I watch a lot of television shows and many of them do have that superhero/sci-fi element to them. I’ve written at length about all the Marvel productions I love (both television and film) and for awhile I was really into Supernatural and Doctor Who. With the genre of sci-fi, superhero, and fantasy overall, you do have to suspend belief in order for the shows to really be enjoyable but there’s one trend that I can’t quite get behind.
**Spoilers ahead for a couple different shows and some of the articles I link to are also spoiler heavy. Some are a couple years old but still – just a heads up!
That trend is how there seem to be that death is just a joke in many shows. Characters that die don’t stay dead and the dramatic and sad scenes of their death is often nullified later by the shock of them returning. Years ago, I stopped believing that characters are actually dead when they die because at this point in some shows, death seems to be a mild inconvenience that is eventually overcome.
And this happens in many shows. One estimate puts the Winchester brothers of Supernatural at dying 117 times just in the first nine seasons. Rory Williams dies multiple times as a companion to the Doctor in the reboot of Doctor Who and so did Clara Oswald when the Doctor was first really meeting her. Characters in other shows like CW’s Arrow also seem to be great at coming back to life in seemingly impossible ways.
Steven Moffat is the showrunner and head writer of two popular shows – Doctor Who and BBC’s Sherlock and is definitely a huge part of this. Sarah Siegel writes a really great piece about how Moffat doesn’t understand grief and a part of this is how his shows’ rarely having any sort of significant consequence. Characters who have died during his show run (again, Rory and Clara plus Sherlock on BBC’s Sherlock) don’t stay dead. There’s no grief, no chance to be sad or upset. Instead, death seems to be either an on-going joke or something to outsmart.
I don’t really know why this bothers me so much. I think a part of it is that these shows don’t allow for grief and sorrow both for their characters and fans and makes for actual character deaths to seem less real. Plus, it’s starting to be not much of a shocker when a once dead character comes back to the show and actually turning into a bit of an annoying storyline in my opinion. Just let characters die – yes people will be sad but that’s fine. We’ll grieve but eventually move on.