Here’s my disclaimer. You’re either going to laugh at me at the end of this post or totally hate me for bringing back some repressed feelings of grief for fictional characters that you may have finally made peace with. My apologies. I read a lot and I watch a lot of TV. Because of this, I’ve got a lot of thoughts and feelings about fictional characters. I’ve shared a few of my fictional crushes, but I need to process some heavier emotions.
Raise your hands if you’ve ever grieved a fictional death?
Yup, I’m going there. On Sunday The Walking Dead gut punched me and countless others as they brutally killed off two amazing characters. One in particular hurt like hell. Glenn Rhee, the beautiful soul and father-to-be, who in my opinion was the true soul of the show was snatched from our screens. He managed to utter four beautiful last words to the love of his life and from the mass hysteria spreading across the interwebs you would have thought a real person died. I’ve read the comics and knew that Glenn was going to meet his fate. That didn’t make watching
Denny Duquette Negan beat Glenn to a pulp any easier. But he’s not even, real!, you say. Uh, I know that, but he’s been gracing my screen for seven years. I’ve watched his character grow and evolve. Suddenly, he’s gone. Can’t a girl feel a sense of loss?
— Skai Jackson ♛ (@skaijackson) October 24, 2016
Why We Grieve Fictional Characters
I’m sure every fandom has a few fictional deaths they’ll never let go of. Hell, I’m still angry at Rose for being selfish and not sharing that wardrobe door with Jack. Empathy and sympathy are phenomena we experience almost daily in our dealings with others, and they play key roles in the way we respond to fictional characters.
A 2014 American University study found superfans can feel a strong sense of loss in the aftermath of a character death. There’s a psychological reason we get so attached to fictional characters, Robert Rowney, a staff psychiatrist at the Cleveland Clinic, told The Huffington Post.
“These characters are an escape from some of the stresses of life,” he said. “Watching these shows allows you to decompress and not have to think about things for a little while. You’re exposed to different aspects of the characters’ lives — their losses, their loves and their own griefs, everything that goes into the human condition — and you eventually begin to empathize with them and form an attachment. We see some of ourselves in them.”
Because of these emotional bonds we form watching certain characters, it’s perfectly understandable that we mourn their loss when they die on a show, Rowney continued.
Read more here.
10 Fictional Deaths I’m Still Not Over
Let me start by saying this isn’t in any particular order and I’m leaving Glenn off this list.
1. Poussey Washington, Orange Is The New Black
Poussey’s death was spoiled for me because I had the audacity not to watch all the episodes the day they were released on Netflix. I hope you read that in the most sarcastic tone ever. However, it still hurt, especially with the recent deaths of black people by the hands of law enforcement.
2.The Young Ones, The Hunger Games
Primose Everdeen and sweet, innocent Rue. Lawddd why?! I know the tributes are going to die, but I closed my book/shutdown my Kindle when we lost little Rue. To make matters worse, Prim’s death is the reason Katniss chooses Peeta – which I wholeheartedly disagree with.
3. Jen Lindley, Dawson’s Creek
I became a puddle of tears watching Jen Lindley record a goodbye video for her daughter. Also, can we talk about the choice of having Sarah McLachlan’s Angel play during this scene- like we weren’t already suffering.
4. Thomas J, My Girl
I can honestly say I cry every time Veda tries to give Thomas J his glasses.
5.Hillary Whitney, Beaches
Bette Midler singing “Wind Beneath My Wings”…Someone must be cutting onions in the room.
6. Just about any character that has died on Grey’s Anatomy
7. A few fictional animal friends
My grief for fictional characters aren’t just reserved for humans. I’m not sure what’s more heartbreaking watching furbaby Sam protect her poppa or seeing Dr. Robert Neville put down his only companion was almost too much. And I’m still not over the death of Little foot’s mom and dare I mention the sweet Labrador, Marley.
8. Augustus Waters, The Fault in Our Stars
Dear John Green: The Fault In Our Stars was already sad then you riddled Gus with cancer and gave us this eulogy from Hazel.
“I can’t talk about our love story, so I will talk about math. I am not a mathematician, but I know this. There is an infinite between 0 and 1. There’s .1 and .12 and .112 and an infinite collection of others. Of course there is a bigger infinite set of numbers between 0 and 2, or between 0 and a million. Some infinities are bigger than other infinities. A writer we used to like taught us that. There are days, many days of them, when I resent the size of my unbounded set. I want more numbers than I’m likely to get, and God, I want more numbers for Augustus Waters than he got. But, Gus, my love, I cannot tell you how thankful I am for our little infinity. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. You have me a forever within the numbered days, and I’m grateful.”
9. Tris Prior, The Divergent Series
I’m still not convinced this death had to happen. Veronica Roth, get at me girl. I need to chat with you about this one.
If none of these fictional deaths registered with you
shame on you I’m going to give you one more chance to prove you’re not heartless.
10. Mufasa from the Lion King
I hope the sadistic Disney writer who suggested this particular scene is proud of himself. I am 27 years old and Mufasa’s death is still one of the most tragic things I’ve ever seen.
Hmm, I may have to make a Part Two of this list. Which fictional deaths would you add to this list? Leave a comment below.