Spoilers for Game of Thrones. And early ’90s Superman comics, I guess.
Death in stories is important. Or at least, it should be.
Coming from comics, we’re used to death being a revolving door. Heroes and villains die frequently and eventually return. It’s part of the tapestry that makes superhero comics what they are. The impact of these deaths, when done well, is a source of great drama and character exploration. Their purpose is to reinvigorate the ongoing stories with a new status quo and open up new paths of storytelling. Likewise when the same characters return.
The most well-known example — and the best, I would argue — would be the death of Superman. By 1992 Superman had become sort of passe, an optimistic character in a pessimistic world. In an era of things like Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns, Superman had become almost anachronistic. The public’s wants seemed to be shifting, and this was reflected in Hollywood as much as in comics. 1987 delivered the ill-conceived and repugnant Superman IV: The Quest for Peace — an abysmal flop — while the grittier Dark Knight found smashing success in Tim Burton’s Batman only two years later. The era of the morally upstanding hero was done, it seemed, and the ’90s ushered in the era of the anti-heroes and grim avengers. More brooding, more bullets, more blood.