Characters die. It’s all part and parcel of the demands of drama. Popular characters, hated characters and even comedy sidekicks, occasionally, pop their clogs to make in the service of making the fictional universe feel more real. Sometimes they get a heroic death: a noble sacrifice or a brave last stand. Sometimes they get a shocking: sudden, and game-changing. But every now and then we lose characters in naff and undignified ways; ways that make us howl with laughter, snort with derision or stare dumbfounded at the screen…
Here, in no particular order, are some of those deaths…
Feature by Steven Ellis
(Oh, and feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments section… there could easily be a sequel to this feature!)
Tasha was killed by Armus the tar monster whilst trying to defend Counsellor Troy. The character was killed in a mundane way to kind of make a point: “anyone can die in an pointless way,” is what the writers were trying to say. But even granting that, getting zapped by a tar monster is still a bit crap. And the holographic goodbye scene is just an awful insult adding to the injury. We won’t mention that alternate version from the Enterprise-C in “Yesterday’s Enterprise” and the whole Romulan daughter debacle…
Boba Fett, the best bounty hunter in the galaxy, gets hit in the rocket pack by a lucky shot from a blind, flailing Han Solo and is sent unceremoniously flying off into the Sarlacc via a bone crunching collision with Jabba’s sail barge. And just to make it a little bit more embarrassing for The Fett, the Sarlacc even does a comedy burp. We know he’s resurrected in the Expanded Universe but according to George Lucas this is the end of the coolest bounty hunter the Star Wars universe ever saw; swallowed by a belching sand vagina. Not cool.
Everybody’s favourite ex-vengeance demon (or was she a demon at this point? We lost track) gets randomly sliced almost in half by a Bringer after pushing Andrew out of the way during the final battle at Sunnydale High. Which sound dramatic, but it’s shot in a blink and you’ll miss it kind of way. Honestly, the first time you watch it, when you should be caught up in the sweep of the events, all you want to do is rewind immediately to check that what you think you saw happen actually happened.
We get that some of the Scoobies had to get killed; this is Joss Whedon after all. Not everyone was going to make it through that final battle. But did they have to kill Anya in such an uneventful way?
Classic Doctor Who always used to be good for naff deaths and “Resurrection Of The Daleks” certainly has a high comedy death count, with some extras seemingly in a competition to see who could do the most spectacular jig when being exterminated. The Daleks themselves, meanwhile, suffer death by shaving cream – gook oozing out of dying monsters doesn’t look quite so effective when it’s shiny and white. Former Likely Lad Rodney Bewes the best till last though. His slow motion, grimacing flail after being shot is brilliantly crap. After being hit by a Dalek laser bolt, he wobbles across the room like a drunk at a rave whose shoelaces have been tied together, before unexpectedly launching himself cork-from-a-champagne-bottle style onto a self-destruct button, then flails away there for a second like a fish out of water until the not-so-special effects kick in. All the while he has an expression like a constipated gerbil.
This entry may say Nina on in the title but it represents anyone who dies off-screen or between seasons. Being Human ’s Nina is just the most recent example of those lost characters that we see happy and breathing one episode, and then some time later we’re told by somebody else they’ve carked it in the interim. As well as Nina, other examples include Talia Winters from Babylon 5 who was last seen in “Divided Loyalties” before, some time later, the creepy Alfred Bester implies that she dead. Or how about Jenna Stannis from Blake’s 7 , who was last seen at the end of the second series and later reported killed during a fight with space pirates.
Still, this is sci-fi. If we don’t see the body maybe these character are still alive somewhere out there… (Actually, sometimes seeing the body doesn’t preclude the character from making a return.)
The characters of Supernatural are no strangers to death, but it’s usually a brave sacrifice for some higher purpose. In one episode from season three things are a little different…
Trapped in a ground hog day type event Dean and Sam are forced to live out the same day over and over. The problem is Dean keeps dying: admittedly the deaths are mostly played for laughs but still; hit by a car, choking on food, slipping in the shower or crushed by falling furniture. Nothing was too mundane or silly. Thank God they managed to break the cycle in the end.
Killed off in the opening credits of Alien 3 , Newt and Hicks didn’t even get to wake up. It’s a travesty after everything they and Ripley went through in Aliens. “Yes,” says Ripley to Newt at the end of Aliens , “we can sleep and we can dream...” But you should know you and the cute soldier are going to die in your sleep in a lame plot device to get Ripley all alone again... Except for all the blokes on the prison planet…
Bishop didn’t fare much better.
The death of Cyclops is basically off-screen and feels like a throw-away. After a wobbly-faced kiss with Jean Grey we aren’t even sure he actually died, really, until much later in the film. Cyclops gets a scene where he tries to talk to Jean and tell her how much he loves her, which doesn’t go his way. And then he's just gone; nothing left but a floating pair of ruby quartz glasses discovered by Wolverine. Okay, so the character wasn’t exactly the best in the X-movies franchise but even he deserved a less naff and ambiguous end than that.
Killed by a wonky falling bridge on some backwater planet whilst trying to save some other backwater planet. It’s a very mundane death for the Captain of the Enterprise. After saving Earth and countless other planets again and again the iconic captain deserved better than having a bridge shot out from under him by the hands of a very unspectacular villain. Some would say that is the height of the selfless hero; we say it’s unfitting end for one of sci-fi’s great icons. It could have been much worse; in the original version he was shot in the back by Soren, but test audiences really didn’t like that. So, we can be thankful that there were last minute reshoots to make this ever so slightly less naff. Though it did inspire the gag, “Bridge on the captain.”
After abandoning the children and fleeing to hide in a nearby toilet the terrified lawyer is caught in the open as the rampaging Tyrannosaurus Rex knocks the toilet walls down around him. For one fleeting moment Gennero is highlighted in a flash of lightening as the dinosaur looks him over before striking. We are left with a glimpse of the lawyers flailing legs as they vanish into the Rex’s maw. Death on the throne… Does Spielberg have issues with lawyers do you think?
Not a naff death per se . Quite a spectacular death actually, after perhaps the best lightsaber fight of the prequels. It’s naff because it’s a waste of such potential; Maul could have been the Darth Vader of the prequels. Hell, he was the Darth Vader of the prequels. How cool would it have been to see more of him? We’d much rather have had more Maul than the leaping CGI version of Christopher Lee or the wheezing robot bloke that replaced him. George really knows how to miss-use the cool character he comes up with doesn’t he?
Neo’s PVC-clad squeeze from the Matrix films had the misfortune of dying twice. First she was shot in a gun battle after diving out of a window in the second Matrix film. Luckily in the emotionless-packed finale, Neo was there to scoop the bullets out and get her heart beating again. Fast forward to the end of the third film and she dies again. This time there’s no saving her. Hang on, we all thought. Wasn’t this the emotional hook they used in the last film? To die once is unlucky… Twice, well that’s just naff. Unless you’re from Marvel or DC…
Saved - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tgIG8eHEqBA&feature=related
Unsaved – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OwmksGc43Ac
They were the canaries of the Star Trek universe. Shot, stabbed, blown up and disintegrated, these brave, foolish, idiots ran headlong into danger so our heroes wouldn’t have to. The brave, foolish, idiots.
Special mention should go to red shirt Ensign Wyatt, who was on duty in the transporter room in the episode “That Which Survives”. He thought it was his lucky day; while Kirk and McCoy beam down to the planet he gets to stay safe on the ship. Until seconds after the pair disappear danger arrives in their place. The first target? The poor sap at the transporter console… Unlucky.
After chasing an alien disguised as a dog across miles of snow he tries to finish the beast off with a grenade. But he’s wearing huge clumsy gloves. Ka-boom.
You can quibble about whether regeneration is really death or not (Doctor 10 certainly thought so) but whatever way you look at it, Doctor 6’s exit from the show is extremely naff. He just kinda… falls over (off screen) after the TARDIS is hit by an attack of the wobbles. Colin Baker, quite rightly didn’t turn up for the scene following his sacking, leaving Sylvester McCoy sprawled on the floor, wearing a hand-me-down costume and a dodgy blond wig for the regeneration scene.
JK Rowling led the way on this so the films just followed her lead. Starting with Mad Eye Moody’s heroic off screen (and page) death in The Half-Blood Prince we have a run of second tier characters dying by info dump. We got to see the owl buy it though, so it’s not all bad. Not that we hate owls of course… But with Fred, Tonks, Remus and others we get short changed in the final book and film too… After following so many characters for so many films (and books) it is a bit of a let down to have so many die off screen and not get a dramatic exit. Still at least we got to see Dobby bite it. And that owl.
The Starbuck of Ronald D Moore’s Battlestar Galactica reboot did get a spectacular, heartbreaking death in the middle of season four. Then she was brought back. But what as? A Cylon? An Angel? Something else? Turns out she was a pawn in (possibly) God’s intricate plan and when her part was fulfilled she just disappeared. Poof… Gone. What a bizarre end for such a compelling, antagonistic and complex character.
The video below might explain everything…
“Who is this costumed hero?” we think as we see him standing gloriously atop a sky scraper, boldly surveying his city… And then he spreads his wings and dives off the building… And he falls and falls. He’ll swoop gloriously up and away... Any second now… Any second… Splat!
Another death from the annals of classic Who . This time it’s the fifth Doctor adventure “Warriors Of The Deep”. When faced with a rampaging Myrka Ingrid Pitt’s Dr Solow decides to defend herself with karate - we think that’s what she’s doing anyway. What happens is next is a camp fight/death scene worthy of an award.
Not only was the last ever episode of Enterprise hijacked by Riker and Troi’s holodeck adventure, much to fans’ disgust, but the makers tried to tug our heart strings by offing one of the regulars too. Trip got blown up saving the ship from aliens and it was far from the emotional punch the producers wanted; this move just added insult to the injury in an already dire finale. Rick Berman revealed that had the series been renewed, Trip would have survived so why did they bother? They should’ve given the guy a happy ending with T’Pol.
She just lost the will to live. Really?
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