Thursday, January 29, 2015

A Writer’s Perspective: The Death of Beth Greene

With only ten days until The Walking Dead starts back up for the season, I thought I’d give my perspective on the death of Beth Greene. If you don’t watch Walking Dead ... well, there is no help for you right now, and I've just given you a huge spoiler. Get to Netflix and get watching. I think they are playing some episodes on Superbowl Sunday, as well. You have a few days to get caught up.
Not only do I watch The Walking Dead, I actually visit forums and read discussions from other fans. Needless to say, there was quite an uproar from Beth fans and the Bethyl community (those who are shipping Beth and Daryl) when they shot a bullet through her brain. They complained; they sent hate tweets to some of the actors and writers; they wrote petitions and mailed packages of plastic spoons to AMC. Many of the fans said that it was “bad writing” to kill off a character that was growing and finding her own place in the zombie apocalypse. That all of the growth was a promise to the viewers of good things to come. They say that her romance with Daryl was just blossoming, and that killing her ruined the show. (I disagree with the romance part, but that is another post entirely). They claimed that Beth was too good to die. They believed that the writers were jerkwads and they did it just to bring Daryl manpain.

Well, my friends. In a story where you are trying to bring down your characters, where you are creating a situation to become as bleak as possible. Where one is attempting an emotional climax of sorrow and despondence and despair. Then yes, oh yes, you kill off that positive little spark of light. It is good writing to yank the chain of your readers (or in this case, viewers) and make them squirm. It’s called emotional conflict. And conflict is good.

Heck, I've killed characters in my books. Even nice sweet ones who didn't deserve to die. One of my readers left me a great review saying: “It was so good I almost threw it across the room several times” 

So, I’m sorry to say, my little bethyl shippers, it isn't bad writing because they killed off your favorite character, even if you wanted her to hook up with the crossbow shooting redneck of love. It sucks, yes. But it does not mean that the writing is bad. The fact that the writers brought Beth up enough to become your favorite, proved that they knew what they were doing. They wanted to create an emotional impact. They wanted it to hurt when she died. And worked.

That is called GOOD writing, not bad.

And I know they killed her in a horrible way. (And no, she can't come back from the dead with a bullet to her brain.) But it really made the moment that much more shocking and horrible, which was the effect they were trying to make. Personally, I think it will be very interesting to see where this death takes everyone, especially Beth's sister, Maggie.

Will Beth's death push anyone over the edge?

Will Rick ever shave his beard?

Will Daryl finally take a shower?

Only ten more days to find out.


  1. OMG I'm right there with you on the death of Beth!!! So glad I'm not the only one who hated it, but also loved it :)

  2. When did season 4 finally get added to the instant view? I've been waiting for months... argh.

  3. I think it was bad writing (unless it is used in an elaborate retcon in later seasons).

    It's not quite as bad as fridging a character to start a series. But why kill her when she was at the cusp of her potential? It is the equivalent of cancelling Firefly after only half a season. Don't tell me Browncoats wouldn't mourn just as much if the series had ended after a much longer stay of execution. If anything, we'd be in a bigger uproar. Instead we're "but it was just....and now it's gone." Wondering what could have been instead of mourning what was and will never be again.

    Wouldn't it have hurt Daryl more if he had gotten to explore what he was forging with Beth and then she was taken away? Only a couple of days listening to her talk about healing your past and he's stashing Recovering From Childhood Abuse books in his bag. Imagine if Daryl had Beth to help him deal with all of his issues and learned to express himself ("don't mmmmm, what changed your mind?") and then lost her? He'd be an emotional wreck. It wouldn't be a case of "I'm not allowed nice things" but something to rival Rick's reaction to losing Lori (except Beth is far more liked).

    Some deaths really are pointless. Charlie Bradbury (Supernatural) deserved better than to be stabbed to death by a rapey Nazi Frankenstein and dumped in a hotel bathtub to never be spoken of post-season 10.


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