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Killing off characters?

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message 1: by Doctordalek (new)

Doctordalek I just read another thread where people were complaining about George R R Martin's habit of killing off major characters. I actually really like this, since it comes as such a surprise and breaks the same old good guy beats evil formula. I am reading book four of ASOIAF now and love the suspense of knowing that nobody is safe.

So I have a humble request for other Sword and Laser-ers. Would you be so kind as to suggest some books or authors - aside from GRRM's Somg of Ice and Fire - where main characters unexpectedly get killed off? There is no need to give any details that could be a spoiler. I'll just read whatever is recommended.

Thanks!


message 2: by Stan (new)

Stan Slaughter | 359 comments I hear that the movie "Serenity" did something like that :)


message 3: by Doctordalek (new)

Doctordalek Stan wrote: "I hear that the movie "Serenity" did something like that :)"

Yes! Excellent suggestion! I just watched it again not long ago.


message 4: by Richard (new)

Richard | 221 comments Joss Whedon is known for killing off major characters, although he has been known to bring the really important ones back. The key is that he will sacrifice supporting characters loved by the fans when the story demands that level of emotional impact. Buffy the Vampire Slayer on DVD.

Japanese anime like Macross will also do this. It's a war, lots of people die & are replaced. I never understood the GI Joe cartoons where everyone got shot down but no one was ever killed in battle.

I can't think of any books that get you invested in a major character only to kill him off & then continue with the story.


message 5: by Doctordalek (new)

Doctordalek Cool, I will check out Buffy and Macross. It is funny, as a kid, it always bothered me that any time a jet or tank got hit in GI Joe, the guy inside always managed to eject or jump out.


message 6: by Tamahome (new)

Tamahome | 6252 comments A major Star Wars character controversially dies in R. A. Salvatore's Star Wars: Vector Prime.


message 7: by Rik (last edited Jun 10, 2012 11:43AM) (new)

Rik | 777 comments Mistborn: The Final Empireby Brandon Sanderson has a surprise death in it.


message 8: by Doctordalek (new)

Doctordalek OK, I've got two more to add to my list. Thanks!


message 9: by Tamahome (new)

Tamahome | 6252 comments Check out the film 'To Live and Die in LA'. :)


message 10: by Rikki (new)

Rikki (queenrikki) | 50 comments Rik wrote: "Mistborn: The Final Empireby Brandon Sanderson has a surprise death in it."

I was so annoyed buy the deaths in that series (not in a "that was shit way" but in a "I don't like being sad way).

Honestly, I don't really like character deaths. I tend to grieve for a fictional character I like the way most people grieve for real people (and some will say vice versa). That's sort of why I bailed on Game of Thrones (the book) as soon as I saw the writing on the wall.


message 11: by Kim (new)

Kim | 477 comments Tamahome wrote: "A major Star Wars character controversially dies in R. A. Salvatore's Star Wars: Vector Prime."

That was very sad and hard to read. My fiancee refuses to read it.


message 12: by Tim (new)

Tim | 380 comments I knew Ned Stark would die in GoT as soon as I saw Sean Bean was playing him.


message 13: by Kamil (new)

Kamil | 372 comments As long as G.R.R martin is involved, death of a character is nothing sure


message 14: by Stan (new)

Stan Slaughter | 359 comments Kamil wrote: "As long as G.R.R martin is involved, death of a character is nothing sure"

Except you CAN be sure a character will die.


message 15: by Christian (new)

Christian If you you are going to watch buffy you should add Angel. Awesome series.

Neither SciFi nor Fantasy but another great TV Series is The Shield. Very bitter end.


message 16: by Kamil (new)

Kamil | 372 comments Richard wrote: "Joss Whedon is known for killing off major characters, although he has been known to bring the really important ones back. The key is that he will sacrifice supporting characters loved by the fans ..."

in macross I really cried when one of the pilots got shot down


message 17: by Joe Informatico (new)

Joe Informatico (joeinformatico) | 888 comments The first book of Raymond E. Feist's Riftwar Saga, Shadow of a Dark Queen, opens with the funeral of a character who was a major protagonist of his first trilogy/quadrilogy, and played a significant background role in later books.

The last book of that same series, Shards of a Broken Crown, suddenly kills off a background character who played a part in almost every previous book.

Michael Moorcock kills off a lot of characters in the Elric books, because it's part of Elric's cursed existence.

Similarly, in the Hellblazer comics, John Constantine finds and hangs out with a group of friends, only for most of them to die horribly at the hands of whatever supernatural business he's currently involved in. Satan even calls him on it at one point.


message 18: by Chris (new)

Chris  (haughtc) I guess one should stay out of this thread unless one has read every speculative fiction book that might get a mention....


message 19: by Joshua (new)

Joshua Simon (joshuapsimon) | 24 comments Steven Erikson and Paul Kearney aren't afraid to kill their characters.


message 20: by Sara (new)

Sara (vivianstreet) | 34 comments I'm reading the Inda series by Sherwood Smith. I think there are a few main characters who might make it to the end, but I can't be sure which ones they are. I'm three books in, and I still get paranoid whenever there's a big battle because I feel I need to prepare myself for a The Departed-esque ending.


message 21: by Fresno Bob (new)

Fresno Bob | 582 comments Christian wrote: "If you you are going to watch buffy you should add Angel. Awesome series.

Neither SciFi nor Fantasy but another great TV Series is The Shield. Very bitter end."


the Shield had the best series ending of any television series Ive ever seen


message 22: by Fresno Bob (new)

Fresno Bob | 582 comments id bet you'd enjoy Lonesome Dove


message 23: by Tamahome (new)

Tamahome | 6252 comments I believe someone dies in Tigana.


message 24: by Charles (new)

Charles (CAndrews) | 60 comments Tim wrote: "I knew Ned Stark would die in GoT as soon as I saw Sean Bean was playing him."

I think Sean Bean has got into an unfortunate case of type-casting. Every time I've see him in a movie, I know he's the bad guy even when he appears to be a good guy to start with.


message 25: by Posthums (new)

Posthums | 1 comments David Weber's Honor Harrington books.


message 26: by Derek (new)

Derek Knox (snokat) | 274 comments The Dragonlance series by Weis and Hickman. Over the course of the several trilogies just about all the original main characters end up dying. Some of them quite heart rending. They were my first experience of main character death.


message 27: by Keith (new)

Keith (keithatc) Posthums wrote: "David Weber's Honor Harrington books."

I've read the first three. Do any of those books end with less than like 12,000 deaths? Each engagement in those books has like WWI levels of casualties.

Elizabeth Moon surprisingly kills off a number of major supporting characters in her Vatta's War series.


message 28: by Tamahome (new)

Tamahome | 6252 comments Keith wrote: "Elizabeth Moon surprisingly kills off a number of major supporting characters in her Vatta's War series..."

But the horses live.


message 29: by Ross (new)

Ross | 1 comments Keith wrote: "Posthums wrote: "David Weber's Honor Harrington books."

I've read the first three. Do any of those books end with less than like 12,000 deaths? Each engagement in those books has like WWI levels o..."


no any one can die at any time in Weber's books.

(view spoiler)

David Weber the Safehold series
(first book is Off Armageddon Reef) is another great series that main characters die.. a lot. but if you dont mind political/religious/military books there a great read.


message 30: by Maggie (new)

Maggie K The Malazan books of the fallen series by Steven Erikson. Lots of character death there! and scope! Also, Glen Cook and his Black Company series


message 31: by Colin (new)

Colin | 278 comments The Last Hero by Terry Pratchett.


message 32: by Skaw (new)

Skaw | 116 comments In the second book in a obscure trilogy The Chronicles of Scar, a major character gets offed. I both hated and respected the author for what he did. (Legacy of the Ancients)

I enjoyed the main character in those books as well. He wasn't a typical hero-type, but not an idiot either. I think the books might be out of print, but you can usually find them in used bookstores.


message 33: by Walrus (new)

Walrus | 80 comments +Skaw, It is likely the author knew this portion of the story would be a weak seller, so he killed someone off.

Did he make this as a very reasoned out decision, maybe even with his spouse, about how to handle the situation, in order to get a publishing house to buy it, give a bigger advance, ah....I just realized my Dragon software is tracking my keystrokes, OMG! Apple is working with them. OMG!

or give an advance for the first time.

Maybe she even helped him write the death of this character into the story.


message 34: by Joshua (new)

Joshua Kidd | 22 comments At the risk of getting you stuck in a TV tropes cycle, here's a pretty comprehensive list.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php...

just... don't click any hyperlinks.


message 35: by Tamahome (new)

Tamahome | 6252 comments A major character dies in every episode of Southpark.


message 36: by Skaw (new)

Skaw | 116 comments Walrus wrote: "+Skaw, It is likely the author knew this portion of the story would be a weak seller, so he killed someone off.

Did he make this as a very reasoned out decision, maybe even with his spouse, about ..."


I am left a little puzzled by your post. Have you read the books?
The introduction of the author's supposed wife into the scenario seems a little from left field as does your mention of Apple. . .perhaps its a joke I'm not getting?
I have no way of knowing whether the author had cynical motives in killing off the character. I just know that I enjoyed his books and wish he had written more then three.


message 37: by Teody (new)

Teody | 5 comments The deaths in The Lies of Locke Lamora were unexpected.


message 38: by AndrewP (last edited Jun 18, 2012 10:48AM) (new)

AndrewP (andrewca) | 2479 comments Keith wrote: "Posthums wrote: "David Weber's Honor Harrington books."

I've read the first three. Do any of those books end with less than like 12,000 deaths? Each engagement in those books has like WWI levels o..."


Well at least Weber is making an honest attempt to make explosive decompression realistic, unlike Star Trek/Wars where the air just rushes out.


message 39: by Norman (new)

Norman Miller | 6 comments I've read much of Honor Harrington They call her "The Salamander" for a reason. and her crew's uniforms might as well be RED. Killing Character has to be done smoothly I hate when a character is killed off screen or mentioned as dead as an after thought.


message 40: by Kamil (new)

Kamil | 372 comments Norman wrote: "I've read much of Honor Harrington They call her "The Salamander" for a reason. and her crew's uniforms might as well be RED. Killing Character has to be done smoothly I hate when a character ..."

Everyone! Stop the red shirt jokes!


message 41: by Rob (new)

Rob Osterman (robosterman) Hunger Games anyone?

I mean it's to the death combat so you ~know~ people are going to die, but in the movie at least, it seems they go out of their way to make sure you're a sobbing wreck when it happens. Of course... I wasn't, mostly because I easily recongized when I was being set up and the net result was that I simply liked the whole product a little less.

To be honest I get the same vibe from Mr. Whedon. I love his writing. I love his dialogue. A lot. But I absolutely, fundamentally, vehemently disagree that killing off characters that the fans love is how you get them emotionally involved. If anything it's what destroys your fan base.

A) You probably have their emotional investment without the random/ wanton death. Feeling like you need to kill this character off now to get everyone's attention is a sign of the writer's lack of confidence.

B) You risk the Playoff Effect, that being where you stop following Baseball because your team is out of the playoffs. When some characters die in a series, or movie, I stop watching.

Fortunately for GoT, I've been spoiled enough to know that there are LOT of deaths so I figure they're all gonna die sooner or later and there's no need to get attached to any of them. I also means that as much as I like the show it's usually #3 on my "what do we watch tonight?" list, often behind The Daily Show (Which to date still has a loyal following and no deaths)


message 42: by Kamil (new)

Kamil | 372 comments Rob wrote: "Fortunately for GoT, I've been spoiled enough to know that there are LOT of deaths so I figure they're all gonna die sooner or later and there's no need to get attached to any of them. I also means that as much as I like the show it's usually #3 on my "what do we watch tonight?" list, often behind The Daily Show (Which to date still has a loyal following and no deaths) ..."

I believe that when Martin starts a new page, he tosses a coin to see if the character will die or not


message 43: by Tamahome (new)

Tamahome | 6252 comments He was instructed by the publisher to do so, and received death threats for years after.


message 44: by Javier (new)

Javier Quintana (javier_quintana) | 43 comments Someone had to mention the Harry Potter series, so I just did.


message 45: by Jon (new)

Jon | 7 comments Another recomendation for Glen Cook and the Black Company series.


message 46: by Ed (last edited Jun 20, 2012 08:19PM) (new)

Ed (edwardjsabol) | 170 comments Rob wrote: "To be honest I get the same vibe from Mr. Whedon. I love his writing. I love his dialogue. A lot. But I absolutely, fundamentally, vehemently disagree that killing off characters that the fans love is how you get them emotionally involved. If anything it's what destroys your fan base."

That's not why he does it, IMHO. If I may be so bold as to put words in Mr. Whedon's mouth, based on all the interviews I've read, he firmly believes that, when the good guys go up against bad guys in the ultimate battle to save the world or whatever, it's unrealistic and phony to have all of the good guys survive that ultimate battle and have all of the bad guys be killed. Great victories come with a cost. The greater the victory, the greater the cost/sacrifice. If all the good guys survive, that cheapens the victory or accomplishment, according to Whedon. That it can add dramatic tension and/or emotional involvement is just a nice bonus.

Getting Serenity made was the ultimate victory for Whedon. How many canceled TV shows get a theatrical film to tie up loose ends? How many of those TV shows didn't even last one season before being canceled? "Firefly" was the project that was closest to his heart, and so the sacrifice had to be of the highest order.


message 47: by Rob (new)

Rob Osterman (robosterman) it's unrealistic and phony to have all of the good guys survive that ultimate battle and have all of the bad guys be killed.

If I wanted realism, I'd pick up a New York Times, Newsweek, or turn on CNN.

I like my fiction to have a bit of .... fiction to it. To me it's not phony, it's simply letting the fantasy run it's course. Sure it's not realistic, and I guess in some stories that makes sense. In the case of a lot of Whedon's work (Buffy, Firefly, Avengers) I tended to see them more in the realm of Fantasy then Realism, and as such expected the phony ending because it'd make me feel good.

Now that's also a point of personal preference. I know a lot of people were glad to see a little realistic if anticlimatic random death here and there. Variety is what keeps marketing researchers employed. :)


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