Let’s talk about fictional death

fictional deathWe bookworms like to become emotionally invested — probably way too much for our own good — in the lives of our beloved fictional characters. No, of course it’s not a wrong thing either but things turn really ugly when you discover that your favorite character is killed off. Or die of some kind of disease. Just how sadistic an author can be? I’m pretty sure we all have those fictional deaths we will NEVER recover from. Especially if it’s a favorite character and your heart just break to pieces each time you remind yourself that they will never get their fictional happy endings.

Despite the immense pain I feel in my heart, I admit that sometimes it is necessary for the story to progress. Often times death can be the reason for our protagonist to undergo such massive change, making him/her a much more multidimensional character. (Yeah, it’s only one of the many plot points. 🙁 ) And before I realize it, fictional death has become something that helps me determine whether a story is realistic or not, especially if it’s a dark fantasy or science fiction or dystopia. I mean, you’re rallying up against the evil government yet there’s not a single casualty? That would be amazing but unfortunately such things don’t exist in real life. Sacrifices have to be made and it’s the kind of death that touches my heart the most.

Before I got into reading though, I used to hate when my favorite fictional characters die. I mean, a movie could start so well until my main guy got eaten by monsters and it was all it took for me to hate it. “What’s the point of creating a character if you’re gonna kill them off anyway?” I guess that logic really stuck with me until I reached middle school age. I didn’t understand back then, that a character’s death can be more than meets the eye.

The pain I experience during my “fictional death hangover” phase still doesn’t lessen and it’s nice to read about your favorite characters surviving and conquering their difficulties. But throughout the years I have formed an understanding that fictional death can be essential depending on the story. It’s death and loss which evoke more emotion from me and being emotional is a proof that I care so much — for the story and the characters.

Now, the mic is yours! What do you think of fictional deaths? Do they frustrate you or do you like the meaning behind them?

16 comments

  1. I agree with what you’re saying, Kezia. I didn’t loathe it when one of my favorite characters died, but I didn’t cry. I would only cry once their loved ones found out because FEELINGS.
    I only get anxious when there’s a huge finale and I get so worried about my children! Because they are crucial to the plot and it’s just a little naive to think: “EVERYTHING IS SUNSHINE AND RAINBOWS HERE IN THIS DYSTOPIA!”
    I enjoy reading death scenes and whatnot because of the character development that comes with it. Like Jean Kirschtein.
    fuyu recently posted… otaku OST: fly high!! – haikyuuMy Profile

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    1. Haha, you’re so right about the finale thing. I think everyone worries about that, cause there’s usually a MAJOR plot twist or character death in the finale. And I know what you mean with Jean! It was sooo sad to see him grieving like that, but I guess in a way it also affected his mindset.

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  2. I can definitely appreciate a fictional death. Especially if it’s relevant to the story and the world. Like, as depressing as the end of the Harry Potter series was, I don’t think I would have bought into it if some of my favorite characters didn’t give up the ghost. The opposite of this being the ending of the Twilight series which poorly uses the All Just a Dream trope; it was such an unsatisfying ending.

    That being said, I find that I’m not nearly emotional when it comes to reading about a death compared to other bookworms. If I see it on the silver screen though, I weep for days.

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    1. True! I really appreciate a well written sacrifice. But I guess I don’t get that attached to movie characters. ANIME CHARACTERS THOUGH. They would haunt me for days xD

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  3. I think death in fictional setting is great addition of realism to the story (I’m not sure if you keeping up with TG:re but someone died there—like major one, I’m still grieving about it); so it is necessary. Possible death of character/s also poses danger, hence if you truly invested in; your care for them escalates. So I do get it. Sure I get mad at character’s death, especially ones that truly don’t make sense. And since it’s fiction I expect more exposition to the character/s before it is completely rid of from the story. Particularity major characters. I think it eases up the acceptance. Although I admit I don’t like killing off a character as sacrificial lamb to progress the story. Or for cheap shock factor. It’s bad story telling to me (but that’s only my opinion, LOL)

    (I’m not making any sense, haha). ^^;
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    1. NOOO 🙁 I’m so behind TG;re!! but then again, I purposely didn’t read the chapters for a few weeks because I was hoping I would able to read them in one go without having to wait. Unfortunately, when I did have time last holiday, I kinda spent in on other … stuff? So yeah, I have no idea what you’re talking about xD

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  4. Eh, I’m a writer so I find character deaths to be pretty necessary sometimes. I’ve also spent a lot of my time breaking down why certain things (i.e. character deaths) are essential for the plot to move on and the character to move on. I see a lot of people being pained over fictional character deaths and I kind of feel jealous of them. Most of the time I’m not that emotionally invested to be like, “oh shit nooo” but when I am I get really bummed and maybe I cry for a few minutes, but then after that I just kind of move on? It’s weird.

    Maybe it’s because I’ve dealt with death of IRL people in my life so I’m not that phased with fictional deaths.
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    1. Ahh, it’s different on each person so you’re definitely not weird! ^^ I mean, I used to be like that. But as I spent so much time on the blogosphere and reading more books, somehow I picked up people’s habits xD

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  5. I don’t think fictional deaths have ever frustrated me. I mean I can be absolutely devastated when it happens, but then I take a moment that a author wrote a character so well that their death pulled so much emotion from me. And like you said sometimes a character death is necessary to move the plot or turn another characters world upside down and trigger action.
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    1. Yep, I have a lot of respect for authors who can pull of death scenes for my favorite characters. And is it weird if I say a fantasy book is not complete until someone dies? At least that’s for me and my friend haha.

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  6. I think deaths adds more connection to the stories because well, in the real life, so many people died. I don’t really have any problems with fictional deaths (except when author kills my favorite character because FEELS) but I hate it when author kills the character in a useless death, like as a filler only and not have any meaning. There are so many pointless death in Allegiant, and I think that’s why I dislike the book 😀
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    1. I kind of get what you mean. I also prefer to read about meaningful deaths — the ones that can evoke so much emotion from me… I love Allegiant though and I’m sorry to hear that it wasn’t the book for you. Many people feel the same as you hahahaha I think I’m actually the black sheep here xD

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  7. I think they can be really powerful and add something to a story, if the death has a purpose. I don’t like it when an author only adds a death for the shock effect, because it comes out of now where and doesn’t seem to have a good reason. Sometimes it’s good to have your heart shattered and to feel sad, because it shows you how much you can care about a story and a character 🙂

    Best examples: definitely J.K Rowling.
    Mel@thedailyprophecy recently posted… Review 250. Juliet Marillier – Dreamer’s pool.My Profile

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    1. So true, Mel! That’s what basically happens to one of my favorite characters in THG and I was so sad and frustrated when his death was only like that. It was briefly mentioned and evoke little emotion from the protagonist… I may sound like a masochist but I actually like to have my feelings shattered to the ground occasionally :p

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  8. I hate when I can predict a fictional death from the introduction of the character because then it just feels like the author is painting by numbers. Generally, I like the heartbreak of a fictional death and I agree that it’s necessary for progression. Either this will be the straw that breaks the camels back (if it’s like dystopian/rebellion novel), or it’ll at least help our characters grow emotionally.

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    1. Yup, I think it’s a very essential plot point in dystopia books. I usually can’t predict deaths in books but I’m usually quite of a psychic when it comes to movies xD I guess I’m pretty oblivious when I read lol.

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