Archived Discussion

This is discussion archived from a time before the current discussion method was installed.

QUESTION: Would the death of the protagonist Billy Costigan in the movie The Departed be an example of Dropped a Bridge on Him? It is certainly awkward and somewhat anti-climactic, but it doesn't seem to fit with the other examples of DABOH since it was definitely powerful and (almost) had many elements of Death is Dramatic.

Removed three entries from the Joss Whedon section:
  • Joyce's death was slightly infuriating: after a big storyarc about her brain cancer, she recovers completely...only to die of a brain aneurysm at the end of a totally unrelated episode. Although it did lead to "The Body", one of the best Buffy episodes ever. It was a totally random death - realistic, but annoying

Joyce's death was the end of a very long arc about her illness. It was not random, it was a case of "Yay, she's finally better! Wait, no, she's dead."

  • Although she was a minor character, Cassie's death was MADDENING. After going through an ENTIRE EPISODE with her forecasted to die, she avoids getting sacrificed by a cult, and also getting hit by a random crossbow trap, she dies of a brain disorder that no one knew about. Plus, to add insult to injury, she turns up again, as one of the forms of the First (the Big Bad of Season 7).

Cassie was a single episode guest star (she made one appearance later, to fill Tara's role because Amber Benson refused to do it, but this is unrelated to her death). Also, the entire episode was about her impending death. That's pretty much the opposite of a bridge dropping.

  • Tracey was another minor character (from Firefly, this time) unfairly killed for dramatic reasons: he stupidly misinterprets what he overhears, overreacts, takes Kaylee hostage stupidly, and is shot by Mal. We then learn that the marshals after him have no authority, and he dies before Simon is able to do anything for him.

Tracey was a single episode guest star who died at the end of the episode, as guest stars are wont to.

I'd also argue that Tara's death doesn't fit the trope. It was far from anticlimactic; in fact, it's the most climactic TV death I can think of. The only reason it might be in this trope is how sudden it was. But, considering how strong people's feelings about Tara are, I left it in for discussion.

  • In Babylon 5, two characters were written out this way. Talia Winters, center of a major story arc involving the telepaths, was exposed as a spy (it was originally supposed to be a minor character) and simply vanished from the plot. Her role in the arc was immediately picked up by Lyta Alexander, the character from the pilot who Talia herself had replaced, and who unmasked Talia as a Psi Corps operative. More painfully, Earthforce's General Ryan, leader of the Resistance, was written out in a completely offscreen death when the actor decided to take a similar role on Star Trek Deep Space Nine. His leadership duties fell with a rather painful thud on the lead, John Sheridan.

This is not true. The role of the spy was originally to go to Laurel Takashima, the station's 2IC in the Babylon 5 pilot movie. When the actress for Takashima decided not to continue into the show proper, the show's creator, JMS, decided that it would be too obvious to move her "character arc" (which some viewers had already guessed, thanks to clues placed in the pilot) onto the new 2IC, so the job of "spy" was handed to Talia Winters instead, with a bit of technomagic to explain why Winters (unlike Takashima) didn't act like a spy. So, the spy wasn't "originally supposed to be a minor character"; she was actually originally supposed to be a more major character than Winters. I also don't remember a character of "General Ryan" from the programme; the resistance contact (not necessarily leader) was General Hague. (Fuddlemark)

Paul A: What Fuddlemark says about Laurel Takashima tallies with what I remember. About the other thing: Major Ryan was General Hague's Number Two, or was meant to be but it didn't make it to the screen intact, or something; I'm not clear on the details.

Looney Toons: My knowledge of the series confirms Fuddlemark and Paul, at least on the Laurel Takashima front. IMDB lists no character named "Ryan" in its cast list for the show, btw, but I remember — and confirmed — General Hague.

Fury Pilot: Yes, General Hague was written out because the actor took basically the same roll on DS 9.

Paul A: I removed this:

  • Master anime creator Yoshiyuki Tomino, of Gundam fame, had a long phase during which he deliberately raised the number and violence of deaths in every new show he directed, reaching such levels of "sadism" that he got nicknamed Kill 'Em All Tomino by his own fans. Then, he went to the almost polar opposite with his most recent shows.

because it doesn't seem to have anything to do with the subject.

Sere Nova: I disagree with this

  • Also in Star Trek: Generations, the Enterprise-D is basically a random victim of a lucky shot. After winning a space battle, the warp core gets a coolant leak, and with no explanation as to why they don't eject the Warp Core, they let the main section explode, causing the saucer section to crash on a nearby planet. (Compare to the way the original Enterprise is destroyed in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock.)

because if you listen to the technobable this is the reason—> The Warp Core was not ejected because during the battle with the Klingon Warbird the Klingon's were able to get through the "Enterprise-D" 's sheilds and hit the main engine. Thus the coolant leak comes from that hit and Geordi La Forge had it contained until after the battle. They could not eject the warp core because that same hit fused the Warp Core into place so they had to evacuate everyone into the saucer section and the main section goes kaboom.

HeartBurn Kid: You know, I never thought of the Montreal Screwjob as a Dropped a Bridge on Him, but the more I think about it, the better it fits. Would it also count as a McLeaned?

Random Troper: Actually, it's more of a Put on a Bus to Hell since it's a non-death, but still mean-spirited way of writing someone out. Since that page needed more examples, I've taken the liberty of moving both the Montreal Screwjob example and the Spirit Squad example to the Put on a Bus to Hell page. The Mohammed Hassan and the 'Vince limo' thing still apply here (even though we all knew Vince would 'get better' even if unfortunate events in real life hadn't caused that storyline to be dropped earlier than expected).

Eran of Arcadia: I for one believe the producers of Lost - they had apparently come up with the idea to kill the two off far enough in advance (ie writing the screenplay). Of course, when it happened to a third character it starts getting less plausible . . .

Roland: Correct me if I'm wrong but the deaths in Harry Potter are anything but Dropped a Bridge. Each death is a serious event with long-lasting repercussions on the survivors- Lupin and Tonks' bodies haunt Harry as he walks to his death. As for the Weasley twin, he's killed onscreen, and again it's a dramatic moment. The whole -point- of all these deaths, one could argue, is to preserve their horrific character rather than a simple Heroic Sacrifice.

Ophicius: Yes, I agree. Nearly all of the deaths in Harry Potter have some degree of pointlessness to them but there's a war on. If anything, it makes it a little more realistic. Not everyone can go down in a blaze of glory.
Lale: Moved James Bond example to Cartwright Curse.

Caswin: Does the South Park example with Chef really count, let alone "in its purest form"? They basically devoted an entire episode to the subject, and it had a clear impact on the cast. Is somebody confusing Dropped a Bridge on Him with Deader Than Dead? (I know that's what it sounded like to me at first.)

Morgan Wick: I was the one who originally added it, way back when (I don't even watch South Park - the whole thing was brought to my attention by the quoted Newsweek line and the plot elements I added came from Wikipedia), and you have to consider motivation. If Isaac Hayes and Parker/Stone had left on good, mutually respectful terms, it would not have been a Dropped a Bridge on Him even if the death had happened exactly the same way. Plus, I don't think Deader Than Dead existed at the time. And Chef is presented as undergoing massive Character Derailment.

I wouldn't call it "in its purest form" but I do think Parker and Stone tried to have it both ways - have a massive, episode-long Take That! at the expense of Hayes (the man) but also recognize the stature of Chef (the character) on the show and in the mind of fans, and avoid getting hammered for just offing him in a brief death scene and forgetting about it without giving Chef a proper sendoff.

{{Unnatural20>>Er. in the Joss Whedon section, what about Doyle, from the first season of Angel? His death was, as far as I'm aware, both meaningful and permanant. (Saving the city of Los Angeles.) Wikipedia has him 'returning' in later seasons, but only courtesy of stock footage, since the actor died not long after leaving the show. Conversely, Darla /was/ brought back to life for a good whock of Angel. Maybe the 'exceptions' should be changed, or even removed?

Cadetstar. Not sure if this belongs in Dropped a Bridge on Him, but Chewbacca in Star Wars: The New Jedi Order had a moon literally dropped on him. He died to save Han Solo, Anakin Solo (Han's son) and about 50 refugees. He is last seen roaring at the moon while the planet breaks up and the Millennium falcon is speeding away.

  • On Northern Exposure, Maggie's boyfriends often died of odd things. One, in particular, died after a satellite landed on him. Really.

Keenath I removed this one because the boyfriends weren't even minor characters. They were extras when and if they ever showed up at all — most of it happened offscreen. This trope isn't about weird deaths, but about the unceremonious removal of a recurring character.
That Other 1 Dude: The natter about Aayla Secura ignores that before she was added to the film, she was going to have died earlier.
Silent Hunter: Vis the Grissom Verse- The last episode of this season of ''CSI: New York has yet to be transmitted as of 24 May 2008. We shouldn't comment on Dourdan's departure for legal reasons.

(edited to update the fact that Reed didn't die)

As for The Bill, Hollis' manner of exit is positively insulting.
Annwyd: Took out this edit to my original entry for The Wire:

  • But the point of his death was how random and easy it was. How many times had we seen him walk down the road shouting and he could so easily have been shot right there? How many times does he waltz into the room of a gang boss and no one moves (ie. Prop Joe in season 4)? The point was that it was only his reputation and the fear of him that prevented anyone from moving and the only, only, person who could kill him was someone who didn't understand that, who saw the fact that by the end of the series he was basically crippled and insane. I think the creators wanted to forcefully remind you that he was human. If what you wanted was a end that suited his legend, the stories of his death in the last two episodes get increasingly silly and excessive (ten men from new york with sub machine guns, or something like that), as they should.
  • Also, Omar glances at the kid and turns back to the cashier. In fact the only one who could have caught him unawares was a kid with a pistol. And the kid can't quite believe what he's done, even though he's been presented as angry and unafraid from the moment we saw him two seasons prior.

Not because it doesn't make some valid points (and I added a sentence to the entry summarizing them, in for fairness's sake), but because it's needlessly long and belongs somewhere specific to the Wire, not in the Dropped a Bridge on Him page.

Anyway, as amazing as The Wire is, David Simon Is Not God. He clearly planned this death long in advance, and I can cite the reasons it was done, too. At its most basic essence, it was really the only way Omar could have gone. But it was still awkward, mean-spirited, and anticlimactic: three of the four defining features of this trope.
Agent CH: Removed this from the One Piece example:

  • In what might be the best case of censorship ever made, 4 kids censored "fell down the stairs" to "was beaten to death (and quite possibly raped) by men angry at being defeated by a prepubescent girl"

The change had Kuina injured from being attacked, not killed and definitely not raped. Not with 4kids.

It wouldn't still count as example if she's not dead, right?
Yoshi348: Cutting this...

  • The Fall 07/Spring 08 CBS drama lineup seems to have become The Season They Dropped The Bridges On, as they've been killing off major characters left and right in the season finales:
    • CSI - Warrick is killed by the county undersheriff in the final moments of the finale.
    • CSI: Miami - The finale ends with Horatio laying still on the tarmac of an airport after being shot, his Sunglasses of Justice broken.
    • NCIS - Not only did the writers give Director Shepard a fatal, debilitating disease, but then kill her off in a diner in the middle of nowhere.
    • After seeing all these bridge droppings in the course of a week, and with the CSI:NY and Criminal Minds promos offering the potential of even MORE, this troper is left wondering - contract negotiations couldn't have gone that badly, could they?
      • One is forced to point out that with the exception of NCIS where she's dead, carved up in autopsy, and had a funeral, the other characters suffered wounds that weren't immediately fatal and there was still life in them as the credits rolled. And anyway, the actor playing Warrick will be in the next season premier, and Caruso is coming back next season, so...
      • CSI: New York Had no-one killed off. Monroe didn't actually get into the taxi with the Serial Killer in, Mac's annoying half-son survived. Mac was kidnapped in the season finale though.

Seems to be a large case of jumping the gun, as well as applying this trope to any death in a non- Anyone Can Die show, no matter how dramatic. Entry two is particularly silly, as there's very little chance of the death actually sticking, even disregarding the second to last note. There might be something salvageable about the third entry, the only show I don't know the first thing about.
Alex K: Does Henry Blake(of MASH) count? He was Put on a Bus, but due to conflicts with the writers, the ending of the episode was rewritten so that he was shot down on the way home, in a very touching death designed to ensure he could never come back.


Are you sure? There's a lot of minor characters that get killed off randomly, but I can't think of any major ones that quality. Let's go over the list.

Robert Baratheon: has "tragic figure" written all over him, and the story couldn't exist without killing him off.

Ned Stark: killed off after an unusually believable Hope Spot, but with a quarter of a book's worth of buildup. His death drives the plot for the next three books.

Catelyn and Robb Stark: get a rather sudden death scene, but not without foreshadowing or a good explanation. This effectively ends the plot of the first three books.

Arys Oakheart: brings it upon himself, without breaking characterization.

Oberyn Martell: does the same, but in a less pathetic way.

Brienne, the Hound, Davos Seaworth, Theon Greyjoy: probably not dead, but we'll have to wait for Book 5 to see.

I think Khal Drogo might qualify in a technical sense; his death comes out of left field, breaking the unwritten rules of pre-death drama along the way, and never gets any foreshadowing. But he's not all that important a character, and I've never heard anyone complain about his death scene. Of course, it helps that it leads directly to one of the single most awesome scenes in fantasy fiction.
Drow Lord: Took out the Take That! against the Harry Potter epilogue. Regardless of one's feelings about the thing, it doesn't fit this trope.
Ikkin: The nature of Dropped a Bridge on Him seems to be kind of confusing. The writeup says that Dropped a Bridge on Him and the aversion of Death Is Dramatic are different things, but there's often little objective distinction between "intentionally unfair or understated" and "awkward, anticlimactic and mean-spirited."

This wouldn't necessarily be a problem if Dropped a Bridge on Him wasn't so negative. The meta implications of the trope (character was killed because of real-world interference) cast a negative light over the whole thing, which isn't entirely deserved by deaths which are supposed to be unfair or shockingly easy (and hence uncomfortable).

It just seems strange to lump in characters who retain influence on the story despite their less-than-dramatic deaths with characters who are written out completely and quickly forgotten about - perhaps the first type could be split into a trope of its own?
Anyone else think Rachel's boss, Joanna, from friends should be added? She was hit by a buss the day before Rachel was going to be promoted. Also, hit by a buss isn't a trope so only DABOH would apply.
Heatherly: This trope drives me crazy. I think easily 90% of the examples listed (at least from stuff I've seen/read) are just Complaining About Deaths You Don't Like. Every death in the Whedonverse was random, pointless and mean-spirited? Really?
Arima Reiji: I could've sworn that the reason they did the last-minute reshoot of Kirk's death was to punish Malcolm Mc Dowell for giving away the spoiler "I get to kill Kirk" in a talk show interview shortly before the movie's release. Or at least that was the reason I heard at the time...
Danel: I've removed the Torchwood example to preserve here since at the very least it needs to be made less vague and the "hurling negative tropes at it" bit removed; I'm not sure it's an example at all, since while it may be an unpopular death with much of the fandom it's also the climax of an episode, and strongly affects the next as well; he dies in his sobbing lover's arms. I'm just not sure it fits this trope:
  • On Torchwood, During Children of Earth Day 4, fan favourite Ianto Jones dies from an alien virus just when his character was starting to come into his own. To make things worse, it came just four episodes after Tosh and Owen's much less bridge-droppy deaths. The events leading to his death were full of inconsistencies in characterisation, and the reasons for him being where he was at the time were flimsy and contrived. Nothing was achieved but getting himself and the rest of the building killed, and pissing the aliens off. The cause of a broken base and may become a Jumping the shark moment. Also Writer on board Character derailment Out of Character Moment