{DISCUSSION} ‘Not Dead’ Cliche

Why are authors so afraid to kill their darlings?

So… I read a book. I know. Insane, right? But in this book there were some characters and lots of action and potential options for death (aka author killing said characters.) And, because we’re trying to be realistic, one of the characters gets stuck in their sticky situation and befalls an untimely death (in whatever gruesome [aka boring] manner the author deems fit.)


That character’s not dead! Nope! That character, by some form of scientific, magical, gobble-pot nonsense (that literally does NOT exist in this style of novel) the character is STILL ALIVE! HOORAY!

Yeah, no. 😑

This, lovely ladies and gorgeous gentleman, is what I so vehemently like to refer to as… a ‘cliche.’ That’s right! This particular plot element of a character dying, but not actually dying and popping up again later in the book, is used so gosh darn mother fucking often that it has become a trope.

*insert exhausted, overly bored, seen-it-before sigh*

I am honestly quite surprised by how long it took me to notice this plot device and the frustrating frequency with which its used (particularly in YA fiction). What’s more, I’m sorry. After all, I feel it has become my duty, my obligation, my job as Anti-Hero of Bad Books (deemed so by one of my fellow bloggers. 😉 SHOUTOUT TO ANDREA @ A LITTLE BLUE BOOK!), to bring these unfortunate, abhorrent things to light and…

😂 I’m so evil. ☺️

But as I was saying, I was reading a book where everyone thought the character died and then they didn’t (and then they actually ended up dying. What the actual fuck was the point of bringing them back to life and then killing them again? Really though? That sounds like the author went: “FUCK! I have no way for my characters to plausibly escape this scenario I have put them in! I guess I’ll just have to bring back the dead character who literally had NO WAY of surviving their first death and I really don’t want this character so I’ll probably still kill them anyway. LOLZ!” … /rant)

Wow. Tangenty.

I guess, as an author who likes to kill characters (ha! Here’s your one and only warning should you ever read my stuffs), I am baffled and appalled by the authors who can’t or just won’t kill characters. Honestly, I’m kind of disappointed when an epic, dangerous, action-filled story ends with all the characters alive. Why? Because if all the important characters managed to survive… then it obviously wasn’t all that dangerous or epic of an adventure now, was it? 🤔

Not to mention, I just think it’s cheap and cowardly to not be able to kill off your characters. That’s right! I called you out! If you had a reason to kill the character (like it was plausible thing that could have happened at that particular point in the story), then just kill them! You bringing them back to life is no longer a big shocker. It’s not the ‘surprise twist’ you think it is. It’s just pathetic and shows what kind of writer you really are (one I’m not going to read again, fyi!)

Of course, this could just be me. Maybe I’m the only one who thinks that bringing characters back to life is cheap and pathetic (because I hail the darkness and like to sacrifice characters to the writing gods in the hopes that I will one day be showered upon by their blessings. P.s. those aren’t the ‘good’ gods you’re thinking of, people. I did say ‘darkness.’ 😈)

But what do you think?
Is not dead characters annoying to you?
Leave your thoughts below! 

And check out my discussion from last week:
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40 thoughts on “{DISCUSSION} ‘Not Dead’ Cliche”

  1. I definitely agree. I feel that pretending to kill a character and then resurrecting them is a cheap way to create drama, “prove that the danger is real”, and then cash in on the sympathy and regret as well. It’s just cheap, in my opinion.
    Going back and killing them again after the fake even more so. It undermines the audience’s trust in the story by establishing this both as a world where some characters can “defy death”, but also die when the “author god” deems it so.
    It creates a kind of arbitrary chaos that cuts against the story’s own grain.

    If an author wants to write a story that teases character death, but never crosses the line, so be it. Some will enjoy it, authors will scoff and say, “They were never in any ‘real’ danger.”
    If you want to pull the trigger and actually kill a character, so be it.
    But choose. Choose and be done with it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It doesn’t prove that the danger is real, though. It actually does the exact opposite when you bring back a character because then it’s like: “Oh, there was no real danger the entire time. This group of complete idiots can even survive.” At least, that’s how I feel whenever I read something like that.

      Ugh. Trust. I hadn’t really thought much about that, but it’s very true. You lose faith in the author because they don’t seem to really be following any rules or the story. They’re just doing what they want whether it seems legit or makes sense or anything. So dumb! And bad writing.

      Mm. I agree on the choosing one and being done with it because this isn’t one of those things/decisions where you can do both. You have to do one or the other and I firmly believe that not killing any characters in a story that is action, adventure, whatever, literally means there was no difficulties whatsoever. It takes away all the suspense and tension that the author tried to create during the story.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I get your frustration! I’ve killed my fair share of characters, both characters that I love and those that I don’t, but I don’t enjoy the “guess what? [Character] actually isn’t dead! Surprise!” trope either; I prefer the character to stay dead when they’re killed the first time. Then again, reading my first completed novel over 13 years ago, I’ve actually used this trope myself… oops? 😅

    Also, Happy New Year! Sorry I’m late with the wishes and everything, I’m still in the process of catching up with my favourite blogs. 😅

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hahahahah! I think every writer has used this trope once in a while, especially when they are younger because there is that fear of never having the character to use again. I think that’s really where it comes from. Once you kill a character, you lost their pov, their purpose in the plot, their choices, everything. It also bothers me when authors introduce new characters to take up the same role as previous characters that they killed. That’s just soooo annoying. And the odds are slim to none of actually finding another character like that.

      Hee hee! Happy New Year! (And it’s cool. Peoples be busy. :p )

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Haha, interestingly, instead of just doing “Ta-da, I’m not dead after all!”, I brought the dead character back as a spirit (I’d already had established the whole spirit thing before that) just so I could make my protagonist suffer even more, especially when it was somewhat his fault for getting her killed. Yeah, I was a really mean writer back then (mean to my protagonist, at least!) and I’m most likely going to do it differently when I rewrite it. 😛

        Yeah, I agree, I don’t like how a new character just takes the place of the dead one, especially when it’s a romantic interest. I mean, no one can take someone else’s place. 🙁

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Bahahahaha! That sounds hilarious. Not sure it really counts as ‘bringing them back’ if they’re still dead. :p And I think haunting/torturing the main character with a dead character is great. But I’m an awful person. Hee hee!

          Exactly. The fact that authors just substitute a live character for a dead one kind of makes me think they don’t understand the nuances of individual relationships and it really just kills the story. sigh

          Liked by 1 person

    1. tries to remember back to actually watching OUAT It’s been so long because I got really annoyed with the fact that they didn’t have actual ideas for plots anymore so they just started throwing in new characters and then BAM, plot repeat again! I couldn’t handle the lack of originality in that show AT ALL.

      HOWEVER!!! I was totally waiting for (and kind of still am) for Baelfyre to return. Like… of all the characters you killed off and DIDN’T bring back? Really? I mean… I ship Hook and what’s her face (I say what’s her face because I really don’t even like her enough to know her name and she’s the MC for goodness sakes!) But I Emmafyre was my OTP. :p

      Liked by 1 person

        1. My thoughts exactly, Kelly. I got so sick and tired of watching the tv show that by the time they brought in Elsa and all the new characters I was just like: “Ef it. I got better stuff to watch.” And the whole Emma going dark thing was just such a waste of a plot. It was not well developed at all and they could have done SOOOO much more with it, but it really feels like they’re just playing it safe. Ew.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. The trope is overused! And when the character is killed off twice, it’s just double the heartbreak, really. So might as well do it properly the first time.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hahahaha! The thing is, the characters that end up getting double kills (haha, video game references. :p ) are the ones that no one (or at least) cares about. They’re usually the insignificant characters because the author STILL can’t kill an important character. UGH! So annoyed with it all!


    1. Hahahaha! So… I should pretend to kill a character that everyone disliked and then be like: “JK! I’m actually gonna kill the character you do like” ?? Or… is that just my evil twisted self imagining how to torture readers again? :p

      Liked by 1 person

  4. YESSS, ALL THE DEATH!!!!! ❤

    Uhmm, ahem, I mean I agree it’s totally cliche to bring them back to life. And if it makes no feasible sense, it’s absolutely frustrating and unrealistic that the characters just won’t die already! But it also messes with my emotions when a character is actually not dead when it’s done well, so sometimes that can be done perfectly.

    As for my stories, I’m all for killing characters, but I do have the thought of “Could they ever realistically come back?” because it’s in a universe of magical realism stuff where it could feasibly happen. But I don’t want it to be an expected all the time “They’re not really dead” thing for the readers when they read of the death. Soooo I don’t know yet. Such a dilemma.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hee hee! 😀 I found a death buddy. Nice to meet you. :p

      I think this plot device could be used correctly, but it’s just always done wrong and used too much that it loses its impact and effect. Thus I just hate it. It would take a LOT for me to like this and I would need serious legit reasons for why the character isn’t dead. That is usually the kicker because you have to make it believable that the character died, but also given a valid possibility for how they managed to survive.

      YES! That is another problem. You bring back one character and then everyone is like: Okay, well just bring back all of them. I bet that’s why in the HP universe, they didn’t bring back characters. It would completely defeat the purpose and effect of death. Even magic can’t bring people back. And if people can come back, what are the true consequences to anything? You know?


      1. Yes, that’s a great example! There has to be a reason for the death, and then there has to be a reason for the not really dead, and that’s really hard to come by both being a necessity to the story. Not that I’m into creating rules, but I would say generally 1 death-but-really-living scenario per series is as much as it can handle before it becomes predictable.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Mm. If it has more than that you run the risk of losing a reader’s trust or you run the risk of death meaning very little. Also, I think it depends on the genre and type of story. Some stories may allow for more or less. I can’t imagine any ‘not deaths’ happening in contemporary. Hahaha!

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Right, exactly. I watch Vampire Diaries and I still tear up at the “maybe forever” deaths, but almost anytime someone dies it’s underwhelming because I’m like “Ehh, but they’re not really dead.” And sure ‘nough, they show right back up in the next episode! Still love the show, don’t get me wrong, but it makes death less impactful until it’s “really really” dead, and it’s hard to judge exactly when that is.

            Liked by 1 person

  5. I agree that it is a cheap trick. On to killing characters.

    I kill characters all of the time in my short stories. Sometimes every character dies by the end and very often the main character is a (or the) victim. Even the entire planet being wiped out is not out of the question. Not a problem. Nobody is safe in my short fiction. But for some reason I don’t kill any main characters (until the climax) in my books. Not sure why.

    In The Fireborn I kill some named characters and a lot of nameless rabble, but none of the inner circle. Well, at the end close to the inner circle. With my other two finished but in drafting mode books, none of the main characters die. Again, until we reach the climax. In both of these books, there are historical figures we know and love that die gruesome deaths, but they had been dead for years (even centuries) before the action of the book takes place.

    The thing is, for these stories it would almost be a cheap trick to kill off a character. It wouldn’t further the villain’s ambition in any way. I don’t want to create a character just to have someone to die. There needs to be a reason in the plot. That being said, the one on the back burner might benefit from it… Hmmm….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahahaha! Definitely killed off characters in my short stories though… I can’t guarantee my MC is a victim… if you know what I mean. 😉 And I think it’s likely you save the MCs to give the impression that they’ll make it and then you’re just like BAM! rip the rug out from under them, you caring for them couldn’t save them. :p is an evil person

      Exactly. Everything that happens in a story needs to have a reason and I think too many authors forget this. They use characters as props or tools and forget to make them realistic and give them life, and then use them as objects by killing them and bringing them back. Which is just dumb. There needs to be a reason for doing both. sigh Writers, man. :p

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Ha! This reminds me of my current WIP. I’m about to start the 3rd draft. In the first draft, I killed a character named Kemp. Then I planned on changing that and went on writing as if Kemp never died. Then in the second draft, I killed Kemp again, in a different time and way! Poor guy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Bahahaha! I think your story is trying to tell you that you actually need to kill off this Kemp guy. He obviously has no purpose. :p Or he has a TON of purpose and you need to trick your readers into believing he’s the MC or something. Hmm… speaking of, I should try that. plots new novel to kill off all potential MCs. twist = villain is the mc MWAHAHAHA! 😈

      Liked by 1 person

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