Monday, April 7, 2014

Putting down characters... can we do it? Should we??

HALLIE EPHRON: I feel for the writers of Downton Abbey and The Good Wife. They found out that their hunky male supporting actors were not signing up for another season.

Instead of letting them go gentle into that good night, both series killed the characters off. In Downton, Matthew went out in a car crash after visiting his newborn son. Will Gardner went out in a hail of bullets in the courtroom, shot by his own client. Both deaths: wrong place, wrong time. Leaving fans stunned, Lady Mary and Alicia Florrick grieving, and the shows' writers scrambling.

Fortunately our fictional characters can't up and decide they don't want to be in our next novel. But what if they could? What if Peter Wimsey's Harriet Vane had announced she'd had enough. Or Spenser's Susan?  Or Stephanie Plum's Joe Morelli?

Can you even imagine: What if one of your main characters, the love interest for example, suddenly telling you he's had enough? What kind of havoc would it wreak?

Honestly, most of us kill characters off with every book, right? But it's very hard. Very. And I admit I don't get too attached to these victims before I dispense with them. It would be truly awful if a main character decided he or she had had enough. I would be very tempted to let them go quietly.

Say have Miss Gloria move to Michigan to live nearer her sons. Or Wally decide he needed to be nearer his mom, or better still, offer him a fabulous job in Miami or New York.

But if the writers are going for tension, and angst, Matthew's death sure torqued things up. And Sybil too. But as a viewer, I hated those turns. And it simply wouldn't have worked to have Matthew decide he'd had enough of the marriage.

RHYS BOWEN: It's funny that you've posted on this topic today, Hallie, because I've recently had letters from fans saying that I should never have let Molly Murphy marry and that her marriage has spoiled her freedom to operate as a detective. One of them suggested I kill off Daniel.

But I couldn't do that, and leave Molly grieving and trying to raise a child alone in the hostile world of New York City.  And for every one reader who wants Daniel out of the way there would be a thousand who'd attack me for killing him off.

I know from experience that killing off a love interest means angry readers who probably won't read our books again.
And I'm still angry about Matthew's death. I thought the whole driving force behind the plot of Downton was the Mary/Matthew romance. Once that went we were left with nineteen actors in search of a plot and we still haven't found it..

SUSAN ELIA MACNEAL: Am I the only Red who thought killing off Downton Abbey’s Matthew was a good idea? Didn’t think so at the time, but I love how this past season it forced Lady Mary to change and grow — and challenge her father’s authority and thus the patriarchy, mirroring other gains women were making.

Also, young widows in that era have a peculiar power. Not virgins, not married, and not crones, they have a certain freedom that other women of the era don’t.

As far as killing off my own characters goes, all I can say for now is — fasten your seatbelts, kittens; it’s going to be a bumpy ride….

HALLIE: WHOA! You heard it here first, folks!!

DEBORAH CROMBIE: Susan, you are a tease. And I love all your main characters.  Now biting nails...

And Rhys, no, you can't kill off Daniel. I'd never forgive you. But I did love A City of Darkness and Light where Molly got to manage on her own again. But that is a dilemma for a woman in Molly's time.

I wouldn't kill off any of my main characters. I hope I've managed to come up with enough drama in the series without doing that. But I have been very emotionally attached to characters who have died or been murdered in specific books, and it's HARD. It feels like a real emotional loss. There have times when I've really had to push myself to write through it...

JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: I haven't killed off any romantic interests...yet. I shouldn't tease, though. I hate as a reader when I become invested in a relationship and then the lovers don't get their HEA (Happily Ever After, for those of you not conversant with Romancelandia terms.) On the other hand, I've read lots of books where the "love interest" looks more like the author being forced to throw in a guy or a gal because the editor wanted a relationship. In that case, sure. Kill 'em off.

That being said, I've killed off some very nice secondary characters, people who in no way deserved to have anything bad happen to them. Why? Because the story demanded it. Also, if you're trying to create a reasonable facsimile of life? You're going to have to include injustice, cruelty and death. 

I agree with Debs, though. It's hard. I remember writing the next-to-last chapter of my third book and crying the whole way through. 

HALLIE: So what do you think? Will killing off Matthew or Will turn out to be a good thing for Downton Abbey and The Good Wife? Should we feel less precious about our supporting characters and cast their fates to the wind?


Joan Emerson said...

I’m still waffling on the killing off of main characters in a television series . . . I may dislike the act, but the writers are stuck with the decision of the actor who chooses not to return to the show. Of course, there’s always the dreaded re-casting of the character . . . . Obviously, most of Downton Abbey’s viewers kept tuning in; I expect those who enjoy The Good Wife will continue to watch --- there’s probably enough angst on the show to keep the story going, even if it now needs to move in another direction . . . .

I’m on board with killing off secondary characters in a writer’s series; after all, murders are a staple of the mystery genre. But please, don’t tease me with getting the two characters together, leaving me anticipating their happily ever after, and then kill off one of them. [I stopped reading the books of the last author who did that.]

Susan Elia MacNeal said...

OK, does anyone else watch Game of Thrones (season premiere last night)? George R.R. Martin is the king of killing off characters in unexpected ways....

Hallie Ephron said...

Every time I try to get into Game of Thrones my head spins from all the characters and kingdoms and stories... and then BANG, Ned Stark, man of honor gets taken out. I only read about Red Wedding.

I wouldn't even want to walk on the set of that show. No one is safe.

But they are working from BOOKS... with plenty of people who know what happens and who'd be plenty annoyed if it didn't.

Like with Harry Potter, the moviemakers couldn't have bumped off Hermione.

Alyssa Maxwell said...

I'm with Susan about Downton Abbey! I hated when Matthew died (I was glad I already knew it was coming) but Mary is a much more interesting character now. But there was really no other believable way for Matthew to leave the show. I think when that's the case, the writers have very few options.

Anonymous said...

Fascinating premise! Thelma Straw in Manhattan - where lots of folks get bumped off!

Kristopher said...

Believe me, the readers of George RR Martin's books (and I am a devoted one) are just as angry at the killing off of characters. If you thought watching The Red Wedding was gut-wrenching, just try reading that section after spending 3000 pages with those characters.

I think there is something to be said for the unpredictability of killing off a major character. If done right, it can cause the reader to re-evaluate many things (both in the story and in real life). I am not sure I ever "like" it when it happens, but if it comes from an organic place, I respect it.

George RR Martin has succeeded in that, and I would venture to say that one of the many reasons those books are so popular is that readers are always looking for something unexpected and new and not knowing if a character is going to survive (and having a record of killing off beloved folks) can keep readers really engaged.

Yes, I love Castle, the tv show, but no matter how much tension they create, I always know that Castle and Beckett will get out alive. Even when Beckett was shot, there was never a question she should be fine. A little more potential for risk wouldn't be a bad thing. (This is not the best example, because the show could not continue without both of them).

The organic part is important however, as Elizabeth George discovered when she killed off a beloved character. It sort of came out of nowhere and readers WERE NOT happy. I understand the need, but it did hurt and I would have liked more lead-up to it. But then, it was very realistic. Sudden death by violence is usually a total surprise.

Susan Elia MacNeal said...

Kristopher, it's lovely to meet another GoT fan. As much as I hate the character deaths, when I think about it, I can see why Martin did it in every single case. It's fascinating.

Hallie, you may want to give it another try. Yes, all the Stark sons looks alike (they're brothers, after all), but once you figure out who's who it gets easier...

Tammy said...

I had an interesting situation in that I'd given my protagonist a love interest in book two, but then I realized I had a problem: Kate (my racecar driver) is 25 and at the start of her career. She simply isn't ready for the love of her life. So in book three, I'm getting him out of the way for a while in dramatic fashion.

But I wouldn't call him a main character, so I'm not sure how attached people are to him.

I may hate it as a reader (viewer) when I'm attached to someone ... but it mirrors life in many ways, doesn't it? Sometimes rotten, unfair stuff happens and people are left to pick up the pieces.

Kristopher said...

Susan, are you a fan of both the books and the HBO show?

I have been fascinated to watch how they have translated these huge books (successfully!) to the screen.

I thought that I would get bored, since I know what is coming, but that has yet to happen.

And yes, I am in the camp who wished GRRM would write faster - only because I need to know what is happening with some of my most favorite characters.

Mary Sutton said...

"George R.R. Martin, Joss Whedon, and {I forget third name} walk into a bar -- and everyone you've ever loved dies."

I've still not forgiven JK Rowling for three of the deaths in DEATHLY HALLOWS - even though I understand the story reasoning (maybe). If Ramona D-L reads, she'll know who I"m talking about!

I too dislike killing main characters - especially ones I've really bonded with, or characters who battle through, finally are on the cusp of their HEA, and then bang! I thought Game of Thrones was going to be all about Ned Stark. Um. Well.

I once told someone that I loved my main characters for my mystery series and was advised that if I loved them, I needed to kill one of them. But I don't think I could do it. Torture, yes. Kill, no. I'd rather they exit gracefully.

Triss said...

Like every one else, I hated it when Matthew died on Downton Abbey, but I sort of agree both that Mary is more interesting now and that the story has opened with good results.Remains to be seen about Good Wife. I am struggling with this right now in WIP. The two editors who saw my synopsis both questioned the first death and so does my writing group, all because they find the victim to be so appealing.That's a good thing, right? But we write mysteries. Someone is going to get hurt! (I might settle for a coma instead)

Ramona said...

First, I will never get over the death of Fred Weasley. Never. I know it had to be done, but still. Fred. *sob*

Sybil's death on DA was extremely effective and touching. I was on the edge of my seat, saying, "No, no, no," even though I knew about halfway into the scene she had to die. The set up was too strong for them to back away. If she had lived, I'd have been furious, because the emotional manipulation would have been a cheap betrayal and toying with viewers... When Matthew died, I think my response was, "That was stupid." Because it was not at all subtle, and I don't like being hit over the head with a hammer. So maybe I am all about the delivery?

I am in a big personal dilemma about killing a pet in a story. People are much easier.

Dana King said...

Killing off a regular character can serve two purposes. Not only can it inject life into a series by forcing changes, it also keeps the readers alert to the fact that no one is safe. All readers know the main character is not going to die in a series book. Knowing this can lessen the tension, but there's no good way around it for the main character. No one else should be safe, though. It increases the tension of many key scenes.

I once killed off the main character in a standalone. The beloved Spouse begged me not to. A member of my writers group even wrote "I hate you for this" in the margins. On the other hand, a writer whose work I admire and whose opinion I respect wrote to tell me that ending are hard, and I nailed it; it was the best way for that story to end.

Of course, this may be why my books have sold well into triple digits, too.

Hallie Ephron said...

Dana King, you were brave. Killing off the MAIN character... talk about tough love.

Ramona, NOT THE PET! They made my book NEVER TELL A LIE into a Lifetime movie (AND BABY WILL FALL) and I've never forgiven them for killing the dog.

Hallie Ephron said...

Triss: ah the problem of the appealing victim. You're right, who cares if a creep gets offed.

Mary Sutton, love that joke!!

Tammy, sounds like that's a character who is important TO your main character... which (hate to say it) means it would be interesting to see what happens if you knock him off.

Hallie Ephron said...

Wondering if anyone else knows about the fuss that got kicked up around Dickens killing a character in "David Copperfield?" It was published first in magazine segments, and when David's first wife (he thinks of her as a "child wife") suffers a miscarriage that sends her into a long illness from, apparently fans lined train platforms eager to see in the magazine's next edition whether Dora died. (she did)

Mary Sutton said...

I looked it up. Stephen Moffat is the third name in that joke.

Lisa Alber said...

As a reader/t.v. watcher, I don't get pissed when main characters die. I find it exciting -- what's going to happen with the plot now? I'm with Susan on Matthew. Remember when Elizabeth George killed off Detective Lynley's pregnant wife? I thought that was brilliant. He was much too content.

And Game of Thrones -- WOW.

I'm only a fledgling serial mystery writer. Will I kill off a main character ... ? I have a feeling I could do it if it was organic to the larger arc.

Deb Romano said...

I read fiction to escape from reality. If a beloved character is killed off, it's just devastating! Sometimes I continue reading that author's books, sometimes I do not.

The killing of Matthew in Downton Abbey was one death too many for me, and I no longer watch the program. Since I don't have TV at home, I mostly had to wait until the season was over so I could buy the DVDs. Sometimes I was fortunate enough to watch the program at someone else's house. I have no plans to purchase the DVDs anymore. This year I didn't even miss the program!

At least when Joss Whedon killed off a beloved person in Buffy, that person would occasionally show up later on!

Kathy Reel said...

Since I am completely attached to all of your main characters, especially the couples, you have me shaking in my boots at the mere mention of a kill off. Seriously, you all do the dynamics of your characters' relationships so well that it never gets boring and adds so much to the stories, which are always fascinating. So, please don't take a page from Downton Abbey on that particular aspect.

Another show to watch if one wants to build up an immunity to main character deaths is The Walking Dead. Yes, I am a fan and not ashamed to admit it (lol). About the only character that has any guarantee of survival at all is Rick, but don't be the farm on that. Zombies are very unpredictable. There's even an after show, The Talking Dead, in which fans fear the appearance of one of the actors there means he/she will be killed off on the show. The show is an excellent tutorial on letting go. And, I've heard the horror stories about Game of Thrones.

Rhys, I love Daniel and Molly together, as I am certain your true fans do, so please keep with your present train of thought on them. And, one additional plea to all Reds, don't break my heart, please!

Kathy Reel said...

That should have read, "don't bet the farm on it."

Pat D said...

Yes it is tough to lose a character you love, in books and TV. My sister and I kibbitz on certain shows. We are usually in agreement: we hated when some of the characters on Walking Dead were killed. We thought Matthew's death was almost funny: he looked absolutely demented driving down the road before he got wiped out. Still hated that he survived Mary and the war to be taken out that way. But as a result Mary is forced to grow. Sybil's death was heartbreaking. No contest there.Julia, I have to go back to that third book to see what you're talking about. My memory is shot! In Lucy's Appetite for Murder I was worried about the missing cat and I'm a dog person!

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

I never liked Will. I'l just say that. I thought it was "brave" to kill him off..but whoa, I was happy with it.

Game of Thrones--LOVE IT! And I applaud George RR Martin every week! I could watch it over and over--it is SO terrific.

Hallie Ephron said...

All well and good, Hank, but dish: could you kill off Jake?

Vickie Radford said...

Well, reading all these comments has reminded me just how many characters have died on TV shows I love. And I do like Mary better this season, so I will join those thinking it was a good thing for her character. You get used to losing characters on The Walking Dead, but I will never get over the Red Wedding.
It just seems more difficult to accept when a character in a series you have read for years dies.

Ramona said...

Hallie, I recall reading a story about people waiting on the docks in NY for a ship to arrive from London with the latest installment of the magazine. When Dora was dying, the docks were jammed with people calling out, "Is Dora dead?"

Dickens tried out a number of schemes to get his work out to a wider audience, including serializing his novels into weekly and monthly installments. I imagine he'd fit well into the current publishing industry. He'd be all over FB and blogging like a madman!

Hallie Ephron said...

That's it, Ramona! I think your memory of that story is better than mine.

Love the idea of Dickens blogging. For sure we'd invite him on Jungle Red.

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Could I kill off Jake.

Well, that is interesting.

Between us? :-) I have thought of it. I have thought of killing him, moving him, linking him with someone else (not as outrageous as you might imagine...)

I could also get rid of him by connecting Jane with someone else...and then easing him out of the picture. Only to return, because..hmm. Now THAT's not a bad idea.

But even though the covers say "A Jane Ryland Novel" --I do think of them as Jane and Jake books. HOwever. life is not always predictable.

HOw would you all feel about that?

Mary Sutton said...

Hank, I think I could bear Jane and Jake not getting together IF you have a really compelling reason why.

Killing Jake? Well, I'd be sad - but it better not be a decision made lightly - and again, better serve a really good purpose.

Denise Ann said...

The headlines are shocking: "Death comes to the murder mystery!" Actually, I think killing a MAIN character would kill a series, but it would make Stephanie Plum's life easier if either Joe or Ranger were blown to bits.

Judy in Owego said...

I would not have chosen to lose Will in The Good Wife, but I thought they did a good job showing how the characters we know handled their emotions: Cary got angry and “matured” a bit, Kalinda did her sort of thing, and Diane handled the new hire and the old client with perfection. And somehow I don’t think Alicia will mope as Lady Mary did.

Reine said...

Hallie... fun post!

I think there is a huge difference from killing off a character in a novel and killing someone off on a TV show with the exception of shows or films based on books. Don't you hate when the filmmaker deviates wildly from the book, especially when you've gone to see the film because you loved the book!

I may be very disappointed, possibly angry, or even shocked by the killing off of a character in a novel, especially in a series I am very attached to. But on a TV show like Downton Abbey or The Good Wife, while I may at first be shocked, these feelings are followed immediately by the thought that it was all about contract negotiation.

Kathy Reel said...

Hank, are you trying to throw me into deep anxiety? I have enough of that with the Final Four game coming up tonight, and my Kentucky Wildcats going for their 9th NCAA men's basketball title. Jane and Jake work perfectly together, and I am waiting for them to figure out how to have the personal with the professional. Please don't kill off Jake. I might be able to have Jane be with someone else for a bit, but I will always want her and Jake to get together at some point. It's your fault, you know. You've made them both so irresistible.

Reine said...

Hank, I am very fond of Jake, but invested in Jane as a character. If you were to kill off Jake, it would not be unreasonable given his line of work. But Jane? No. You would have to be seriously and deliberately ending the series. None of us wants that!

Hallie Ephron said...

Judy, Alicia probably won't mope around but I'd bet money that she's going to leave Mr. Big.

Reine said...

Debs, I'm glad you won't kill off any of your main characters, because the way you have paired them off and integrated them into the world of your stories, they have become structural. I think that world would collapse for the reader were you to do that.

Kristopher said...

Killing off Jake would make me very sad. :(

But I certainly see some serious potential for Jane and Jake NOT being together.

I would actually like to see them with others (similar to Castle and Beckett for a while there) so that they can realize that they really do belong together and need to find a way to make it work.

Judy in Owego said...

Hallie, that's what I'm thinking, too. I would have left him long ago, but then my life is much duller than hers -- and (happily) not fodder for a TV show.

Mark Baker said...

Susan - I'm not at all surprised that one of your main characters is going to die. I know where your series sub-plots are going after all.

As to killing off characters...I hate it! And I'm getting disgusted with TV shows that feel they have to make the show "realistic" and kill off a main character in the final few episodes of the show. Burn Notice and Nikita are just two recent examples. As others have said, I read and watch TV to escape from reality. I don't want realistic in my fiction. I want happy ever after.

I don't watch either of the shows mostly being discussed here, but this did happen just last Sunday on Once Upon a Time. Having reflected on it, the death isn't as bad as I thought, especially since the writers didn't know what to do with the character. But I still don't like it.

Joss Whedon? I am watching Agents of SHIELD despite the fact that it is one of his shows. I hated his ending for Buffy, Angel, and Firefly/Serenity specifically because he killed people off (and left us hanging in every show, too.) Do it too often, and I will stop watching/reading.

No, I don't have strong feelings about this, why do you ask?

Hallie Ephron said...

You certainly don't, Mark!

Lucy Burdette aka Roberta Isleib said...

Kathy R, about the Final Four--I am definitely rooting against your Wildcats! Thrilled that both men and women Huskies are still left standing--though having to stay up way too late to watch the games. But I digress...

Pat D, you weren't the only one worried about Evinrude the cat. I was soundly scolded for Hayley not making more of an effort to find him. I know how important he is to her, but I guess I didn't do an adequate job of showing that.

So Ramona, be careful about hurting the pet!

Grandma Cootie said...

Great subject today - on 2 blogs I am following.

It's a lot different for me if it's TV or a book. On TV, we know the "real life" stories and often actors leave because of contract disputes or to move on or whatever so I get caught up in the story but then again I don't. Seems to me it's often clumsy or contrived though, or vindictive ("you're leaving the show Matthew? I'll give you a stupid death and you'll never come back, so there."). When that happens I just stop watching. Also loses a little of the tragic impact when the actor immediately gives interviews (Carter on Person of Interest) saying how she never intended to be in a series anyway, she's a MOVIE actor. Some shows get rid of characters on a regular basis and it seems to work. By the end of MI-6 only Harry was left standing, and of course no woman could ever move on to the Ponderosa, Ben & his boys only. Usually it works better for a series finale. I found the Burn Notice ending okay because it was the end of the series so I wouldn't have to worry about those characters any more, but I had stopped watching Burn Notice the year before the end when Michael's brother was killed - just one more senseless way to get rid of a character.

In a book, sometimes it makes sense and is done so well (Duncan's ex-wife, sad for Kit but perfect for the story). But if Gemma goes, I'm out of there! Yep, Haley's neighbor Miss Gloria would have to move up north. No death and no pet deaths! But now that I think about it, moving Jake out of Jane's life might work the way Hank describes it. Amazing how you have written him so well that we are totally engaged with him but could also do without him if that was the right thing for Jane.

I guess I just get more immersed and lost in books and feel like I'm going to such a familiar place. Don't want too much change. Leave that stuff for the standalone books.

Deborah Crombie said...

What an interesting discussion today! (Debs here, checking in from a gray and not very cold Chicago.)

I couldn't quarrel with Julian Fellowes killing off Matthew with Dan Stevens having refused to renew his contract, but--I've never forgiven him for doing it so heavy-handedly. I always thought the incredibly sappy speech Matthew makes just before he leaves Mary in the maternity hospital was Fellowes revenge against Dan Stevens:-) Just awful.

I have to admit I've only seen the first episode this season, but will probably agree that Matthew's death allows Mary to grow in interesting ways. I don't think the "happily ever after" in their case would have been very interesting, and Dan Stevens probably knew that.

And I have to admit I don't watch The Good Wife, or The Walking Dead. And have only seen the first two seasons of GoT because we don't have HBO. Yes, people do die violently in GRRM's world, but I couldn't stop feeling that I was being manipulated for the shock value.

PS Mary Sutton, LOVE the joke! But on a serious note, I think Joss Whedon lost his mother when he was very young, and when someone important (and beloved) dies in one of his stories, I always feel he's trying to find a meaningful way of dealing with a life-long issue, and I'm okay with that.

Marianne in Maine said...

I, too, thought GoT was going to be all about Ned Stark. I was totally blown away by that result. I have the books but haven't read them and I don't have HBO so I'm a year behind watching them when they come on Netflix. I knew the Red Wedding happened but din't know what it ntailed. Wow! Another blown away moment.

All of your books have us totally invested in the main characters. Part of the appeal is learning how they grow in their relationships. I would hate to see one of them die. For instance, if Gemma or Duncan went away I can't see how I would be drawn to the next book. If Darcy died...I don't even want to think. And not Jake!

Susan Elia MacNeal said...

Kristopher, I have read GoT, but only up to where we are in the TV series... Those are long books!

Mark, in all seriousness about killing off characters, I think it would be highly unreasonable to have a fairly large group of people go through World War II, doing dangerous things, and have all of them make it to the end.

That just doesn't seem either realistic or truthful.

That said, I probably came off as a bit flip in my post. Of course I'll be sad to see certain characters go. (Others, especially awful human beings... not so much.)

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Well, this is SO interesting to hear!

First thank you--it is astonishing that you even KNOW JAke and JAne, let alone care about them. It about makes me cry. (Thank you Grandma Cootie and Kathy and MAry and Reine ..oxoo)

As for your very wise suggestions, Kristopher, that one of them become interested in someone else--well, now, you'll just have to read TRUTH BE TOLD, won't you???

NancyM said...

There are lots of ways of "killing off" characters without making them permanently dead. When I need a break--or, more likely, when my series gets too full of secondary characters-- I send somebody to jail. Or overseas to study. Or someone fakes his own death for a while. My editor asked me to get rid of a pet (!!) so a needy kid came along who took the dog off to New Zealand. Whatever strategy a writer uses--it's a way of thinning the too-thriving herd, juicing up the story, of giving the protagonist either a fresh start or something new to chew on. So I vote "yes" on killing Matthew. He and Mary were just too damn happy. (Although the new BF and Mary throwing mud at each other in the barnyard----I bet that scene read a lot better on paper than it did on screen. Oh, dear, what a cliché!) Send Jake off to London for a year of advising the Brits. ;-)

Diane Claus said...

I was ready to never read another of Ann Cleeve's Shetland series after the shock of Blue Lightening. But I took a breath and jumped into Dead Water. One needs to see the progression of the plot, the setting and the characters to connect to the big picture. But...if Perez was offed, I'd rethink my alliance seriously!

Susan D said...

I think when a author kills off a major character, they're giving notice to the reader that no one is safe and nothing is sacred. That puts the reader on guard. No more smug assurance that the surviving characters will make it to the end of the series, or even the day.

And Ithink that's a good thing.

Hallie Ephron said...

Agatha Christie killed Poirot... but only when SHE was running out of steam. And so no one else could write about him.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle tried to kill of Sherlock Holmes but bowed to the outrage of the great detective's fans.

Charlie M said...

For me it depends on the reason behind killing off a character. In the case of Downton, both actors had wanted to leave the show and I think both deaths advanced story possibilities for other characters (Mary & Tom) so I was okay with it.

If done merely for shock value I may wonder about the sense of it. Taking Rhy's case for instance, I don't think killing Daniel would make sense other than from the standpoint of shock. I like the idea that Molly finds ways to do things having to work around both the constraints of society as a whole and Daniel's viewpoint of "a woman's place" in that time period. I think it makes for an interesting story point.

I do read a series where two of the main characters are elderly ( in their early 80's) and it would not surprise me if one died. It would be kind of weird for years & years to pass and have these people still jaunting around solving mysteries at 100 (though my own grandmother was still pretty spry up to her death at 106).

Since she was mentioned I will also cite Elizabeth George's killing off a main character. I love the Lynley books and am still trying to decide if the death advanced the character of Lynley or not.

Ellen Kozak said...

Hallie, I'm so glad someone finally mentioned Conan Doyle killing off Sherlock Holmes and having to bow to popular pressure and bring him back.

Hank, I'm so glad someone besides me did NOT like Will. I thought he was icky (and yes, that's the perfect word).

Am I the only one who remembers Tasha Yar on Star Trek: The Next Generation getting eaten by a tar pit with no warning? That's what real life is like.

But it doesn't work if the other characters go right on without a mention or any mourning. Tom, on DA, has done a great job of missing Sybil.

The daytime soaps are great at bringing back dead characters, in the form of doppelgangers (evil and otherwise), misidentified bodies, amnesiacs, etc. Apparently their fans eat it up. Chacun a son gout.

Bonnie said...

I just have to say I was absolutely pissed that Elizabeth George killed off Helen Lynley. She was one of the brighter lights in that series and now she's gone and Lynley is so depressed and dysfunctional, it's not fun to read about him any more. Thank goodness for Barbara Havers.
Please keep Duncan and Gemma safe - I feel very protective of them and their little family. : )

Mary Sutton said...

Deborah, I did not know that about Whedon. I actually think he's got that "nobody is safe" thing down and as sad as some of his deaths have made me, (Wash and Book!), I think he did it for the truth of his story and I applaud that. Because yes, when you write about police, or war, it is kind of silly to think that everybody makes it through safe and sound. But make the death *mean* something.

Hank, you silly person, of COURSE I know who Jane and Jake are - and now you've got me worried. Yes, I'm a sap - I do like a little HEA in my fiction. Real life can be depressing enough.

Someone died in Burn Notice? I may have to watch to find out who. We stopped watching that in the final season because the plot just got too ridiculous.

Kristi said...

Mary, I think the joke may have been: George R.R. Martin and Joss Whedon walk into a bar and everybody dies. Then Steven Moffat walks into the bar and everybody comes back to life. :-)

Has anyone else heard ominous rumblings that "This is the seasons when GoT (the show) really diverges from GoT (the books)"? Argh. Bad enough with True Blood... (and Ms. Harris has done some killing in her mysteries!)

Can't believe no one is bringing up Hunter's Moon by Dana Stabenow. That book scarred me for life, and her most recent in the series is not helping much...

Jackie Baugh said...

In the case of Matthew, I think it better that they killed him off rather than re-casting. There was no way actor was coming back as he got the opportunity to produce his own movie.
But then I'm a major AGOT fan, and once I got over the initial shock of George RR killing off Ned, I've grown to like these huge surprises. Just wish he'd write faster...
There's at least one mystery series that could benefit greatly from the demise of a major character, but Deborah Crombie, it's certainly not yours! Please don't get any ideas!