‘Anyone Can Die?’ TV’s Recent Death Toll Says Otherwise

walking dead season six andrew lincoln
Courtesy of Gene Page/AMC

It has been a deeply frustrating and blood-soaked spring. Just about every week lately, it’s felt as though TV was hosting a Red Wedding for any character who wasn’t a heterosexual white guy.

Women of color, men of color, LGBTQ characters and white female characters have been killed off left and right. None of that’s new for TV, but the sheer volume of these deaths — a number of which were shocking for the wrong reasons — has been notable. When considered as a whole, it’s difficult for the suspicion that these characters are expendable not to harden into belief.

A lot of shows pride themselves on the idea that “anyone can die,” but is that actually true? 

It doesn’t feel true when a large number of LGBTQ characters die in a matter of weeks.

It doesn’t feel true when a network TV drama, “Sleepy Hollow,” kills off its African-American female lead in order to provide motivation for the show’s white, male lead — whose lifespan, its worth noting, now stretches more than 200 years and counting. (There are reports that actress Nicole Beharie wanted to leave the show, which is understandable, given how poorly the show’s narrative and character development has been handled since early in season two.)

It doesn’t feel true when, in recent months and years, I can think of dozens of gay, female and non-white character deaths that were used to prod growth or vengeance in white, straight or male characters — but I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve seen that dynamic play out in reverse.

There have been moving deaths of late, notably a recent exit on “The Americans” that reflected the show’s themes of compromised morality and was depicted with spare, haunting compassion.

But what can matter more than the writing itself is the sneaking suspicion that certain characters on the TV landscape wear a Cloak of Invincibility. Does anyone think Rick Grimes is ever going to die on “The Walking Dead”? No, I didn’t think so.

Who does die? This year, dozens of lesbians and bisexual women have died on various shows, among them “The Vampire Diaries,” “The Walking Dead,” “Empire,” “The Expanse,” “The Magicians” and “The 100” (which also recently killed a character played by a black male series regular). In the last two weeks, notable women died on “Hap and Leonard,” “Vikings,” “Arrow” and “Sleepy Hollow.” 

Say what you will about “Grey’s Anatomy,” “The Good Wife” and “Game of Thrones”: Prominent heterosexual white male characters have been on their RIP rosters (though not recently, of course). No one blinked when a black guy died on “Scandal,” because anyone really can die on that show — except a black woman. I can’t think of many other people of color in the drama realm who get to wear the Cloak of Invincibility, can you?

Before writers protest that viewers shouldn’t dictate what happens on TV shows, I must say that I agree. A good TV writer’s imagination is something to celebrate, not cage.

But the real problem is this: Who’s telling the stories? Just as certain kinds of characters appear to be protected, TV’s creative leadership tiers are dominated by certain kinds of people. Who wants to take a bet on whether these two issues are linked? 

The recitation of stats feels rote by now, but let’s do it one more time: 74% of TV’s executive producers are men, according to San Diego State University’s Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film. In writers’ rooms, 87% of the scribes are white (and women and minorities are often concentrated in less senior positions). Director stats in TV are even worse. The number of LGBTQ showrunners might be less minuscule than it was in the past, but it’s still small.

Those of us who continually promote the inclusion of a wider, more diverse array of TV creators bang that drum for a lot of reasons. One of them is the avoidance of preventable events, like this spring’s Festival of Tired Tropes, which managed to invoke standbys like Bury Your Gays, Women in Refrigerators and the Black Guy Always Dies. Of course, there are gay and female showrunners among the storytellers killing off characters. But the vast majority of the most powerful people in TV come from the same subsets of the population, and are typically white, male and heterosexual, thus certain assumptions and forms of obliviousness are going to keep popping up.

The end result is a situation in the TV drama realm in which certain characters have targets on their backs while others often appear to be bulletproof. Of course, no one wanted this situation, but given the networks’ and studios’ hiring practices at all levels, especially on the showrunner tier, it was all but inevitable.

Contributing causes of the bloodbath aren’t hard to discern. TV writers under pressure to deliver excitement often resort to the same array of go-to plot twists, and quite often the way to goose the ratings or get buzz is to kill off a character. The leads are usually too important to take out, so storytellers choose from the ranks of supporting characters. And that’s where people of color, women and LGBTQ characters most often can be found.

So the first solution is: Have way more LGBTQ, female and non-white characters that are integral to the core narrative (and presto, your show will also look like America, which is 40% non-white). Allow some of those core characters to get fitted for Rick Grimes’ Cloak of Invincibility. Put characters through hell, sure, but do it without falling into the traps of predictable cliches. Remember that death doesn’t always need to be the answer; there are a lot of ways to write off characters that can be resonant and consequential for the characters that are left, and some fates are worse — and more interesting — than death.

If you do kill off characters from underrepresented groups, think about why that particular character has to die. Ponder whether that death will be one of an array of deaths that includes straight white dudes. Quiz yourself on whether that death seems sloppy and rushed, or thematically rich and of a piece with the show’s core concerns. If an actor needs to leave or a character has run out of story — and that does happen — make sure that individual gets an amazing sendoff, one that inspires paeans and praise, not tears of rage. Fans don’t want nothing but happy endings, they want emotionally fulfilling, cathartic exits. It can be done.  

Nobody should listen only to fans: Perish the thought. But taking their pulse to see what matters to them about your show is only smart, especially in a brave new nonlinear world in which word of mouth and fan-based marketing and promotion are more important than ever. And there might be instances in which leaving the door open to a character’s return — even for a short visit — might be preferable to yet another trope-adjacent death. 

Some shows have pulled off all the moves mentioned here, including high-profile deaths, and gotten kudos for doing so. Those shows didn’t have magic cloaks protecting them from fan reactions, they just had writers who really thought about the impact of those choices from a host of angles.

No self-respecting writer wants to be guilty of employing junky elements like the adorable sitcom kid who spews corny jokes or the police lieutenant who tells his rogue detective that he’s too damn close to the case. Shopworn (and damaging) cliches about gay characters, female characters and people of color should be avoided just as assiduously. Smart story moves, at the end of the day, can feel shocking but also inevitable in all the right ways. They can feel like tired reruns, or they can feel inspired.

Some TV creators are trying to include more kinds of characters in their narratives, and that’s to be applauded and encouraged. But the point is, “diversity” is just a buzzword unless an array of voices are truly included and heard — and put on the screen. And that starts with networks and studios hiring more creators and head writers who are not white, not straight and not male. 

“Anyone can die” won’t be a truthful sentence until “any kind of character can be at the very heart of the story” and “anyone can run a TV show” are factual statements as well. 

Filed Under:

Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 99

Leave a Reply


Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

  1. wvmmrh says:

    Anybody trying to see something in to this is absolutely a nut..i also noticed that most of the people axed have dark hair…As a person with dark hair i’m offended…That’s how nutty some of these posts are..good grief..

  2. Excellent article, and now we have yet more characters (Poussey on OITNB being the latest) to add to the already long list – I don’t know what the latest tally is but it’s safe to say there’s enough shows doing it that it should be clear to all of them they weren’t actually being clever or surprising or unique in any way. I’m so disillusioned by TV now I’m not watching anything until the full season is out and I can read spoilers to see if they managed to get through it without messing up, I have zero faith in TV writers anymore.

  3. Annabelle says:

    Will there be any corrections to this article now that it has become quite clear that Abbie Mills was killed off at Nicole Beharie’s request and that it had nothing to do with “poor storylines”? Which was a bogus assertion to begin with since the S3 completely pivoted the show away from the other main character and toward Abbie. It’s really unhelpful to an important concern about diversity, to make lazy assumptions without any attempt find the real story and have those assumptions turn out to be quite wrong.

  4. Tasha says:

    Even worse now that The Originals just brutally murdered Cami and Davina because the writers wanted to write a story about characters facing death over continuing the ladies storylines.

  5. Lucifer says:

    Instead of making guidelines for people you’ve already written off as sexist, homophobic, and racist, why not pool your resources and figure out a way to get more “diverse” media out to the public? Oh wait, that would require an enormous amount of work and you types only like to demand things done specifically for you. This whole thing reeks of first world entitlement.

    • voltairesmistress says:

      Ah, Lucifer, please go back from whence you came. Your words are tired, but not true.

  6. Jay says:

    Black female leads are nearly invulnerable due to their jumping ability. They are commonly known to leap over saw-horses and any number of Black men to land atop the nearest available White man in sight.

    White writers still have enormous problems with the notion of attractive Black women being attracted to Black men.

    Not long ago they couldn’t envision a Black woman as anything except a maid or prostitute. Now her designated role is that of bedmate for the White male star. Well, at least no one’s leaving tips on the dresser.

    • @Jay: Or maybe you are blatantly sexist and racist, because you clearly have a huge problem with interracial relationships, or at least those between a black woman and a white man, and a really gross attitude to women as sexual trophies for men. You should go hang out online with all the racist white dudes who are constantly whining about movies and TV shows like Jessica Jones, Supergirl, Star Wars etc. that feature relationships between white female protagonists and black men. You belong together.

  7. This is generally a great article that encapsulates exactly how I feel about this recent trend and the “Anyone Can Die” catchphrase (which is a big lie).

    However, I take issue with this:

    “Say what you will about “Grey’s Anatomy,” “The Good Wife” and “Game of Thrones”: Prominent heterosexual white male characters have been on their RIP rosters (though not recently, of course).”

    I’m sorry, but no, Game of Thrones does not deserve praise in this context, not by a long shot. (It’s frustrating how much TV critics tend to treat that show with kid gloves and spare it the all too deserved criticism.) Season 5 was a terrible mess of sexism and racism (the show’s version of Dorne) mixed with illogical storylines, motivations that made no sense, inconsistent and plain terrible characterizations – and shock tactics, which consisted mostly of using violence against young women/girls to shock the audience, while using these female characters as props. And most of it was invented by the showrunners, who are, let’s be honest, below average writers.

    SPOILERS for Game of Thrones all seasons and books 1-3

    They killed off two young girls for pure shock value, one of them in a really horrific way – being burned alive, even though the motivations and story they devised just to have that happen made no sense. (Neither of these deaths has happened in the books yet, and while the showrunners tried to cover their behinds by claiming that they have been told one of these would happen – thanks for the spoiler for yet unreleased books, guys! – it’s 100% certain that it can’t happen in the ridiculous context it did in the show, due to the completely different circumstances in the books.) Another female character who’s still alive in the books, the mother of the burned little girl, committed suicide because of her motherly feelings (in spite of the show having earlier portrayed her as not really caring much about her daughter) – and it was just a punchline in the storyline about the downfall of a male character. An original female character invented by the show died because, as a woman and mother (and also a badass fighter – the only among among the wildlings in that episode, in spite of the fact that wildlings have a lot of female warriors in the books), she apparently wasn’t able to kill zombie children (not even her own children, just some zombie children) and just let them kill her (what the hell?!). To make it worse, the character had been conceived as male, and was changed into a woman specifically because it was decided that only a woman could be affected by parenthood that way. Two other original female characters died, an old lady that was there just to be flayed and killed by Ramsay; and Myranda, a female antagonist who had a really weird role> she was presented as the sadistic rapist/torturer/murderer’s girlfriend (Ramsay has no girlfriends in the books, just women he captures, tortures and rapes), who seemed to genuinely be in love with him, but was shown also to be a victim of abuse and unable to escape that relationship… which the show then ignored, making her the antagonist and the evil sexual woman contrasted to the virgin-victim Sansa (see below) and playing it up as a love triangle (what the hell, again?), and in the end, making a male character’s “redemption” all about killing Myranda, the Bad Woman.

    They also added sexual violence whenever they could: one supporting female character (Gilly) was a victim of attempted rape that happened as a catalyst for her and her boyfriend to have sex, which was framed pretty much as her rewarding him for helping save her from rape, which was, needless to say, really gross. (The sexual assault does not happen in the books, and she and Sam have sex under very different circumstances.) A minor male character (standing for a couple of other minor characters in the books) was made to beat up and off-screen rape underage girls so we could see he’s a Really Bad Dude (who needs moral ambiguity?). And of course, a major female character (who’s one of the top 6 POV characters in the books) was transported to a very minor character’s storyline from the books, which required incredible leaps of logic and she and everyone involved acting like insane idiots with inexplicable motivations. The showrunners squeezed a square peg into the round hole to invent this impossible situation, just in order to get this major character raped and abused by the series’ biggest psycho, in the most humiliating way possible, because that would be more Shocking (TM). Because female characters are interchangeable rape dolls, and they told us in interviews that it was all done because it would shock us more than if it happened to a minor character. In the process, they disregarded and destroyed her own arc, development and characterization, and made her a prop in a storyline that prioritized the perspective of two male characters who are less important and less major than she is. Then they told us it’s gonna be OK because she’ll be all Empowered this season (because only rape can empower women, and also, she apparently didn’t have enough reason to hate her enemies before they raped her – the “betraying and killing her family” apparently wasn’t enough.

    One major straight male character who’s still alive in the books did die in GoT season 5, but he died simply because the showrunners obviously really hate that character, and have done everything to make the audience hate him too, twisting his character from the books, and having him gruesomely murder his own daughter (see above) in a way and for reasons that made no sense, after having first emotionally manipulated the audience by showing touching scenes between the two. (And when he was killed off screen, the showrunners said it would have been “gratuitous” to have him die on screen. Which they did not apply to scenes such as burning his daughter alive.) Two supporting male characters who are alive in the books died early on, not for shock value (one of them was spared the suffering, unlike the little girl), but because the showrunners clearly wanted to get rid of these characters to pave the way for their favorites.

    Yes, Game of Thrones first became famous for killing off major male characters, who were white, able-bodied straight and feudal lords/kings with power, and were seen by the audience as protagonists. But the showrunners Benioff and Weiss don’t get browny points for that. That came straight out of the book series the show is supposed to be based on, and, at the time, was still relatively faithful to. It was George R. R. Martin who wrote Ned Stark’s fate and the Red Wedding, subverting the audience’s expectations (especially with Ned, who was positioned as the main character in book 1, and in the show’s season 1; Robb Stark was never a POV character in the books, unlike his father, mother and his three younger siblings, but he was the Great White Hope in the eyes of the readers/viewers – he seemed to be filling the trope of the avenging son who beats the enemies that executed his father, and his death was mourned not just for him, but for the death of hopes of the “good guys” straightforwardly beating the bad guys. (Instead, the Lannisters enjoyed their victory for a very short time, and then imploded on their own, with almost no contribution from the Starks.) But even there, the changes the showrunners made speak volumes. First, they added the death of Robb’s pregnant wife (in the books, Robb’s wife alive and not pregnant) for maximum shock value. And they also first shifted the perspective from Robb’s mother Catelyn, a major POV character in the books, and made their story his, rather than hers. Martin deliberately made the King’s mother a protagonist rather than the King himself, but the show “corrected” that, by making it all about the young action hero. Then, they ignored the rest of Catelyn’s storyline – in the books, her story continues, and the Red Wedding and Robb’s death serve as a motivator for HER.

    In short: what was so surprising and shocking in Martin’s writing of Ned Stark’s death and the Red Wedding is that he killed off major white, able-bodied straight male characters in positions of power on the Good Guys side – the father of the family/feudal lord and the eldest son/warrior hero/new lord and king. But those weren’t stupid, random deaths. They both had had their storylines played out, they played their role, and while they were good men who made some mistakes, they eventually failed. And how did the fandom and pop culture react? By proclaiming that Martin kills all the good guys and that all Starks (good guy family) are dead. Which is not true, not by a long shot. In fact, there are at least 4 (and up to 7) Starks that are definitely alive, including 4 major POV characters. While it may not be obvious to people who just watch the show, in the books, the three young Stark children – Sansa, Arya and Bran – are the real protagonists of the series, alongside Jon Snow (who also is a Stark), Daenerys Targaryen and Tyrion Lannister. That was one of the ways Martin subverted the traditional narrative, by making women, children and disabled people protagonists of his series. But the audience keeps expecting adult straight male able-bodied heroes, and can’t see the fact that two little girls and one disabled young boy are really more major characters and the real hopes for the Stark family, rather than their older, warrior hero brother. Instead of “fridging”/killing women and children to motivate straight able-bodied male heroes, Martin killed off the apparent hero Ned Stark (who, in hindsight, seems to have fulfilled the role of the mentor/father figure who dies early) and the avenging son and young warrior hero Robb Stark, in order to further the stories of Ned’s younger children, especially his two daughters and young son who can’t walk, and, to an extent, Ned’s wife.

    The show, however, keeps reverting to the tropes that the books have been subverting, and kills off women and children for shock value whenever it can (and minor male characters just to get rid of them). “Anyone Can Die” has become a shorthand for “we can kill off characters pointlessly and stupidly, with no narrative logic”. (The Walking Dead does that a lot, too.) Of course, women, POCs, LGBT characters easily become the victims of the need to kill off more and more characters, because they are not seen as worthy of the protagonist status, and are therefore seen as more expendable.

  8. Nicola Choi says:

    I think generally this is absolutely spot-on. Of course you cannot cover all minorities and all shows in one sweeping statement and I doubt that’s what this article is trying to do–yet there is a worrying increase in the killing off of minorities–this includes LGBTQ characters, as well as characters who aren’t white, characters who may be disabled, have mental health issues, etc–they’re all minorities. So I think this article is spot-on because minorities don’t come in packs of six; in an entire world a minority could be hundreds of thousands. For example, in our world, how many gay men are there? Yet they *are* still underrepresented in media, in my opinion (if you discount the now cancelled ‘Looking’) or often stereotyped (let’s not talk about Kurt on Glee).

    And when you begin to rapidly kill off an already underrepresented minority it is much more noticeable, and it affects those minorities wishing to seek representation–good representation–in the media, and that’s why the effect is so devastating. As a minority myself I much more enjoy programmes like Broad City, Fresh off the Boat and Brooklyn Nine-Nine, but I do agree with this article. And there are exceptions to the rule–of course, the always bloody Game of Thrones which will kill anyone and everyone, and that’s been acknowledged. I also think it’s widely acknowledged that yes, of *course* straight, white males get killed off in programmes too–but you can flick the channel and find pretty much the same character–straight, white, troubled past–instantly. You don’t need to go looking for representation. That’s not to say “don’t kill all the white people!!!” or “don’t kill any gays!!!” it’s just sympathising and commenting on the trend because there *is* a reason why it’s a big deal with a minority gets killed off: because there are already so few of them in the media.

  9. john_wassell says:

    What about Glenn’s “cloak of invincibility”? Last time I looked he was Korean.

  10. bprussell says:

    Nice cherry picking. You Me and the Apocalypse killed off Rob Lowe a couple weeks ago: a straight, white, Christian male. I guess that’s why it got canceled – the writers went against the TV executives’ strict orders not to kill off any white guys.

  11. wjm980 says:

    Clearly, some people have waayyy too much time on their hands.

    • ajcollin says:

      You’re proving your own point.

      This topic is something that’s been talked about frequently on entertainment blogs the last couple of weeks, so of course Maureen’s going to write about it.

  12. Hunter Vogt says:

    I can’t speak for most of these shows, but I watch The 100, and I believe that it truly is a show where anyone can die. I know there was outrage over the two most recent deaths, but there are reasons why there shouldn’t be outrage. First of all, both of these actors obtained roles on other shows and chose to leave The 100. Second of all, let’s look at the more major characters that have died. We have lost three main cast members. Their characters were a heterosexual black male, a heterosexual white male, and another heterosexual black male (this being the recent death mentioned). Other than those, it is more difficult to determine who should be considered major. I would consider five characters to have died that were not in the main cast to be major. These deaths would be of two white males whose sexual orientations were never made clear as far as I can remember (Mountain Men Dante and Cage), an Asian woman whose sexual orientation was never made clear (Anya), a heterosexual white woman (Maya), and a homosexual white woman (Lexa). These deaths occurred to people of different sexual orientations, races, and genders. Third, there are characters still remaining who are LGBT or black. Clarke is bisexual, and Miller and Bryan are gay. Jaha and Indra are both black. I don’t see any sort of discrimination in this show, especially not toward the LGBT community, where the biggest reaction has come from, as the show’s protagonist is bisexual!

  13. Rob Lowery says:

    The 100 killed of Lincoln who was played by a black man. I guess he should have turned down the lead role in his new series to stay on the 100. The 100 has killed off black and white actors since the first season. This year the most powerful person on Earth was killed off. They set them up and chop them down regularly. There are so many characters on the show that it makes a nice career stepping stone to bigger roles.

  14. Dana Butler says:

    Spot on as always, Mo! Thanks for understanding our cause. And for also understanding that what may have sparked with Lexa’s death, continues to expose a real and prominent problem in TV today. LGBTQ, non-white, and female characters (the minorities) need to either be written with more respect, OR need to stop being written by straight, white, male show runners altogether. And also, the abundance of which, (straight, white, male show runners) in Hollywood definitely needs to start being limited. At least until minority characters are treated better. Thanks for always understanding the bigger issue, Mo!

  15. I don’t think this pattern is unusual so much as enough people in the audience are fed up with it that it’s becoming a noticeable problem that affects ratings. And while I agree with most of the list (Sleepy Hollow was especially blatant), there are a couple of exceptions that really don’t belong.

    I can say what I will about Game of Thrones, but one thing I won’t be praising it for is its treatment of women and People of Color. Not only does it have a ridiculously white main cast for a supposedly continent-spanning fantasy story, but it actually fridges women pretty frequently to motivate white male characters (or simply for shock value; remember Roz?). Even worse, it’s gotten into the habit of raping female characters, either as character development for the women or to motivate white male characters. That’s just gross and it’s anything but progressive.

    Then there’s Arrow. I can’t agree that the latest death is fridging. Fridging generally occurs with one-dimensional love interests who are created to be killed off and create angst for the main character. The character who died should have been written out about three seasons ago because she didn’t work–and the fact she didn’t work, despite giving her several major storylines–was probably why they finally killed her off. In fact, two other characters (one of them a bisexual woman) were fridged to motivate *her*, a straight white woman. I don’t think a character can be considered fridged if other characters have been fridged to motivate that character.

    I also have a problem with the fans of that character. Some of them said nasty things about her sister (the fridged bisexual who was later resurrected because she was popular, and sent to another show) and (more importantly because she’s a real person) the actress playing her, as well as another female character/actress who was considered a rival of their favorite. Sorry, fanboys, but it’s just not feminist to trash every female character and actress on a show to build up the one character/actress you think is superhot.

  16. Obviously tons of people will ignore the point of the article and the problem some people have with “anyone can die” when they can’t.

    Take GAME OF THRONES where pretty much anyone can, does, and will die. And the proof is in the pudding. The star of the show? Killed in season 1. His avengers? Killed in season 3. The big shot who was to pay off all those deaths? Dead. Oh, the bad people who orchestrated their deaths? Yep, you guessed it… they’re dead too, not killed by the people trying to avenge the previously mentioned characters, but their essential allies. Why? Well, that’s more complicated but also logical.

    So, when GAME OF THRONES kills someone, there is no outrage over the sex or disposition of the character. There is a logic to it. The writers have taken it under serious consideration and mapped out a whole arc for their deaths. Anyone can die but not for random reasons because it is completely disingenuous to suggest writers kill off characters “because anyone can die.” No, they die because you wrote it that way.

    And that is the point. When you consistently save the white boys, no matter how little sense it makes considering the situations they land themselves in, and kill off the non-white-boys in purely random “oops, you were in the way of that arrow” ways, then there is a clear problem: the writers are killing off the characters they identify with the least. And when most of the writers are white boys… well, guess who lives and who dies?

  17. Jemjean says:

    As your title points out, anyone can and does die. The fact that you are focused in on only special interest groups is not proof of anything other than characters die. If we look at The Walking Dead, we find that the majority of the characters killed are white. No one bothers to mention this, simply because it wouldn’t be much of a headline. And that’s that point here, isn’t it? Let’s tell the minorities that they’re being singled out and used, and let’s give them something to flash along with that shabby race/gay card. Do you really want a story? How about the number of white females being replaced by black women, even if the story has no link to the black community. No the males are being replaced, just the women.I very much doubt that those white females will be featured in all black television shows or films. I imagine the pressure on television’s show creators must be immense, because when the press and special interest groups pick and choose which shows they want to target, it’s never a show on a black channel or a Latin channel. No, that honor falls to shows that are especially successful and that feature white characters and that’s really what it’s all about, isn’t it? I have noticed that Empire seems absolutely Teflon, yet it’s highly successful. I wonder why, because that is a black show if I ever saw one. Representation of other minorities is miniscule, not to mention that whites are in short supply. So let’s “get real”. If the Cookie character showed up on a white screen, she would be held up as a stereotype and everyone would all over it. I’m old enough to remember watching Flip Wilson doing that character and I was shocked she was embraced. You just never know..or do you? I guess it’s fair. I also remember when a teletubbie was targeted for carrying a “purse” and that seemed important back then too. Everyone needs a “special” interest group to massage and there’s no shortage of them.

  18. Sharknado99 says:

    Oh good grief :\

  19. Mallory says:

    Fantastic article. Thought-provoking and well-researched. You go above and beyond, yet again. Show runners and TV execs should put the wisdom you’ve outlined into practice if they want to create truly high quality material.

  20. Prepare the black wardrobes says:

    According to TVLine.com (04/06/2016), 17 characters are slated for death during the May, 2016 TV Sweeps.

    What will the media and Variety have to say about all of those “miscellaneous” assassinations?
    Will the comments be crazy? Will viewers be outraged or beaten down and accustomed to shock?

    Be warned. The Grim Reaper is preparing to speed into overkill.

    Mo Ryan’s opinions will be anxiously awaited, as well as those of her dedicated and complimentary fans.

    • EricJ says:

      As one comic noted, the TV death rate hasn’t been this high since all those “Widower dads” with kids in 60’s sitcoms–Just what did happen to all those moms, anyway? ;)

  21. Audrine says:

    Beautifully written piece Mo Ryan. Its great that you continue to shade more light on the issue. I had become accustomed to seeing lgbt characters die in a sloppy way. Lexa’s death hit me hard and that was the final straw. As a WOC and a person belonging to the lgbt community I’m just tired of watching myself die on tv and hearing the phrase “Anyone can die”. I especially love the last sentence of your article

  22. Rachel says:

    Very well said.

  23. Norbert says:

    And then you have a TV show like „Looking“ which was run by two homosexual men, had a diverse cast and actually treated it´s characters with respect and sensitivity. The show was amazing but the audience found it “too boring” and it got cancelled due to bad ratings. I´m so tired of this whole subject. It feels like a lot of people just enjoy victimizing themselves (The 100 outcry). If you don’t like what you see, stop watching and TV will eventually change.

  24. Bianca says:

    I will never love a statement more than that last sentence. This Spring season of television has felt like an awakening amongst mainstream media and I hope others continue to challenge networks and executives to look for more diverse showrunners and writer’s rooms. Thank you Mo for never backing down.

  25. Joe Norcross says:

    Lost was a fairly egregious trendsetter of this trope. As the show went on, it’s diversity shrank. The show would occasionally kill off characters that were white males, but memorably so (Charlie and Daniel’s deaths were filled with pathos and irony, respectively).

    Consider season two, where five new characters were introduced. The only two to survive more than a season, and throughout the run, were the two white males, Desmond and Bernard. Michael randomly kills a white woman and Latina woman (played by a bisexual actress, no less), then disappears for the most of the run of the show. Then Mr. Eko dies in an even more random matter early the next season (granted, according to the actor’s wishes).

    For a show with so much diversity, it was frustrating that it eventually came down to a struggle between two white dudes, themselves mirroring two other white dudes (Jacob and The Man in Black).

    • Lucifer says:

      Yeah, except the “white woman and Latina woman” had to be written off because they were going to jail. What did you want the writers to do? Replace them? That woiuld have been lame and caused claims of seixism and racism. Like you said, the actor playing Mr. Eko asked to leave and honestly – after the amazing backstory they gave him, I can understand if that lame death was the writer’s payback for him quitting. Another reply to you mentioned Jin & Sun, they died in the final season with mere episodes left and were still on the show in the alternate reality/limbo timeline.

    • John Michaels says:

      Are we going to ignore Jin and Sun?

  26. F.P. says:

    and now we have to deal with orphan black’s creators’ horrible statement about the death of Delphine. Fawcett and Manson, we thought you were better than that!

  27. Osir says:

    Thank you for not letting this matter drop, even more so since we can see that they don’t stop repeating these ridículous and harmful tropes. I wonder if we never realised HOW BAD this was before, now that we are counting one by one it just seems COMPLETELY UNBELIAVABLE the amount of deaths they had of all kinds of minorities this last month alone.

    As someone Said in another article:”it is not just TV, it is social statement, it is important”.

    Thank you once more for your support on this matter and for the great articles you write.

  28. modwildtv says:

    We need come up with a trope for killing the white guys. The Wet White Guys trope or something, in honor of Archer being drowned in a pool on the season premiere. Let’s see how long it takes to fill up the pool! Surely, I jest.

    I’ve never been one to get too upset over these things, but when women (because I am one) start falling like trees in a forest and nobody but the audience and online critics seem to care, it starts to get under my skin.

    I personally know of one woman who died in the last year. She was a friend of my mother’s and had been ill for a long time. In fictionality (that’s the reality through which I watch tv), I should know at least 15 who have died terrible, sudden deaths. Of those 15, probably nobody cared too much, and my gay friends would have been wiped out. Writers surely have to see not only how ridiculous that is, but how unoriginal it becomes when it’s done over and over again. Right??

  29. Michael Levine says:

    I remember decades ago that if a character was gay he – and it was never a she – was automatically a bad guy. Trans folk were always surprise plot twists or psycho killers (and, again, always biologically men). Then came AIDS and they shifted to tragic victim and a few women were added. Believe it or not, that was actually progress. But maybe, just maybe, aren’t we ready to move from victim to hero/heroine? And then – I know I’m dreaming here – the ultimate step: just people?

  30. Michael Klossner says:

    I saw a British online article recently which complained that three lesbians had been killef in UK TV series. I can’t find the article and I have forgotten one of the series. Another series sank an entire ship and drowned about 200 people to get rid of one lesbian. It was a World War II series; I think it was Home Fires. The disaster was not shown but reported in a newspaper headline. The third series they mentioned was the big UK hit Call the Midwife, but they made a mistake. They said Delia was killed by being hit by a truck, but in fact she survived, got amnesia and was sent back to rural Wales. In the new season, now on PBS, Call the Midwife can triumphantly say, “Delia’s back and Patsy’s got her.”

  31. jhs39 says:

    Sleepy Hollow doesn’t belong on this list for the reason the author even included–the actress whose character was killed off wanted to leave the show. The network and the showrunners knew they were killing her off this season–the only question was whether it would be midseason (which was reportedly considered and rejected) or at the end of the season.

    • ajcollin says:

      Sleepy Hollow absolutely belongs on this list. Nicole Beharie decided to leave the show because her character was being under-served. In the first season Abbie was a lead character, and I would say the center of the show since she was The Witness. In the second season, the writers made the show more about Crane and Katrina. So, rather than improve the material for Beharie’s character, the showrunners decided they’d rather write Abbie off the show.

    • The reason that Nicole Behrie’s departure from Sleepy Hollow qualifies on this list is two-fold as we see it: 1) she is African American and it’s been a bad year for minority deaths and (more significantly) 2) she was killed in a completely unsatisfactory way that wasn’t befitting of a co-lead of a series. Mo’s point is that Ichabod will never truly be in danger of being killed, but Abbie is/was and the writers can’t even do her the honour of writing her a suitable ending.

      Actors choose to leave their shows all of the time (or have other commitments), but Mo is reiterating that it doesn’t always have to mean death, and – should shows decide to off a character – it should be carefully considered whether the tokens are the first to go simply because they’re not the lead.

      • John Michaels says:

        I would like to point out that characters have died on TV shows in the past, throughout the history of television. I think we can all agree on that, right? We now live in an era where those characters are being played by more and more diverse actors than there were in the past. I feel like that math is not being taking into consideration. We have more diverse actors in all shows, with the same amount of people dying so of course it’s going to seem like “diverse” actors are dying. If, for example, characters didn’t die on a TV shows at a regular rate and now all of a sudden they are dying and only the diverse actors at then there would be a problem, but that’s not the case.

        I watch a lot of shows that were mentioned in this article so let’s take a couple a look at them…THE WALKING DEAD– there’s still another LESBIAN on the show. So what’s the problem here really? They’ve killed so many people on this show (Of course they wouldn’t kill rick, his character is the anchor for the entire show, that’s a ridiculous statement) but we take umbrage over the lesbian death because this is the world we live in. Ignoring the fact that this show has probably been the only show to show an ASIAN-AMERICAN actor playing a person and not a stereotype. I’m not saying that they can’t do something wrong while doing something right but let’s look at the full picture here. Are we really saying that we can’t kill “diverse” people on shows?

        There are over 400 shows on there air right now with tons of diversity populating them. Statistically, there are still more diverse characters alive on shows then dead ones.

        Again, let’s look at the 100. CLARKE is still alive and she’s still a Lesbian (or-bi, TBD). So they killed the lover of the protagonist to motivate them. While that is writing 101, I think it’s much more amazing that the LEAD of the show is a LESBIAN. Unfortunately, I’m behind on the last couple episodes so if they killed you know what, I’m sure it’s because he’s a f-ing a-h-e.

        And for the writer to call out the fact they killed Columbus Short on Scandal, when you know the ACTOR BEAT A WOMAN IN REAL LIFE, has anything to do with anything other than that is what makes me think this whole article is just totally misplaced.

        If we are pushing for diversity and we are getting more diverse “Rick Grimes” every season, we have to be open to the fact that these characters will be treated like any other character has been treated for the entirety of storytelling. They’ve killed lovers of heterosexual male leads for years, let’s let our writers do that with anyone they want to in the future.

  32. EricJ says:

    “TV kills off LGBTQ characters!”….Okay, so does that shed new light on the private life of Chuckles the Clown? ;)

  33. Yup. Gotta love the old “anyone can die on our show” excuse. Except regular cast straight white men rarely ever see the chopping block. Not to mention that when a SWM dies on tv, there are thousands of other SWM out there on tv for representation.

    People (that are straight and white) are always complaining that viewers are “stifling creativity”. News flash: creativity has already been stifled. That’s why we’re seeing the same stories featuring the same bland characters over and over again. How many stoic white male protagonists on tv are there? How many casanova-turned-nice-guy character tropes are there on tv right now? When producers, writers, directors, and actors are predominately straight and white, you lack a diverse perspective which hinders storytelling. Shocking.

    The truth is, minority characters are relegated to peripheral and disposable plot devices used to further the storylines of their white male counterparts FAR too often. Much like in real life.

    • John Michaels says:

      I just don’t know what you are talking about…really..below are a list of shows that star minorities (race and sex)..just this PAST SEASON. Let’s be honest about the current TV landscape. There’s truly something for everyone. There’s less “white male leads” than there ever has been in the history of Television.

      Fresh Off The Boat, Black-ish, Empire, Minority Report, How To Get Away With Murder, Scandal, Jane The Virgin, My Crazy Ex Girlfriend, Cristela, UnReal, Quantico, Blindspot, Veep, Broad City, Amy Schumer Show, The 100, Badlands, Fear The Walking Dead, Grace and Frankie, Grey’s Anatomy, The Killing, The People V. O.J, Saving Hope, Hunters, Rush Hour, Heartbeat, Orphan Black, The Carmichael Show, Bates Motel, Awkward, The Fall, Luther, Underground, Shades of Blue, Angie Tribeca, Flesh and Bone, Agent Carter, The Royals, Unforgettable, Supergirl,

      • Becca says:

        Now, go make a list of all the shows with a white male lead. You’ve added less than 40 shows with either non-white and/or female leads. Go and make a list of the shows with white male lead. I know 40 seems like a LOT to you, but it’s not, nor does that mean there are “less” white male lead shows.

        Plus, some of these shows have white men as co-leads, with a white woman or a non-white woman as the lead female (Minority Report, Jane the Virgin, Quantico, The Killing, Bates Motel, Shades of Blue, Agent Carter, The Fall, Angie Tribeca, etc).

  34. Mikaela says:

    You are the hero we’ve been waiting for.

  35. Leah says:

    Yes! Yes to everything in this article! Character deaths are supposed to mean something. This slew of deaths on TV for shock value has gotten so old so fast. And that all of these characters dying off are female/LGBTQ/POC characters makes it even more upsetting. There’s nothing more that i can’t stand than a show that lauds itself as diverse simply because it’s including minority characters yet they degrade those characters by using tropes and stereotypes specific to those minority groups.

    TV today is getting hard to watch. A question I have is why is there so much death? It seems every show is killing off characters as if they have to fill in a quota. .

    • EricJ says:

      It’s because TV today has lost its compass: Ten years ago, it watched HBO and AMC’s gritty not-ready-for-prime-time series walk away with all the Emmys, and now they wanted to do it too. And now the made-for Amazon/Netflix series want to be “gettin’ grim-and-gritty with it” (which is now a popular expression), so they can look like the high-profile ABC and CBS shows.
      Also, since everyone is now “supposed” to binge-watch (I don’t), all shows are now running serial-arcs, which means not only do they have to be grim and fatalist to grab Emmys away from House of Cards, they also have to pull out every soap-opera audience hook since the days of Charles Dickens.
      You think we’re turkey-shooting the characters for ratings now, just think back to the 80’s days of Dynasty’s “terrorist attack”, where the entire wedding party was gunned down in the season finale, as we waited to see which survivors had renewed their contract. That’s right, folks: All you “binge-watchers” are watching prime-time soap operas, and they even brought JR back a few years ago, too.
      (Of course, I don’t refer to it as “binge-watching”, if it involves losing sleep to watch four or six hours out of a psychologically compulsive obligation, I refer to it as “Bulimic viewing”, although there’s no place to vomit-purge the episodes afterwards.)

      But in addition to having lost any sense that part of the purpose of entertainment is to be fun (the sitcoms have been taken over by snarky frat humor), TV has also lost its sense of purpose: In the “Golden Age” of 70’s/80’s reruns, we knew what was TV and what was the movies–TV was a quick hour or half hour and was on every Monday and Tuesday night, and if you wanted to watch a movie, that was what Sunday nights were for. But once TV started competing with movies on pay cable and home video, writers and directors felt they had to put Hollywood movie tropes, cinematography, editing, etc., in their shows, and Get Grim-and-Gritty With It to show how serious they were about it. One promo for ABC’s Once Upon a Time advertised the expensive special effects by saying “It’s like watching a big-budget Hollywood movie in every episode!” That just sort of sums up the problem right there.

      But that’s just the problem with TV. As for Ms. Ryan’s complaint, it’s obviously a conspiracy that normal mainstream viewers don’t like lesbian characters, even though writers put them in to look progressive, and nervous ratings-conscious execs consider them dramatically expendable. Not counting those who shot by terrorists because their agents asked for too much money.

  36. Johnny Cubert White says:

    Fans don’t want nothing but happy endings, they want emotionally fulfilling, cathartic exits. It can be done.

    Now that’s a sentence!

    • Volk says:

      Fans want to be able to start watching a TV show knowing that there is a reasonable possibility that the character that is like them has a happy ending. Right now, if you’re gay (especially a lesbian), you see a lesbian/bi women in a show and know that she’s 99.99% likely to die and in a lame way (like stray things, right after being finally happy). And she does. People is just tired, you know?

      • John Michaels says:

        Why are we ignoring the fact that in both WALKING DEAD and THE 100 there Lesbian lovers are STILL A LIVE. And in the case of The 100, THE LEAD OF THE SHOW. Why can’t the lead of the show lose the one they love? What is going on here people, seriously?????

  37. Andy Martin says:

    Don’t forget Orphan Black’s Delphine who was clone Cosima’s bi-lover who was killed off on the last episode of season 3. Lot’s of fans not happy about Delphine’s demise.

    • Johnny Cubert White says:

      Thanks for that spoiler!

      • Dave says:

        Let’s also not forget that (a) Cosima is still alive, and (b) two other WHITE MALE characters – both very much main characters – are also dead.

        My issue with this (otherwise) well-written article is throwing in LGBTQ *first* (as in “LGBTQ, women, and non-white”) while at the same time quoting population percentages. Huh? Shouldn’t it be “Women, non-white, and LGBTQ”? That’s more mathematically – even if not politically – correct.

        And if you wish to go with mathematically correct, killing two white males off versus one female LGBTQ is much more in line with reality, right? Particularly if, um, it fits into the larger story line! (BTW, *at least* two LGBTQ – one male, one female – are still alive.)

  38. A. says:

    Thank you Mo, using your voice to shine light on this issue and give it media attention is so important, thank you so much. Fans like me have been talking about this for years and it’s wonderful that the discussion finally took the main stage. People have scolded fans (particularly post the 100) as entitled toxic bullies for complaining, but it’s honestly the first time EVER that I’ve seen an actual big media conversation about this, and it’s in part because of that albeit messy, loud angry reaction from fans. And it’s also in part thanks to people like you, who know tv, and decided to earnestly listen to marginalized fans, notice these disturbing trends, and decided to spearhead the conversation.

    It’s funny how mad people get about this, as if talking about equality on tv is an infuriating controversial issue! If anything, the defensive comments underneath this article prove your point – I think people who desperately want to undermine and discredit this conversation should examine why they’re so eager to protect the status quo. What in earth is so wrong about analyzing tv and noticing that there are patterns that point to privilege of characters and writers, and subsequent predictable unoriginal tropes that make tv deaths AND tv survival predictable? Why do people protest so much against this topic, what do people FEAR about this discussion? The only possible result would be that tv writers become more aware of unconscious bias in their writing, what should lead to more refreshing television to seek for more creative solutions and writing choices, and more diverse leading characters. Someone who opposes this conversation, should try to explain to me why that would be such a bad thing.

    • Great comment. That people are so offended by the mere discussion of diversity really exposes how latent misogyny, racism, and homophobia are in our society. I know that’s probably what you’re suggesting, but I’m just spelling it out for the people who still claim that “they have a black/gay friend so they’re not racist” or that “they support income equality so they’re not sexist”. I would like to see somebody attempt to rationally explain why diversity and minority representation inhibit storytelling rather than elevate it.

      • maisderien says:

        This is a reply to Malcolm below:

        The idea that a show should be written “naturally” and “organically” is bullshit ! “Naturally” just means “without having to think critically about our biases and the larger social context”. Plus, all people from all minority groups know that what is considered “neutral” and “natural” is in fact white, male and straight. Writers who are predominantly straight white males will always “organically” write stories predominantly about straight white males. They will always “naturally” consider white straight male characters more important, and will often “naturally” prefer to kill a woman or a POC than the white male straight character. All the progress we’ve made in regards to the representation of minorities has happened precisely because people started to challenge the fiction of “neutrality” and made conscious efforts to be more inclusive.
        Also there are ALWAYS constraints when you write for television ! Writers must take into account the finances of the show, casting decisions, creative decisions of the showrunners, filming locations, morality codes of the tv networks they work with, advertising, etc.

        What makes good storytelling is not having no constraints at all (because there will always be TONS of constraints) ; rather it is being able to make a story feel organic despite those constraints.

        And what you say in the last paragrah is exactly what the author of the article is saying too !
        True equality in death will only happen when all characters are treated equally in life.

      • Malcolm says:

        Without wanting to argue it, isn’t the obvious answer is that ANY “requirements” hinder creativity and writing. Stories should naturally include, use, keep, kill, etc., etc. a variety of characters. But they should (in an ideal world) do so organically, not just through quotas and pressure…?

        Just as ‘tired tropes’ hinder good storytelling, so too does requiring ANY character to die/not die. There should be wider diversification and representation everywhere – but just as that would apply to leads in shows, and survivors in shows, so it should apply to deaths in shows. If ANYONE can live (even gay, black or female characters!), thus anyone can die (even white men… but also non-white, etc., etc.)

        Fairness and equality all round!

  39. Tayden C. says:

    To those preaching about straight white men dying in higher numbers than minorities–think of WHY exactly that is.

    They die more because they dominate the screen. Flip to quite literally any channel, any film–I can guarantee you’ll see one, and there’s a high chance he’ll be a crucial character, if not the protagonist.

    The deaths of straight white men in TV do not matter because they are straight white men. They can only matter in relation to plot.

    Deaths of minorities, however, are a whole other story–one many seem to overlook.

  40. GG says:

    Great article!

  41. minstrel45 says:

    So write your own show, get it produced and kill off whomever you like!

    • R.Kivelli says:

      While you’re at it, hire some more writers! Hire a cast! Hire costume designers! As well as a prop department! As well as an entire crew to actually record and film the footage (and I suppose you have to feed everyone so might as well throw in some sort of food service)! That should be fairly easy though most of those things come really cheap these days. It’s not like you’d need help with funding or anything. Pretty sure most people have this kind of money at their disposal!

      Plus there are tons of networks that are simply DYING to feature shows about gay and or non white people.

      It’s so simple! We should get right to it!

    • A. says:

      Right, that’s how Hollywood works! They just give anyone their own show! It’s not like the article points out the power structures in creative teams in the tv industry, namely that most of the powerful creative decision makers in the industry are straight and white and male, and that people from minorities have actually less access to powerful positions in the industry, which is reflected in the representation and deaths and tropes we see on our tv screen!

  42. Courtney says:

    It’s funny to me how quick Mo is to bash Sleepy Hollow, a show she openly admits to having stopped watching in early season 2 on Twitter. Interesting that the fact that she stopped following the show is omitted in this article. Her opinions on, say, The 100 I know are founded in having closely followed the show, but bashing something you haven’t even seen is just tacky. If she watched this season of Sleepy Hollow, she would know the show also killed a straight white male in this season’s penultimate episode, as well as a straight black male villain in the season finale. In the future, I expect better from Variety- if you plan to have a critic write negatively about a show, please make sure they are least have all of the information first.

    • J0rdan says:

      What exactly did Mo say that was incorrect about Sleepy Hollow? I don’t watch it either but every single article I’ve read stated the same thing. The woman of color was a co-lead but put on the back burner as if she wasn’t. Who wouldn’t want to leave if you’ve been treated poorly? The funny thing is Viola Davis (first ever African American to win an Emmy) mentioned Nicole Beharies in her acceptance speech. Basically, you can’t win awards for roles that are not there. It’s kind of hard if they make you scarce and kill you off.

    • Courtney says:

      I have to reply to this because my name is also Courtney. Courtney — the first and second seasons of Sleepy Hollow resulted in the death, exit, or marginalization of no less than SEVEN supporting POC characters. Virtually the entire supporting cast. Meanwhile they went on to build the show around two white characters, Katrina and Henry, for the entire miserable season, while adding another white male character as a sloppy love interest. Jenny’s storylines were reduced significantly, and Nicole Beharie’s character was marginalized and her role reduced to such an extent that, by the beginning of season three, she was looking to leave the show. Abbie Mills was the co-lead of the show — everyone who watched this show from the beginning understood that, and I considered her untouchable. This entire season fans have shared rumors that she was going to be killed off, and I considered that basically crazy paranoia. Then it actually happened. They did add more POC throughout season three, which was good to see, but if you watched season three you know that the writing was incredibly inconsistent. The fact that they knew Nicole was leaving within this season and chose to waste this season on so many side-line characters is incomprehensible and shows the degree to which the producers and/or writers did not value Abbie and her role on the show — which, I repeat, was the CO-LEAD. Sleepy Hollow was lead by two characters — they both should have been untouchable. The fact that only one died and that one was the black women is about as blatant a statement about this show’s creative team as you could get.

      • Courtney says:

        My comment was not for the purpose of defending Sleepy Hollow, it was simply to say that for a critic who openly admits to not having seen the last 30 or so episodes of the show to throw stones is inappropriate. Your opinion is more informed because it sounds like you watch the show. Mo, however, does not, and she should probably watch at least the episode in question before criticizing.

  43. Ace Hansen says:

    Thank you, Mo! You’re doing incredible work in TV criticism.

    • lauryn says:

      The character killed off on Sleepy Hollow is the CO-LEAD not a secondary character. Your comparison is ridiculous. I’ve watched Sleepy Hollow since it’s first season and they have been trying to usurp the Abbie character since season 1B. So miss me with the nonsense. The point she’s making is would they kill off the WM LEAD, no they would not.

  44. Max Schell says:

    Indians died, in huge masses, in westerns.
    Orientals died in the war stories.
    Black people died in any story in which they were permitted to participate in a usually degrading role.
    Women (only white mattered) were relegated to being sex objects, more often then not.

    What is happening on TV now is not new, but is suddenly deemed an important issue of concern.


    No worries. Tomorrow, there will be some other cause which ruffles feathers.
    People are stupid lemmings, inspired by the flavor of the day.

    Maybe Mo Ryan can go talk to someone who has the power to change things instead of trying to get Variety readers to believe she is a concerned and forward thinking progressive.

    • J0rdan says:

      Do you realize this is Variety? What did you think they would write about? It’s like being shocked if your local newspaper reported about the news. This is also her job.

      Change starts with an honest and open discussion. Are you trying to dismiss this issue because it was worst before? Isn’t that why we evolve? Why would anyone settle if we can do better?

  45. Thank you so much Mo ! Love your article, as always. Lincoln and Lexa deserved better than what they got. Everyone deserves better. We will fight for that. Oso gonplei nou ste odon.

  46. F says:

    Wonderful article!

  47. Josh Schiowitzj says:

    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. This year seems especially full of dying people of color, women, gays and lesbians. It has become cliche. Personally, I stopped watching “Person of Interest” when they killed off Taraji Henson, the only person of color who was a regular on the show. And she had been the only woman but to “replace” her we got two Caucasian women. Something is wrong in all of this.

    • Shaw is definitely not a white female … She’s a WOC. She’s persian. I won’t let anyone bash on POI because this show is amazing and for once they treat their characters well. Even if they do end up killing Root, Shaw or both. It will be a meaningful death. Like they’ve done it whith Sarah Shahi when she left to give birth to twins. They didn’t kill her even if they didn’t know if she would come back. And what an awasome couple that is Root and Shaw. I can’t wait for S5 …

      • minstrel45 says:

        Sorry, but Persians, like Indians, Italians and Greeks are caucasian. Just have a permanent tan.

  48. JMP says:

    All rise for Moheda speaker of truth, breaker of boundaries and champion of logic. The article got me all happy and euphoric so I had to get that out of the way.

    Great article, I do think the ‘anyone can die’ line is getting old. I’m all for consequences and to be frank I really do think that in some shows they don’t pull the trigger enough, you have a dangerous setting? Great show it! However there are a lot of shows that pretend to be these dangerous worlds by killing of secondary characters while their mains are comfortably resting in their plot armor and yes most of those mains are white males. I agree that a lot of these problems can be solved by including more minorities as main characters, why wouldn’t you? What could possibly be the reason you don’t include them?

    Frankly I don’t understand why it isn’t happening more often, minorities have so little representation that they will actively campaign for the show and they are fiercely loyal to you (ask Lucy Lawless). It is a market that is easily accessed, this is also part of the issue because minority viewers do flock to the little representation they have so writers have to meet a really low bar.
    So if it comes down to money I have an easy incentive: we’ll stick around and we have money, do better than the other shows with minorities and we’ll gladly spend it on you.

  49. Today looks like a good day to speak out against injustice.......Everybody please think I'm compassionate ! Love, Mo ! says:

    Your words are important and insightful, and more than relevant today. It is unfortunate, though, it took you so long to write them, considering the injustices perpetuated by Hollywood and the entertainment industry since the advent of the entities.

    It’s a start and it is kind of you to …..perhaps make a futile attempt to get the ball rolling and make people aware of things known to so many forever, and faced on a daily basis.

    In the grand scheme of things, however, you are spitting in the wind.

    • JMP says:

      She has been writing about this for the past month or so. Let’s be fair as well, you can’t fight every single thing that is wrong you need to pick and choose your battles. She did that, with the way women were treated on TV and how rape is handled.

      I for one do appreciate her trying to change things for the better and I have to believe it is possible. If you give up before you start nothing is going to change. In the end it is your money that counts and that TV/Hollywood responds to. Your comment makes it seem like you support what she said, try to make a difference with what you have available: your voice and your money.

      • She’s actually been writing about these issues for even longer (see the link to the lack of diversity representation in TV directors that she wrote last year). Mo has always been an informed and active advocate, particularly for women in TV. She’s totally awesome.

  50. Tartuffe says:

    So what you’re saying is… Negan definitively killed Glenn or Maggie?

    It should be noted that The Originals just killed a white male protagonist and the big death in Black Sails last month was also a big white male protagonist. So, yeah?

    • You listed off a few white men who have recently died on tv. In response to that- so what? It’s the ratio of total representation to dead characters that matters. White men have all the representation in the world to choose from. Even if 100 white men died on tv a month, it would still be a smaller percentage of the percentage of minorities being killed on tv. White men are the lead character on most shows which basically guarantees their safety as well.

      I agree that the solution would be to have more diverse representation on television. I do not agree that Lexa’s death was acceptable. Not only because queer women have one of the highest, if not the highest, percentages of death on tv, but also because of the way the writers queerbaited using social media for over a year (but that’s another topic of discussion I won’t pursue at this moment).

      • John Michaels says:

        CLARKE IS STILL ALIVE. THE LEAD OF THE SHOW IS LESBIAN. I feel like I’m going f-ing crazy here. Clarke is still a Lesbian.

    • Sorry, do white men have limited representation in media?? Are there not hundreds of other white men ready to replace these fallen characters or are there not thousands of other white men on tv to choose from? The percentage of queer women on tv who die has been calculated to over 30%. I guarantee you that POC are killed on tv at least double the percentage white characters are. When women are killed on tv, it’s usually to further the story or development of male counterparts, hence the Women in Refrigerators trope.

      • Tartuffe says:

        I don’t understand your response in relation to my message.
        I was just pointing out that white males die too, and that we should all be happy about it. Death is awesome.

        Anyway, Mo is absolutely right: LBGT and/or POC die more often now because they are more visible than ever in secondary roles, which are more prone to being killed off. The solution is, as stated, to have more LGBTPOCs in main roles where they would automatically be safer.

        But yeah, Lexa is dead and she should not be alive just because she was gay. It was the showrunner’s choice.
        That being said, the way she died was idiotic.

    • Julia says:

      The article clearly mentions shows that recently killed off white male characters. She’s just pointing out that there’s been a marked increase of killing off minority characters in the last few weeks. Last week alone, six TV shows killed off major female characters (Arrow, Americans, Empire, Vikings, Sleep Hollow, Hap and Leonard).

      • Tartuffe says:

        Six shows among the ones watched by Fienberg.
        At least seven by my count (you can add Banshee to the list).

    • Tartuffe says:

      Other recent deaths:
      – Legends of Tomorrow : white male in the pilot (thank GOD)
      – The Knick finale : white male (two, if you count the one in the fire, which I don’t)
      – Jessica Jones finale : white male by broken neck
      – You Me and the Apocalypse : white male by fake suicide
      – Fargo season 2: so many white men

More TV News from Variety