We spend a lot of time around fictional people. Picking up a computer game? You’ve a fair idea that you’re going to be spending a solid 40 hours in the company of those pixels. How about a TV show? If it’s American you are looking at around seven years and 126 hours* of quality time hanging out with four white men, one woman and someone of non-white origin. That’s why it really sucks when a writer, producer, or possibly Satan himself decides to kill off one of these lovelies we invite into our homes more often than our closest friends and family.
Here are our top three people we will never forget, and who in their passing taught us never to trust the evil bastards that toy with our emotions whilst hiding behind beautiful and talented actors. This was a tough list to make – Helen Daniels of Neighbours fame got the chop early on, we gained too much joy from the death of The O.C.’s Marissa and Torchwood just kept on killing Susie to the point where it was ridiculous (the wound left by Ianto is still too raw to speak of here).
3. Tasha Yar
Star Trek: The Next Generation
Year of death: 1988
Tasha Yar was the poor man’s Ellen Ripley. As Chief of Security aboard USS Enterprise she mainly wandered around the bridge looking a bit sour about how life had turned out and not fully appreciating that she was not only traveling through space on wonderful adventures but that she was traveling through space having wonderful adventures with bloody Patrick Stewart!
Clearly the upset factor isn’t in play when it comes to Tasha being no Yar (it sort of sounds no more) it was very much the shock factor. Just a few episodes before the season finale she stumbles across a large blob of oil and is so overwhelmed with the eco hazard she’s presented with, she falls over and just dies. Gone. Never to talk again, well until they go to an alternate universe and other occasions when the same actress plays her daughter. Don’t roll your eyes, it’s sci-fi!
Killing off a lead character so unceremoniously with little fanfare before hand is a rare thing, and something very few series have done since. If only she had been more likeable maybe we would have cared more. But it showed that The Next Generation was a different beast to the original Star Trek series and people could die, but they won’t, not after Tasha.
2. Tara Maclay
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Year of death: 2002
Oh Tara, what a beautiful character you were. You can read about how important Tara’s relationship with Willow was in our earlier article on the subject.
Like any normal person with an internet connection and too much time on their hands during the early ’00s, the net was used to find out what was happening on American TV boxes, as it would take endless months for Sky to catch up, and torrenting hadn’t become the beautiful-but-illegal-thing-you-should-never-do that it is today.
In early 2002, ripples started appearing online that Tara would be killed off. Willow needed to go to a darker place and the only way to do that was to ‘SHOOT MOTHER FUCKING AMBER BENSON THROUGH THE CHEST’ (we may be paraphrasing).
No matter how much nations screamed across the Atlantic, this plot point could not be stopped and bang , bang, bang – Tara was no more. A botched robbery still feels like a crappy reason for Tara to be sacrificed.
To add cruelty to the death of a beloved character, they stuck her in the opening credits for the first time in that very episode to lull folks into a false sense of security. Joss Whedon, the evil mastermind of this emotional power play, has gone on to do a similar trick in Doctor Horrible and The Avengers. Do not trust this man.
1. Albus Dumbledore
Year of death – 2005 in book form and then again in 2009 in the movie
It’s been eight years since that sly bastard Snape slayed Dumbledore on the pages of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, and four years since we had to live through it all over again as that miserable day was played out with a budget that would have once sent man to the moon.
Harry and his Potterettes were left without a leader, and to war they must go. A perfect example of the underdog becoming awesome and good triumphing over evil. There is always a price to pay in such important battles – goodbye Dobby, farewell Fred Weasley, and adios poor Sirius and his horrendous allergic reaction to haberdashery, etc. So many were dead and gone by the end of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows that Tonks, Lupin and Hedwig’s passing barely got a sentence each. But it’s Dumbledore that still effects us till this very day because, in this magical world of wonders, things are still shit and bad things happen to magnificent people.
Up till this point, J K Rowling had played a pretty good homage to Arthurian legend, and one mentor, Sirius, had already died – giving Harry a bit of extra anger and torment to fire him onwards to commit good murder (murder is always okay if the person you’re killing is verifiably evil). But then she went and did it again with Dumbledore. There were hints that something wasn’t right, a Jeremy Beadle-style hand is never a sign that you’re in the best of health. Then cruel JK spread Avada Kedavra all over his ass.
Normally in these situations, the grand overlord leader of good just shrugs off death and pops up a few chapters later with a beautifully bleached new outfit. We all know Dumbledore could kick Gandalf’s ass, so why couldn’t he fight death? Taking him away was so cruel especially when we didn’t get to find out the full x-rated details of his love affair with Grindelwald. Thankfully, though, his death was revealed to have been part of his greater plan – Snape was redeemed in our eyes, and Dumbledore died not only a hero but the mastermind whose plan overthrew Voldemort even after he’d passed on.
But we want to know which fictional deaths still have you weeping today or have you popping open Netflix when you know that watching a human being becoming a human body is the only way to bring you joy. Let us know in the comments below.