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ST characters and death

parrothead117

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POSTS: 299

Report this Mar. 20 2011, 3:52 pm

Death in the 23rd and 24th centuries should be relatively rare.  Humans can live well into their 100s (see McCoy's appearance on the Enterprise D in "Encounter at Farpoint," for example) and doctors can cure all manner of diseases, disorders, and injuries.


Obviously life in Starfleet is dangerous.  But does Star Trek have an unhealthy obsession with on-screen and off-screen deaths of main characters and their families?


On-screen deaths:


Spock in TWOK.  A noble sacrifice, yes, but was it necessary for the franchise to go there or was it merely a ploy to get people talking, jerk the audience's heartstrings, and set up a sequel?


Kirk's son, David, in SFS.  Easy come, easy go.  An arbitrary character arbitrarily taken from us.  I guess I'm glad we weren't saddled with predictable scripts later about the adventures of Kirk's son, but seriously, just put him on a science station somewhere and have done with it.  There was no need to kill him except to introduce artificial drama and character development for Kirk, though he seldom mentions it again.


Kirk in Generations.  A senseless death that mars an otherwise great film.  I know this has been discussed a lot, so I'll move on.


Data in Nemesis.  Completely uncreative.  I've read that Spiner wanted Data to die, but still, it's like the screenwriters thought that it wasn't a "big" enough movie unless it claimed the life of a big character.  Really left me feeling sour and angry and put off of Trek.


Trip in ENT.  Another cheap death.  I think they just wanted to make the finale seem epic and important.


Off-screen deaths:


If the on-screen deaths are debatable, the off-screen ones are even worse.  These are the deaths that really bother me, because I think they are usually the work of lazy screenwriting.  Deaths of parents, for example, put future writers in a corner.  What if a lazy screenwriter, thinking that the deaths of parents counts as character development, had thrown in a line in DS9 season 1 about Sisko losing both parents?  We would have been robbed of the great recurring character of Joseph Sisko later on.  And furthermore, how likely is it that many 24th century people would have deceased parents?  Again, I know Starfleet is dangerous, which accounts for Jack Crusher's death, etc.  But I think it's a "plot" device (if you can even call it that) that's used far too frequently.  Just count the characters with at least one dead parent.  You don't have enough fingers.  Then think about how awesome the few Star Trek parents we see are: Worf's adoptive parents, Bashir's parents, the relationship between Beverly and Wesley... Living parents flesh out Star Trek characters far more than dead ones.


I have to throw in a separate paragraph about my absolute least favorite off-screen death in all of Star Trek: Picard's brother and nephew in Generations.  How dare the screenwriters take two characters who were well-developed in their single appearance in "Family," and who helped make Picard a fuller character, and kill them off for no apparent reason than to have a cheap one-off scene of Picard sobbing?  It's beyond outrageous and beyond lazy.  Personally I like to imagine that there was some miscommunication and that they're still alive and well in France.


Deaths done well:


I don't want to give the impression that I think all Trek deaths are unecessary.  Some really help advance the plot, or help drive a point home.  Here are some I give my stamp of approval:


Jadzia Dax in DS9.  Terry Ferrell didn't want the writers to kill off Jadzia.  But how could they pass up the chance to keep Dax on the show in a new host?  I'm a fan of Ezri, so I'd hate not to have had her on the show.  I also think this was an important death in terms of Gul Dukat's character arc.


McCoy's father in The Final Frontier.  A brief, moving, pseudo-flashback about the death of an ill and elderly parent.


Tasha Yar in TNG.  Yes, her death was exceedingly lame.  We all know this.  However, I wouldn't change it.  I think of it as an apology for all the red-shirt deaths in TOS.  Instead of killing off someone random just to heighten the stakes, it lets a main character die in a less-than-epic manner.  And if it wasn't for her death, we couldn't have had the greatness of "Yesterday's Enterprise" and Denise Crosby's other great appearances in TNG.


 


I know I'm leaving a lot out of each of these categories of deaths.  What's your take on the usefulness of death in ST, and how well it's used?


"We must strive to be more than we are, Lal. It does not matter that we will never reach our ultimate goal. The effort yields its own rewards." - Data, "The Offspring"

janewayjunkie74656

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Report this Mar. 20 2011, 4:02 pm

Q: Is death in ST unavoidable?


A: Well, if you're a redshirt, that is...


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parrothead117

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Report this Mar. 20 2011, 4:05 pm


"We must strive to be more than we are, Lal. It does not matter that we will never reach our ultimate goal. The effort yields its own rewards." - Data, "The Offspring"

267198ed

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Report this Mar. 20 2011, 4:18 pm

Poor redshirts. And what is with no one really important in Voyager dying? Only random crewmen really, and when that happens they are just like, oh, she’s dead and move on. Very TOS.


Jolan Tru, may your day be filled with peace.

janewayjunkie74656

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Report this Mar. 20 2011, 4:20 pm

Ok, my opinion now. I'm going to talk about Data's death, but because it ANGERS me!!!!!!!!!


Yes, Spock died, and that angered me all right, but at least I knew the next movie was called "The Search for Spock". So I could guess that Spock was going to turn out fine. And he did! So then I was happy.


But Data's death, well, that's just horrible. I know people have lots of different opinions on it, but I personally hated it. Some people like the idea because its the ultimate human sacrifice or whatever, and I understand that, but NO! Just no. AND it was the last note. Maybe they should've finished TNG with Insurrection, because I could've died happy knowing that Data lived. Now apparently I can't.


I just started Enterprise. I've only seen 7 or 8 episodes. Trip Tucker is already my favorite character. And I just learned yesterday that he dies later. THAT ANGERS ME TOO!


Tasha's death: I didn't really like Tasha in the first place, so her death didn't bother me that much. But what did bother me was that she got killed by an evil tar monster on some unnamed planet. A tar monster??? Are you KIDDING me???


Which brings me to this next one, Kirk's death. Now this one really turned me off. He fought with an old guy, fell off a bridge and got buried under rocks. GARRRRRRRRR!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Really? Really, writers? ROCKS??? *huffy sigh*


As you can see, I don't deal with ST deaths very well. Especially if it's a character I'm pretty well emotionally attacted to, such as Data. Or Kirk. But there's my opinion.


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267198ed

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Report this Mar. 20 2011, 4:26 pm

Well, the Abrams Countdown comics should make you happy because Data is back, B4 has his memories and whatnot and is now Data.

Spoiler. But hey, it’s been a few year and if you haven’t found out about that by now then too bad XD

Kirk needed to die, I mean he cannot live forever guys, yes maybe he should have died in a better way, but he died saving the world, once again so who cares that he died on a bridge with boulders & crap, it is why he died, what he died for, etc that matters, not the exact means which killed him.

Jolan Tru, may your day be filled with peace.

parrothead117

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POSTS: 299

Report this Mar. 20 2011, 4:49 pm

Even without comic books, I think it's clear that B4 is destined to become Data, so I don't spend much time worrying about that one.  But clearly it's in the Hall of Fame of bad Trek deaths.


That sucks about the ENT spoiler.  Sorry you had to find out that way.


"We must strive to be more than we are, Lal. It does not matter that we will never reach our ultimate goal. The effort yields its own rewards." - Data, "The Offspring"

267198ed

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POSTS: 2871

Report this Mar. 20 2011, 4:55 pm

Quote: parrothead117 @ Mar. 20 2011, 4:49 pm

>

>Even without comic books, I think it's clear that B4 is destined to become Data, so I don't spend much time worrying about that one.  But clearly it's in the Hall of Fame of bad Trek deaths.

>That sucks about the ENT spoiler.  Sorry you had to find out that way.

>


Again I think it is more about how Data died, so many people wanted something bigger and drawn out than him just blowing himself up to save everyone. But it had to happen, and I think the means of death were the best for his particular situation.


Actually bringing him back in the Abrams universe was kind of silly, it makes his death seem almost meaningless and unimportant.


Jolan Tru, may your day be filled with peace.

OtakuJo

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Report this Mar. 20 2011, 5:02 pm

Unavoidable? No.


Unnecessary? Not necessarily.


Do avoidable unnecessary deaths happen in the real world? Absolutely.


Why would Star Trek not reflect this??

parrothead117

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Report this Mar. 20 2011, 5:14 pm

Quote: OtakuJo @ Mar. 20 2011, 5:02 pm

>

>Why would Star Trek not reflect this??

>



Indeed, that's an appropriate defense for deaths like Tasha Yar's.  But unfortunately, this is not what Star Trek is attempting to do with most of the deaths I mentioned in my on-screen and off-screen deaths section of the original posts.


For the on-screen deaths, they're going for cheap heroism, as with Spock and Data.  For the off-screen deaths, they're going for lazy and misguided character development, as with parental deaths.


So, while I agree with the spirit of your rebuttal, I don't feel it applies to most of the above cases.


"We must strive to be more than we are, Lal. It does not matter that we will never reach our ultimate goal. The effort yields its own rewards." - Data, "The Offspring"

toranaprem

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POSTS: 621

Report this Mar. 20 2011, 5:18 pm

I think Spock's death and subsequent resurrection, and the way the death of David Marcus was incorporated into that storyline was narrative brilliance. David Marcus' death was senseless and abrupt, and I found it moving for that very reason. It was him or Saavik, or a resurrected but souless Spock. The klingons were going to kill Saavik, the one person of the group whose death would have effected Kirk the least, but not David, so his son was willing to sacrifice himself for her just as Spock was willing to sacrifice himself for Kirk and Kirk's son. Its just such a heart-breakingly tangled web of loyalty and love.


And I actually really enjoyed the David character played by Merritt Butrick from TWOK and TSFS, and don't feel he was a completely arbitary addition at all. I just wish we'd gotten a little more of him somehow (and a LOT more of Robin Curtis' Saavik whom I love). Unfortunately, the actor who played him died as senselessly as David did not long after.


However, I don't think Kirk's death was handled well at all. As far as I was concerned VI was a fitting send-off of the original cast. They should have been left to die of age or heroics offscreen. It was in poor taste to try and make Kirk's death a selling point in a TNG film. If they wanted to kill Captain Kirk they should have done it in a project where Nimoy was involved. Spock's death was HUGE for Kirk. To not address the death of Kirk through the eyes of Spock feels criminal to me after how many years of his life Spock gave to following that man wherever he went.


"What will they find when I am ripped apart? 'I love you, captain' written on my heart."

OtakuJo

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Report this Mar. 20 2011, 5:40 pm

I just thought that Spock was pretty dAmn cruel to Bones!!

toranaprem

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Report this Mar. 20 2011, 6:32 pm

Quote: OtakuJo @ Mar. 20 2011, 5:40 pm

>

>I just thought that Spock was pretty dAmn cruel to Bones!!

>


Agreed! LOL


"What will they find when I am ripped apart? 'I love you, captain' written on my heart."

Vger23

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POSTS: 6799

Report this Mar. 20 2011, 7:25 pm

As much as "Star Trek Generations" was a weak film...it had a great message: Our mortality is what defines us. It is one of the truths of our existance. It is what makes every moment, every adventure, and every discovery special...there IS no life without death.


Therefore, death is and should be an integral part of Star Trek. The inevitibility of death is what makes life special and unique. And, since the uniqueness and preciousness of life is a primary theme in Star Trek, I'd say that death is absolutely a necessary theme for the franchise.

Blinkn

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Report this Mar. 20 2011, 7:55 pm

I can live with all the deaths David, Trip, and Data save the loss of Picard's brother and nephew, it truly saddened me. It seemed excessive and harsh, death weilded like a club. I can hardly bring myself to watch the movie but every blue moon and it still hits me every time.


I loved the character Jadzia, so her death was something of a blow but Ezri was a good character it made things easier.


I understand what 26798 is saying about Kirk even if I don't agree.


The death of parents is over used now that you point it out, an ongoing relationship is better for development. It is a unique take on the character seeing them be someones child.


But what I've found watching other scifi series like Battlester and this new Stargate is that death is powerful writing device its just used badly in Trek. Either the death is too jarring like with David or its lame and quick, some trite tripe like with Data and Trip.


I want to see a character that isn't labeled as 'gay' have a nice, normal romance with no hint of prejudice, no allegory and no message at all. Just put it there, like it happens all the time and no one gives a damn, which is exactly how it should be. I don't want a story about how no one understands them or how society isn't accepting, just have it happen. ~ SLagonia

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