Death’s sabbatical: why characters can’t stay six feet under (article: video).

The modern cinema landscape, where mortality is as flexible as a contortionist at a circus. Remember the good old days when the Grim Reaper would clock in, do his job, and we’d be left sobbing into our popcorn? Me too. But now, it’s like death is merely taking a brief holiday in the Maldives. Let’s meander through the sinners’ gallery of death-dodgers, shall we? Starting with the king of undead shenanigans: the Marvel Cinematic Universe. We’ve all witnessed Nick Fury “die” only to reveal it was a ruse, because clearly, eyepatches give you the power of resurrection. Loki, the Norse God of Mischief, must have nine lives—or at least a time-traveling variant or two. He’s been impaled, thrown off cliffs, and yet here he is, swanning about in his own Disney+ series.

Then there’s the “Star Wars” universe, where the Force evidently has death benefits. Emperor Palpatine went from the perfect Death Star explosion to electrifying Rey and Kylo Ren in “The Rise of Skywalker.” What’s next? Bringing back Jabba the Hutt through the sheer power of nostalgia?

Let’s not forget “Harry Potter.” We were all a bit miffed when Dumbledore, the poster wizard for sagely wisdom, popped his clogs. But then he came back in paintings and memories like a magical Obi-Wan Kenobi, advising Potter on how to defeat a noseless guy who just refuses to die.

Oh, speaking of noseless guys who can’t be killed off, we have the horror genre. Jason Voorhees from “Friday the 13th” must have some kind of loyalty card with the afterlife, one more death and he gets a free coffee. Freddy Krueger? The chap’s been in more sequels and reboots than anyone would care to count. When you’re a baddie in a horror flick, death is as avoidable as the smell of wet dog. The fantasy genre isn’t innocent either. Take Gandalf from “Lord of the Rings.” Falls into an abyss fighting a fire demon and then comes back as Gandalf the White. If that’s not a glow-up, I don’t know what is.

What’s the moral of this never-ending story? (And, by the way, even in “The NeverEnding Story,” characters come back from being erased from existence.) The moral is that death has become Hollywood’s cheapest trick. A bit of suspense, a tearful goodbye, and then — bam — back like they’ve just returned from an extended spa weekend.

The biggest casualty in all of this isn’t the characters—it’s the emotional investment from the audience. Why bother caring when the stakes are as low as a limbo bar at a toddler’s party? The narrative suffers, tension deflates, and death becomes a mere inconvenience, like forgetting to charge your phone overnight.

To sum it up, modern movies have turned the great unknown into a revolving door. And much like a revolving door, it’s left us all a little dizzy and questioning the point of it all. What’s the use of a dramatic climax if death is as reversible as a double-sided tape? If Hollywood could just let the dead rest, we might actually get our money’s worth. But then again, where’s the franchise potential in that?


Colonel Frog is a long time science fiction and fantasy fan. He loves reading novels in the field, and he also enjoys watching movies (as well as reading lots of other genre books).

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