Within fiction there are certain codes, ingrained enough in our collective psyche that, hypothetically, if we were to end up stranded in a made-up world, we, as geeks and fiction aficionados, would sort of know what to do to stay alive.
It’s a dangerous business being a fictional character. As if life wasn’t hard enough, you’re caught and contracted into the business of propelling along a story, and that means having constant drama flung at you by the godly hands of your writers. They’ve got to keep the audience invested, see, whether that means piquing their curiosity about the future of your love life or scaring the bejeezus out of them with life-or-death suspense. My understanding of television writing comes down to this: it’s a group of people in a room with some pens and paper and a whiteboard, rubbing their hands together and going “Okay, team. How can we mess around with everyone’s lives this season?”
Not even kidding there. I listened to a seminar on it at a writer’s festival I went to, but that’s an irrelevant detail except that it allows me to waft around the fact I visit writer’s festivals and am clearly a deeply cultured human being. The point is, screenwriters are in the biz of cramming as much drama into their characters’ lives as they can to make their creations as engaging as possible. In any long running series, it’s inevitable that at one point or another they’d have to start running out. After all, there are only so many times you can raise the stakes before it gets ridiculous. When scraping the bottom of the proverbial barrel with a creative spatula, writers are often faced with the option of the ultimate dramatic device: kill off a main character.
If we’re talking about anything set in the real world, this can be a serious move that many executives, team members and fans would rebel against in terror. But if your show resides in a universe where the supernatural is putty in its writers’ hands, then you’ll find there’s much more leeway, and, as the hero, much more of a chance you’ll be horribly murdered. Because they can bring you back. Continue reading