How much bloodlust is too much bloodlust? When you work in genre television, this is not such an easy question to answer. The decision to kill, or benevolently spare, beloved characters is never taken lightly. Be too trigger-happy and you’ll embitter the very ingredients that made your program work. Be too reluctant to remove your favorites and people will start saying you’ve become predictable.
It was this complaint that was raised in Strange things creators Matt and Ross Duffer recently, by members of the show’s own cast (Millie Bobby Brown and Noah Schnapp). Strange things, one of the most important series of the last decade, has always been reluctant to slaughter its loved ones, despite its claims of terror. The season four finale (spoiler alert, I guess) killed off a single supporting character, who had been introduced as cannon fodder at the start of the season. Brown asked the Duffer brothers to adopt a game of Thrones– ruthless style when it comes to killing characters. “The Duffer brothers are two sensitive Sallies,” she said. “We need to be game of Thrones.” While the Duffers’ comment and response were more light-hearted than some of the reports, it’s an idea worth discussing.
thrones he was known for his willingness to mow down characters in their prime. To this day, the words “Red Wedding” are enough to send the shivers down the spine of many Westeros fans. But while a shocking massacre might make a good headline or two, and he gave thrones an enduring bad-boy reputation for being a killer, as Brown’s comments prove, wasn’t always the right way to tell a story. As the series progressed, he found himself unable to recapture the excitement of the previous surprise deaths. Now, with the final season roundly disliked still on everyone’s palate, the hype around thrones it has almost vanished.
Not that thrones he was the only one who overindulged in the urge to work his way through a list of actors. Genre television (police shows, cop shows, sci-fi shows, etc.) has always squeezed the angel of death for all it’s worth. breaking bad he went death-mad toward the end of his run, cutting out both major and minor characters, to, it must be said, diminishing returns. 24 he would shoot numerous key characters, all in a single day. But the problem is not just a question of quantity. Double-digit body counts never hurt The wire either The sopranos. It is a matter of purpose. What higher function does the shedding of blood serve? In game of Thronesand in other places, too often the idea is simply to shock.
There is also the issue of credibility. If a series lasts long enough, the piles of ghastly former cast members start to look ridiculous. Consider the seminal US police procedural. blue nyc police – by the end of the series, Dennis Franz’s character had separately lost a wife, a child, and two partners to sudden and violent ends. Throw in his bout with prostate cancer at the end of the season and he has to wonder what kind of witch he must have wronged in a past life. The strain on credulity may be less severe with shows like breaking bad either thronesbut it is still there.
Of course, deployed well, the death of a shocking character can take a series from adequacy to greatness, from greatness to immortality. More powerful character deaths leave die-hard fans grieving as they would a loved one (probably more like a third cousin than a treasured father, to be sure). They can feel cathartic, infuriating, or devastating; Even more than movies, television gives us the ability to get closer to characters over time, to really get to know and feel them. But in thrones, this was rarely the case.
the Strange things However, the kids were right about one thing: Reluctance to pull the trigger is just as detrimental to the integrity of a series as over-enthusiasm. Strange things you have indeed fallen victim to this, but to attribute it to “sensitivity” is surely an oversimplification. A more cynical mind might suggest that there is a commercial incentive to keep the show’s established roster of stars safe from the clutches of the Demogorgon. Part of the thrill of the death of a great character is the risk of usurping the status quo: that frivolous moment of Where can they go from here? thrones He did it with the death of Sean Bean in the first season. But later on, the more popular characters (Arya Stark, Tyrion Lannister) tended to walk away unscathed. When Kit Harington took off his death coil, the thrones the writers rearranged it again. Had they softened? Or was the show just not prepared to lose one of its greatest assets?
Yes Strange things was serious about its faithfulness to the spirit of the horror film, the question would not be whether or not the characters should be killed, but how twisted the death scenes can be. But while it wouldn’t hurt the series to raise its stakes a bit, we shouldn’t be howling for carnage just yet. Call me sensitive Sally all you want, but game of Thrones showed that the slaughterhouse approach to storytelling just leaves you with a lot of problems.