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Playing With / Tonight, Someone Dies

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Basic Trope: When a series kills off a character, the network plays it up for all its worth as a Ratings Stunt.

  • Straight: The Family Drama Big, Screwed-Up Family is going to kill off one of its main cast. Upon learning of this, the execs air commercials advertising that Tonight, Someone Dies.
  • Exaggerated:
  • Downplayed: The network advertises that something horrible and shocking will happen to one of the characters, but never specifically mentions that anyone dies in the episode.
  • Justified: Ratings are plummeting, and they want to attract viewers by advertising something that the general public will find interesting.
  • Inverted:
    • For a show where main characters die weekly, the Season Finale contains no deaths and is heavily advertised as such.
    • Someone is coming Back from the Dead, and the networks make sure the trailers tease the hell out of it.
    • An episode is going to show the birth or creation of a new character and is advertised as such.
  • Subverted:
    • The marketing heavily plays up an impending death, but nobody ends up dying that week.
    • Advertisement:
    • In the Wham Episode, Courtney's Only Friend, Leo, manages to stop her just before she ingests the cyanide pills, and tells her, "You Are Not Alone."
  • Double Subverted: Despite the marketing, a huge disaster fails to injure any characters. The narrator remarks "I guess nobody died after all." At the end of the episode, one of the characters is killed off in a freak accident.
  • Parodied: Not only the advertising, but the narrator and the characters themselves repeatedly hint that "something unfortunate!" will soon happen to one of the main characters.
  • Zig Zagged: Some deaths in Big Screwed Up Family are foreshadowed and advertised well beforehand. Others occur out of the blue with no warning.
  • Averted:
    • No one dies. Ever.
    • Deaths are not over advertised.
  • Enforced: The whole point of this trope is that it's enforced.
  • Lampshaded:
    • "Sooo, was she the death the network advertised so heavily?"
    • Or, for a less Fourth Wall-breaking example: "Well, I think we all knew, at this rate one of us was gonna die sooner or later."
  • Invoked: "I have to kill you, my love. The ads for this episode say so".
  • Exploited: Since someone has to die, someone offers to sacrifice themselves so that the others may not.
  • Defied: She gets better...
  • Discussed: "I can feel it... my days on this earth are numbered."
  • Conversed: "So... who's gonna die?" "Probably some random side-character."
  • Deconstructed: By turning a character's death into a hyped-up Ratings Stunt, the network actually decreases the impact of the event and make it appear as if the death is more about bringing in ratings than dramatic storytelling.
  • Reconstructed: Despite this, the episode is written well enough that it still brings in the ratings, encouraging the network to continue the process. Also, the cautioning helps mitigating the Gut Punch the audience is about to receive, and makes it less alienating for most people.
  • Played For Drama: The topic is less about the death, and more about the hero's futile attempt to prevent it. He fails.

Back to Tonight, Someone Dies, and... wait, what're doing with th-*BANG*

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