Please To Meet Death, The Thief Of Conflict

Lights Within Thy Tomb Awooga, awooga.

Warning. Sirens. Red lights flashing. A naked old man gesticulating wildly.

I’m going to spoil various fictional properties.

I do not like spoilers, and I am not spoiling them because I drink in your misery. That said, in making my point it will be necessary to pull back the curtain on some particular pop culture properties — otherwise, I have to say something like, “And that ahem, main character dies in that one television show on ABC that we’ve all seen, wink, wink, thumbs-up,” and you’ll blink and be totally knackered.

Is that the word? “Knackered?”

I’m not British. Maybe some of my UK Killah Beez can hop in here and course correct.

Are we all sufficiently warned? Yes? Good. Moving on.

Because I need to get into the meat of this post, which is: death in fiction is intended to be a gut-punching dramatic turning point.

Unfortunately, at least half the time what death ends up being is a soap operatic crutch that does not create conflict, but steals conflict, instead.

The Joss Whedon Problem

I am not a Joss Whedon hater.

I am also not an apologist. I think as a creative person (read: self-important jack-ape) it’s important to know how to think critically about other creative properties, and so I turn my scrutiny toward just about anything that passes in front of these two peepers.

Joss Whedon, however, has a problem.

He likes to kill off characters. Don’t believe me? Clicky-clicky, web nerds.

Now, before you get froth-chinned and spittle-mouthed, I’m not suggesting that killing off a main character is 100% always a bad idea. In fact, in what is probably a classic mis-step in the arrangement of this post, I haven’t even told you what the real problem is yet.

Many of the early deaths in Whedon’s work get a thumbs-up from me.

Ah, but he started to rely on it as a dramatic crutch, leaning on it more and more.

Of course, I still haven’t told you why this is a problem, have I?

Let’s correct that.

A Line Drawn In Bones

The Pinbone Filament You’re writing a story. You’re making a TV show. You’re drawing a comic. Whatever. You’re creating some kind of narrative, and you come upon the option of, “I could have this character die by getting tossed into this rocket-powered grain thresher.” That’s a viable choice, given that this is your story and all.

Except, pause for a moment.

Ask one question:

“Does this create conflict, or does this remove conflict?”

I’d suggest that at least half the time, it does the opposite of what you want for your story — meaning, it steals conflict from the narrative.

Made-Up Example:

Hiram Q. Cockpuncher is a man with many secrets. He knows, for instance, who the father of our protagonist, Squidboy, really is. Further, he also knows where the Moon Pirate’s Secret Treasure is buried. So, when Hiram is thrown into the growling tines of the grain thresher and torn asunder, his death creates conflict. How? Because with him die secrets. Squidboy may never learn who is father was, and the Moon Pirate’s treasure may remain forever lost.

Made-Up Example Number Two:

Hiram Q. Cockpuncher knows a different secret, instead. He knows Squidboy’s true identity. He knows this because he is Squidboy’s brother. Hiram getting rent into bloody ribbons by the super-toothy grain thresher therefore thieves conflict like a magpie. Hiram represented an agitating presence, a grain of sand in the soft oystery mouth of the story that yields pearl after pearl of good narrative conflict. Taking him off the table solves a problem. In fiction, we don’t want to solve problems until the end, unless the solving of a problem (i.e. the answering of a conflict) leads only to new problems.

Look it this way. Fiction is an amalgam of conflicts. Some big, some small, but all are obstacles for our protagonist(s). Without conflict, fiction is lifeless and dull, and it offers no shape — a jagged or curvy line is far more interesting than a flat one, which is why we get hotter over Marilyn Monroe more than we do, say, Olive Oyl.

Or something like that.

The characters in any work of fiction are all potentially agitating elements, even if they’re not antagonists. Characters do things we — and the other characters — don’t expect. As characters, they complicate the narrative rather than simplifying it. And that’s a good thing. Buffy hooks up with Angel, but it is not a safe relationship, and only serves to draw new conflicts to her — a-duh, she is a vampire slayer, and he is a vampire. Drum roll please, conflict. (Conflict’s here all week, folks. Don’t forget to tip your waiter. Try the swordfish.) Even Buffy’s friends tend to complicate her life — they represent vulnerabilities, they put themselves in danger, they sometimes argue and fight with Buffy, and so forth.

In fact, more examples like this are in order. Let’s dive in.

I Got Your Examples Right Here *grabs crotch*

Back to Buffy, then.

Various characters die over the course of that show.

Angel dies. Initially it reads like the removal of a conflict, but since this is a dark fantasy world more on par with comic book reality rather than real life, Angel’s death isn’t permanent. In fact, bringing him back only amps up the conflict all the more, and it serves to offer greater agitation, not less.

Jenny Calendar dies. Jenny was mostly a positive influence, more a simplifying and positive element for Giles than a negative complication. She did have that whole “I’m keeping Gypsy secrets” thing going on, but once that was largely exposed, the conflict lost a little of its teeth. So, with Angel as the one to kill her, it creates conflict. Giles now wants Angel to pay; Buffy wants to save Angel. Moreover, Giles is now tormented and put on edge — through her death we see a transformation in him. Conflict is born.

Buffy’s Mom bites it. This one doesn’t stack up to an easy equation — on paper, Buffy’s mother provided a lot of conflict in the show, and her death theoretically took all that off the table. And yet, it earned us a truly poignant episode of television, “The Body,” in which we get to see how sometimes, in Sunnydale, people die like normal people. It’s a gut-punching episode, and it does represent something of a pivot point for Buffy’s character. Hence, it nets out as a major narrative win, and further proves that despite all the shit I talk about on this site, sometimes fiction refuses to be pinned down for easy categorizations or rules.

Tara takes a dirt-nap. Willow’s girlfriend catches a bullet, and that’s that — further, it spurs Willow into Dark Willow, which is a giant conflict for the show. Hence, it works, because it’s a force for conflict rather than against it, though this actually leads to a second question — when considering death for a main character, ask yourself, “Do I get more mileage out of this character’s existence, and can I do the same conflict with her life that I was hoping to achieve with her death?” I might argue that Tara staying alive could’ve still been a source of conflict, and even the source of the same conflict (Willow Goes Evil). Tara and Willow did not necessarily have a complicated relationship, but it could’ve been made complicated — Tara cheating on Willow, Tara breaking up with her, Tara changes while Willow doesn’t (“growing apart”). Willow could still go Dark Willow, but then we still have Tara on the table as a viable source of future conflict. (Further, Whedon kind of the did the “random death!” notion with Buffy’s mom.)

Anya sucks the pipe. Anya dies, and nothing is gained. It’s a shallow death — as a demon character, she brought a lot of good conflict to the table, and in dying took that conflict off the table. This is maybe the first true instance where it feels like the death is purely melodramatic and driven by soap opera desires rather than actual narrative needs.

Spike double-dies. ZZzzz. Spike dies, and it’s kind of like Angel dying, and Spike comes back, and it’s kind of like Angel coming back, and… yeah, at this point the mechanic of “Main Character Dying!” starts to feel weathered and beaten, like an old sock. An old stinky sock. Filled with dung beetles and rotting marzipan. This removed conflict for Buffy, though arguably brought it back around for Angel, but even still — not sure of the point. He sacrifices himself, but it feels like the character can make a more meaningful sacrifice.

Whedon from this point relies on death as a narrative mechanic, and it starts to feel like an easy dramatic magic trick than anything engineered as a true dramatic mechanism.

More on this in a moment.

Location, Location, Location

I’m referring of course to the location in the narrative sequence, not actual location. Death isn’t made better if it’s at a Krispy Kreme in Des Moines. Unless it’s death-by-donuts? That sounds awesome. “I’ve been glazed!” And then the corpse is injected with jelly until it bloats and explodes. Splurt. Whee!

I think I’m off track.

Point is, death can be a greater thief of conflict when ill-placed in the sequence of events.

You might think, “Ahh, a death in the beginning is a motivating force.” And that’s not inaccurate, and it can be used to create conflict. But, if we don’t care about the perishing character, we’re less invested in the conflict and are likelier to recognize the moment as nothing more than an inciting incident. I like to think of Supernatural as a good bad example of this. I love that show, but in the first half of the first episode, Sam’s girlfriend dies — in theory, this is a good thing to set Sam back on the path of monster hunter, and yet… who cares? We don’t know her. Her dying is on par with throwing a mannequin under the wheels of a city bus. Further, Sam is only so broken up about it, and that’s because it’s very hard to make an internal conflict like that play out on screen.

Consider an alternative: Sam returns to life as a monster hunter, but leaves a still-breathing girlfriend behind. She’s diligent. She won’t let it lie. She follows him. She becomes a complicating influence because she’s put herself in danger, and thus puts Sam in danger. She becomes a target for the demon, and the conflict is dramatic and visual and put center stage — it’s not hurried and put behind us. (And you ask, “Okay, numbnuts, so what’s the inciting incident that puts Sam back on the path to monster hunter?” And I retort, “It’s already in there, poo-breath, what with the fact Sam’s father is missing.”)

That shift further goes to show that a death somewhere in the middle of a narrative gives us a greater dramatic payoff. We have time to build up conflicts, and have time to make the death meaningful both in terms of the new problems it creates and in terms of how the audience has come to grow attached to the character. (Once more, spoiler alert. Turn away now.) The Dexter season finale last night is likely a good example of this. Early in the series he’s with Rita not because he loves her but because she’s part of his mask. Over time, he grows to love her. They have a child. They get married. She and his children are the focus of his humanity, so when she is killed by Trinity at the end of the episode, we see that her death is sure to have major consequences for his character. Conflict is born. (Though, I say “likely a good example” because we don’t know how it pays off. I’ll say this about that finale: it was great, but going that direction has huge, huge risks. More on that in another post, I think.)

It’s also tempting to say, “Well, a death at the end can be impactful.”

And it can.

But it can’t create more conflict at that point.

You may wonder: “Why would I want to create more conflict at the end of a story?”

Bear with me, because this is a little “out there.” Even when the story’s done, it’s not done in our heads. The audience will forever fill in the blanks — it’s the nature of fan-fiction, really. Just because a beloved book or film or series ends doesn’t mean it ends in the minds of the audience. Star Wars is over, but it’s not over. I will forever have gauzy, uncertain continuations of favorite characters. Death at the end runs the risk of removing that aspect. When David Chase finally made it mostly clear that Tony Soprano and his family sucked a bullet at the end of The Sopranos, I felt… disturbed by that. I felt like it took something away. I like leaving them at that table, forever wondering, always on the edge of dying, but never dying. Or envisioning Tony in prison: a new conflict, a new story, a new narrative. What do their deaths do for the overall story looking back?

So, What The Hell Do I Do?

Not to be morose, but death is the one constant. I’m doing to die. You’re going to die. Our cats and dogs are going to die. The sun is going to die. Everything dies. And yet, despite that, it remains the number one mystery, and applicable to a number of themes and stories. I’m not saying to eschew death in your fiction.

I’m saying, make sure it’s not a crutch.

Ask yourself some questions when you’re thinking of killing off a main character. (And really, this post is about killing off protagonists — if we’re talking genre-based stuff, the antagonists are often targeted for death. Though, even here, you could ask: can we get satisfying mileage out of keeping them around? On the one hand, this is why Batman doesn’t kill Joker. On the other hand, it becomes kind of silly that Batman doesn’t kill Joker.) The questions are:

First, is this intended for melodrama? Is the death sexy? By which I mean, every goddamn season finale or third act of a story or comic book will salaciously advertise OMG SOMEONE IS GOING TO DIE! Crash of thunder! Cue the music! Gasp! Gape! No! It becomes rote. It becomes boring. That’s a clear sign of it being a crutch.

Second, by killing this character, am I taking conflict away from the story, or creating it?

Third, is I were to leave this character alive, could I still institute new conflict? Could I get more mileage out of their continued existence?

Fourth, if I choose to leave the death on the table, is it placed correctly in the narrative to maximize conflict? To milk it sweetly, the way one might milk a chocolate cow for its chocolate milk?

No, I don’t know what that means, except I kind of want a glass of chocolate milk. Go figure.

In the end, what I’m telling you is that, often enough, death steals conflict from the story as sure as a cat will steal the breath from a wriggling infant. Before you put Big Character Death in play, consider the ramifications, consider the reasons, and consider alternate options.

And somebody please, please get me a goddamn glass of chocolate milk.


  • To be fair, Jessica (Sam’s girlfriend) doesn’t die until the end of the pilot, and thus bookends the whole opening episode with the Yellow-Eyed Demon’s evil. And it really does spur things much more for Sam than his Dad being missing does, becomes far-reaching, reminds him that the nice life he wanted as a law student isn’t the life he can have.

    We may not know Jessica that well, but I thought it was a great plot point. Besides, we all know that this show is about two brothers on the road (perhaps with an angel). Adding female characters just annoys the fanbase.

    • Cam:

      Good point, I stand corrected on the placement of the death.

      That said, I’ll hold tight to my conviction on that — while I don’t think it damages the show any, her death rang hollow for me. In the context of a novel, it might’ve worked because we would’ve gotten into their relationship and her character more. In the context of the show, I didn’t buy it as a necessary spur-to-action. “Dad being missing” is a huge thing — and would’ve been made huge by ensuring that the writing mirrored that impulsion.

      As for whether a female character would annoy the fanbase — really? Er, I guess? A good character is a good character, regardless of gender, and I don’t think the inclusion would’ve damaged the show, or disturbed it’s non-existent (*at the time*) fanbase. In fact, you might argue that by including a strong female character at the fore, one might’ve widened the fanbase.

      To be clear, I’m not knocking the show — just that inciting incident in the pilot.

      YMMV, obviously. :)

      — c.

  • December 15, 2009 at 9:21 AM // Reply

    Whedon killed off two main characters in “Serenity” alone. Firefly was the only Whedon creation that I actually liked. His stuff always seemed really canny and half-concocted. J.J. Abrams was quoted as saying “(Whedon is) an object of worship for viewers who like their television smart and funny and transcendent.” I lost some respect for him Abrams right there. I think his stuff is merely fluff, and isn’t all that smart. /shrug I’m obviously in the minority. Also…my kids won’t let you have their chocolate milk.

  • So, your analysis of deaths in Buffy is: good, good, good, iffy, Season 7 sucks. Am I right?

    Personally, I am a big fan of Jenny’s death. Mostly because we really didn’t see it coming. It was totally set up as a “nick of time” scenario, only Buffy didn’t nick it. It set the precedent that we couldn’t assume characters would live at least until the season finale. It served much more purpose on the level of genre expectations than it did strictly in the story.

    I’m not sure that you could have gotten Dark Willow without Tara’s death. But, I don’t think the death and aftermath was handled well. So, I’ll give that one a wash.

    Speaking of, there is one Whedon death I still hate. The death of Shepherd Book made sense, was poignant, and spurred Mal into desperate action. The death of Wash was just shock value, and I could practically hear the author gloating “See! It’s a movie, so I can kill anyone I want!” It was a bad end for the character, had no story value at all, Zoe swallowed all the rage so we didn’t even get character mileage, and just sucked all the fun out of what was otherwise a fantastic sequence.

    OTOH, we’re closing in on the end of Dollhouse, and none of the recurring characters have died. Did Joss learn his lesson, or lose his nerve? Or, is that an indicator that Dollhouse is not up to his usual game?

    • Lugh:

      Season 7 suuuuucked.


      Wash and Penny (Dr. Horrible) strike me as the most needless deaths. Deaths for the sake of deaths.

      Dr. Horrible, I loved until that last episode, when it took way, way too dark a turn.

      Again, I think he could’ve accomplished the same means by dealing with some manner of transgression or betrayal rather than death.

      That’s just me, maybe.

      — c.

  • There’s a fantasy project I’ve left to set in the refrigerator of my mind after combining some of the ingredients. It’s not ready for me to warm up the oven for full baking yet, as I have other things on the burners to which I need to attend. However, there’s some character death in there of which, thanks to this post, I’m weighing the pros and cons.

    On the one hand, the character in question puts themselves in conflict with the protagonist, who finds themselves in a situation far outside of their comfort zone with an indoctrinated idea of the society from which she’s been separated. While the conflict is mostly coming from the secondary character’s perspective, the protagonist bears this person no ill will. When the character dies, they do so in a way that demonstrates once and for all the protagonist’s home society isn’t anything like what she believed it to be. Her perceptions and world view are shattered once and for all due to this person’s death. At the same time, however, the conflict the character created disappears and while one of the protagonist’s companions will reel from the death for some time to come, it does mean there’s little time to develop that conflict in the first place. And yet, without the death, it’s much harder for the protagonist to break free of the bondage into which she was placed from a very young age.

    I welcome your thoughts and would reward them with chocolate milk were I able.

    • Josh:

      Well, without knowing full specifics, I can’t go into Full-On Advice Mode, but what it sounds like to me is that it might be best to find an interim solution.

      So, keep that character alive.

      But, find another story way to show the true face of the society and set the character free from that bondage. Death may not be the only way to do that. Since we’re talking fantasy, the sky’s the limit. Transformation and transgression are two supremely powerful modes of conflict.

      — c.

  • So, in a novel, what would you be thinking about in having a death of a protagonist’s relative be the inciting incident? Specifically, a revenge novel.

    Alas, I have no chocolate milk. Only chocolate soy milk. Which I use to clean my wheel wells.

    • Justin —

      I think that’s acceptable, provided that a) we gain the proper context and time to care about the dead relative and b) it’s the type of thing that carries over the course of the work, and isn’t left behind as a motivation.

      Another cool way to do “death in the beginning” but make it reflect is to use flashbacks to give us context as the piece moves forward.

      — c.

  • Re: Flashbacks. Nice to see we are on the same page there. There is a running flashback in the book that leads back to death we see at the beginning (and throws in a little twist about it to boot). Thanks.

  • I’m no apologist, but:

    The deaths of characters (two which you cite as sucking most) at the final episode of a show also offers closure, a way of working with a viewer and a fan to say, “It makes sense that this is the last story.” That has a purpose too, and one I respect and took part in. (I also felt it as an appropriate culmination of the Destruction of Givens we were offered throughout that season.)

    I get why you’re wanting there to be conflict that persists in the mind after Anya’s death (in the last episode of the show) and Spike’s death (in the last episode of the show), but Xander moving on after Anya gives me plenty to think about, etc.

    And re: the comments — Penny as a needless death? Hardly! You wanna talk about setting up future conflict in my fan-brain, you’ve got it all over that. Including my whole little fantasy that a theoretical Dr. Horrible II would involve Penny’s corpse in some sort of musical Bride of Frankenstein experiment.

    Joss definitely delivers disappointing deaths on occasion, but I think you’re painting more broadly than is justified with the whole “this here kills conflict” brush.

    • I see what you’re saying, but I don’t buy it (re: Penny). Now, lest I not say this in advance — this is my opinion, and my opinions are likely to differ from a lot of people on this subject.

      Penny’s death does nothing for me in Dr. Horrible. It feels contrived, melodramatic, and out of sorts with the rest of the piece.

      Worse, given Whedon’s track history (in absence of drama, kill somebody the audience loves! no work necessary!), it rings hollow. Had it been the first time I saw something like that from him, I’ll admit I might’ve been more inclined to think it cooler, or at least braver. But I saw the first episode of Dr. Horrible, started to fall in love with it, and said, “If he kills Penny in the end, I am going to shit termites.” Or something along those lines. I may have been drunk.

      See, what’s interesting is that Horrible could’ve maybe had Penny if he tried, and wasn’t such a villain. His shift at the end would’ve been more interesting *to me* had it been because of a choice she made, a choice that involved seeing him for who he really was, or what he wanted to be.

      Now, again, I recognize that this would be my preference. I do agree that you could spin it that it sets up future conflict — a sequel could go a long way toward assuaging my fears. So, while I’m not with you on that, I’ll say that I think you make a good point.

      Anya and Spike’s deaths, can’t agree at all, sorry. :) Hackneyed, clumsy, melodramatic. Made worse because I know how genuinely brilliant Whedon can be, and because I know that at his worst, he relies on cheap tactics like that.


      Again, YMMV. I’m often a harsh critic.

      — c.

  • I have to agree Jessica Moore’s death in Supernatural wasn’t as good as it could have been. It screamed of the plot device that it was.

    On the other hand, John Winchester’s death in episode 2.01 was a master stroke. We’d become vested in the man and how he’d affected the boys over their childhoods, the conflicts between family, father, son, etc. So when he sacrifices himself and leaves Dean with his secret command – gave tons of coflict and fodder for at least half the season.

    So I guess what I am saying is that Supernatural can be used as an example of good and bad! lol

    • Gloria:

      Totally agreed on that point. A master stroke, indeed. Placed perfectly, made so we really care, and remains a powerful driving force — doesn’t remove conflict, but creates it, and creates motivation.

      — c.

  • I think you’re suffering from the Creative Curse there, though — the tendency, through your craft, to look ahead from the current moment and see where things could end up.

    I watched Dr. H with several people who don’t suffer from the Curse, and the heartache and genuine emotional response that Penny’s death got for them is something I’d want to be able to create.

    And for my own creative itches, I like seeing protags get hit right in the teeth with consequences of their choices. You’re right; H could have had Penny if he’d been less villainous. But he chose to be villainous even though it was clear his heart wasn’t in it, letting his ire at Hammer overtake his chance to be a better guy. And so his heart got ripped out for his trouble, externalized in her death.

    I sit down to watch something Whedon does, I’m in it for the tragicomedic elements. Penny lives, I’m feeling I get a weaker story, not a better one.

    • Fred:

      First point, you’re selling me a little more on Penny’s death as conflict and character motivator. I’m still sure I would’ve done it differently, and I still cast a wary glance at Whedon for hobbling along on that crutch one too many times. But, I’ll grant you good ideas.

      Second point, I think the creative curse is a myth. That assumes that the creator is smarter than the audience, which I don’t think is true. My wife counts firmly as “audience,” and she’s *constantly* able to guess the outcome of events in shows and films before I do. Point is, People Who Watch TV have seen it before. People Who Watch Whedon as fans are fully aware of what someone like that has done in the past, and are looking for repeats. I’ve little doubt some people really dug Penny’s death in Horrible; that said, I know of people who responded to it much differently than those who watched it with you, who saw it as kind of an eye-rolling “duh” moment rather than a surprising or heartbreaking conclusion.

      — c.

  • Clipping along at a nice pace and saw “Supernatural” come up and had to stop reading and scroll down here uber quick.

    Seasons 1-3 are wrapped and waiting for me to open on Crimmas Morn.

    I’ll come back to this post in a few months. :)

  • [Spoilers be here, although that should be redundant at this point]

    I liked Serenity more than most people did (like I’ve said before, for some reason I’m less critical about my movies than my books). That said, Wash’s death was a “WTF?” moment for me. Not merely for its purposelessness, but for its flippant tone, which was WAY jarring. That significantly brought me out of the narrative and mucked with my experience of the movie.

    Similarly, Penny’s death in Dr. Horrible was jarring to me as well. In just the way that Wash’s death was an oddly flippant and silly moment in a tragic and tense set of scenes, Penny’s death was an oddly tragic moment in an otherwise wacky and light-hearted narrative. Not that you can’t have those things together, but it takes some real skill to pull off, and it just didn’t work for me there.

    I agree that Joss became overly reliant on killing off characters. I think that’s part of why it started to feel out-of-place and discordant to me—if the death doesn’t serve a purpose, then it’s likely to feel rather random.

    • Heather:

      Righto. I’ll note that I loved Serenity, actually, equal to my love for the TV show. Wash’s death was the only I had with the movie (and Wash dying actually makes me forget about Book’s death).

      And you nailed part of my issue with the Penny death. Whedon didn’t weave in the throughline of darkness throughout, as he did with, say, Firefly or Serenity. Penny’s death shatters the tone of the previous episodes, and for me, not in a good way.

      For the record, though, I hope Whedon continues to champion the Internet model and really make something of it.

      — c.

  • For supernatural, it was said that the author thought about keeping Jess alive, make her become evil and choose to kill her. She is the driving force behind Sam getting back on the road. The guy barely cares about his father until the end of season 1. If Jess had live, he would never have left with Dean.
    Now, the way it was done… yep, it felt empty. But God! John’s death makes up for Jess’. Man I almost cried when the coffee touched the floor.
    But still, I must agree with Mr Wendig: death must mean something. I must remember this every time I create a story. I’m a killer. In a story I never completed the five main characters ends up dead. And I have a bad habit of killing main NPCs in my roleplaying games. It’s a bad habit… but it’s so much fun!

    • That’s interesting, Shadow Freak — that might have been an interesting approach.

      And as to “Sam barely cares about his father” — I don’t know if that’s true. It’s what the character of Sam was putting forth, but obviously he cares about his father. Further, the writing of the show could be made to reflect the situation accordingly.

      And please, please, don’t call me “Mr. Wendig.” Go with “Chuck,” or “Charles,” or, “My Dark Overlord.”


      — c.

  • A silent part of me cries whenever I am reminded of Anya’s death and these tears aren’t the result of some poignant/epic end. If anything they are tears of frustration. Anya was my favorite character and I believe she deserved a better sendoff. Her death felt rushed and unnecessary. I understand the appeal of having a main character die in the series finale but I would have liked the Anya and Xander relationship to have been better defined at the end. As it was, it seemed as if there was still so much left unsaid and unresolved between the two of them. Then to add insult to injury I have to sit through pointless Faith/Robin relationship scenes.

    I might have been able to forgive Joss for it had it not been for the deaths of Wash, Bennett and Topher in Firefly and Dollhouse respectively. The man has a knack for killing off my favorites.

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