On a scale of one to four, how dead is this guy?
It's a sad state of affairs when a beloved character dies
; some fans won't even accept it as real
, a predicament made all the more confusing because characters rarely stay dead
. Because of this, fans love to speculate (morbidly) on the odds
of a character coming Back from the Dead
. The result is a kind of "Sorting Algorithm Of Deadness", where the circumstances, cause, genre, and reaction caused by a death are tallied up to see just how dead
a character really is.
To use the Algorithm, take each column's "Death Value", multiply it by the number of ticks in that column, add it all up and divide by the number of applicable rows.
| Relative deadness factor || Deader Than Dead || Maybe Back Later || Be Back Soon || Death? What's That? |
| Death Value || 4 || 3 || 2 || 1 |
| Cause of death || Irony, Bridge Drop, Overkill, Stuffed In The Fridge, Ret Gone || Redemption, Sacrifice, Bus Crash, Mortal Wound Reveal || No One Could Survive That, just plain killed in battle || Jumping |
| Audience Expectation || Anyone Can Die, Kill 'em All || Killed Off for Real, Tonight Someone Dies || Disney Death || Back from the Dead, Death Is Cheap, Nobody Can Die |
| Body Found? || Dead and Buried |
Only Bits And Pieces
| At The Morgue || Never Found, Frozen, Petrified || Left for Dead |
| Reaction || Montage, Bond One-Liner || He's Dead, Jim || It's Personal || Faux Death |
| Last Words || Crap, Killed Mid-Sentence, Carry on men, His Name Is... || Catch Phrase, Famous Last Words, Final Speech, Obi-Wan Moment || "Fly, you fools!" "Piece of cake" || "My Death Is Just the Beginning" |
| Characterization || Red Shirt, Loved One, Mauve Shirt || Recurring Character, C-List Fodder || Regular Character || Protagonist, Archvillain, Ensemble Darkhorse |
| When did they die? || 10+ years ago, Series Finale || 5-10 years ago || Same year || Same arc |
| "Died" and come back? || Not yet || Died once, but got better || Twice || I've lost count |
To see calculations-of-permanence-of-death in action, see the Wild Mass Guess Sorting Algorithm of Deadness
, where this table has been copied for clarity's sake. Also remember that the author may choose to subvert this trope and bring back a character no matter how 'dead' he should be
, sometimes horrifically
as an Undead
. Of course, sometimes a low score on the algorithm is no guarantee
that the character hasn't been Killed Off for Real
See the Sorting Algorithm of Mortality
to determine whether a character is likely to die in the first place.