It’s a somber subject, death. Death is final. Death is absolute. No matter the amount of lotions we apply to our skin, the exercise we take in or the plastic surgery we pay for, we’re all going to die; it’s a fact of life.
Now I can go on talking about the certainty of death, but it’s a subject already much discussed. Instead, I’m going to try to make it a little more…fun.
Fun in the sense that I’m going to discuss the character deaths that have most upset me in my life. Entertainment is fun…right?
There are likely spoilers ahead, so if you’re not caught up on HBO shows that are more than a year old or films older than five, you find some plots ruined for you.
Sorry about that.
Continue reading at your own risk!
Character: Jackie Harrison
Played by: Susan Sarandon
The film follows two women Jackie Harrison and Isabel Kelly (played by Julia Roberts) who come together after the former’s ex-husband proposes to Kelly. Jackie and her ex (played by Ed Harris) share two children who are resistant to liking Isabel because they believe liking her would be disloyal to their mother, whom they adore.
Jackie and Isabel, through a series of conflicts learn to work with each other for the betterment of the children. As the audience grows to like the characters, Jackie is diagnosed with cancer.
If you’ve seen the movie, then you know that we don’t actually witness Sarandon’s character die. But the story leaves you knowing that she will. After sharing in a final beautiful Christmas memory with her children, the film fades to dark.
My 10-year-old self cried hard. I hugged my own mom tight after that.
Show: Big Love
Character: Bill Henrickson
Played by: Bill Paxton
The HBO show was about a Mormon FLDS family trying to navigate life in a secular world, where bigamy is not tolerated. The patriarch of the family, Bill Henrickson, was a man who worked very hard to be a good person, to provide for his family and to make each of his three wives feel loved, not something people readily believe a bigamist would do; you know the stereotype. The show went off on a particularly dramatic and tragic storyline in the later seasons, with Bill being shot by his neighbor in the last episode.
In the final scene of the show, we see what is Bill’s spirit, out of focus and in the background, sitting at the head of the family table, watching his wives move on with their lives and continuing to raise the family, together.
The fact that actor Bill Paxton passed away early this year only makes this character death more upsetting.
Show: Game of Thrones
Character: Catelyn Stark
Played by: Michelle Fairley
Chances are you’ve seen Game of Thrones, so I’m not going to include a plot synopsis here. If you haven’t seen it, you need to: the show lives up to the hype! Though I haven’t read the books, I knew the Red Wedding was coming. After having seen message boards posting about RW, I had to look it up. Despite knowing about the Red Wedding though, I was not prepared for that brutal scene.
Catelyn was one of my favorite characters on Game of Thrones (I think I’m the only person ever to say that, my friends think I’m crazy) and her strength, resilience and attitude was inspiring. But to be fair, I too didn’t like how she treated Jon Snow. Come on; it wasn’t Jon’s fault Ned slept around…wink, wink.
With whispers about Lady Stoneheart, I thought I would have my favorite character back. Sadly, it was not to be. I still can’t watch Catelyn and Ned Stark’s final episodes.
Film: Big Fish
Character: Ed Bloom
Played by: Ewan McGregor/Albert Finney
The question Tim Burton’s film Big Fish asks is one we’ve all asked: who are our parents? Who were they before we came into the picture, and who are they now? Is what we’ve been told our entire lives real?
The plot centers around a man who takes it upon himself to figure out what kind of man his father was, before he is due to become a father himself.
The character Ed Bloom is played by two different actors, but it’s the senior, terminally ill Ed Bloom (played by Finney) that I find to be the most engaging and real. The most heartbreaking scene is when Ed is holding his breath under water in the tub, fully clothed. His wife (played by Jessica Lange) comes into the bathroom to check on him. As he breaches the water, he tells her that he was “drying out.” Yes, Ed’s death comes at the end of the film, but it’s this scene that shows the recognition of what is going to be lost.
I can list other TV/Film deaths that have left me wailing, and I just might add to this list at a later time.
What fictional deaths have upset you? Leave your response in the comments!