Shame Day: Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, and Writers Who Kill Everyone

Before we get started I should probably give the obligatory warning about spoilers. Spoilers below, beware! [Seriously, there are a lot of spoilers -Ed.]

So, I watch Game of Thrones.

I watch it for the awesome female characters, although a little begrudgingly. I mean, do they have to put boobs in my face EVERY SINGLE EPISODE? It’s like the writers are sitting around and realize “Hey guys, we don’t have any of the main characters’ boobs in this episode! What are we going to do?” and then the guy in the back of the room is like “Why don’t we set another scene in a brothel!” and everyone goes “Oh yeah, great idea.” Seriously, I challenge you find me two episodes in a row without boobs.

Anyways, all boob rants aside (since I’ve already covered female nudity in the past… pun intended), there is a certain appeal to Game of Thrones. It’s complex, and features well thought-out characters. Although have you noticed that they have this tendency to KILL EVERYONE YOU’VE EVERY LOVED?

If you don’t believe me just watch this video of people watching the episode affectionately titled “The Red Wedding”. I should probably give you a heads up about strong language in some of the clips.

I also kinda sorta watch The Walking Dead, although with that one it is SUPER begrudgingly. Usually what happens is I walk by John watching it, so I start watching over his shoulder. Then I get sucked in so I sit down next to him. Then I start getting attached to a character. AND THEN THEY DIE, GRUESOMELY.

Or they do something terrible and unexpected, and then they die gruesomely.

Movie/television death scenes make me cry like crazy, and I really hate crying in front of people. John also happens to think it’s really funny to watch/ point it out whenever he catches me crying because of a TV show, so when that happens I have to pinch and/or punch him until he looks away. Needless to say, it causes unnecessary duress to both of us when a character dies.

rrmartinI realize that the “anyone can die” trope isn’t totally new. And there have been quite a few shows that have killed off one or two main characters really effectively. There is even a part of me that can’t help feeling a little respect for writers who can kill off beloved characters without a single care. Then there’s this other part of me that is worried this may be a new trend.

Just look at how it’s spreading into comedies. Like the HIMYM finale that “shocked” it’s watchers by killing off “the mother” that the show is named for. Or the time Family Guy killed off Brian, only to bring him back from the dead not long after. Apparently, even the Simpsons will be killing off a main character soon.

These are comedies, so what is the point of these key character deaths? Are they really all just gimmicks to catch our attention?

It’s beginning to make me wonder… is the constant shock of another character’s death really all it takes to keep a TV show running?

I’m looking at you Lost. Way to make us watch six years of irrelevant relationship building.

I’ve already reached the point with several shows where I have given up on caring about the characters, and therefore the show itself (i.e. The Walking Dead). I have also come to terms with having an occasional character knocked off here and there in dramas, but can’t they leave the comedies as a safe zone from the realities of life? Or am I going to have to get used to the cheap attention-grab of constant character deaths in all my TV shows? Because I’m getting mighty tired of it. It’s like an interbreeding of reality TV and an actual plot.

What’s next? We start voting fictional characters out of TV shows?

How is anything ever going to happen if all they do is kill people off?

3 responses to “Shame Day: Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, and Writers Who Kill Everyone

  1. I’m pretty sure family guy did it just as a parody of comics.

    • Having watched the episode and done a pretty thorough write-up of it, I have to say that it doesn’t really feel like that for me personally. Contrasted with most of the big comic book deaths [Batman, Captain America, etc.] there’s no big heroic send off for Brian. He just dies, and everyone is sad. Even Vinny as the replacement family dog doesn’t really appear to be a callback to Dick Grayson or Bucky Barnes taking on the mantle, just a new pet to fill the void.

      “Subtle” and “parody” don’t really go together, and if their intention was to poke fun at that trend they didn’t do the best job of it.

  2. I think it comes down to a couple things…. First, has the death been earned? I don’t mean characters who’ve been so horrible and cruel that you want them dead, but more generally. For example, to dive into Game of Thrones, before the Red Wedding, there are a couple events that show Rob Stark making big mistakes in a high stakes game. Executing Lord Karstark and breaking his vow to Walder Frey lose him a lot of support. To a lesser degree, trusting Lord Bolton was also a mistake, although I can’t blame him too much for this. Anyways, I think the show did a good job of showing that he wasn’t destined for success before it all came back to bite him.

    On the other hand, the Mother in HIMYM was hardly earned. After nine years of build up to how she was so great and perfect and then BAM. Dead. I would have been fine if they’d left it at that, ie, the whole reason Ted is telling this long winding story is “in memoriam” …that kind of makes sense to me, but to follow that with “oh well, might as well go back to my ex!” was ridiculous.

    It’s not to say that an out-of-the-blue death can’t be effective for certain things, but not on a major character whom you’ve invested a lot in…which leads me to my second point: pay-off. At the end of the story, you want pay-off. You invest time and emotion into the characters, watching them learn, grow, love, struggle…you want it to mean something in the end. A happy ending is an easy way to do this, but not the only way. If you invest years (in the case of some tv shows) into a character, just offing them leaves you feeling like it was all for nothing, and what a waste of time. You at least need a death that means something…that impacts the story somehow. It can’t just be for shock value.

    Anyways, that’s my thoughts.

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