Killing off characters: when does it go too far?

Can too many deaths undermine a show’s impact?

118573_FLIGHT_01r5This post contains spoilers for this week’s episode of Lost.

Killing off a character is the ultimate way for a TV show to move its audience – a great drama has the ability to make its audience connect with the people on screen, meaning it can have an enormous impact if used rarely as a plot device (Buffy’s ‘The Body’ episode is a fine example).

I’m beginning to wonder if sci-fi TV shows have become a little too kill-savvy of late. This week, Lost viewers would’ve seen long-time characters Sun and Jin drown and exit the show, something of a bizarrely horrifying fate for two characters that I perceived as being the heart of the show, in many ways.

It might have been a couple of deaths too far. Lost has been killing characters since its first season, and, subsequently, has bumped off what is basically a legion of the Islanders in increasingly elaborate ways.

The impact has softened, for me. I don’t think a Lost death has affected me at all since Charlie’s at the tail end of season three – the characters in Lost have become quite disposable, plus they seem to always return in some form anyway, so you can see why it’s tough to act surprised every time it happens

More characters are certain to die before the end. Although it won’t be hard to remain invested in the mysteries of the island, at this point, it might be a little harder to care about what happens to the never-really-dead folks on the Island.