The Throw Away Character Paradigm

“What’s your name, crewman?”

If you were asked these dreaded words on the set of the original Star Trek series you knew you were dead. Not so much has changed since then as entertainment has maintained the throw-away character paradigm. Why? Well you need to kill somebody, right? The audience no longer has to question whether or not there will be a throw-away character but must ask itself, who can we expect to be killed off? Take a look at these examples and see if you’ve noticed these patterns.

Unknown Face.
This is your first giveaway. If you don’t recognize the face then they are probably a dead man walking. In fact, many famous actors got their start being the “throw-away death” in their earlier films. Who can forget Kevin Bacon’s death at the hands of Freddy Krueger? He gutted him through the bed with his claw!

Hair Gone Wild.
The moment a person walks into the room with some kind of crazy hairdo you know it’s time for the chopping block. Cool or not, if it’s extreme or a little crazy, they got’s to go. Don’t believe me? Check out what happens to Shen in the animated movie, Dead Space: Downfall. (Warning: Graphic)

The Jerk.
No one likes a jerk, not in real life or the movies. Granted, we sometimes find their phrases and antics funny, but ultimately after the laughter begins to fade, we all say, “Kill ‘em.” A perfect example is Ty Burrell’s character Steve in 2004’s Dawn of the Dead. Throughout the entire movie he’s just a jerk. He’s funny and he’s got a few good lines, but in the end the movie never makes the audience feel for the character, so when he went zombie were any of us really upset?

The Sex Hound.
Do I really need to give a reference for this guy? He’s comical, funny, witty, but his main focus is sexually based and it’s all he or she talks about. If you must have a reference for this we can leave out actor names and just refer you to Tales From the Crypt’s: Bordello of Blood. The whole movie is about this guy! (Again, Warning: Graphic)

What good use can you put all of this interesting information towards? Absolutely nothing. Unless maybe when you see these characters jump on the screen, your console, or elsewhere, you’ll recall not to get too cozy with them. Their life may not be too long, even if it is memorable. Always remember, if you ever get asked to go on an away mission and you’re in the red uniform, call in sick. Your chances are better on the ship than on the planet.


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