There are quite a few authors who rather liberally kill off their characters from a wide variety of genres. Whether major or minor, most of these characters which are gone too soon have a tendency to evoke heart-wrenching, emotional reactions from readers as a result of their untimely deaths.
Such authors generally receive mixed feedback from their audiences – some readers claim that any noteworthy author must also be a ruthless killer while writing, while others are adamant about each and every character surviving until the conclusion of the novel or series. Needless to say, these deaths can be especially painful if the characters were well-liked and played a large role in their respective novels or series.
A few authors immediately come to mind, particularly J.K. Rowling and George R.R. Martin. Without a doubt, however, Martin is the more experienced with respect to killing off characters as portrayed by the collage below (each tab represents a character death):
One of the primary differences between the two authors’ responses to reader comments and complaints is Rowling’s sincere apologies and expression of regret, whereas Martin firmly stands by his decisions, taking pride in his “talent” for brutally and repeatedly ending the lives of his characters.
In Martin’s defense, the majority of the characters that he kills off are minor – there have only been 3 or 4 major character deaths thus far. Furthermore, the majority of these deaths can be directly linked to an idiotic action or decision to which the character had previously committed.
Rowling, on the other hand, incorporated several highly uncalled for deaths. And yes, I am still very bitter about the ending of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows if you hadn’t already gathered. Perhaps I was merely more emotionally attached to the characters that died in the Harry Potter series because they played more significant roles in the series than those that Martin killed.
What are your thoughts on openly killing large numbers of characters throughout a book or series? Do you have any favorite or least favorite authors as a result of your character-killing preferences? What character deaths have you found to be the most heart-wrenching?