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April 06 2011

TV's Grim Reaper: Why Joss Whedon continually kills the characters we love. Today's PopMatters essay looks at Joss' "willingness to kill off recurring characters in order to ratchet up the narrative tension and create a sense of danger".

Big dub does seem to have a preference for sudden deaths doesn't he ? I guess in the situations most of his characters find themselves dying from cancer or congestive heart failure would be pretty unlikely and obviously quick deaths are more shocking, practically by definition.

Not a terrible essay by any stretch but quite well-trodden ground by now, not much new there.
I agree. And then there is this: "Maybe this is what makes Whedon such an exciting writer: his unpredictability." In fact, it is completely predictable that he will kill off someone, and almost all the time it is easy to guess who. Just make them loveable.
But they're all loveable ;).

I kind of agree in that it's predictable that someone will likely die but I see that as more because it's just another part of the Whedon toolbox - it really is used in the sense of "everybody dies". It's also predictable that there'll be words for instance ;).

(as to who, it's hard to tell what's predictable because it's obvious and what's predictable because we're maniacs who devour almost everything Joss produces and pore over it in detail. Though I do think there's a point in the idea that it's usually a character whose death will hurt but who isn't the main hero)
Despite knowing that Joss likes to kills characters I love, I have not predicted a single death in the Whendonverse. I get sucked in every single time.
I had a feeling about Book most of all and Anya and Gunn to a lesser extent but Wash (among others) was totally out of the blue (so glad I wasn't spoiled for that).
He knows, he jests...

"Whom will I kill? Probably Principal Figgins."
Joss on directing glee.
Big dub does seem to have a preference for sudden deaths doesn't he ? I guess in the situations most of his characters find themselves dying from cancer or congestive heart failure would be pretty unlikely and obviously quick deaths are more shocking, practically by definition.


I will say, this is why in 2011 I find the same pattern repeating rather flat. I think quick deaths are more shocking, but not necessarily as effective. I'll lay the death of Rosalin up there with any of the Whedonverse deaths and that was Ron Moore basically shouting, "she is going to die" for the better part of four seasons.

My complaint with Joss has always been this. He can make me cry by dropping the largest bomb he can find, but as a writer to date he doesn't seem to be able to do it with anything less than that formula. I contrast this with Moore, or even Weiner's death of Anna Draper and I feel like Joss has become too dependant on the same thing. Weiner for example has done both on the same show. He had the "shocking" death of Don Draper's brother and then the drawn out death of Anna together seem real.

I'm not saying he can't do it either, but his unwillingness to do both or even (dare I suggest, NOT kill someone) tends to make his worlds feel affected. And unfortunately for me personally, it feels AS affected as those shows where no one ever dies. So my viewing experience suffers. Love him, but yea.
I guess my issue with regard to predictability isn't so much who but when. When Joss goes epic, he can get a little formulaic. Hero has lost her/his way. Friends question and possibly defect. Hero finds way. Friends flock back to banner. Battle is joined. And then we come to it... that moment of doom where the sun fades behind the clouds, everyone is on the ropes and yes, check mark: sudden character death. Anya, Wesley, Wash. And then there's the trigger for the rebound. Buffy gets up. Angel has a power drink. It's River's turn. And the tide has shifted and everything that was going so very badly is now peachy. By the time we got to Serenity, it just felt a little on the nose to me.

[ edited by BringItOn5x5 on 2011-04-06 19:53 ]
I was still surprised by Penny's death. And Bennett's as well. The former's death fantastically reverses the good vibe feeling built by the first 35 mins.
The deaths still surprise me. I don't think they're predictable.
I've never predicted a single death in any of Joss' shows. Never saw them coming, and have never been spoiled. I've always experienced the full impact. Wouldn't have it any other way.
I don't think his deaths are predictable, either. They're painful, because he waits until we've come to love these characters, to feel connected, as if they're "family," and then...snick.

And I don't just cry at deaths. Buffy's "Giles, I'm 16 years old. I don't want to die." Willow's break-down in the bathroom after she finds out Xander and Faith had sex. Giles losing it after Jenny's death and trying to kill Angelus himself (or get himself killed) and Buffy's "I can't do this without you!" Buffy coming home all happy to find her mother dead on the couch, Giles' reaction to finding Joyce's body and Buffy telling him "We're not supposed to move the body!", Buffy going to school to tell Dawn the news. Anya's speech. (Actually, pretty much that whole episode has me in tears.) Buffy telling Dawn she's proud of her and wants to show her the world when they climb out of the grave. Xander's "That's my girl - always doing the stupid thing" after Andrew tells him Anya died saving Andrew's life. Xander's speech to Dawn about how special she is without powers. Willow and Buffy in Xander's hospital room after Caleb puts his eye out.

Sure, most of my cry reasons are sad, but there's some happy in there, too. Buffy's frustration with Angel when he tries to kill himself because of The First's mind games. The look of pride on Giles' face when Buffy wins the Class Protector award.

Does Joss bump off characters a lot? Yes, he does. But so do other shows. Nash Bridges, for instance, killed Nash's daughter Cassidy (Although it proved later to have been a mix up) and then later killed her fiance Evan Cortez (Right after they'd set a date for their wedding, no less!). Chicago Hope killed off Alan "the Eel" Birch. And when Law & Order: Los Angeles returns later this month, the teasers have promised that "for the first time in 20 years" one of the cops will be killed.

I think Joss gets singled out because of the size (and "volume") of his fan base. I don't know if there were message boards for Chicago Hope, but I'm sure many fans were upset over Alan's getting gunned down. I can't even think of the NB episodes "Resurrection" or "Jackpot part 2" without getting choked up.
I knew that Wash would die, and I figured Book would go as well. Penny was for sure a goner. So was Motormouth. Ask yourself: who is the (holy) innocent? Who is "loveable?" (And I do not mean, all of them- who was written to evoke that sense of innocence and love)? Answer: Tara. Wash. Motormouth. Penny. Jenny, sort of. Joyce. Maybe not Book, but his death fits into a hero's journey. I have been wrong twice. I thought Dawn would die in the comic, but came to realize it would have to be Giles. And I thought either Victor or Sierra would die. The rest were easy. This is not about the fact that characters can die; it is about a tactic that has been overused to the point it is predictable and therefore no longer carries emotional weight. We have learned not to invest in the holy innocents with Joss.
We have learned not to invest in the holy innocents with Joss.


Sure Joss kills a lot of characters, but so did Shakespeare. My awareness that innocent characters are probably going to die doesn't diminish my willingness to invest emotionally in a good story. Joss's willingness to write with such high stakes is what makes his stories resonate on a deep emotional level, like good Shakespeare.
Dana5140, I wouldn't describe any of those characters as innocents. I think exactly what you said-- "a tactic has been overused to the point it is predictable and therefore no longer carries emotional weight" -- is what does not happen. I think the real reason Joss has a reputation among fans is because he's particularly good at developing that emotional weight. What those deaths have in common is they all hurt like hell.
I personally think Whedon isn't very good at killing characters off.
Saje: ...it really is used in the sense of "everybody dies". It's also predictable that there'll be words for instance ;).

; > You are soooo jaded. I usually have no idea that there'll be words - each time I wonder what it will be this time: mimes, kabuki, shadow puppets, semaphore theatre? - and each and every time there are words and I'm shocked all over again. You think I'd learn.

The essay was rather well-trodden ground, but I thought it was well-written. It was a relief to read an essay on Joss' character deaths that wasn't bemoaning them - and I liked that it pointed out the risks they take in terms of a series' marketability.

And all the deathiness? Call me stupid (but not to my face), but I've never predicted any specific Whedon'verse death - by the time I watched Serenity, I rather thought there would be death-loss, but I'd never have called the second one - never in a kabillion years.

Maybe it has something to do with the fact that, upsetting as they are, I'm not on the lookout specifically for character deaths - they certainly affect me, but I'm not attuned to the fact that someone will die, and I must be prepared. They mostly seem just a part of the story.

For me, the most upsetting for some reason was Penny - it flipped the tone right on end, as Simon mentioned, and it threw me for a loop. I remember feeling shocked and disturbed for a few whole days, and that hadn't happened to me much before that - certainly not since Beth in Little Women and I was like six when I got that blow.

I've always viewed character deaths as a necessary part of any storyteller's toolbox - at least, anyone who's genuinely grappling with life and death issues. It's overused and hack only if you consider life itself to be a big cliché.


"Whom will I kill? When will that go away? Is death really the only thing I'm known for? I'd hope not. You know how many people in the world actually die? ALL OF THEM. You know how many I've killed? Statistically, somewhat fewer. Can't we focus on another element of my work?" - Joss, WHEDONESQUE, October 19, 2009


ETF: typos of the 3rd kind... including writing "kabuki" as "kabubi" - about which I do not even want to think.

[ edited by QuoterGal on 2011-04-08 22:37 ]
You know Joss pulled the rug out from under us with "hush", like almost no words there. So you see, he can do no death as well as no words. *Let's just wait for the happy ending at after season 9. Gut wrenching misery may be an inescapable part of life, but it doesn't have to be a part of fiction. Joss is gonna shock us one more time...
*delusional.
I was actually really happy when Penny died. I thought that was the perfect way to end the story, and I felt like that was really the purpose of that character anyway. There wasn't much else to her, and had she not died, I don't see what the ending would be or how there would be a sequel. I mean, Billy marries Penny and becomes a superhero? Blah. The death was better, so kudos to Joss (and Jed, Zack, and Maurissa) for that one.

I also think Buffy "killing" Angel (or sending him to hell, which is almost the same) was AWESOME. The fact that she was forced to do that after he got his soul back and was all sweet just WRECKED me. And then they brought him back which kind of ruined the effect, but it gave us lots of other good episodes so I forgive it. But after "Becoming Part 2" I was just crying my little heart out.

Many other deaths still haunt me, but particularly Wash and Joyce.

I guess where I fall on the issue is that, for the most part, I think the deaths are effective, but at this point I do expect them and that cheapens it a bit. (Although I may feel this way simply because the last death I saw Joss do was Paul Ballard, and I didn't care at all. However, that probably has more to do with the show being so short-lived and Paul not having enough opportunities to endear himself to me.)

I'm sure his next project (after Avengers, which he may not be allowed to kill anyone for) he will create a character that I love dearly and kill him/her/it off. I will possibly expect it, but it'll still hurt like hell.
@Dana: Who's Motormouth?
He can make me cry by dropping the largest bomb he can find, but as a writer to date he doesn't seem to be able to do it with anything less than that formula.

It's not quite 100% with me but depending on how we define 'writer' (i.e. if it's only scripts he's credited with writing rather than scripts he had a hand in which, with Buffy at least, is all of them) and depending on how proximate the bomb has to be then thinking about it, that's broadly true for me too azzers (i've cried at a couple of places in 'The Body' which aren't directly death adjacent - Anya's speech being one - but obviously the whole episode is about a sudden death and how it affects those around it). The exception that springs quickest to mind is 'Amends' (why yes, I am the biggest sap in the world, thanks for asking ;) but I also usually well up at Anne's response to Gunn in 'Not Fade Away' among other places (though NFA has at least one death too, unrelated though it may be to that scene).

(ShadowQuest comes up with a few examples but most/all of them are either arguable non-qualifiers since they're in episodes at least featuring a death - even if the moment itself isn't, as I say, immediately death adjacent - or in episodes not actually written by Joss in the credited sense. He didn't write 'Passion', 'Grave', 'The Prom', 'Potential' etc.)

...I'm not on the lookout specifically for character deaths - they certainly affect me, but I'm not attuned to the fact that someone will die, and I must be prepared. They mostly seem just a part of the story.

I partly agree QG, it's just that some stories seem more likely to have a death in than others. 'Chosen' was the series finale so I figured someone fairly major was probably going to go and Anya felt about the right level of pain (a core Scoob would be too much, i'd heard about the possible Faith spin-off etc.). 'Serenity' was a movie and with bigger stakes so again, it seemed like someone might go and Book felt most likely (didn't see Wash coming at all).

In general though, that's why I try to avoid spoilers and consider things others don't to be very spoilery - I basically can't help but think ahead about those sorts of things and find it hard to stop even when i'm actually watching, hence 'spoiler' in the truest sense i.e. it's not just a single piece of information revealed, it can ruin the whole experience for me.

You know Joss pulled the rug out from under us with "hush", like almost no words there.

Yeah, I almost didn't predict that ;).
@Dana: I don't want to be rude, but it's somewhat easier to call "predictable" after you've seen the shows. Yes, Penny's death was predictable because the show had only 3 characters and it was obviously her role. In the other cases, I could find plenty of things that could hint to a future death, however I did not predict those deaths at the time. The only one I did predict didn't happen (Mellie's death was easily predictable after she finally made out with Ballard, right?)

I don't see how Wash was more "innocence and love" than Kaylee, for instance. I hardly see how Ballard was written to evoke innocence either, yet his death is very similar to that of Tara. Mellie was designed to evoke innocence and love, but of course we discovered she was designed by the Dollhouse, so she doesn't have that innocent by-stander death after all. She does die, of course, but she's not in the same innocent role at that point.

Book dies just so that we're not prepared for Wash's death, he's not innocent and I disagree it's a fitting or heroic death. Angel isn't very innocent either; at one point we all knew he had to die, but would you have predicted how it went, before the last few episodes? Anya's death was fitting, and was actually suggested by her chat with Andrew, but Xander could have died as well, in the exact same fitting way. I don't think anyone predicted Doyle's death, despite the episode being pretty heavy-handed with the heroic sacrifice theme. And even if Fred did fit the Whedon-death stereotype perfectly, I didn't see it coming. She couldn't have had a pointless death like Tara, that would have brought nothing to Wesley's development. The Illyria twist was perfect, but was it predictable?

My point is that, looking back, I find it easy to understand why, narratively speaking, some of those characters had to die. And I can see the writer working to make these death hurt more. But that doesn't mean it was predictable at the time, because there are plenty of similar situations that don't lead to death, or several characters that can become the victim.
Ragondux, you can't take it seriously. Dana predicts EVERYTHING after it happens. He's gifted that way. :)
But that doesn't mean it was predictable at the time, because there are plenty of similar situations that don't lead to death, or several characters that can become the victim.

I think it depends what's meant by predictable. If someone had asked Dana5140 as he walked into the cinema to see 'Serenity' "Who will die ?" and he said Wash and Book then that, frankly, is pretty impressive. If they said "Someone will die, who do you think it'll be ?" then a response of Book isn't that big a reach IMO. If they said "And also someone else ?" then it gets murkier but going on past projects NOT Mal, River or Zoe seems reasonable. Jayne's a fighter (and not a "nice" character) so him dying is less unexpected (the problem with subverting cliches is, if we know the cliche we may be able to predict the subversion - as someone mentions above, i'm now waiting for Joss to start subverting his own subversions to stay ahead of the predictability curve). Narrowing it down to Inara, Kaylee, Wash or Simon seems reasonable to me and of those Kaylee and Wash are arguably the least "deserving" (so least expected so, in turn, most predictable) more precisely than that and i'm more sceptical but everyone has a different feel for these things.

If we just mean "Makes so much narrative sense after the fact that it feels like we should've known" then i'd say most Whedonverse deaths fall into that bracket because "surprising inevitability" is one hallmark of a good writer.
Saje True, Joss didn't write all the episodes. But I was trying to say that in the show he created, whether it was an episode he actually sat down and wrote himself or one penned by one of his numerous talented writers, I've cried at more than just character deaths.

Maybe I'm an emotional wuss. But I get attached to characters in really good shows, and I'm affected by their emotions and what happens to them. (Look up the Nash episode "Resurrection" and watch the scene on the hospital roof between Nash & Joe) And isn't that, ultimately, what all writers are hoping for, whether they write novels, TV shows, movies or music? Connecting to their audience and getting them to feel?

Take, for example, Elton John's "Candle in the Wind." (Original version) Can anyone who listens to those lyrics not think with sadness about what happened to Marilyn Monroe?

Or Christopher Beck's beautiful piece "Sacrifice," from "The Gift." Just that music brings back the pain of that whole episode. Just like listening to Robert Duncan's "Final Battle" from "Chosen" conveys the epic struggle of Buffy and the new Slayers against the horde of Ubervamps.

Whatever it is about Joss's shows that pulls me in and makes me care about and love his characters makes me hurt when they hurt. Hell, I even feel bad for Spike at the end of "The Gift" and I can't stand the vamp! Death hurts like hell, especially if you care about the person who died. Joss and his crew write painful deaths, and the actors make you feel it. Kudos all around. (And I don't mean the granola bars.)

Ok, here's an example of a choke-up scene without a death: In the Great Buffy Rewatch, we just watched "When She Was Bad." Lots of sad moments throughout, but then at the end, when Buffy smashes hell out the Master's bones with the sledgehammer, and then breaks down while Angel holds her, you can read so much on the faces of Giles, Willow and Xander, and no one says a word.

And now I really must go medicate my shoulder and go to bed.
If they said "Someone will die, who do you think it'll be ?" then a response of Book isn't that big a reach IMO.

I don't know... One might guess correctly, but why would he be a likely victim? He's got a lot of untapped potential, isn't particularly cute and innocent, but not very heroic either, and his death didn't hurt much. With no idea about the story, I might have picked Zoe or Simon as the likely "strong" victims and Wash or Kaylee as the "innocent" ones. We didn't know enough about Book for him to have a meaningful death, and indeed his death was just there so that we didn't expect Wash's.

i'm now waiting for Joss to start subverting his own subversions to stay ahead of the predictability curve

I think he did that already. "Man on the Street" played with our expectations of Joss killing characters just when they seem to finally get to be happy. Most of us were completely sure Mellie was going to be killed, but anyone unfamiliar with Joss would have expected some kind of twist.
But then there's Bennett and Ballard which was more a return to the previous situation. It's a very tough line to walk because subverting your own subversions may end up looking a lot like adhering to cliches and even if not, deliberately adopting a specific second guessing mindset may well be bad for the story. By and large, he should probably just do what he thinks is best cos one thing i'm sure of is that Joss Whedon's little finger knows more about storytelling than I ever will ;).

I don't know... One might guess correctly, but why would he be a likely victim?

Because he was more of an outsider than the other characters (even Simon has specific ties to the group through River and Kaylee) but insider enough for his death to provide narrative impetus. Put it this way, I was actually semi-spoiled for a death (my sister's a huge spoilerphile - she literally does sometimes read the last page of a book before getting there - and let slip what she probably thought was a subtle hint) and Book was the first character I thought of (but I thought that would be it from the main cast i.e. Wash was a total shock and had exactly the desired effect - by the time we got to the showdown and Kaylee got hit I really wondered if they were all gonna go out in a Butch-Sundance/Wild Bunch stylee. Except Butch and Sundance make it obviously *la la la, fingers in ears* ;).

But I was trying to say that in the show he created, whether it was an episode he actually sat down and wrote himself or one penned by one of his numerous talented writers, I've cried at more than just character deaths.

Sure ShadowQuest and I totally agree with most of your examples (i'd personally add "I Will Remember You" among others because the end, with SMG crying, almost always sets me off) but in his post azzers specifically mentions Joss as a writer and in the things Joss is actually credited with writing it's mainly the "death bomb" that hits me (with some already noted exceptions). As I said myself, if you loosen the term 'writer' to be more like 'creator' (which may even be what azzers means) then there're loads of very emotive non-death moments in his shows.
First, motormouth was a secondary character in the Fray universe, and young person with a disability who spoke so fast s/he could barely get out all the words. She was a complete innocent killed to hurt Fray.

Second, I really do not need to come here and make up things about how briliant my predictions are. So, guys, let me tell you the analysis I used for Serentiy- which I made before I saw the film. I knew Book would die; he had to for several reasons. One was that his death was necessary for Mal's growth (since this is part of a hero's journey, similar to why we lose Giles in the comic- since the Scoobies are all now adults, there is no further need for the adult guide). Second was that Joss had made it clear we would not learn anything more about Book. Thus, his death was an easy call. That being the case, I figured that a second death had to occur, since losing Book would not really resonate emotionally as much as someone else would. River could not die, since the entire tale was about her being "saved." I considered Simon, but he was needed for two reasons: one as a guide for River, second as a lover for Kayleigh. However, if he and Kayleigh had had sex early in the film, either he or Kayleigh would die. They did not, ergo, neither would die. Losing Jayne would not matter; he's just dumb muscle and humor. Losing Zoe also seemed not to make much sense, since she is a warrier woman and her death, while unfortunate, could sort of be expected. Mal would not die; he's the lead. Who is left? Ah, the holy innocent! Wash- who is guilty only of loving his wife immensenly, but outside of being the pilot has no other main function. Thus, I foresaw Wash dying, too. Just not how, to be sure.

And as much as easy as some of these are to call, I surely got it wrong in Dollhouse. I thought that either Victor or Sierra would die, and I figured it to be Victor more than Sierra, since they had a child and Joss might wish to leave the mom behind. In retrospect, Ballard made sense, but I did not see it coming, maybe because he was not a character I much invested in nor cared about. With the comic, I initially thought Dawn would die, mainly because when you end magic, I figured that would end Dawn. But once it became apparent Dawn would not die, the only one who made sense was Giles. This is because Giles was always the adult in the tale- but now all the Scoobies are adults themselves, and the story seems to be moving toward what it means to live as an adult; thus, the characters now have to find their own way without parental guidance. For the S9, my feeling is that Willow is under threat- butuntil I see the story itself, I cannot commit. Penny was a no-brainer.

And I did not see Tara dying. Still don't! :-)

And let us not forget Kitty Pryde, okay. Once she and Colossus admitted the love, one of them was going to be threatened. Though, I fully suspect that she will end up back in the Marvel 'verse. At least no Runaways died. But let's begin taking bets on who is going to get it in The Avengers.

[ edited by Dana5140 on 2011-04-07 12:21 ]

[ edited by Dana5140 on 2011-04-07 12:24 ]
I'm not saying that you're pretending, but that it's easier to find things predictable when you known how they'll happen. Your explanation about Serenity does require some knowledge of the plot (Simon and Kaylee not sleeping together), some meta-knowledge (we're not going to learn anything more about Book), and some time spent thinking about who's the better victim. That's nowhere near the predictability of Penny's death.

Inara could also have taken Book's place in every way. I don't see Book as a father figure, only as a moral compass, which Inara also is. And she's useless in the movie. Plus, Mal likes her.

Regarding Kitty Pryde, I'm very much finding the situation similar to Doyle's death: looking back, I'm ashamed I didn't see it coming, because it feels obvious when you know what to look for. Reading the comics for the first time, I didn't see how the focus was on her, much like I didn't see all that lead to Doyle's sacrifice at the end of Hero.
But let's begin taking bets on who is going to get it in The Avengers.

My money's on Iron Man or Captain America cos I just don't see the individual character's franchise making hundreds of millions of dollars for Marvel Studios (seriously though, go for it Dana5140 you can get a genuine prediction on here in black and white, saved for posterity. Nothing silences critics like success ;).

Wash- who is guilty only of loving his wife immensenly...

In fairness, he did get fired one time, we don't know it wasn't for being a serial killer.

Inara could also have taken Book's place in every way... And she's useless in the movie. Plus, Mal likes her.

If Mal and Inara had got together during 'Serenity' then i'd agree, as it is she had an unresolved story still playing out (as did Simon and Kaylee). With Book, he and Mal have clearly reached a place of mutual respect and he himself is off the ship, out in the world doing good works, the only unresolved aspect of his character is backstory.

(and again, Dana's responses go back to what's meant by prediction - ahead of the film ? By days/weeks/months ? Ahead of the death ? By an hour/ten minutes/5 seconds ? For instance, with about 90% of TV procedurals I can tell whodunnit within the first 20 minutes about 90% of the time - I don't consider that an achievement BTW, more a sad comment on the plotting for most procedurals. Clearly though i've got no idea before the episode so for me most procedurals are highly predictable but only within certain limits)

(Kitty Pryde I don't count BTW, she's about as dead as Batman was last year)
If Mal and Inara had got together during 'Serenity' then i'd agree, as it is she had an unresolved story still playing out

I meant she could have be used as a victim in Book's place, but that would have required some changes in the script obviously. Let's imagine Mal and her reconciled in the wave, and after Mal says Kaylee misses her, he has to admit he does, too. She shows she's touched. Then when he goes rescue her, she gets killed during the fight. Mal gets crazy, decides to fly into Reaver space, and so on... it seems to work, too, but it misses the speach about believing in something. I think it's better the way it was written, but it could have worked with Inara.

[ edited by Ragondux on 2011-04-07 13:12 ]
Did Wash not get killed off purely for the reason that Alan wasn't going to do the Serenity sequels and wanted to be written out accordingly?
I thought that was a baseless rumour that circulated at the time ?

I meant she could have be used as a victim in Book's place, but that would have required some changes in the script obviously.

Yeah I get what you meant Ragondux but as I say above and you agree, the script would need to change. IMO "Mal missing her" wouldn't do it, we'd need to see an actual resolution, see them happy together. Then Inara dying would be similar. Same with Simon/Kaylee though even then, River would need to appear independent beforehand (or at least to be a fully integrated part of the crew as she isn't really until she takes the controls at the end) otherwise there'd be too many hanging story threads for a movie.

As I say though, whatever the reasoning or justification for thinking it (and I agree some of it feels a bit post hoc), Book was the first possibility that came to mind before I considered why I felt that way, saw the film or even knew much about the plot (I remember it pretty clearly cos I was quite pissed off with ma auld skin and blister at the time ;).
First, motormouth was a secondary character in the Fray universe, and young person with a disability who spoke so fast s/he could barely get out all the words. She was a complete innocent killed to hurt Fray.

Okay... still not clicking for me. All I can remember is Loo. Is that the same character? Anyway, gives me a good excuse to go have a re-read!

Did Wash not get killed off purely for the reason that Alan wasn't going to do the Serenity sequels and wanted to be written out accordingly?

I'm pretty sure I remember Joss saying that somewhere. That one of the main reasons was that Alan didn't want to commit to any sequels.
Motormouth is Loo, yes. As to when I considered this, who knows? I am that kind of weird person who thinks of this stuff all the time; indeed, even today, I used a cultural reference to denote a scientific point by citing The Fugitive movie to discuss something called Publication Bias (failure to publish negative results). I just mull stuff over, like I am doing in advance of tonight's CSI, since it has the return of Lady Heather and I am considering what this will mean and how it will affect Sara Sidle. And y'know, again, this is all about the fun- I don't care if I am right or wrong, but I do like the discussion and am usually on the far side of the conventional wisdom. :-) But every once in a while, I do get it right, and I did there with Serentiy. I also, as I noted, got it wrong in DH.

As to who bites it in the Avengers, I hate to say this, but I don't even know who is in the Avengers, so I cannot say whose death would hurt most. Fill me in and I'll predict away. :-)

[ edited by Dana5140 on 2011-04-07 20:42 ]
Everybody dies

[ edited by napua on 2011-04-08 02:45 ]
Sunfire: I know it doesn't lose impact for everyone, I never figured it would. It does for some of us, altho Rene and Giles made me more exasperated than bored.

ShadowQuest: there was fan reaction to Alan's detah.Mandy PAtinkin mentioned he was hearign "why did you kill Alan?" inquiries from fans at personal appearances. Chicago Hope and The Commish were two shows that left me long before I left them.

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