I have noticed a trend in more than one of my shows in which the writers continuously kill off characters for no discernible reason other than the shock value it provides. Rather than delving into a character’s development or creating a plot line that is complex enough to interest viewers, far too many writers choose to simply throw away characters with potential. It is lazy writing, plain and simple. Numerous character deaths does not equal an interesting story.
Spoiler alert: If you aren’t caught up on “The Walking Dead,” stop reading.
After watching the first episode of “The Walking Dead” after its mid-season break, I found myself exasperated that yet another character on the show was needlessly killed off, especially after the writers had just killed a major character in the episode before. Many of us believed our beloved characters would be safe, but in the case of Tyreese, a character who has been with the group since season 3, we were wrong.
I found myself on the edge of my seat as I watched Tyreese struggle to decide if he would join his infection-induced hallucinations of deceased characters or live to fight another day. Although he eventually made a determined speech about wanting to live, in the end, he couldn’t be saved.
You may wonder why I would be so annoyed by a character’s death on a show that is all about a zombie apocalypse. You might be even more confused if you knew that I watched other TV shows that are notorious for their numerous character deaths. But my frustration doesn’t come from the fact that Tyreese and Beth died, but that they died needlessly.
Tyreese was one of the few characters left who still had a strong conscience. For a man who was hell-bent on revenge after his girlfriend’s murder, he found a way to forgive her murderer. He still cared about other people, and tried to help his sister remember the importance of valuing human life. He provided a balance to characters such as Carol and Rick who have less compunctions about murdering anyone who gets in their way.
As for Beth, she had just spent the season as a captive in a perverse hospital. The longer she remained, the more this bright and hopeful character traveled down a dark path. She actually wound up killing several people in order to defend herself and others, and her actions were changing her. A character arc where she had to find a way to live with herself and reconnect with her friends after everything she did would have been interesting to watch. But instead, she was killed in a blur of scissor-stabbing and gun-firing.
Both of these character deaths are not the first I have ever seen that highly disappointed me. There is a time for killing in your plot, and a time to explore a character’s development. It is lazy for the writers of “The Walking Dead” (and other shows) to just go for a “death of the week” approach in the hopes that viewers will be too shocked and saddened to notice the lagging plot and lack of engaging character arcs.
A lot of potential is lost when characters are disposed of so frequently.