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Killing Canon Characters

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Killing Canon Characters



Apparently, having a canon character lose, let alone die, in a fan fiction is against the rules, and if there happens to be an OC (especially a female OC and in which the canon character that had died was male) that survived, that automatically makes the OC an overpowered Mary-Sue.  Bull.  Shit.  That’s right, I swore, but you know what?  This is absolutely stupid!  It’s so stupid, I initially hadn’t any plans on adding this part until I read an awesome fan fiction had that particular point pointed out multiple times, and I still hadn’t planned on adding this part because I had already stated in Canon and OC Pairings that it’s OK for a canon character to die, and the reviews for that fan fiction weren‘t exactly disrespectful, just annoying.  Thus didn’t seem like an urgent topic.  Not to mention that I had already written a full-fledged guide on characters’ strengths and weaknesses in “How Much Power is too Much Power?” and wrote a companion guide on how to write fighting scenes in “In a Fight.”  The real reason I decided to add this part was because someone had sent me a note asking me to write this part, so of course I would agree because if someone has to ask “Can I write . . . ?” or “Am I allowed to write . . . ?” then there’s definitely something wrong here.  Even if it’s fan fiction with all of these much loved characters and storyline and settings, you can write whatever you want as long as it’s within the original creator’s set parameters.

You don’t like noncanonical yaoi pairings?  Does the original creator explicitly state that there cannot be homosexual pairings with his or her straight character?  If not, then leave the fan fiction writer alone.

You don’t like a canon character dying?  Does the original creator explicitly state that none of the canon characters that hadn’t died in the original material should die in your fan fiction?  If not, then don’t complain about it just because a canon character, no matter how loved or popular he or she is, loses or dies.

As long as all of the variables between character’s strengths and weaknesses are assessed between the character and opponent, then it should be fine.  Please note that while war and battles are the main focus of this complaint, something as simple as playing games can also be applied to this complaint.  If there was a reason for the character’s death, it should be fine.

If a canon character died because the author despises the character, well, I can’t say that I would like it, but the fan fiction writer is still technically allowed to write the fan fiction.  I can respectfully state my opinion along the lines of, “Even though I didn’t like this character either, I didn’t really like how you just killed him off just because,” but I can’t tell the writer to stop or change what he or she has written.  That’s like me trying to commandeer the person’s story, and I think that’s completely disrespectful.

So what variables should be kept in mind between the characters?

Strengths and weaknesses are probably the first thing to think about, but also technique, the condition of the characters’ bodies, numbers (such as if a character is outnumbered), the condition of the characters’ focus, and even the weather could be a variable.

The battle between Himura Kenshin and Shishio Makoto from Rurouni Kenshin (Nobuhiro Wakatsuki) is an excellent example!  Kenshin, an ex-assassin humbled down to a wandering pacifist whose skills had dulled down just as much as his switch to his sakabato sword over the past ten years, had only just fully mastered his sword style, and had battled two exceptionally strong opponents and was injured from those battles.  Shishio, also an assassin, has burns all over his body, thus can only battle for fifteen minutes before his body over heats due to not being able to sweat, had only gotten stronger during the ten years, hadn’t battled or gotten injured, and he knew Kenshin’s secret to his secret move.  You could very well say that the two are evenly match, even with Kenshin’s injuries because in a way, Shishio is also greatly injured due to his old burns—he can’t fight at full strength either and has to make the battle quick; however with his personality, he would rather savor it, thus waste more time than he should.

With deep injuries to his back, chest and side, how did Kenshin manage to beat Shishio?  Shishio had worked his body so hard that his blood steamed through his skin, and his body temperature was so high that it ignited his body’s fat and oils—fitting since his whole sword style revolved around friction and fire.  Kenshin probably definitely would have lost if Shishio hadn’t ignited.

If there is an official fan fiction rule book out there somewhere, please point me in that direction, because otherwise I’m going by my own rules, and you should too—make up your own rules, I mean.
If you haven't, please read my Mary-Sue: Who is She? Series first.

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Alpha-Dragonis's avatar
There are three that I don't like about killing canon characters is that they are either done disrespectfully or we're told about it rather than it being shown and the third kind of ties back into the first - the question of whether it will help the story and not be a shock death. 

To use a comic book example of how this can be done right and wrong, take the death of Supergirl in Crisis on Infinite Earths and compare it to the way they killed Lian Harper in Cry For Justice. Supergirl dies at the hands of the Anti-Monitor but she does so whilst punching the ever loving crap out of him, wailing on the villain over and over until she quite literally drops dead. Lian Harper on the other hands gets cruelly and unceremoniously killed off in the final issue of Cry For Justice despite never appearing in the comic until then and that is utterly disrespectful to the character.