Daddy's Christmas Angel

Monday, March 24, 2014

Why Do Authors Kill Off Main Characters Like Will from the Good Wife?

While I don't follow a lot of television shows, I have watched "The Good Wife" from the beginning. Although Will Gardner had many character flaws, he was often endearing and likeable. He helped make the show one of the most popular on television. So why did the writers mess with a winning combination? I've read that Josh Charles who played Will wanted to leave the show. Couldn't the writers have sent him off somewhere, leaving the hope and the possibility of a return?

Killing off popular characters appears to be a trend. Last fall, the writers of "Person of Interest" put a violent end to Agent Carter. She was another favorite of mine who made the show click on many levels. Other characters have stepped up in importance to take her place, but the show is not the same with Carter gone.

My own books feature danger and sometimes murder, but I have yet to kill off one of my main characters. Years ago, my first novel, Hearts Across Forever, featured Obeah, a type of folk magic and religious practice brought to the West Indies from West Africa. The white witch of Rose Hall in my story learned the practice in Haiti and used it with the slaves who worked on her plantation. Part of that practice harmed cats. My cat-loving readers were upset with me. I decided to never again involve the death of a cat in my writing. Killing a main character would be worse.

Who next, I wonder, in the popular TV series world? I don't want to even think about it.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Yeah, it was a shame to lose Carter.
Maybe it depends on the terms under which the actor leaves?
And sorry, I killed a main character in my first book. No one yelled at me though.

Inger said...

Ouch, I record The Good Wife and have not yet seen the latest episode! What in the world happened? I will check it out at lunch. I mind this more on TV than in books, but killing cats is a huge NO for me. A Swedish author killed a dog in one story. She's a good writer, so she wrote it well, too well, and I never read another book by her.

Mary Montague Sikes said...

Alex, I don't think anyone would yell at you for anything.

Sorry, Inger. Will's death was such a shock, I had to write about it. Perhaps it's better to be prepared.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Sometimes I wonder if it's not just laziness. If they kill off the character, then they don't have to work him or her in later.

Mary Montague Sikes said...

Maybe a lesser character, Diane, but a major character seems like too much trauma for the audience. I wish they had left a little possibility.

Marian Allen said...

I felt that way when M*A*S*H killed Henry Blake. Writers kill off important characters for lots of reasons: for the shock value, to make future scenes of danger more intense (you can't relax, knowing that The Good Guy is going to survive -- HE MIGHT NOT), or maybe to avoid fans' nagging them to bring the character back.

Sometimes I hate the trend, sometimes I'm all for it, depending on how I feel about any particular character.

I remember watching LOST and thinking, "Oh, yeah, lady, I'm voting YOU off the island!" lol

Mary Montague Sikes said...

Marian, thanks for visiting. I guess I prefer a predictable show where the good guy always wins. That's why I'm a romance writer!