TV Clichés We’re Sick of #2: Season Finale Character Deaths
Last month most primetime television shows wrapped for the season. And probably half of the ones I watch, actually more as I tally it, killed an important character in their finale or at the very end of the season. Some killed multiple characters. And it just made me realize… I’m sick of this.
The obvious reason is that it is, as mentioned cliché. Oooooh, you’re killing a character in the season finale. How very original. I’d be less annoyed if more shows just randomly killed characters in like the fourth episode of the season.
But I think the deeper issue is that when it comes to long narratives, if you ask me which is preferable, doing the character justice or doing what’s cool for the plot, I’d go with the former. I realize a lot of great writers disagree with me and that’s fine. But this is my blog. Now I’m not saying that television shows shouldn’t kill characters. Sometimes that is what doing a character justice might be (and I don’t just mean in a Jean Grey had to die because she destroyed the planet of the asparagus people kind of justice). But because I think characters deserve respect from their writers, I object in principle to killing off a character just to get ratings. And killing characters in season finales just smacks of a ratings ploy. Maybe it’s because they always promote the hell out of it. How many commercials have you seen that show close ups of a bunch of characters’ faces with some variation on “and when it’s over, one of these people will be dead”? I know these people are fictional, but it still seems a little callus.
So television shows, find a more creative time to kill your characters, but only do it if it makes sense and is done in a respectful manner, and find a better way to get people to watch your finales.