Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Joe's top 10 saddest deaths in geekdom

With all the billions of bullets and swings of a sword throughout geekdom, death can become cheap and lose weight to it. In reality, every life is precious and every death is someone's loved one returning to their Father in Heaven. Even though they're fictional, storytellers can make a characters death weigh on us as though we actually knew them. When the tears well up, the heart aches, and the "Noooo!" comes from our lips, we know the story has hit a new high. So here's my top ten saddest deaths in geekdom, the stories that brought a tear to my eye and a tug at my heart.

10: Zaknafein from The Legend of Drizzt book 1: Homeland
LONG story short: There's a race of evil elves that live deep underground called the Drow. They're cruel, vicious, and value power and greed over love, kindness and respect. By their laws, a murderer is executed immediately if found out, not for taking another's life, but for being stupid enough to get caught. Into this society is born Drizzt, a young Drow born with the rare gift of a conscience. He spends his life training with his mentor Zaknafein, a tough but surprisingly kind weapons master who secretly shares Drizzt's conscience as well as being his father in secret. After they learned each others secrets they planned to leave their dark society behind, but Zaknafein was captured and sacrificed to the Drow's Spider Queen. Drizzt loses the only good thing his family or society had ever given him on that day, leaving him alone in the dark caves of his underground home.

9: Buck from Zombieland
Woody Harrelson plays a semi-crazy, mostly awesome survivor of the zombie apocalypse, driven by an insatiable want for Twinkies. It's established early on that he's pining over the loss of his puppy, Buck. About two-thirds through the film though it's revealed that Buck isn't actually a puppy but was Woody's young son, a toe head blonde no more than 5. We only see this character in a few flashback scenes, never hear any dialogue from him, or even see him die, but the comparison between how Woody acts with his son and crazy in the zombie infested world emphasizes how effected he was by his son's death. It's as if the horrors caused by the zombies are nothing compared to losing that one little boy.

Note: Yes, I know Zombieland is rated R.

8: Penny from Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog
Dr. Horrible has two goals: Join the Evil League of Evil and have Penny fall desperately in love with him. The tragedy is that to achieve one he must sacrifice the other. The Evil League of Evil requires the bad Doctor to murder someone to join the club, and when his gadget backfires and explodes only wounding his original target, Penny becomes the unfortunate recipient of shrapnel. It's good enough for the League though, so he get's in only to see how empty and sad his life is without her.

7: Meg from Hercules
Of all the Disney heroines, Meg is probably one of the best. She's smart, sassy, witty, but at the same time damaged and almost broken from the mistakes shes made in her life. The woman sells her soul to bring the man she loves back from the dead only for him to leave her for another gal, thus she ends up alone and a slave to Hades. She's only killed as an accident, due to the destruction caused by her betrayal of Hercules, a proper end in any Greek tragedy. Though because it's Disney, Hercules brings her back from the dead in one of the coolest rescue scenes in Disney. Though she comes back from the dead, it's still sad to watch one of Disney's most three dimensional characters and best love interest die.

6: Any media ever that shows Batman's parents dying
Comic books, live-action movies, cartoons or video games, it doesn't matter. Whenever young Bruce Wayne is kneeling over his dead parents it's just tragic. This is the image of a child's entire safety net shattered in an instant in the most violent and senseless way imaginable. The results created a man haunted by his own shadow and pain near the point of madness. True, Batman is one of the world's greatest super hero, but all the hours of training, fighting and darkness all stem from that one image of a little boy mourning his mommy and daddy.

5: Angel from Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Before Edward and Bella we had Buffy and Angel, the original supernatural romance. It's also your typical tragic romance to boot. She's the one girl chosen to slay the vampires, he's a dark stalker of the night cursed with a conscience that reminds him of all the evils he's committed. They fall in love and Angel experiences a moment of perfect happiness (Don't ask how), and his curse is broken, losing his soul and transforming him back into one of the worst vampires to walk the Earth. Buffy's heart is broken, but she gains the strength to take him out when he decides to end the world. While Buffy and Angel fight to the death for the fate of mankind, Buffy's friends recast the curse on Angel to restore his soul. It's too late though, and Buffy watches her beloved Angel become restored right before she has to kill him to stop his end of the world... thing.... It's heartbreaking to watch her have to kill the man she loves, when she just had to go through watching him become her worst enemy. It's what Twilight never had, emotion, depth and risk with falling in love.

4: Sirius Black from Harry Potter and the Order of the Pheonix
Magic, broomsticks and potions are all well and good, but the thing Harry wanted most in the world was to have a family. He finally gets the semblance of one in meeting his godfather Sirius, after an entire book of thinking he had murdered Harry's parents. Sirius promises Harry that after his name is cleared they can live together and be a proper family. In book five though, Sirius is killed before Harry's very eyes in a very strange complicated way that has something to do with a curtain and the McDonald's arch. It's tragic because Harry is once again alone to face his destiny, without the guidance of a family to help him. Like several characters on this list, Sirius represents the love of family and how devastating it can be to lose someone so close.

3: Wash from Serenity
There are certain people that just aren't supposed to die. Somewhere near the top of the list is comic relief. Wash in Serenity and Firefly is the fun loving, beloved pilot who wears Hawaiian shirts, plays with Dinosaurs and somehow won the beautiful Zoey. In Serenity though, after a battle with Reavers and a crash landing on a planet, Wash is suddenly killed when an enemy ship rams into his, driving a metal spike through his chest. It's sudden and comes out of nowhere, adding intensity to the scene. We also see the normally tough-as-nails soldier Zoey break down for the first time at the sight of her beloved husband impaled in his favorite chair. having her lose it adds to the tragedy, as if a part of Zoey died with Wash.

2: The Kents and Lois dealing with the death of Superman
Superman's death was a sad and poetic moment, but the saddest part came during the funeral comic. Lois Lane at the time of Superman's death knew about his secret identity and was engaged to Clark. While the city grieved at the loss of their hero, Lois wept silently at the loss of her beloved fiance'. She doesn't allow herself to truly grieve until she finds Clark's parents at his apartment, settling in to be with her. There's a scene where they simply hold each other and weep for their beloved son and lover, relieved to finally have someone they can share their grief with.

1: The kid who committed suicide in New Mutants
I can't even find a name for this kid. The comic came out in the 80's, and followed a younger group of students at Xavier's Academy while the X-Men were away. The story follows a transfer student who attends the same high school Kitty Pryde does, and how he tries to hide the fact that he's a mutant from everyone else. He tries to fit in with the cool kids by spouting anti-mutant jokes and phrases which burns his bridges with Kitty and only earns him more teasing. The final straw comes when a group of bullies continue to call him a mutant and say that they're going to call the government mutant task force on him. Fearing that they truly have found out about his mutant ability, the young man kills himself that night. Kitty investigates afterwards and feels extremely guilty when she finds out that he was indeed a mutant with the gift to create beautiful sculptures out of light. The story has tons of underlying connotations of accepting people, bullying, and even a piece with adolescent homosexuality. It's moving, fascinating, and was a bold move by Marvel that paid off beautifully.

I hope that my list doesn't come across as morbid. The idea here was to show that fiction can act as more than just a way to kill time, but can actually hold special meaning to us as people. There are some that didn't make the list, either because I thought they're already talked about too much (IE Darth Vader and Aslan) and some because I just didn't want to go into too much explanation on extremely obscure characters (IE Jack Drake and Gertrude Yorkes). So remember, you're not less of a person because you cried when Bambi's mom died, you're less of a person when you were hoping that the hunters would bag Bambi as well. :)


  1. One I would add to the list is both the first and second deaths of Solomon Grundy in the Justice League TV show. The first one was sad because he died trying to redeem his soul, the second was sad because he'd been brought back to life against his will and had gone into a frenzy. Hawk-girl then has to kill him to put him out of his misery. She tell him to be quiet, close his eyes and she'd make it all better. Tears, man, tears.

  2. What about Darth Vader dying as a redeemed man?

  3. Ugh! Don't make me cry AGAIN! I could hardly handle Wash and Sirius dying as it is! Why bring it up again?! WHHHYYY?!

    Just kidding! Great list. I don't disagree with any of them. Except maybe I would add Boromir from Fellowship of the Ring. Or just Sean Bean in general. Man, has that guy died a lot!