A Plot Device I Hate

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I know. This is grotesque.

I’m looking at you, Walking Dead.

And *potentially* you, Game of Thrones.

Please be warned: there are SPOILERS for both shows in this article.

No more content printed on blurb to avoid spoilers.


I hate when novels and/or TV shows “kill off” a character only to bring them back later in a “surprise, gotcha” moment.

It’s cheap.  Just cheap.

I returned home a while ago after being away for Thanksgiving and a few residency interviews (I am a 4th year medical student).  Naturally, I thought it was time to catch up on some Walking Dead.

Within ten minutes, what do I find?

Glenn is alive!walking-dead

After having his guts ripped out before our eyes (except not) in episode 3, we are shown Glenn’s improbable escape.

I knew this was a possibility.  The internet practically exploded with potential theories for how Glenn might still be alive.

But I didn’t buy it.  I thought the show’s writers had more respect for the audience than that.

For the record, I have nothing against Glenn.  In the grand scheme of things, I am pro-Glenn.  He was/is a likable character, and he was portrayed by one of the better actors on the show.  I am genuinely glad I get to enjoy more Glenn in future Walking Dead episodes.

However, I think this is a cheap plot device that demonstrates a lack of actual artistry in writing.  In doing this, the writer is going for the cheap emotional gut punch of killing off a beloved character… and following it up with the cheap emotional gut punch of bringing them right back.

They make us feel low.  They rub us in the dirt.  They wait around a bit and let it stew.  Then they make us feel high.

Without actually causing anything to happen.

jon snowI mentioned Game of Thrones above.  To be clear, I’m talking about the HBO show, not the Song of Ice and Fire novels.  Obviously there is considerable overlap either way.

For months now, there has been debate about whether or not Jon Snow is dead.  While the series’ writers and directors and actors have ardently maintained he is dead, Kit Harrington (the actor who plays Snow) has apparently been spotted on set during next season’s shooting.

Something smells fishy.

Although I won’t be thrilled if Snow is brought back to life, I see this case slightly differently.  The book series has involved some sort of “reincarnation” several times.  Having set that up, it attaches more credibility to the idea of Snow being brought back to life.  If reincarnation is created as a valid plot element, then it is perfectly fine for the author to exercise it.

But overall, this plot device rubs me the wrong way, and I am disappointed in the writers of The Walking Dead.

2 thoughts on “A Plot Device I Hate

  1. You’re right. That first picture is gross.
    I didn’t actually think all that much of it, but I guess you’re right. The whole Glen thing was kind of lame. I’m used to the writers of that show letting me down, though. I still don’t know why I stuck with it after the second season.

    • Hi, CJ

      Thank you for your comment!
      And yes, that picture was grotesque. As soon I saw it, I knew I had to use it. Glad to find another person out there that isn’t in love with the whole Glenn coming back thing. I’m also with you on the second season. There have been a few slower parts scattered throughout the series, and that was one of the lower points.

      Best,
      Chris

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