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April 21 2008

Top 5: Characters taken out like chumps. Kendra's death in Buffy season 2 comes in at number two on this Zap2it list of characters "who met their ends in an uncharacteristic, unremarkable, and/or lame fashion".

I thought Kendra's death was lame, too. But at least it served an excellent story. DL's death only served a chain of thinking no, bad, worse, I don't want to watch this show anymore.
Oh my, this thread is going to get interesting.

Or now I've said that, there wont be another comment. ;_)
Well, that was sort of the point, wasn't it?

(The lameness of Kendra's death, that is, not the interestingness of the thread! :) )
I liked Kendra's death and I don't think it was lame, because it had some serious repercussions for the show and was executed dramatically well. I mean, how can you not like the moment when we see Buffy running in slow motion, hoping not to come too late, but then still finding her friend dead. It also showed how people really underestimated Drusilla, when in fact her craziness made her even more dangerous.

If there is one thing about Joss Whedon shows, then it's the fact that none of these deaths were lame and every death meant something to the show as opposed to other shows like "Desperate Housewives" or "Lost". I mean, how lame was Boone's death or Eko's death on LOST?
Donnie, I think this is more about the fashion the characters die in, not the repercussions of their deaths. As such, I do think Kendra's death was sort of... underwhelming. And, hopefully without starting another discussion entirely, I think Boone's death was handled very well, and it did have a purpose in the story. Eko's might be more debatable.
OK, I'll go there. Tara's actual demise was the lamest death in Buffy because without some amazing ricochets I just can't see how the bullet could have hit her way it did.
Never heard of the "magic bullet" theory moley75 ? ;-)

Kendra's death was a bit lame IMO but then, despite being a Slayer, she was only ever an incidental character so its lameness is somewhat offset by that. She was disposable basically so if she dies purely to show its effects on Buffy (and for that great slow-mo segment ;) then so be it. And it did say something about Buffy's strengths compared to other Slayers - compare Kendra/Drusilla to Buffy/Dracula for instance.

DL though was a regular(ish) main character and his death was inconsistent, pointless and stupid. It says something that the very first comment in response to the article suggests a better death than the 'Heroes' writers could come up with, that smacks of laziness IMO.

Yar's death was a bit naff in itself but the aftermath was handled quite well (certainly by Next Gen season 1 standards ;) and it was a rare occurrence for Trek to kill main cast members at all, so you have to give them a break I reckon.

(Trip from 'Enterprise' was much worse than Yar IMO)

[ edited by Saje on 2008-04-21 12:14 ]
I judge TV/movie death by whether or not they died directly after doing something really worth doing and/or something they can do amazingly well. I can (mostly) forgive the circumstances surrounding Wash's death because of the flight scene directly before it. And DL's death too, even, because he died more or less for his wife, which I think was something he'd already prepared himself to do. That's not to say DL was completely stupid for forgetting about that whole superpower thing, but hey, when superheroes are dumb, they tend to be super-dumb. Kendra's death, though, struck me as so much wasted potential, character-wise -- so much so that when I first saw Faith, I wrinkled my nose and wanted Kendra back. (I can be super-dumb sometimes, too. ;)

Some of these deaths also make more or less sense depending on what perspective you're looking at it from, outside of canon or within it. Like hating Kendra's death because you thought it was bad writing versus hating Kendra's death because you liked the character and wanted more from her. Y'know, I could swear there was a Tara-related conversation about exactly that here somewhat recently.

What I wanna know is, is there a category for Worst Retconning Of A Death? Because there are some characters in some shows (and comics, oh holy lord, the COMICS) that 'die' only to keep on coming back, and at some point I just want them dead already for pete's sake. Especially when the original death tied up all loose ends neatly, and the revival mucked the character up completely.
Death is often lame, anti-climatic, apparently pointless and thus I find these deaths reflect reality. Real heroes don't always go out heroically.
I was fine with Kendra's death. The point was not that Kendra was easily killed--it was about how easily Drucilla could dispatch a slayer.

The problem I have with deaths on shows like Lost or Heroes is that first of all, they have such large casts, so there will always be random characters to sacrifice without upsetting too much. Deaths on those shows are played more for stunts: this week on Heroes, one of the heroes won't live to see the next episode! Charaters may get flashy, sweeps-timed deaths, but an episode or two later, there's rarely an impact. I'll take a death that might seem a little random and lame but spins the rest of the characters around over death by a smog monster.
The way Drucilla killed Kendra always bothered me, and I have always felt it was kind of lame. I never felt it really worked even though I think I get what they were going for. They were using it to set up Drucilla's ability to get into other people's minds so that she could do the weird stuff to Giles. The article is wrong in that respect. Drucilla did use that ability later, though not as often as one might expect considering what a powerful weapon it was. Of course we are talking about a character who was not known for thinking clearly much of the time.
It's a long time ago, but I remember puzzling over Kendra's quick exit and coming up with a possible justification in the mysterious way that a potential Slayer is "activated" -- nobody says anywhere that it's the strongest possible candidate who gets the call. Maybe, I thought, Kendra was selected, summoned and dispatched (so quickly) in order to advance a long line of fated events. Not fair to her -- but she made way for Faith.
Concerning Tara and the magic bullet theory, it's interesting how a bullet fired at Buffy in the back yard somehow worked its way around to the front yard, through a window facing the street and into Willow and Tara's room, killing Tara almost instantly.

My personal theory is the bullet had some magical help (i.e. Amy). Sounds better than sloppy writing.
Well missing is Washs death in Serenity, that was lame. Or perhaps it was the writer who was lame.
quantumac, I realize that Buffy's house had an amazingly flexible floorplan, but Tara had just been looking out that same window into the backyard at Buffy and Xander.

Speaking of the "magic bullet" theory and ricochets, though, I've seen real bullets do some weird crap that no one would believe if they saw it in the movies (or, well, maybe they would, considering some of the truly unbelievable things that movie bullets do...)
Uh... Didn't Joss make this list TWICE? Last I checked, he wrote Alien Ressurection didn't he? Wow, to lame death credits on one 5 spot list. WAY TO GO JOSS!
I always thought Spike's dispatching of his two Slayers was more impressive than whatever mystical mumbo-jumbo Dru summoned for that one time (and basically never again, at least against a Slayer). Spike did it the hard way, and against two Slayers that were about as hardcore as you could get.
Spike was more impressive with his kills. But then, that was his style: physical, primal fighting with a peppering of banter and even a dash of respect for slayers. Dru was never a flashy killer. She was more subtle and cruel. The way each of them killed their slayers was completely in character. Spike's kills were just more exciting to watch.
I have to say, Kendra's death is so lame because the character is so lame. Honestly, Kendra kind of sucks. Really annoying accent, and What's My Line Parts 1 and 2 are some of my least favorite episodes of Season 2 (I don't like the season's arc until Angelus makes the scene; the early stuff with just Spike and Drusilla is fairly meh). And Kendra was clearly marked for death the very moment she suddenly appears for the finale without having appeared for about ten episodes. Yes, Drusilla kills her in about the most ridiculous way possible, but I don't think she was a good enough character to give her a particularly good death.
A big, legitimate fight for Kendra probably would have created a time problem for the episode, and, there could have been other factors -- maybe Juliet wasn't particularly good at the fighting stuff for close-ups? Dunno. But the pinky-finger slit throat thing was sort of plot essential -- it's harder to have Buffy suspected of murder if it was a biting.

On a side note, this conversation is part of the evidence that "Becoming", along with "The Gift", is easily the biggest oversight on the DVD sets for not getting a commentary. Preferrably a Joss commentary, but any commentary would have been informative. Boreanaz and Nick Brendan for "Becoming"? Tony Head and Clare Kramer for "The Gift"?

I remember watching when Yar got killed off. I remember that inexplicably crappy make-up effect on her face that looked like a birthmark or something.
Oil slick of death !

I've had a morbid fear of crude oil ever since. That and terrible over-acting ;).
Kendra's death was totally in character. Remember what Dru says? "Be in me. Be me." That works on Kendra because she's got next to no personality of her own. (Also, the Master and Dracula used similar skills, so while Dru may never have used the hypnosis that often, it had certainly been established.)

Also, remember what Spike says about Buffy? "You've lasted this long because you've got ties to the world." Kendra doesn't.

A list of characters taken out like chumps that doesn't include Boba Fett is ridiculous.
Boba Fett had it coming. It's not like he was a character at the time; he was just a plot device, really, and got his minor comeuppance. It wasn't until after Jedi that he was getting fanwanked into being, y'know, important.
He was well liked before "after Jedi" (if that makes any sense ;).

(everybody wanted the Boba Fett figure after 'Empire' just because he was so cool)
Eh. Everybody wanted the Hammerhead figure, too.
Sometimes I think we need to remember that especially in Buffy Joss and co seemed to like throwing in a death to shake things up when you least expect it, and thus the "lameness" of said deaths can be underwhelming at the time, but they reverberate later. As for Kendra, I wasn't exactly much of a fan when she died. She wasn't a particularly endearing character, because lets face it she was hardly IN the show. It served it's purpose though and proved Slayers do have weaknesses and so on.

On the other side you have things like Galactica, and without running into spoilers too much. A recent death could be classed as pointless and "lame" by some of the standards in that article. I personally would have went for heartbreaking and inevitable to describe it. Also I give them major props for doing it in an episode that by anyones standards would be considered a "standard" episode and not an "event" or "stunt" episode to pull in ratings.

However we also must remember that even though Joss's shows have only been off air a relatively short time in many respects. Many of those deaths happened in the 90s, and the top one in the 80s. Buffy was only in it's second year when Kendra bit the dust, and you really only got "gritty" death's in film not TV. I would imagine the networks themselves would have a lot to say about how a person can die, and that will hamstring the best writers to some extent.
In fact you could definitely argue that Joyce's death much later in Buffy's run helped pave the way for a lot of tv writers to start thinking about how they handle death on the small screen, especially given the amount of praise and recognition the episode justifiably got. Would we have had a really sad death on Galactica without Joss writing in Joyce's demise? It's definitely open for debate.
Just agree with Tasha Yars death. She was my favourite star trek character. I always hoped her and data would get together...again :D
Y'know, I'm surprised Fred wouldn't have made this list.
Sheriff Lamb's death in Veronica Mars seemed a bit pointless.
Is Fred's death considered lame by enough people that it's likely to make a list ? I thought it was one of the better Whedonverse deaths (partly because at the time they took such pains to make it seem permanent) - mileage varies though ;).

Eh. Everybody wanted the Hammerhead figure, too.

Fair point, popularity of figures doesn't equal popularity of character but I remember Fett being disproportionately popular long before any of the expanded universe stuff or fan-wanking took place (i've barely read any of it to this day and obviously nor had most of the people that dug Fett at the time).

Was he well rounded ? Nope. But then was any character in 'Star Wars' ?
I never thought Merl was going to join the regular cast or anything, but he was kinda taken out like a chump. I thought he was a good recurring character.

I agree about Sherrif Lamb. I didn't even like him very much and I was still like "WHAT THE HECK WAS THAT?!?!?"

And also, without getting spoilery, most deaths of recurring characters on BSG have felt cheap and pointless. It's like "Hey, there's an interesting secondary character who we haven't been paying much attention to... let's devote an entire episode to them, then kill them."
I didn't have a problem with Kendra's death. We had already seen that Drusilla had psychic powers and the idea that she could mesmerize someone who was was a fighter but not at all on guard for a mental attack made sense to me.

I think Doyle's death was pathetic, not the way he died per se, but the fact that the whole episode was so lame. Demon Nazis. Right, yeah.
One thing I love about a Whedon-style killing is that we rarely get the "give 'em hell for me!" final speeches. I much prefer "your shirt..." or "I'm a leaf on the wind, watch how I GURK!"
No 'Magic Bullet' to the shot that took out Tara. There is a thing called recoil which was coupled with what was obviously an inexperienced shooter. By the time Warren fired that third shot, the one that took out Tara, recoil and his weak, sideways, gangsta-wannabe grip had caused the muzzle of his 9mm to rise, pointing the weapon directly toward the 2nd story of the house where Tara was standing. No richochetes, no bounces, no 'Magic Bullet'.

Btw...didn't anyone but me find Lindsey's death kinda weak?

[ edited by mangydog on 2008-04-21 18:11 ]
Also Paul Reubens' death scene in the Buffy movie was pretty unremarkable too.
I did always think the ease in which Kendra died was a bit lame. Ditto Sheriff Lamb.

"Hey, there's an interesting secondary character who we haven't been paying much attention to... let's devote an entire episode to them, then kill them."

Heheh. Paging Jane Espenson. They weren't exactly loved characters, so...don't know if that makes it better or worse.
No richochetes, no bounces, no 'Magic Bullet'.

I think it was more the (apparently false) claim that the room was on the other side of the house, not that it was on the first (US second) floor ;).

(up one storey isn't an issue, through a house would be though, unless it was built by "1st Little Piggy Construction Inc." ;)

And thinking about it, how can you mention the Alien series and not mention Hicks and Newt ? King of Lameonia.
I wouldn't consider Tara or Fred's deaths lame. Keep in mind that it was Joss' intention to bring them back the next season. Tara would have had to deal with the fact that Willow killed for her and her arc would have been intertwined with Willow's redemption arc. And Season Six would have seen Amy Acker playing BOTH Illyria and Fred for the remainder of the series. These deaths were just the first acts in two epic storylines that Joss planned, but unfortunatly wasn't able to execute on the small screen.
You may find this hard to believe, but
Iw on't mention Tara in this thread.

Kendra I think y'all have covered really well.

KingofCretins;My main problem with Tasha Yar w as it was advertised as an epsiode showcasing her and it...wasn't.

Donnie TychoFlak; Lame and pointless. I'll grant Joss Larry, and Amanda, and even Anya. But Cordelia was just way below the caliber of story elements ME had led us to expect. It was so *far* beyond pointless I am still convinced joss meant it as a mislead.

[ edited by DaddyCatALSO on 2008-04-21 22:15 ]
I think it was more the (apparently false) claim that the room was on the other side of the house

Yeah, that's what I was addressing here, although I kinda got off on a tangent because I have read a lot of complaints about the "angle the bullet would have to travel." To which I usually respond, "If you'd seen real bullets take off at some of the weird-assed angles I have, you'd probably just shrug this one off, too..." (In all honestly, I don't see a lot of ricochets, but some of the ones I have seen left me going, "It bounced off of that and went where?!")
mangydog does your theory explain the angle it went from the ground to the first (second) floor through the window pane, across several steps from the window to where Tara was standing, and then through Tara's chest?

What we need are those red laser beam thingies you see in CSI or Jim Garrison in JFK.
In my opinion, Kendra's character just wasn't that spectacular (although her crush on Xander was pretty adorable). Therefore, she just didn't deserve an important death.
does your theory explain the angle it went from the ground to the first (second) floor through the window pane, across several steps from the window to where Tara was standing, and then through Tara's chest?

I think the Warren Commission found that there only was one shooter.
Back and to the left.
Well, we know what the Warren (Meers) Commission was, don't we? It was all part of the greater cover-up...
Yeah, one shooter in this dimension.

You may find this hard to believe, but
Iw on't mention Tara in this thread.

OK, where's the real DaddyCatALSO and what have you done with him ? ;-)

"If you'd seen real bullets take off at some of the weird-assed angles I have ...

Yeah, i'm not a big guns person Rowan Hawthorn but I had an air pistol as a kid and can safely say that I have only ever shot two living things - myself and my brother. And both times it was because a pellet pinged off about 3 paint cans in the sort of weird combination you could do intentionally in maybe a million years of trying and proceeded to fly straight back down the garage into our faces. Happy days ;).
There's convincing evidence that there was in fact a second shooter and that it was a time traveling demon connected in some way to D'Hoffryn. It's all clearly laid out in a series of obscure treatises with highly questionable yet suggestive data.
LOL, Saje, exactly. I've seen fairly major calibers enter a tree trunk, encounter a peculiar density and veer off course, following the softer grain, and emerge at nearly right angles to the original path; seen lead .22s strike a rock surface and literally vaporize and on the other hand glance off the surface of a pond at about a 45 degree angle and disappear into the mountainside or penetrate a wooden target backboard deformed just enough to start tumbling and go in some random direction, glance off a tree branch not much bigger than a drinking straw and go whining off into space...

So, when TV shows give me a pat, definitive statement as to what a bullet will or won't do, it tells me that the show's "firearms expert" advisors need to do a little more shooting under less-controlled conditions.
IMHO, two of the lamest deaths ever on TV were Schenke and Captain Cohen on "Forever Knight." They died offscreen in a plane crash and after a couple episodes, no one ever mentioned them again. Schenke had been the second lead for two years, and *that's* what happened? Sheesh.
Surprised Boba Fett didnt' make the list. Tasha Yar was a pretty bad one, though. I didn't mind Kendra's death because I was rooting for Dru in that "fight" anyways.
Kendra's death was a little chumpy. Could be because, as a character, Kendra was no great loss, and there was so much else going on in 'Becoming Pt1' that the impact of her death was somewhat limited. I also never understood why, if Slayer blood was so powerful, Dru killed her via fingernails and then just left her on the floor, uneaten.

I also think Anya's death was so abrupt that we, as viewers, never got to mourn. I know there was a point, and time was limited, but IMHO the character deserved a better send off than that. (And her name still hasn't come up in the S8 comics.)
The way Tara died was lame in that it had nothing to do with her. The message about guns is that uhmm...when you really want to shoot someone, you might end up accidentally shooting someone you don't really care about. Or even if you're a fairly non-violent person, you might getting shot 'cause you were standing by the window at the wrong time. It just kinda made it obvious that it was a plot device to drive Willow over the edge.

Tasha Yar's death...was just lame. I know she wanted to leave the show, but surely they could've thought of something better.

Catherine Chandler's death was pretty lame. After being held hostage for weeks on end, the bad guy gives her a lethal shot of somethin'...and she goes to sleep. I actually wasn't sure if she was really dead because the closeup was so tight, I could see her pulse in her neck. Plus, she was the main that was a "huh?". Linda Hamilton had to leave to shoot T2 though.

Joxer's death on Xena. And the deaths of most of the gods...sitting ducks.
moley75 wrote:
What we need are those red laser beam thingies you see in CSI or Jim Garrison in JFK.

Ooh! I can smell a Seeing Red/CSI fanfic crossover coming on... ;-)
GrrrlRomeo wrote:
The way Tara died was lame in that it had nothing to do with her. The message about guns is that uhmm...when you really want to shoot someone, you might end up accidentally shooting someone you don't really care about.

I always thought that Tara's death was a really strong condemnation of guns in general, by its very 'ordinary-ness' (in the sense of being a senseless death by human means). The tragedy of guns is that they can cause such horror without any thought or skill, and often incur (shuddering at the phrase) 'collateral damage'.

As Joss has had Buffy say several times about guns—"These things? Never helpful."
Wait, where was it ever implied that Joyce's room was ever on the other side of the house? The floorplan to the Summers home seemed fairly well established to me, and it was always clear to me that that window looked out over the backyard.
The floorplan of Buffy's house has remained pretty consistent from what I've seen. The only major dilemma is the bathroom. I mean, if you think of going up the staircase from the door, you go towards the back of the house and then up the stairs to the left. Then you're in the long hall, where Buffy's room is towards the front of the house, with her window opening up onto the roof porch and also near a tree (Spike's tree, I like to think of it). Dawn's room is directly behind hers, towards the back of the house, and Joyce's is right next to it, directly overlooking the backyard. There's the fact that the bathroom (across from Buffy's room, and attached to Joyce's) does NOT match up with the exterior of the house of course, but that's the only major inconsistency I've seen. You can see the setup pretty well in Ted, when Buffy kicks him out of her room, down the hall towards her mother's room, and then down the stairs.

...I may have spent several hours last week watching DVDs and meticulously creating as accurate as possible representation of 1630 Revello Drive in my Sims 2 game. Maybe.
Maybe? Oh, come now, a vague disclaimer is nobody's friend... :)
I don't think Kendra's death was lame. She was a disposible character with hardly any personality. I don't think she was written to last very long.

Neither do I think the deaths of Tara, Fred, Wesley or Lindsey were lame. Each death was pivitol to the story being told. (What I do think is lame is the way 'Angel:After The Fall' is treating Lindsey's death as almost a non-issue when it very much is one, IMO)

In fact, the only major character death I'd term lame was Cordelia's. While You're Welcome is probably my favorite Ats episode and I do think the episode had some very nice Cordelia moments, something about the way her death was written always irked me. Not sure just what, but it did...and that's coming from someone who never liked the character of Cordelia in the first place.

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