girl working a ballista; they all show the impersonality of death on a battlefield. No heroic duel, no blaze of glory. They're simply cut down like any other man.

Aedilred
2012-08-13, 10:44 AM
I thought that Lost ran the gamut of great to awful in terms of the way it handled character deaths. Some of the worst, admittedly, were as a result of Real Life Writing, most notably:
Eko, and Nikki and Paulo, obviously. In the former case the actor wanted to leave the show, and in the latter the fan-hate dictated the end for the characters.
Some of them, especially towards the end, felt like they were thrown in to end the plot quickly and didn't provide a very satisfying end to the character:
Charles Widmore, also Sun and Jin to an extent.
But there were some that were well done, too. Some were brutal, cutting off character arcs mid-sentence to demonstrate that, yes, anyone can die. The best-handled, I thought, were Charlie and Juliet
The former was foreshadowed for ages, but the way it actually happened was heartbreaking. And redemptive, and very sad. The latter was as much for the manner of it and the reactions of other characters as anything. Having wondered all break whether the character was dead, for it to be revealed that they weren't... but they were dying and nobody could do anything about it, I thought worked really well.
Plus, of course, the season finale, with the big death there:
Jack, obviously.
Some people liked it because they hated the character, some because they liked the character but it was a good way of seeing them off, some because it provided a good end for the series... I don't think anyone had any complaints about that character's death.

Knaight
2012-08-13, 12:25 PM
Compare the listings of dead characters who have not come back to the list of one that have come back.

The list of one that were revived isn't even close to half of the ones that stay dead.
Compare this ratio to real life.

Calemyr
2012-08-13, 02:08 PM
Reminds me of the Death of the Discworld. His (adopted) daughter once had this gem of a conversation with Rincewind.

Ysabel: Are you a hero?
Rincewind: A hero? ME?! No. Absolutely not. Most definitely not.
Ysabel: We get that a lot, you know. Some hero comes barging in here to save some girl. Father says we might as well just put in a revolving door, but I think it's romantic.

He really would have to install that door in a comic book universe.

inky13112
2012-08-13, 03:03 PM
Das Boot spoilers The quote under this reminds me of the ending to Das Boot. I think it worked there, though it was extremely depressing. :smallfrown:

Idea for a story: Suicide squad goes into a mission and comes out alive! The twist? They get home and the city they left from was bombed. Everyone they knew and loved died. Irony. But I like it.
I am stealing this.

I thought that Lost ran the gamut of great to awful in terms of the way it handled character deaths. Some of the worst, admittedly, were as a result of Real Life Writing, most notably:

Eko, and Nikki and Paulo, obviously. In the former case the actor wanted to leave the show, and in the latter the fan-hate dictated the end for the characters.

Some of them, especially towards the end, felt like they were thrown in to end the plot quickly and didn't provide a very satisfying end to the character:
Charles Widmore, also Sun and Jin to an extent.
I am about 10 episodes from finishing lost, and figured there was no way this was a spoiler for me. Oops. :smallredface:

But there were some that were well done, too. Some were brutal, cutting off character arcs mid-sentence to demonstrate that, yes, anyone can die. The best-handled, I thought, were Charlie and Juliet
The former was foreshadowed for ages, but the way it actually happened was heartbreaking. And redemptive, and very sad. The latter was as much for the manner of it and the reactions of other characters as anything. Having wondered all break whether the character was dead, for it to be revealed that they weren't... but they were dying and nobody could do anything about it, I thought worked really well.
I thought Charlie's death was incredibly badly done, an example of what a lot of other people have been saying about where a character is killed off just to create drama rather than in a way that makes sense. This is mostly because I thought the way he died was really stupid.

Plus, of course, the season finale, with the big death there:
Jack, obviously.
Some people liked it because they hated the character, some because they liked the character but it was a good way of seeing them off, some because it provided a good end for the series... I don't think anyone had any complaints about that character's death.
And I caught this one when I quoted you. Double oops.:smallredface::smallredface:

The higher the body count, the better is generally my take on it. A well done major character death can really make a story, and if no one dies at all it just feels too fake. This is a problem I have in alot of action movies.

HandofShadows
2012-08-13, 04:27 PM
He really would have to install that door in a comic book universe.

The OOTS Universe does have one. :smallbiggrin: http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0487.html

mangosta71
2012-08-13, 04:30 PM
The OOTS Universe does have one. :smallbiggrin: http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0487.html
Yes, but OotS is based in a D&D 3.5 world, where magical resurrection is a thing. It makes no attempt to be realistic.

HandofShadows
2012-08-13, 04:40 PM
Yes, but OotS is based in a D&D 3.5 world, where magical resurrection is a thing. It makes no attempt to be realistic.

Neither do comic books if you think about it.

Forum Explorer
2012-08-13, 07:49 PM
Neither do comic books if you think about it.

The mechanics and cost of the resurrection is a well known part of life however. I mean when Roy died they basically reacted as "eh we'll bring him back tomorrow."

They even refuse to kill a villain at one point because it's just too likely that somebody will rez them later.

Kd7sov
2012-08-13, 09:46 PM
Someone mentioned Mistborn a while back, but I think it deserves another, more in-depth look.

In the first book, Kelsier dies. It turns out that this is part of his plan to get the peasantry to rebel against their thousand-year emperor. As said emperor claimed to be a god-emperor, those who rebel (especially after his death) start a rudimentary new religion, focused on Kelsier himself. This is helped by the sort-of temporary body double (it's complicated) that Kelsier had hired to go around impersonating him to peasant gatherings after his very public death.

In the second book, a new character is introduced, Tindwyl. Though she is at first vaguely unpleasant, a certain amount of exposition and development happens such that she is quite a sympathetic character by the end. She, along with several members of Kelsier's Crew, dies in a climactic battle. This profoundly affects Sazed, her reluctant love interest, throughout the third book. Also, Elend Venture, who is by then the main character's husband, very nearly dies, in an attempt to keep the Cosmic Force of Ultimate Destruction from escaping.

In the third book, ... where do we start? Said Cosmic Force of Ultimate Destruction did escape, and is in the process of destroying the world. Untold quantities of faceless NPCs and soldiers die, along with a few better-characterized ones and the mostly-behind-the-scenes counter to the CFUD. The main character, Vin, accidentally sets half the world on fire at one point. Her husband leads a suicide force to deny the CFUD access to its full power, and dies in the process. At that point, Vin commits suicide in such a way as to simul-kill the CFUD. Whereupon Sazed, due to a chain of events launched by Tindwyl's death, becomes god and fixes everything - except, he notes, he is unable to restore anyone to life, even after fixing up their bodies.

A lot of people were dissatisfied with the ending, but the author felt that it was the best - in some ways, the only - way to tell the story right. And I tend to suspect that he was right about that.

douglas
2012-08-14, 12:04 AM
Those are some super ultra mega spoilers, there. Seriously, DO NOT OPEN THOSE SPOILERS unless you have already read the Mistborn trilogy.

The really interesting part of all that to me is the continuing influence of a particular dead character through the remainder of the series, all done entirely through memories and inspiration while the character him/herself remains dead. Specifically,
how the Church of the Survivor, founded to worship Kelsier (or, perhaps, the ideals he represented) after his death continues to be a major faction and significant source of plot. In book two, it gains quite a bit of traction and one of the main characters joins it in an effort to gain political support. In book three, it gets taken to an extreme in the city of Urteau to very interesting results. Meanwhile, there are several scenes where various members of Kelsier's crew reminisce about him and resolve to continue in ways that would make him proud.

Then there's that short period where he actually does manage to take a direct hand, communicating with Spook. And no, I'm not mistaken about that - most of "Kelsier" talking to Spook was Ruin, but after Preservation has his conversation with Elend and dies, and after Spook has taken out the spike, the real Kelsier gets a few lines in to Spook.

willpell
2012-08-14, 06:30 AM
EDIT: This is marginally on-topic but also a shameless self-plug, so spoilering.


They even refuse to kill a villain at one point because it's just too likely that somebody will rez them later.

Yes, I loved that. The relatively innefectual nature of death as a punishment is explicitly a theme in my Whiteleaf campaign. Basically everyone knows the Outer planes exist and that most forms of death send you there; if you threaten to kill someone, unless they're Evil or have significant attachments to the Material Plane (children to raise, a magnum opus to complete, etc), there's a good chance they'll just tell you to go ahead. Most of Evil's more nefarious plots don't involve killing anyone, since it's only going to give the armies of Heaven more soldiers (or at least cookie-bakers to keep the soldiers happy in between battles); instead the objective is generally to corrupt, ensnare, and enslave the virtuous into the service of Evil, and death is more likely to be a Get out of Jail card than a punishment for these unfortunates. (This is a big part of the reason why I revised Incabulos into being explicitly the Evil god of healing, as well as of disease; he wants to ensure nobody escapes from misery. Nerull, meanwhile, is just a titanic misanthrope who can't even count on being properly feared to ease his generalized hatred of everything that exists.)

Lvl45DM!
2012-08-14, 07:44 AM
Character Death is not bad. Character Death is not good. Character death just is.

The best character deaths are the ones where you hate the author for doing it, but don't think it was stupid. Most of the deaths in the original Dragonlance trilogy were like that. Cold hearted monsters that Weis & Hickman were, dammit they knew story structure.

But I think that a bad character death is nowhere near as bad as a character that should die but doesn't. Bobby from Supernatural was the worst offender of this in my opinion he really really should've died in the season 5 finale. Or in the episode of season 6 where he was possessed by the Khan Worm. All fine times to die.

willpell
2012-08-14, 09:45 AM
Character Death is not bad. Character Death is not good. Character death just is.

I feel differently. IRL, death "just is"; in fiction, this is never true, even if we're meant to pretend it is. Attempting to create versimilitude by appearing not to make choices is a lost cause; you are always killing the character intentionally, to make a point, and "this is just like the real world" is seldom a point that can be made effectively in such a blatantly non-true fashion.

TheSummoner
2012-08-14, 10:23 AM
"this is just like the real world" is seldom a point that can be made effectively in such a blatantly non-true fashion.

But that isn't the point that character death is trying to make.

The point character death tries to make is "there is something at stake." Perhaps character death is not a good or bad thing in and of itself, but having the reader realize that there is no threat, no risk, nothing at stake, is a horrible thing. The shorter the story or smaller the main cast, the more forgivable it is* because it's easier to believe a hadful of people could survive something than it is to believe dozens could. Still, there has to be some suspense. Some risk. Some danger. Death is not the only possibility, just one of the most powerful ones.

*For example, I read a book not long ago with only three characters who could be considered major. All 3 survived (but not unscathed), though a number of secondaries died. This didn't bother me.

Aotrs Commander
2012-08-14, 10:34 AM
But that isn't the point that character death is trying to make.

The point character death tries to make is "there is something at stake." Perhaps character death is not a good or bad thing in and of itself, but having the reader realize that there is no threat, no risk, nothing at stake, is a horrible thing. The shorter the story or smaller the main cast, the more forgivable it is* because it's easier to believe a hadful of people could survive something than it is to believe dozens could. Still, there has to be some suspense. Some risk. Some danger. Death is not the only possibility, just one of the most powerful ones.

The way I look at it is this. Most (decent) TV shows manage to present a credible threat week in, week out, without character death. (Not necessarily without death, but without character death.) They are still watchable.

Babylon 5, which I think stands pretty much paramount in terms of quality writing, only killed off or disposed one or two characters when the actors left - Kosh was the only one, I think, whose death what narratively ordained.

So if you, as the metaphorical writer, can't see any way at all to tell a story without major character death that is no less compelling than, say, Stargate SG-1 or CSI1 or, I dunno, the DCAU, you aren't really trying hard enough.



1Of which the two or three major character deaths were again largely due to cast changes - and that over about twenty years or so of combined seasons.

MLai
2012-08-14, 07:56 PM
Fictional death is very different from IRL death, agreed. Due to the difference between fiction and RL. In fiction, every character you introduce and give lines to, is intentional. You're putting your time and the reader's time into that character because he/she should be contributing something to the plot. Nobody is randomly there because he just happens to wake up 10 minutes earlier that day and took a different route to work. The author put him there.

Death is (should be) the ultimate nullifier. The instant death happens to a character, that character is "done" in a lot of ways. Which means everything you've put into that character up to now had better have served an overall purpose, because that's all you get. Random death is stupid if it's truly random, because you just wasted your own -and your reader's- time.

Which is why ppl before have said, "I better see the other characters react to this death, and for his death to impact future story/characterizations." If the dead character isn't still a character serving a narrative purpose, you just wasted all our time up to that point.

Man on Fire
2012-08-15, 07:17 AM
The way I look at it is this. Most (decent) TV shows manage to present a credible threat week in, week out, without character death. (Not necessarily without death, but without character death.) They are still watchable.

Babylon 5, which I think stands pretty much paramount in terms of quality writing, only killed off or disposed one or two characters when the actors left - Kosh was the only one, I think, whose death what narratively ordained.

So if you, as the metaphorical writer, can't see any way at all to tell a story without major character death that is no less compelling than, say, Stargate SG-1 or CSI1 or, I dunno, the DCAU, you aren't really trying hard enough.



1Of which the two or three major character deaths were again largely due to cast changes - and that over about twenty years or so of combined seasons.

Except that there are points you cannot make without killing characters. Again, Black Company, last book - "Soldiers Live". Entire theme of that book is dealing with death of your commrades and how common death is on the battlefield. Characters are dropping like flies and mostly bite it at seemingly random moments and it's good, because the story wouldn't work otherwise.

Aotrs Commander
2012-08-15, 07:47 AM
Except that there are points you cannot make without killing characters. Again, Black Company, last book - "Soldiers Live". Entire theme of that book is dealing with death of your commrades and how common death is on the battlefield. Characters are dropping like flies and mostly bite it at seemingly random moments and it's good, because the story wouldn't work otherwise.

Which is specific to that specific scenario, i,.e "death happens frequently in war" (which, to be honest, personally, as a lay military historian, is a completely pointless message - if I want to read about the futility, horror and mortality of war, I'll go read about WWI, but that's besides the point. I domn't read fantasy for realism1.) And in that case, random character death clearly serves a purpose, to underline the message, (which I suppose is marginally better than "to show that anyone can die/lazy way to up tension/show of how teh ubers the latest bad guy is".)

This does not mean that major character death is automatically desirable (or necessary) in other circumstances; e.g. generally escapist fiction like superheroes or Star Wars or something.

Stargate SG-1 would not have been improved, for example, by killing the major characters off periodically, nor has Star Wars post New Jedi Order series been.

Like dragons in RPGs, character death should be used very, very sparingly, and with great purpose - and MLai insightfully pointed out - be defined by the reaction of other characters (i.e. not be completely forgotten about and never mentioned again, nor buried in a slew of like events.)



1Though I do like to see the world itself to be built with an eye, if not for grounding in realism before taking off to fantasy and sci-fi, at least internally consistany.

mangosta71
2012-08-15, 08:57 AM
A Song of Ice and Fire is another story that just wouldn't work without major character deaths.

I agree that death should serve a purpose. However, in my opinion, that purpose is ruined if every important character that dies just comes back with no apparent adverse effect.

AtlanteanTroll
2012-08-15, 09:15 AM
I like deaths when they're done right. Example of it being done wrong:

The Dark Knight Rises: Bruce Wayne.

God effing dammit, let people know what you're spoiling from. I do suppose this was my own fault though. And not at all surprising. :smallsigh:

Man on Fire
2012-08-15, 10:21 AM
Which is specific to that specific scenario, i,.e "death happens frequently in war" (which, to be honest, personally, as a lay military historian, is a completely pointless message - if I want to read about the futility, horror and mortality of war, I'll go read about WWI, but that's besides the point. I domn't read fantasy for realism1.)

With all due respect, first of all, that's message is much more complicated, don't judge the book you haven't read.

Second, just because you may not like this message, doesn't make it any less vaild or interesting to read for other people. I may want to read about futility, horror and mortality of war in fantasy and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that and I dislike how you imply that only your way of doing fantasy is the good one. People may look for different things in fantasy, to each their own, don't be a douche about it.

Third, I need to adress that argument "I don't read fantasy for realism". Yes, you do. Do you want people to act in a way you can understand and relate to? Do you want them to have motivations and make choices you can relate to? Do you want them to feel emotions and follow lines of reasoning you can comprehend? That's realism. Wizards throwing fireballs, dragons and all other staples of fantasy that are impossible in real life? That's willing suspension of disbelief. These two things aren't mutually exclusive. Just because I read a story about dragonslayers fighting half-demonic black dragon god from the abyss beyond time doesn't mean I need to ignore the fact that female warrior who wants to prove she is as good as male fighters is dressed like an exclusive, exotic prostitute, or that I need to tolerate that wars are won insultingly easy and without losses on the good side (or that there even is clearly good side in every war).

Fourth, I know it's specific to that specific scenario, it's an exception fro mthe rule. I'm not arguing that all deaths should be like in "Soldiers Live".

Fifth, don't use the word "escapism", people who read fantasy for entertainment and not to escape from problems, may find it to be offensive. I am such person and I do.


This does not mean that major character death is automatically desirable (or necessary) in other circumstances; e.g. generally escapist fiction like superheroes or Star Wars or something.

Stargate SG-1 would not have been improved, for example, by killing the major characters off periodically, nor has Star Wars post New Jedi Order series been.

The guy I was answering for make general rule he belives should apply to death in fiction. I pointed out that there are exceptions, cases where that rule doesn't work. Why are you acting like I demanded every death to follow what applies to those exceptions? Why are making false dichotomy "either you kill characters with caution and following all the points or you kill them like flies right and left" like it wouldn't vary depending on the type of story? As they say, only Sith deals in absolutes. You said yourself, Black Company example applies to very specific case, bringing up completely different cases won't undermine my point in any way.


Like dragons in RPGs, character death should be used very, very sparingly, and with great purpose

My entire point is that from every rule there are exceptions. I want you people to acknowledge that what you're saying may be good in general, for most of cases, but not in every case.


be defined by the reaction of other characters (i.e. not be completely forgotten about and never mentioned again, nor buried in a slew of like events.)

Funny thing, because that's pretty much what Soldiers Live is all about.

Aotrs Commander
2012-08-15, 10:58 AM
With all due respect, first of all, that's message is much more complicated, don't judge the book you haven't read.

I apologise, Man on Fire, in general for coming across as overly snippy today; I just seem to be having snippy, irritatable sort of day today, for some reason I can't quite fathom. Try not to take what I say to heart too much, especially today, when I'm just being overly cranky. (And my mental editing is not up to par. I've caught myself nearly being quite obtuse with the likes of Thanqol so far today...)

As I have spent more time arguing with people on the internet today than is probably wise or helpful to anyone, or the topics at hand, you'll have to forgive me if I just address a few points, mostly to apologise...


Second, just because you may not like this message, doesn't make it any less vaild or interesting to read for other people.

I never said it didn't. (I said "personally" as I always do when venting my own particular, subjective opinions.) That was not my intention, in any case.


Fifth, don't use the word "escapism", people who read fantasy for entertainment and not to escape from problems, may find it to be offensive. I am such person and I do.

To be honest, I rather dislike it myself, but I couldn't think of a better phrase to express what I was thinking. Apologies. Particularly bad call.

*slaps wrist*

Will try to do better.


My entire point is that from every rule there are exceptions. I want you people to acknowledge that what you're saying may be good in general, for most of cases, but not in every case.

I don't think I have ever used an unqualified statement that it is always bad - and if I have, it's more likely a slip of the text, as I try not too. I did say "not automatically desirable", meaning there are exceptions.

Calemyr
2012-08-15, 11:43 AM
In my opinion, character death should be treated like swearing in a narrative. It has a place, but for it to have effect its use must be handled carefully. Use it too much, use it without the proper context, or use it just for the sake of using it, and the effect is lost. However, failing use it in a situation that calls for it is no less destructive to the narrative.

Whiffet
2012-08-15, 12:48 PM
In my opinion, character death should be treated like swearing in a narrative. It has a place, but for it to have effect its use must be handled carefully. Use it too much, use it without the proper context, or use it just for the sake of using it, and the effect is lost. However, failing use it in a situation that calls for it is no less destructive to the narrative.

That's actually a really good comparison.

Mutant Sheep
2012-08-15, 08:55 PM
God effing dammit, let people know what you're spoiling from. I do suppose this was my own fault though. And not at all surprising. :smallsigh:

What he said. :smallannoyed::smallsigh:

Lvl45DM!
2012-08-15, 09:25 PM
In my opinion, character death should be treated like swearing in a narrative. It has a place, but for it to have effect its use must be handled carefully. Use it too much, use it without the proper context, or use it just for the sake of using it, and the effect is lost. However, failing use it in a situation that calls for it is no less destructive to the narrative.

Oh so much this.

But what i mean by my Character death just is statement is basically this. Character death can be really badly done, or it can be the most important part of the story or it can just be there. I mean killing off villains technically counts as character death and main character death at that depending on the villain.

VanBuren
2012-08-16, 01:09 AM
I hope what you mean here is "it was much more impactful in the first anime", not "I didn't care about that character". Although while in the first anime the scene and funeral afterwards are much more emotional, in Brotherhood and the manga it has much more long-term consequences: even much later you can see that the characters remember about their dead friend, haven't forgotten him and some still haven't gotten over his death. One way or another, this is one of the best deaths in anime... except that it's not really a major character. More like a secondary one.



You remember slightly wrong.
Both Rose and her baby survive, and while Dante plans to take over her body, she never actually manages to do that. The rest of what happens to her is still tragic, though.

It's worth noting that in the manga/Brotherhood, the part after the whole charlatan priest thing doesn't happen. The only time Rose appears again is for a one-page cameo to show that both her and her town are fine and none of the horrible events there took place.

Not to say that Brotherhood is lighter fare...

Horrible things just get foisted on different people