5 Ways to Kill Your Hero
Death is inevitable. Even for our most beloved heroes. Finding a fitting final fate for our friends can be a writer’s greatest challenge. Fear not, to end your suffering we have compiled A LIST 😲 of cool ways to end your heroes misery, or life. Your heroes can finally say goodbye to this cruel world, the world you created specifically to make them dance while pulling the strings like a puppet master.
#1 Death by Poison
An absolute classic! Poison is an intriguing vessel of death – excellent for pulling the rug out from under readers. By establishing a hero’s triumph only to discover they were poisoned and have mere minutes to live. We recommend forgoing the typical ingestion method and instead entertain a more elegant solution. Namely, contact poison. A simple brush of skin or press of the lips could seal your heroes’ fate. Or perhaps unaware injection could be the final blow…
For real-life inspiration – Ricin was used to kill Georgi Markov 1978. While waiting for a bus he saw a gentleman approach and kneel with an umbrella. Briefly noting the temperate weather, he felt a small pressure on side of his leg. Moments later he was hospitalized with fever, passing soon after. An autopsy revealed Ricin delivered through a small needle puncture in his leg to be the culprit.
Shot through an umbrella! 😣😭
#2 Death by Fall
The descriptive imagery of a character’s final moments creates a lasting impression. The internal dialogue alone makes the method of dying from a significant height appealing (note: I am deathly afraid of heights 👻😱). You could stir the reader with your hero’s struggle and eventual acceptance. The possibilities are endless…
A fall from grace is equally as compelling. Having your character embrace the vices he has been fighting only to find his untimely end. Michael Jackson is a perfect example -> watching the meteoric rise driven by talent, only to succumb to a litany of personal problems.
#3 Death by Sacrifice
Heroes who put others above themselves; to a fault, resulting in an astonishing number of heroes dwelling six feet under us. The ultimate sacrifice can be an effective conclusion to a redemptive character ark. Sacrificing self for the greater good may rob your hero of the happy ending he has earned… but emulates life.
Life is not fair!
Life does not recognize good above evil!
The Chernobyl Three embody that sacrifice. During the meltdown, three brave individuals offered their lives to stop a second explosion, stepping forward to drain the reserve under immense radioactivity. This act saved billions, preventing the explosion of three additional nuclear generators.
#4 Death by Time
Time is the ultimate killer: silent, unseen, responsible for more deaths than any other cause in human history. This can manifest in many ways… Perhaps your hero exists in a time before modern medicine. Dying from a routine illness can add a human element, removing the pedestal. I would recommend avoiding dysentery though. I’m sure David Livingstone, Francis Drake, and Henry V could attest to the horrific nature of this unfortunate liquid legacy. Or perhaps they have lived a long and satisfying life. The final moments are spent walking into the sunset or presented in eulogy form. A final celebration of their triumphs in death makes for a satisfying end for a beloved character. OR
A weapon out of time can also be a fitting conclusion. Let’s imagine: a hero storms into battle with nothing but a bow and arrow against assault rifles… An ancient artifact delivers the final blow against our hero! BOOM!
#5 Death by Blows
For those mentally in the gutter, you are excused. Death by blows, or in this case multiple blows demonstrates a character’s drive and resilience – Never Giving Up. Often depicted in action movies as a character is stabbed, shot, choked, punched, tortured, waterboarded all on their way to save something of incredible importance.
Personally, I lean away from excess violence, but I do believe there is a tasteful method to this variation. The Princess Bride and End of Watch come to mind for visual aids (film references in a literary blog how uncouth😬🙄). The concept remains sound, watching a hero battle to their final breath against all odds delivers the goods. Severe trauma is the leading late death contributor, giving our hero a window to triumph before ultimately meeting his untimely death.
As readers, we want GOOD to prevail.
We WANT to see the good guys triumph!
Stabbed in the Back – Deadly Betrayal
Debilitating Disease – Handle with in-home care
Slipping in the Shower- Relatable
Allergic Reaction – Break their swollen hearts
Car Crash – Tired Trope
Crushed by a Vending Machine – Snack Attack
What is your personal favorite? 😉
Written and researched by Nathaniel Postell
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