Fans fear Joss Whedon and George R.R. Martin not because they invented the idea of killing beloved characters but because they make it so painful. Some viewers and readers love the added suspense of never knowing who is “safe,” while a few can’t bear the tension and turn away. I suspect this division is similar to the one between people who love roller coasters and those who’d never get near one.
In superhero comics, of course, death is seldom permanent. Nobody believes it when you kill Spider-Man or Captain America or Superman. Certainly not since Phoenix. The exceptions (like Mar-Vell) stand out because they are so rare.
I am one of those who enjoys the danger that a favorite character might die, not because I want the death because I thrive on suspense. My wife, while she loves Game of Thrones, can hardly bear to watch after an event like Season One’s famous execution and, of course, the infamous Red Wedding. We joke that the perfect movies for her are those in which everyone’s a good person and nobody gets hurt. That’s not actually true (she loves The Godfather, where everyone’s a bad person and everyone gets hurt), but it makes us laugh at the same time that it points out we enjoy different things from fiction.
How do you react to the death of beloved characters? Do you prefer the sense that anyone could die? Or do you want some assurance that by the end the “good guys” will prevail and get medals?