Why the Best Ones Die

Gandalf. Obi-Wan Kenobi. Mufasa. Have you started crying yet?

In so many fantasy stories, and some of our favorite Disney movies too, we are faced with the death (however brief) of beloved characters. Aside from the fact that writers are cruel, inhuman monsters who like to toy with the emotions of readers and movie-goers, there are actually two reasons we are so often faced with the characters we love so much.

1. To force the hero into action. When faced with a perilous journey, many young farm boys or other unassuming heroes-to-be are reluctant to begin their quest. Often they will completely refuse to leave home. At such a time, the hero can only be spurred into action by the death of someone important. It’s harsh, but it will set the hero on a path of vengeance, or show just how evil the antagonist can be. The hero becomes determined to defeat said evil and save the world!

2. To allow the hero to save the day. Heroes almost always have mentors. The one who teaches the hero about magic, fighting, morals, and other useful things. Unfortunately, as long as that mentor is around, the hero will rely on him or her. In order for the hero to realize his (or her) true strength, the mentor can’t be in the picture.While this can be accomplished with distance, death is more permanent at least, the hero thinks so).

Granted, Mufasa’s death doesn’t seem to fit these categories. I think of it as a delayed reason to fight.

Who are some of your favorite characters who met an untimely demise?

Until next time, word nerds!

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