When To Kill Off A Character

iron-throne-teaser-game-of-thrones-18537495-1280-720SPOILER ALERT: Your favorite character is going to die.

It’s happened on The Walking Dead. It’s happened on The Good Wife. It happens all the time on Game Of Thrones.

TV shows are killing off main characters left and right to shock the audience and get the Twitterverse talking.

A death on a show, especially of a major character, used to be reserved for a season or even sometimes only for a series finale.

Now it’s more commonplace for the lead in a show to die halfway through the second episode of the second season.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a comedy or a drama, if it’s on a major network or cable or Netflix – No character is safe.

Killing off a character sends a show in a new direction. Death shakes up the staleness of life for the main characters and forces them to react, decide, and evolve along a new pathway. 

Death is an essential element of a story.

If we want to live an incredible story with our lives, we must not be afraid of death. We must embrace death.

If you find your story growing stagnant, you may need to kill off a character in your life.

This post is not a call to commit murder of the people you surround yourself with. But I want you to think about the story you’re telling each day.

Are there characters in your story that drag you down? Are there relationships which have outlived their purpose?

What would it be like to remove these characters from the episodes of your life?

A character in your life does not have to be a person. A character could be a habit, an job, an activity, an addiction, or any other element of your life.

Death shakes up a story in a way no other action could. You may feel too attached to a character to kill it off. But ask yourself what your life could look like if you tried to live it without that character.

Maybe you would not feel so weighed down by your obligations to it. Maybe killing off that character would open new opportunities for you. Maybe an even better character could come in and take its place.

Maybe you could take a page from the Easter season and temporarily take a break from a character, writing it out of your story for a 40 day fast. You may find out just how little you miss the character.

You may find you killed off the wrong character. This happens sometimes when writing a story. Think of how many TV shows have used the “It was all just a dream…” excuse to bring a beloved character back to life.

If you find you made a mistake in killing off a character, don’t be afraid to rewrite it into your story.

But we must not become too attached to the characters in our life. For if we cannot kill off the ones bringing our stories down, they may in fact kill us:

So then, brothers, we are not obligated to the flesh to live according to the flesh, for if you live according to the flesh, you are going to die. But if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. (Romans 8:12-13)

If a character no longer adds positive impact to your story, it’s time to kill it off.

Come up with a list of characters in your life – people, places, activities – who no longer fit within the narrative you’re telling. Pick one to kill off.

Send your story and your life into shock for a moment. Mourn the characters. Then start living the next season of your life. It may just reinvigorate your story.

What’s the most shocking death you’ve seen on a TV show? Have you ever killed off a character in your story? If you had to pick a character to kill off today, what would you choose?


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