Let Them Die!
“He’s dead Jim.” These are the iconic words by Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy to his stalwart Captain, James Tiberius Kirk of the starship the USS Enterprise that we heard in many episodes. Fans like myself have heard them over and over again…except they were not always true. This post is a bit of rant about franchises that do not kill off major characters, or if they do, only to bring them back at a later date. I will mainly focus on Star Trek but I observe that this happens in many science-fiction and fantasy franchises.
My complaint is that it takes out the drama and the sting of these “deaths.” Take the death of Spock for example. He was killed at the end of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. If you’re a fan who was alive and thriving at that time, this was a very big deal. They undid all of that in the very next movie, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. Now I love that movie. It gets a bad rap but it really is a fun exciting movie. However, the spend the entire movie trying to rescue a reanimated Spock and his death in the previous film is now hollow.
Even in the series itself you knew death would not be permanent. In the episode Shore Leave McCoy is seemingly killed by a Lance from a Knight on a horse only to be brought back by the end of the episode. * In the episode The Changeling, Scotty is killed by the probe Nomad only to be resurrected after the next commercial break. In Star Trek: The Next Generation (TNG) episode, Ethics, Worf dies on the operating table only to be revived when his redundant biological systems (which we just learned he had in that episode) kick into gear. In the first season of TNG in the episode Skin of Evil, Tasha Yar is killed off when actor Denise Crosby wanted out of her contract. Even though the actress left the series she did return twice as Tasha Yar; once in the time travel episode Yesterday’s Enterprise (great episode by the way) only to die again, albeit off screen. Crosby returned to play her character’s half-Romulan half-Human daughter Sela in a few episodes and in the series finale Crosby played Yar once more in scenes depicting the series first episode.
In science fiction nobody dies or at least death may not be forever. One of the things that sparked this blog post is speculation around the new Star Trek movie, Star Trek Into Darkness. JJ Abrams killed of Spock’s mother, Amanda, and he destroyed the Vulcan home world. So it seems like JJ Abrams is not afraid of taking a bold move and with the alleged dark theme of the movie will Abrams kill off a major character? And will he, as kirk said to Spock concerning the Klingons in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country,…Let them die?
* This fact, that McCoy did die once, is ignored in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. In the movie Spock tells McCoy that he cannot discuss death with him without a proper frame of reference. McCoy exasperatedly responds that he has to die first to discuss death with Spock!? Evidently the writers forgot that McCoy did die in the episode “Shore Leave.”
Posted on October 23, 2012, in Captain's Log... and tagged Captain Kirk, Gene Roddenberry, James T. Kirk, JJ. Abrams, Leonard Nimoy, Mr. Spock, Spock, Star Trek, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, Star Trek Into Darkness, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, Star Trek: The Next Generation, William Shatner. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.