What they seem to fail to realize it that you achieve that ‘element of danger/suspense’ through GOOD WRITING, not by 1) being stupid enough to actually kill off the main character of the show or 2) continuously beating home/toying with to your audience in interviews OUTSIDE the actual show that you’re going to kill off said character/characters.
Allow me to explain further. I read a lot of books. And I mean A LOT. A good book is not one in which the writer succeeds in ‘shocking’ me by killing off the main character. I don’t go: ‘Wow, look how good this writer is because they just killed off the main character and I’m so shocked!’
A good book is one where despite being certain the main narrative character of the story couldn’t possibly die, I find myself sitting on the edge of my seat, holding my breath, biting my nails, fearing for the life of my beloved character. Why? Because the writing is so good that I’m so caught up in the heat of the moment that I forget that it’s pretty much impossible that said main character will die/suffer some horrid fate.
THAT, ladies and gentleman, is good writing. Writing that manages to pull you into the story so completely that you’re entirely caught up in the moment. If you are seeking to achieve that element of suspense by doing either point 1 or 2 above it is the complete OPPOSITE of good writing. Particularly point 2. I’m so sick and tired of the way these writers keep toying with their audience.
Now, I know I’m kind of weird like this, but I don’t really like to read/watch interviews with show writers/actors. I don’t like hearing spoilers, and I don’t like hearing analysis of the characters/plots from the show’s team. Why? Because I like to interpret and draw my own conclusions rather than have them being told for me by the writers and actors that are privy to much more information than the audience. I’m not talking about discussion with fellow audience/fans. I’m talking about how watching interviews with the actors and writers is in a way kind of telling how you should feel/interpret something or someone on the show. Because, let’s be honest, most of the time if one of the writers or actors says something you are likely going to take it with you when you watch the show from then on. It’s hard not to when they are literally running the show. Anyways, I’m getting off topic. Sorry. My point is, I try to avoid reading interviews, but one of the disadvantages of joining tumblr is that I end up seeing/reading bits and pieces of them even when I try not to. I joined tumblr for the GIFs/edits/pictures. Regardless, despite my avoidance I have seen the writers make a reference to killing off Reese at least three times in the past few months.
At this point, I’m giving up truly caring when I see it again, but my respect for the writers of this show has gone down every time I see them comment and joke about it. And I’m someone who has praised their intelligent writing numerous times. I don’t know whether they are actually going to kill off Reese before the end of the series or if they are just saying it in interviews to ‘bring an element of danger,’ but either way their attitude in these interviews has dropped them way down in my book. I’m at the point where I’m going, fine, just please kill him off already then so I can stop watching the show. If you have to 1. brag to your audience about killing off characters, or 2. actually kill off the main character, OR 3. do both 1 & 2, in order to gain viewer suspense, then you are NOT doing a good job writing your story. Yes, there are exceptions in some stories where killing off a main character works and/or needs to be done or whatever, but for most people, including myself, this does not usually make for a good story. Particularly in TV shows where said character has been one of the two dominant characters on screen for years.
Again, there are exceptions, but in most stories the most important aspect is the characters, and the plot comes in second. Obviously they are connected and the plot is important, BUT it is the characters that the audience connects with. Without them the plot is nothing. Who cares if the whole world is going to be taken over by an evil AI if you don’t care about anyone IN that world?
Main characters are NOT dispensable, and even if you as a writer do go down the route of sacrificing one of them you do it with RESPECT. Particularly in TV where there are two elements that make up a good character. One, is the writing, but another is the actor who brought the character to life and brought a little bit of themselves to the role. This is what the audience falls in love with and it can’t be so easily replaced or sacrificed. If Reese goes, a huge portion of viewers will to, no doubt (including me). And even if the writers are willing to make that sacrifice, it matters greatly HOW you do it. Toying with your audience, disrespecting both their dedication AND the actors’ is not the way to go about it. And while as a writer you obviously hold the power, a good writer also respects their audience. To quote JK Rolling, “No story lives unless someone wants to listen.”