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The Decreasing Impact of Death In Sci-fi

CmdrTaco posted more than 3 years ago | from the i-feel-happy dept.

Sci-Fi 373

brumgrunt writes "Are science fiction TV shows and movies overusing death as a plot device? And, more crucially, do any of us believe that a dead character is really dead any more?"

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Nothing new to see here (5, Informative)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 3 years ago | (#35797046)

Characters dying on television and being brought back at the convenience of the show has been a staple of television for decades. This rather lame plot device has been abused most egregiously on soap operas (both daytime and nighttime), where this sort of thing has been the norm almost from the get-go. Everyone who came up in the 80's remembers the infamous Dallas "missing season" [wikipedia.org] that was dismissed as a mere amazingly-long dream sequence after Patrick Duffy decided he wanted his big Dallas paycheck after all. Evil twins, faked deaths, clones, cliffhangers where the character miraculously survives, etc. have been used by soap operas again and again as bargaining ploys against cocky cast members whose contracts are up for renewal and as ways to generate buzz for shows with flagging ratings.

Even genre shows have been using these ploys for a long time. Forver Knight [wikipedia.org] was infamous back in the early 90's for killing off characters and bringing them back (or sometimes not). And the "Did they really kill off Fox Mulder?" cliffhanger became such a cliche on the X-files that even the most gullible fans eventually caught on to the fact that the network wasn't about to kill off the star of the series (by the time they did finally get rid of him briefly, no one even cared). And of course, replacing Dr. Who's became the norm back long before most of us were even born.

Re:Nothing new to see here (1)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 3 years ago | (#35797212)

And of course, replacing Dr. Who's became the norm back long before most of us were even born.

I don't think that counts. The whole point there was that they wanted to continue the series, but the actor didn't. They didn't really leave the audience hanging -- the regeneration usually happened in the last episode of the series, not the first episode of the new series. Other series have replaced actors for ongoing roles; Doctor Who just came up with a fun (if cheap) excuse for it.

Masked character gets a new mask (1)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 3 years ago | (#35797392)

And of course, replacing Dr. Who's became the norm back long before most of us were even born.

I don't think that counts. The whole point there was that they wanted to continue the series, but the actor didn't. They didn't really leave the audience hanging -- the regeneration usually happened in the last episode of the series, not the first episode of the new series. Other series have replaced actors for ongoing roles; Doctor Who just came up with a fun (if cheap) excuse for it.

I think it should be stressed that the doctor was somehow regenerated, ie the same being gets a new body. That's not quite killing the character off, its more like the masked character gets a new mask. Well, at least in the newer incarnations of the series. I don't recall exactly how things worked back in the 70s.

Re:Masked character gets a new mask (1)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 3 years ago | (#35797582)

I think it should be stressed that the doctor was somehow regenerated, ie the same being gets a new body.

And yet, while they say it's "the same being," each actor is pretty much given free reign to interpret the character as he sees fit. The character's appearance changes, his mode of dress changes, his speech patterns change, even his personality can change. Because of the nature of this particular character, though, the audience always goes along with it. It's a very lucky series in that respect.

Re:Masked character gets a new mask (1)

Captain Spam (66120) | more than 3 years ago | (#35797624)

And of course, replacing Dr. Who's became the norm back long before most of us were even born.

I don't think that counts. The whole point there was that they wanted to continue the series, but the actor didn't. They didn't really leave the audience hanging -- the regeneration usually happened in the last episode of the series, not the first episode of the new series. Other series have replaced actors for ongoing roles; Doctor Who just came up with a fun (if cheap) excuse for it.

I think it should be stressed that the doctor was somehow regenerated, ie the same being gets a new body. That's not quite killing the character off, its more like the masked character gets a new mask. Well, at least in the newer incarnations of the series. I don't recall exactly how things worked back in the 70s.

Plot-wise, his regenerations were always in less-than-ideal circumstances, leaving his mind altered when he got in his new body. Reality-wise, this just allowed each successive actor to bring his own unique performance to the character (silly, cynical, scheming, etc). I think that's a little bit past the "mask" metaphor, as it's largely a different character (by personality, not backstory or continuity) by a different actor each time.

Re:Nothing new to see here (3, Insightful)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 3 years ago | (#35797218)

Hell, it's been a plot device for ever, not just in television.

You may remember hearing about a really old character who was killed, was buried, and then to the amazing of everyone involved, *wham* they live again. You know who I'm talking about, right? Yep, Snow White and her glass coffin. Or Osiris. Or Dionysus. Or the couple dozen killed-oops-he-lives-again deities the cult of Osiris-Dionysus eventually assimilated. Read: pretty much any vegetation deity known around the Mediterranean. Or, oh, right, that dude in Jerusalem that a bunch of Romans nailed to a stick and made a scarecrow out of, circa 32 AD ;)

Re:Nothing new to see here (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35797226)

Well, right, I think the author is pointing out, in particular, that it's happening more and more in sci-fi. It's sad when science fiction falls back on soap opera tropes.

But then, most TV science fiction shows I've seen are pretty sad already. I think the pace of filming and the pressure of ratings are too much to take the time thoughtful, carefully crafted plots. Even the best of them have to get by on a few really good episodes, or, if you're really lucky, one whole season.

Re:Nothing new to see here (1)

ron_ivi (607351) | more than 3 years ago | (#35797228)

Asclepius in Greek myths could bring people back to life.

Practically everyone comes back from Valhalla.

And in Buddhism isn't practically every living thing reborn?

Seems to me returns from death have been one of the more common elements of fiction since recorded history.

Re:Nothing new to see here (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 3 years ago | (#35797314)

Characters dying on television and being brought back at the convenience of the show has been a staple of television for decades. This rather lame plot device has been abused most egregiously on soap operas (both daytime and nighttime), where this sort of thing has been the norm almost from the get-go.

Not just television... comic books/manga, cartoons/anime, etc... etc... Even Shakespeare brought back key characters are ghosts (since reincarnation was not part of his culture's worldview). Go back into the myths and legends of ancient times, and you'll find reincarnation and ghosts there too.

Re:Nothing new to see here (2)

haystor (102186) | more than 3 years ago | (#35797380)

But Shakespeare, after seeing the success of Macbeth, didn't bring back all the characters in order to have a sequel.

Re:Nothing new to see here (5, Funny)

eviloverlordx (99809) | more than 3 years ago | (#35797522)

Actually, he did. Unfortunately, MacBeth II: Scottish Boogaloo was such a failure at The Globe box office that Shakespeare didn't include it in the First Folio.

Re:Nothing new to see here (3, Informative)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#35797594)

that Shakespeare didn't include it in the First Folio

<pedant>Shakespeare didn't include anything in the First Folio. It was published after his death by some of his friends. All of his plays were sold directly to theatres for performance, which is why so many of them are lost.</pedant>

Re:Nothing new to see here (1)

Corf (145778) | more than 3 years ago | (#35797336)

Let's go back even further. It's been happening for sixty years [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Nothing new to see here (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#35797598)

It's been going on a lot longer [wikipedia.org] than [wikipedia.org] that [wikipedia.org] .

Coming back as vampires doesn't count ... (1)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 3 years ago | (#35797344)

... Forver Knight was infamous back in the early 90's for killing off characters and bringing them back (or sometimes not) ...

Wasn't that a vampire show? If so then they can't really be faulted for killing characters and bringing them back. ;-)

Re:Coming back as vampires doesn't count ... (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 3 years ago | (#35797402)

[spoilers] It wasn't just vampires. That show would kill off entire casts from season to season, humans too. By the end of the final episode, they had literally killed off every major cast member from all 3 seasons. And the only one who survived was a character who they had killed off once before and brought back half a season later. The writing staff was more blood-thirsty than the vampires.

Re:Coming back as vampires doesn't count ... (1)

lennier1 (264730) | more than 3 years ago | (#35797706)

Yes, one of the earlier "vampire detective" shows. A few years ago they stripped it down to the bare essentials, built a new show from it and called it Moonlight.

Re:Nothing new to see here (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 3 years ago | (#35797426)

Soap operas too- my wife watches Y&R (ok I know, kill the jokes about a slashdotter having a wife, we all get older eventually) and when I can stand to watch it with her (usually for a six or eight month stretch and then I have to take a break for a couple of years) the number of characters that get killed and come back is ridiculous in the extreme.

Dr. Who (1)

DarthVain (724186) | more than 3 years ago | (#35797430)

Pfft whatever.... William Shakespeare was doing it long before that bring the cast members back as "spooky" ghosts... ohhhhhhhhhhhh!

Re:Dr. Who (1)

Sam Nitzberg (242911) | more than 3 years ago | (#35797466)

Khaaaaaaaaaaaan !

Sorry, I thought you mentioned William Shatner... My bad

Re:Dr. Who (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 3 years ago | (#35797502)

Greeks had characters escaping from Hades so often you would think it had an escalator. So yes, it's a VERY old cliche. A staple of lame storytellers since before there was written language, I suspect.

Re:Dr. Who (1)

DarthVain (724186) | more than 3 years ago | (#35797654)

HA! Yes I had forgotten about that. So far as Death gods (or of the underworld) goes Hades wasn't very good at keeping people dead.

Of course he to contend with a dozen or so meddling gods and thrice that in demi gods... poor guy!

Re:Nothing new to see here (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 3 years ago | (#35797496)

Westerns as well with the classic bible catching a bullet. It is just not that new of a trick. What I think is funny is they talk about LOTRs as an example. My goodness people that was in the orignal book!

Re:Nothing new to see here (1)

Obfuscant (592200) | more than 3 years ago | (#35797584)

Everyone who came up in the 80's remembers the infamous Dallas "missing season" that was dismissed as a mere amazingly-long dream sequence after Patrick Duffy decided he wanted his big Dallas paycheck after all.

That's nothing compared to the several decade dream sequence that brought us "Newhart" living in Vermont with some bimbo and a bunch of whack jobs.

But that was a reverse-death scenario, where the writers essentially killed off an entire cast (all the fictional people in Vermont) by showing us they didn't really even fictionally exist.

Gosh, I miss Darryl. No, not that one, the other one. But I really miss Stephanie. She was a true whack job, if you know what I mean.

Re:Nothing new to see here (1)

gfreeman (456642) | more than 3 years ago | (#35797644)

And of course, replacing Dr. Who's became the norm back long before most of us were even born.

Who is this "Dr. Who" character of which you speak? Shirley, you mean the Doctor.

Re:Nothing new to see here (1)

Haffner (1349071) | more than 3 years ago | (#35797664)

I remember reading an interview with a Prison Break executive who said "So and so died in the 2nd season but we found a way to plausibly bring her back." Although I don't watch that show, if I did something like that would be a deal breaker for my continued viewership. I hate, hate HATE cheap plot toys to keep characters around.

On the other hand, sometimes a show like Fringe comes up with a clever way of retaining a character, e.g. flashbacks or alternate reality where a character is still alive.

One nice thing... (4, Funny)

grub (11606) | more than 3 years ago | (#35797052)


... at least we didn't see Greedo get up off the cantina floor.

Re:One nice thing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35797162)

... at least we didn't see Greedo get up off the cantina floor.

So now when George Lucas re-releases ANH again, with Greedo getting up off the floor only to have Chewie kick him in the face, we can blame YOU.

Re:One nice thing... (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#35797550)

It wouldn't be Chewie. It'd be one of the 6-year-old kids suddenly populating the bar.

Re:One nice thing... (1)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 3 years ago | (#35797222)

... at least we didn't see Greedo get up off the cantina floor.

Some things should not be said in public, they might find their way to Lucas. ;-)

Star Trek (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35797090)

You should be okay so long as you're not a redshirt.

Re:Star Trek (1)

Rob the Bold (788862) | more than 3 years ago | (#35797152)

You should be okay so long as you're not a redshirt.

In TOS and its movie sequels, didn't McCoy, Scotty, Spock and Kirk get resurrected in one way or another?

Re:Star Trek (1)

softWare3ngineer (2007302) | more than 3 years ago | (#35797184)

some more than once. how many times does Spock die throughout the series / movies ?

Re:Star Trek (2)

spire3661 (1038968) | more than 3 years ago | (#35797368)

Scotty was 'resurrected' in a way that was totally plausible for the character. It worked, and technically he never died. Spock's resurrection was much less plausible

Re:Star Trek (1)

jmauro (32523) | more than 3 years ago | (#35797420)

I think McCoy had the good decency to grow old and die. I never remember him being resurrected.

Re:Star Trek (1)

tehrustine (2020446) | more than 3 years ago | (#35797410)

And not Tasha Yar, or Dax

Re:Star Trek (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#35797638)

I don't remember Dax dying. Jadzia, on the other hand...

Re:Star Trek (1)

hierofalcon (1233282) | more than 3 years ago | (#35797418)

He's dead, Jim.

Poor Rory... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35797114)

How many times does he have to die?

Depends on the show (1)

TheSpoom (715771) | more than 3 years ago | (#35797140)

We should chart popular shows agains the Sorting Algorithm of Deadness [tvtropes.org] and plot them against time. If the average gets to 2.5 or below, there's a problem.

Re:Depends on the show (1)

ustolemyname (1301665) | more than 3 years ago | (#35797312)

Isn't that an algorithm for determining rank, not sorting? Yes, the value it produces could be used as a key for sorting, but it is not a sorting algorithm.

Other than that, awesome.

This isn't limited to sci-fi (1)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 3 years ago | (#35797146)

This isn't really a sci-fi problem. It's called shitty clichéd writing. Is nobody here old enough to remember "Who shot J.R."?

Every other sci-fi thread on /. I hear a million people claiming Genre Series XYZ is the greatest literature known to man, surpassing all the known classics of history, and that anybody who doesn't eat, sleep, and breathe genre fiction is just a small-minded idiot who lacks vision and creative thinking. Can I seriously now be hearing someone on here suggest that the bulk of science fiction actually fucking sucks? Say it ain't so.

Sturgeon's Law, people.

Re:This isn't limited to sci-fi (1)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 3 years ago | (#35797604)

Sturgeon's Law:

Ninety percent of everything is crap.

And he's right. You think every Opera is a beautiful work of art? Every painting and sculpture? Of course not, we just remember the good 10% so much more than the 90% that was crap. The problem is that sci-fi classics quickly and quietly get put into a different genre so that they can be safely ignored as examples of good sci-fi.

what sci-fi shows? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35797176)

There aren't that many good sci-fi shows on T.V. now they keep getting cancelled before they get a chance. Also, this article uses Buffy and Lord Of The Rings as examples...they are fantasy nothing else. And in sci-fi and fantasy death isn't always the end of a person there are many ways to bring people back (i.e spells or technology).
Besides this isn't a new trend in sci-fi, the red shirts in the original star trek died just for shits and giggles it seemed sometimes.

Re:what sci-fi shows? (1)

outsider007 (115534) | more than 3 years ago | (#35797540)

Buffy was more to horror than fantasy and the occasional robot made it a little science fiction-y

Answers: (1)

drb226 (1938360) | more than 3 years ago | (#35797178)

Are science fiction TV shows and movies overusing death as a plot device?

Yes.

do any of us believe that a dead character is really dead any more?

No.

That said, LoTR doesn't count, because the book was written 60 years ago. And Dr Who doesn't count because, well, anything goes when you've got Dr Who on the job.

Ah, youth (2)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 3 years ago | (#35797450)

I guess we can give the guy a little bit of a break. He opens the article with "When I was a child..." and proceeds to talk about watching a movie with his mum... a movie that came out in 1993. Little wonder that he doesn't realize that the story with Gandalf and the white robes was written 40 years before he was born.

It's Just Annoying in Comics (2)

Spiffy (16623) | more than 3 years ago | (#35797242)

Ever since the death of Superman woke up an audience for DC, every couple of years they kill or maim someone iconic just for the publicity. Ho hum. Whatever the news, even if it's only a costume change, you know everything will be put back the "old way" in a year.

Marvel sacrificed their rich continuity by getting in on the "reboot" fad with the Ultimate line, and at DC, lots of epic stuff happens, but after you read for a couple years, you realize that none of it really matters to the DC universe's history.

I want canon, with changes that "stick" as it develops over time.

Re:It's Just Annoying in Comics (1)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 3 years ago | (#35797506)

Ever since the death of Superman woke up an audience for DC, every couple of years they kill or maim someone iconic just for the publicity.

Apparently it works. Marvel just announced plans to kill off a major character every quarter. [newsarama.com]

The worst is when they kill the wrong person (0)

AEton (654737) | more than 3 years ago | (#35797252)

Why Marcus and not Ivanova? "Oops."

Why Aaron Eckhart and not Heath Ledger? "Oooops."

Re:The worst is when they kill the wrong person (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35797478)

Ugh yeah. Killing of Marcus and not Ivanova was a mistake. Unfortunately, it was impossible to know that she would become troublesome during contract renegotiations.

Re:The worst is when they kill the wrong person (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#35797674)

And this is why you negotiate the contracts for the next season before the finale. Anyone who hasn't signed on for the next season two or three episodes before the end finds their character having fatal accident...

None worse than SG-1 (1)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 3 years ago | (#35797256)

I don't think that any show abused it more than Sg-1. It got so bad, they even started making fun of it as an in-show meme towards the last few seasons.

Re:None worse than SG-1 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35797366)

meme = boring, repeated cliche. see: fark.com

At least Daniel didn't (1)

www.sorehands.com (142825) | more than 3 years ago | (#35797462)

As Daniel Jackson said, "Ah. Been there, done that."
At least he didn't have the t-shirt.

Re:None worse than SG-1 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35797528)

Apparently you haven't seen SGU.

Adric (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35797294)

As long as Adric stays dead, it's fine with me.

Re:Adric (2)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#35797504)

We should probably kill him again, just to be sure.

Way to go, Jesus (4, Funny)

KarlIsNotMyName (1529477) | more than 3 years ago | (#35797296)

Ruining death for everyone.

AND (1)

Titan1080 (1328519) | more than 3 years ago | (#35797302)

even more crucially, do any of us really care? I mean really?

Two Factors to consider (1)

Drakkenmensch (1255800) | more than 3 years ago | (#35797308)

One, staying dead must not be trivial or else we'll just be expecting the characters to return through cloning, time travel or whatever Deux Ex Machina the writers are inclined to use. Two, the characters must matter to the viewers. What dramatic drive is there in seeing a character die who had little screen time or relevance to the story? A main character's death has massive influence on the story, a red shirt's has none.

Mass Effect games are a good example of character death done right. Most gamers will play Mass Effect 2 multiple times and go out of their way to have a perfect playthrough where everyone survives the suicide mission.

Hey! Obiwan started it! (1)

citab (1677284) | more than 3 years ago | (#35797324)

Blame him.

Re:Hey! Obiwan started it! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35797428)

Who's the bigger fool? The fool or the fool who follows?

Stargate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35797330)

Stargate has to be the worst offender. How many characters actually STAYED dead? And never appeared again? yeeeeeeeaaaah.

Re:Stargate (1)

AvitarX (172628) | more than 3 years ago | (#35797514)

didn't they pretty much all die that died in Stargate Universe (yeah, there was one episode where the people left behind were around, but they were hardly returned to life permanently).

Re:Stargate (1)

DarkOx (621550) | more than 3 years ago | (#35797592)

I am not sure that is entirely fair. We are talking about writers abusing death as a plot device. I consider a plot device abused when its been inserted gratuitously. Its gratuitous when an author uses it add drama or intrigue to an otherwise boring story but does bother to weave it into the underlying theme of the story. Stargate's themes are steeped in Ancient Egyptian myth which was very concerned with death and the afterlife to say the least.

So Stargate actually has more license to use it than most others. Buffy (the series) is a big offender though. The first time Buffy dies it makes sense, the mythology established around the master demands it. Killing Joyce though really is just done to shock the audience.

Oh my God, they killed Kenny... You bastards! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35797352)

Seriously, nobody has mentioned this yet?

Kill-em-all (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35797356)

Sometimes people with depression are put in charge of production. Those people also seem to hate doing sequels. End result, meaningless death everywhere you look and no chance of revival. It does sometimes work well if they are trying to push home the war is hell theme.

If We're Playing "Who started it?" remember: (1)

sehlat (180760) | more than 3 years ago | (#35797378)

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle killed off Sherlock Holmes at Reichenbach Falls but later "resurrected" him in response to audience pressure.

Re:If We're Playing "Who started it?" remember: (1)

clgoh (106162) | more than 3 years ago | (#35797396)

Well, there's a 2000 years old example...

Re:If We're Playing "Who started it?" remember: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35797534)

Well, there's a 2000 years old example...

Ummm... we're talking human authors here. :)

Re:If We're Playing "Who started it?" remember: (1)

mangu (126918) | more than 3 years ago | (#35797710)

And another that's 4500 years old [wikipedia.org]

Re:If We're Playing "Who started it?" remember: (1)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | more than 3 years ago | (#35797490)

I think Saints Mathew, Mark, Luke and John beat Sir Doyle by at least 2 millennia. (I'm sure some Egyptians did it even earlier.)

Wait a second.... (1)

PingXao (153057) | more than 3 years ago | (#35797386)

There are sci fi shows on TV that aren't reruns? Huh, coulda fooled me.

willful wednesday coming up, chariots all aflame (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35797400)

hold on to your beatitudes, either real math, science, spieling, plus (+) time, space, circumstance, & history, are all taking a turn at having their (true) way, finally. or, we haven't had the right target (life itself) in our sights all along? looks like some of the play-dates may have to include asteroid relocation exercises, photon based radiation dissipation, care & maintenance of captured/surrendered/on display chosen ones holycosters, kings, minions etc etc.... some minions have been spotted flying out of windows with rats in their mouths, & their butts on fire. chariots? it never ends? amen to that?

Gandolf? (1)

Nyall (646782) | more than 3 years ago | (#35797412)

Using Gandolf as an example? I might be wrong but I suspect Tolkien wrote the Lord of the Rings before this plot device became a cliche.

Re:Gandolf? (1)

ChinggisK (1133009) | more than 3 years ago | (#35797600)

Also unless there's a page in the book that I don't remember where Frodo pulls catches a ride on his spaceship and shoots some orcs up with his laser cannons, I don't think I'd classify it as a Sci-Fi either.

Yes Yes... (5, Funny)

nebaz (453974) | more than 3 years ago | (#35797444)

This is absolutely true. The most egregious example is a character from the blockbuster Sci-Fi series "South Park", a character named Kenny seems to die almost every week. Long live Mysterion!

Re:Yes Yes... (1)

just_another_sean (919159) | more than 3 years ago | (#35797576)

And all hail Cthulu!

Re:Yes Yes... (1)

Obfuscant (592200) | more than 3 years ago | (#35797734)

This is absolutely true. The most egregious example is a character from the blockbuster Sci-Fi series "South Park", a character named Kenny seems to die almost every week.

Those bastards!

Find me a science fiction movie / TV show (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#35797448)

Find me a science fiction movie or science fiction TV show and I'll let you know...

No, not an action flick, just a bunch of explosions. No, not a drama all about living in th ebig city and dating and family life. No, not a fantasy complete with knights and swordfights. No, not yet another cop movie, bumbling mismatched partners, now with extra cool ray guns! No, not another vampire and werewolf with cool, yet irrelevant to the plot, cellphones.

Futuristic doesn't mean chrome, or shaky camera, or lack of lighting. Doesn't mean the really tired old cliche of "internet or network in general as a bad acid trip"

Re:Find me a science fiction movie / TV show (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35797536)

Metropolis - 1927

It's still pretty shocking to see all the workers die in the M-Machine accident and have it split to a vision of workers "feeding" themselves to the machine without thought.

Re:Find me a science fiction movie / TV show (1)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | more than 3 years ago | (#35797650)

According to Issac Asimov, all good science fiction is actually detective fiction.

As a side note, Bram Stoker's "Dracula" is Science Fiction. It's about the triumph of Victorian Science against Medieval Superstition. It's no accident that van Helsing is a medical Doctor and a professor.

Re:Find me a science fiction movie / TV show (1)

DudeTheMath (522264) | more than 3 years ago | (#35797656)

Moon.

Re:Find me a science fiction movie / TV show (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35797660)

Pray tell.. What defines a science fiction movie or TV show.
Can you name a science fiction (anything)? Comic book.. Novel.. Masterpiece.. Dance?

Geeky response... (1)

nurbles (801091) | more than 3 years ago | (#35797454)

The author of the piece doesn't seem to "get" some of the characters. For example, Gandalf states that he's walked Middle-Earth for 3000 lives of men, indicating that he's quite likely immortal (and the Silmarillion explains more of his origin/status for anyone who cares); Wolverine is supposed to be able to heal from virtually any injury, so why not a mere bullet to the head (though I liked that in his prequel his memory didn't heal with his flesh); and in supernatural shows (Buffy, Angel, Supernatural, etc.) death is only one state of being and characters often transition to/from it. And while he mentioned Torchwood, it was interesting that he totally ignored Jack, who is immortal, but often seemed to get killed in both Torchwood and Dr Who.

The "death isn't real" issue is a problem in actual science fiction as opposed to fantasy/supernatural fiction, where it is often expected. In science fiction stories there may be some super tech that can restore life like a chocolate coated pill for a mostly dead character can do in a fantasy story. But in general, TV shows are using the "important character death" hook far too often, especially since it is almost invariably followed by the equivalent of, "April Fools! Thanks for the great ratings during sweeps!"

Extraordinary events and death (1)

macraig (621737) | more than 3 years ago | (#35797470)

SF novels and movies almost always depict extraordinary events. Why else craft the stories in the first place? People always tend to die during extraordinary events. What would truly be shocking is if they didn't die. People are fragile often clueless little gnats on the cosmic stage; they get swatted and squished during extraordinary events and never see it coming. Extraordinary events wouldn't be extraordinary events if people weren't dying.

And is jumping the shark really jumping the shark? (2)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#35797476)

Is jumping the shark really a bad thing when the shark has a fricken' laser beam on its head?

Re:And is jumping the shark really jumping the sha (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35797588)

It is unless you wear mirrored underpants.

Give Tolkien a break (3, Insightful)

PhilHibbs (4537) | more than 3 years ago | (#35797486)

Complaining about Gandalf's resurrection is a bit thin, since it hadn't really been abused all that much when Tolkien wrote LotR.

Yes and No (1)

applematt84 (1135009) | more than 3 years ago | (#35797518)

Yes, death is definitely overused as a plot device. No, when a character dies they are never really dead. When a character died, it used to be unexpected and invoke a certain emotion and bond between the show and the viewer ... but because it's so overused, it's like shows are trying to condition their viewers to death. When they do die, the show typically brings the character back if ratings decrease or the fan-base screams in outrage. It's disappointing to see any show (or universe) manipulated by the viewers. My mother always taught that when I create something, to do it for myself and no one else.

If one attempts to meet the expectations of another, one will inevitably fail. However, if one focuses on their own expectations, one will never fail.

Not the worst (1)

Xelios (822510) | more than 3 years ago | (#35797530)

I do think death is being overused, especially the kind mentioned in TFA where the presumably dead character makes an inevitable return with some half backed story about how he survived. Case in point, SGU when Rush was left on the planet. SGU when the team on the planet was left behind. SGU when Telford was left behind on the alien ship. SGU when... well you get the picture.

But more than anything I hate the sheer amount of garbage on TV these days. 5 different shows about pawn shops is 5 too many. Well, at least having nothing interesting on TV has given me a new appreciation for spending my free time on other things. I guess that's worth something...

Happened to my Dad's Uncle (1, Interesting)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | more than 3 years ago | (#35797548)

My dad had an uncle who woke up at his own funeral. The uncle lived several years after that. This would have been in Nova Scotia around the 1930's.

Doctor Who (1)

Fractal Dice (696349) | more than 3 years ago | (#35797560)

The Doctor Who revival, wonderful as it has been, has been suffering from small problem of threat inflation in its season finales:

(1) Dalaks threaten a future point of Earth
(2) Daleks/Cybermen threaten the present Earth
(3) The Master treatens present Earth with it's future.
(4) Davros threaten to blow up all of space
(4b) Time Lords threaten to blow up all of time
(5) The Tardis blows up, taking all of space and time with it

I'm a little concerned about what happens next ...

Wash (1)

greenskyx (609089) | more than 3 years ago | (#35797562)

Sadly I'm pretty sure Wash is dead and won't be coming back.

Re:Wash (1)

DudeTheMath (522264) | more than 3 years ago | (#35797678)

Mod parent up! This is what I was coming to say. ("Me2!!!!!")

Moon (1)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | more than 3 years ago | (#35797572)

I think the recent film Moon [imdb.com] with Sam Rockwell did an interesting take on the topic of mortality as a plot device. I don't want to spoil it for anyone who hasn't seen it yet. It's not blockbuster material, but it's not a cookie-cutter sci-fi film that Hollywood seems to always spit out.

Of course, I watched the movie while I was working abroad for 3 months and only had contact with friends and family with Skype. So my boss took great pleasure in doing quotes from the film.

You fuckers are pathetic (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35797636)

Do you even REALIZE you are discussing this like a bunch of old women
in a bridge club ? This is the most pathetic shit I have seen in a long time.

This is it, the last time I will waste a precious second of my life looking at Slashdot, which
has become less worthwhile than a turd.

At least a turd can be used as fertilizer.

Game of Thrones (1)

Vrallis (33290) | more than 3 years ago | (#35797642)

Since the article actually includes fantasy stuff as well as sci-fi...

People who haven't read the Game of Thrones books but watch the new series starting this Sunday are going to get a very different viewpoint on this issue. George R.R. Martin isn't afraid to fully flesh out characters then kill them shortly after. So many major characters die so often that it is almost cliche, but they rarely come back afterward.

The Doctor's Opinion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35797720)

It may be a tad overused http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r0yXqU-w9U0 [youtube.com]

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