Lots of Female Television Characters Were Killed Off Last Week

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It has been a harder week than usual to be a woman on television: six female characters were killed off in the past week alone.


Daniel Fienberg at The Hollywood Reporter examines this rather bizarre occurrence and tries to get to the bottom of what it does or does not say both about death and violence as a plot line and how female characters are treated.

That’s when you start pondering something along the lines of, “Wow. Is this the only way we know how to do drama, and should this be a subject of some concern?” Because death is a powerful writing tool and it’s one that I’ll never demand scribes relinquish or even ponder toning down. And I’m not going to say that last week’s estrogen blood bath was a sign of institutional sexism or anything else.

I would argue that institutional sexism probably has something to do with these losses because we already know that women are not valued equally to men monetarily in Hollywood, so why would they be when it comes to the actual work?

By Fienberg’s count, six shows from April 4 to April 10 killed off a female character: The Americans, Arrow, Empire, Hap and Leonard, Sleepy Hollow and Vikings.

Perhaps the biggest departure was Nicole Beharie, who starred in Sleepy Hollow. Reports say that Beharie’s brewing unhappiness with the show led to her exit.

Still, as Fienberg explores, it’s not simply that these characters are gone—it’s that they were all killed rather than simply departing in the same manner that people leave our lives all the time: new jobs, new cities, and so on.


If you’re a fan of any of the shows, his breakdowns are interesting and do carefully weigh the impact and necessity of the character’s deaths to the individual plots.

In related news, Arden Cho announced that she will not be returning to MTV’s Teen Wolf for season 6—a loss for anyone who likes having women of color on their screens.


Image via FOX.



*looks at header image, immediately starts weeping*