Actually Mufasa is too
big a part of the plot to qualify as a Sacrificial Lion
. Because if he didn't die there wouldn't be a plot, Scar would never have taken over the Pride Lands and Simba wouldn't have run away. Both of these tropes are about mostly meaningless deaths, they didn't have to die for the plot to progress but exist to set up credentials.
A Sacrificial Lamb
is basically a half-step up from a Red Shirt
, a piece of Cannon Fodder
that has a face and name. They might have just enough screentime to endear themselves to the audience, but that's just to make it sad when they die. Look at Jimmy from Independence Day
, where they squeeze as much personality from him as they could in the short time only to shoot him down in the ensuing dogfight. His death is only a bit more elaborate than the rest of the Red Shirt Army
, and thus they represent the hundreds of others who die.
The Sacrificial Lion
is about confirming the threat of the situation, rather than just the enemy. If the plot requires the team to go through the valley of death, well, if no one dies then the name is an Informed Attribute
. The crew of Serenity
have to travel to a planet located in Reaver space, then have to make it past an Alliance blockade to broadcast their new information. They do, but not without some trouble. When they finally got to their goal, no one on Serenity was worse for wear, then Wash is killed by a stray harpoon
. With the death of one character suddenly the tone of the story shifts. This is the exact same reason Cedric had to die in Harry Potter
. They're encountering a rejuvenated Voldemort, someone has to die.
edited 12th Dec '10 11:55:22 AM by KJMackley