Shaking the Pillars part 1 - Losing the Lead
The Walking Dead is apparently killing off its main character this season - this is the guy who's been the main guy since episode 1 about 8 years ago. This is not a spoiler - it's all over the Internet, the promos for the show itself.
The Office lost Michael Scott before doing two more seasons I think - and Mulder left the X-Files before the last season (though he showed up in the finale).
Emma wrote a post about offing your characters - it's great stuff:
But axing the MAIN character is different. Talking to my brother about the Walking Dead thing, he made a good point that there are several great characters who can take on the central role. Neither of us are huge WD fans, but I agreed with him that Maggie, Morgan or Michonne are fine choices for new leads (well - Morgan's gone a bit nuts, but still an awesome character). And Carol and Daryl are excellent characters and co-leads.
That show might survive this because of its nature.
The others I mentioned, the X-files and The Office…and Two and a Half Men and That 70's Show - they didn't last long after the lead character left. Some series lean heavily on their lead characters. Most series, I would say.
In books or comics, we don't have the problem of actors who leave our series. Assuming we own all the characters we're working with, we can keep them around as long as we want. But even then, sometimes we feel we need a shakeup but don't want to end the series. So how would we continue without our main character if we wanted to?
Well, off the top of my head…
1. Make it matter. Unless the series is a particular genre, like an all out comedy, or gritty thing where anyone can die, the weight of losing the character should be felt by the rest of the characters. This is the case for the loss of any major character, but the main character especially.
Even in those genres I mentioned, it can matter. Readers get invested in characters when they spend time with them!
2. Don't forget them. A shout out here and there, even after some time has passed, can be very rewarding for readers. Mentioning their name, or meeting another character who new them but didn't know they passed, or seeing some significant effect of that absent character on the series can be as rewarding for readers/audiences as it might be in real life. After Mulder left the X-Files and new characters took over, there was a scene where the new agent looked up and saw all the pencils stuck in the ceiling that Mulder had thrown there in a classic episode. Great moment. Damn, I get chills just remembering it all these years later!
3. Don't make the “replacement” character a carbon copy of the departed character. If the series requires a new character to step in, or an existing character to change roles, don't make them too much like the old character. Give them different flaws and a different essence…possibly VERY different. Or if it's an existing character, don't change them into the old character. They are still their own person, and it can be rewarding to see them struggle in their own way filling some kind of new role.
Can a series survive the loss of its main character? Could yours?
Banes at 12:00AM, Oct. 11, 2018
©2011 WOWIO, Inc. All Rights Reserved Google+