It's a classic TV trope that gay characters almost inevitably bite the bullet before their straight counterparts, and over the past month not one, but two popular lesbian characters have been killed off.
On Sunday's "Twice As Far" episode of The Walking Dead, Denise takes an arrow through both the eye and brain simultaneously, and dies as the result of some pretty dodgy bowmanship.
This death couldn't have come at a worse time, after another LGBT favorite's life was extinguished on The 100 just a few weeks previously. To make it worse, Lexa died minutes after consummating her long-awaited relationship with Clarke — meaning that loves young dream was snuffed out almost as soon as it began.
Of course, neither of these deaths are that surprising considering both shows' propensity to slaughter beloved characters left, right and centre, but a lot of people are speaking up about the stunted life spans of LGBT TV characters on Tumblr and Twitter:
The president of GLAAD even weighed in by adding the following to the debate:
The 100 showrunner Jason Rothenberg pointed out that his decision to kill off Lexa was forced by having a limited amount of time to work with the actress, he explained to EW that:
"Hopefully the audience will realize we’re talking about an actress who’s starring in another show, so I really didn’t have a lot of option. She was only was available to us for seven episodes this season — and beyond that, maybe never again available to us. So as a storyteller/showrunner, I needed to weigh that against the story that we’re telling. I happen to think it’s an amazing story that we’re telling, but certainly the decision to kill that character was made a little bit easier by the fact that I knew we weren’t going to get to play with Alycia Debnam-Carey anymore. Hopefully, people can forgive me. If they can’t, I understand that, too.”
But most fans are angry by the manor in which she died; shot by a stray bullet meant for Clarke — as badass warrior queen of thousands, many believed her character deserved better.
Some The Walking Dead fans were also insulted by the trivial nature of Denise's death which they felt implied that showrunners believed that she would be less relatable to viewers thanks to her LGBT status, but not everyone agrees that TWD has been more disrespectful to gay characters than they have the rest of their disposable cast. Merritt Wever who played Denise in the show explained:
“I understand if viewers watching the show really identify with the character or like seeing themselves or some part of the world that they know is real and true and valid and prevalent represented and then to have that taken away, I definitely see how that would be disappointing in the broader scheme of things. I’m not sure that that’s what was going on here but I understand the sentiment very well and I am familiar with the [trope of] black characters or gay characters getting killed off because [they’re considered] less human or less real or less important and people aren’t gonna care as much. From my end, it didn’t feel like that’s what was happening though. But I certainly understand the concern in the wider culture.”
One thing's for sure, there is definitely a history of lesbian and bisexual sudden death syndrome in the industry — with Auto Straddle compiling a list of 146 characters who have been killed off in often trivial ways for the sake of shock value.