I don’t know about the rest of you, but there are certain fictional characters that I don’t think will ever die. Whenever a character is in trouble, whether in movies, TV, or books, my mind instantly judges the likelihood that something will happen to them. There are some that, no matter what odds they are facing, I know will always come out alive. Of course, this does not apply to comic books or soap operas, as they have made their livings off of killing characters off and bringing them back (usually with explosive amnesia).
A good bit of danger is a good thing for a story most of the time. It heightens the suspense and builds the drama. However, as you can tell from the previous paragraph, it doesn’t always work on me. There are a few reasons that I might look at a situation and think, “That character will make it out just fine.”
One: That character is the show/movies/books.
For example: Castle. Any time Richard Castle was in trouble on his show, you knew Beckett, Ryan, or Esposito was going to bail him out. There’s no way they would kill him off. You can’t have a show called Castle without Castle.
Two: It wouldn’t make sense to the story.
Sometimes there’s just too much left to do before they can kill off a character. It might work later on, but it’s too early to do it yet.
And Three: Sentimental reasons
Granted, this one is very hit or miss. After all, it’s not based on any logical reasoning. This is just the reader/viewer praying that they don’t kill off someone that, though fictional, they have grown fond of. Or it’s someone who has already gone through so much that you don’t feel like they should have to go through more. Or you don’t want that character to die because of what another character will have to go through because of it. Regardless of the reasoning, it’s still something that is subjective to the reader.
Sometimes, though, the writers do the uncool thing of killing them off anyway.
This line of thought from me comes from the book I just finished reading. It’s called The Bone Tree by Greg Iles. In it, there’s a situation where two of his characters are in trouble. Going in, I thought to myself that I knew one of them was about to die…. it just ended up being the one I thought was going to live.
The reason I thought that character would live was reason two, I thought that character had more story left in them than the other. I felt like it didn’t make sense to have them die there. After finishing the book, I realized I was wrong.
Having that character die at that time changed things profoundly, and in ways that made the story much more interesting.
Well played, Greg Iles. Well played.