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Playing With / Disposable Woman

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Basic Trope: A female character whose sole purpose is to be killed off to give The Hero a pretext for revenge or to be a Cynicism Catalyst.

  • Straight: Helen is married to William, a regular badass. She gets killed off five minutes into the show or before the end of the first chapter and is never mentioned again afterwards.
  • Exaggerated:
    • Cartwright Curse
    • All men in the show are Crusading Widowers who are all looking to kill the murderers of their wives and whose story stop once this is done. Their wives are never talked about or even seen throughout the show.
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  • Downplayed: The Lost Lenore
  • Justified: There are no female characters of note in that show since it's a war movie so women have little significance other than being there as symbols, not as characters.
  • Inverted: Helen is killed in the opening scene of the story, setting off William's quest to learn more about her.
  • Gender-Inverted: William is killed off at the beginning of the show and Helen goes on her own quest to get revenge on the person who killed him and her children.
  • Subverted:
    • Helen is thought to have died but they Never Found the Body. Turns out she had faked her death and has gone her own way.
    • William is gay. Since no one expects him to like men, his boyfriend is never targeted.
    • Helen was killed off to set off... her ward's story: Willa.
    • The villains find out about her and attack... She promptly hands them their asses. Turns out she's just as badass as the Hero or maybe even more so.
  • Double Subverted:
    • But she ends up killed anyway.
    • ... that is, until one of Will's enemies find about his preference and murders his boyfriend.
    • When Willa's arc is over, she also gets killed off right after hooking up with the local badass. And thus starts Bob's story.
  • Parodied: In-universe, getting married is a literal death sentence for women.
  • Zig-Zagged: Some male heroes who have deceased wives use that as their reason for questing; others have some other reason.
  • Averted: All the protagonists are celibate and have no one they care about.
  • Enforced:
    • The actress playing Helen resigned after the series' pilot, so they had to find a way to write her character off the series.
    • "Romance only gets in the way. Kill off William's girlfriend, it makes him more interesting and relatable for our 'unattractive male geek' demographics."
  • Lampshaded: "For a widower, you sure forgot quick about your wife, William."
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  • Invoked: Someone imposes Laser-Guided Amnesia regarding Helen on William.
  • Exploited: Not thinking about Helen constantly makes William a more effective fighter.
  • Defied: "Sorry, William, I can't be with you. I know who you are and if I agree to spend the rest of my life with you, I'll just get killed before I even start appreciating your company."
  • Discussed: "Helen, this is a man's world. If you want to remain alive, celibacy is your lifeline."
  • Conversed: "Being paired up with a badass never ends well for a woman..."
  • Deconstructed: Continuing from the Straight example, others remark on William's distinct lack of care about his late wife's demise, leading him to realize that his love for her was shallow at best. This leads William to question why he's even fighting.
    • Relatedly, while he may have been motivated by Helen's death in the immediate aftermath, he has long gotten over it and is using her death now as a mere justification for his actions, especially his more extreme ones.

Dispose of the Disposable Woman. That's what she's here for.