How many times have you almost flung an enticing novel across the room due to the excruciating death of your favourite character? The want to go back in time, even if it is only for a couple of seconds is of utmost urgency. It could be the love-struck tin soldier in Hans Christian Anderson’s famous fairy tale, dragging your heart along with him as he melts in the fire. It might also be the more recent Ned Stark, valiant king of the north, having his head cruelly chopped off in the Game of Thrones series. At times, even expected deaths like that of Allie and Noah in The Notebook leaves you curled up in a ball of sorrow. Stories and characters that have a lasting impression on your mind haunt you for days after you leave their literary world, ripping your heart out along with their unfortunate and gut-wrenching deaths.
This phenomenon isn’t just linked to books and movies. The current craze for T.V. shows reiterates our association with fictional characters. Watching their lives on screen creates a deep connection with the actors and the roles they play, causing us to merge with them in our minds and feeling their every emotion like it is our own. Take Grey’s Anatomy for an apt example. “To love someone so much that your existence gets linked to them.”-As cheesy and clichéd as that sounds, it was one of the most beautiful emotions ever expressed on television. The end of season 8 saw the death of Lexi Grey, a petite redhead with the mind of a genius. Right before she died, she was able to confess to Mark Sloan just how much she had always loved him. It was painful to watch that kind of misfortune befall someone’s love story. However, it wasn’t till the start of season 9, that some of us realised the pain felt at the death of an imaginary character. Mark Sloan, one of the hottest and wittiest characters on the show, is shown to be recovering well in the room of Seattle Grace Hospital. Yet he knows the recovery won’t last, as his heart was too broken. They show how happy and peaceful he is about going over to the other side, where he hopes he would get to see Lexi again. Fans cried uncontrollably at the heart-wrenching way the death of two beloved characters was displayed on the popular show.
This list is incomplete without the mention of Harry Potter characters. Sirius Black, Dumbledore and even the demise of Snape left us speechless with grief. One of the most moving tragedies was that of Dobby. The loyal house elf died a heroic death in the last part of the book series. What made his death even more gut wrenching was the fact that he had helped Harry and his friends escape from the Death Eaters seconds before Bellatrix hurled a knife at his chest. Most readers had grown extremely fond of this brave character who loved wearing mismatched socks and practically worshipped Harry. Though it is believed that Dobby’s death signified that ‘Even the smallest of creatures can die a hero’s death’, I think it’s safe to say that all Potterheads were deeply shocked and miserable when he died.
The next time you pick up a gripping book or flip the channels and end up watching an emotional movie or show, be prepared to hear the deafening ‘RIPPPPP’ sound as you bawl your heart out for your favourite character. For at the end of the day, no matter how much our imaginary friends hurt us, we keep going back to them because we know they’ll always exist between the musty pages of a book or in one of those uncountable files on your hard-drive, waiting to be relived again.
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