A new study done by Vox’s Caroline Framke, with the help of Josh Rosenblat, Javier Zarracina and Sarah Frostenson, catalogued all the character deaths from the 2015-2016 television season (provided that the person was in three or more episodes) to examine the growth in death scenes in recent shows. Their discoveries are quite astonishing, with queer women having a higher rate of being killed off when compared to their overall ratio.
The team created a chart that shows the name of the series, gender, whether the character was white or nonwhite, LGBTQ or non, totaling 236 deaths in the entire season.
The stats? About 56 percent of deaths were male characters, and 44 percent women. Which is understandable, since men are more represented onscreen. Then things get more specific, with 42 percent being straight white men and 24 percent being straight white women. Then it gets interesting.
Popular on IndieWire
The study showed that 26 percent were minorities (both men and women, LGBTQ included) and about 10 percent were LGBTQ women and 3 percent were LGBTQ men.
“The statistics do back up those who cry foul on television killing off too many queer women,” reads the article. “A full 10 percent of deaths being queer women is astonishing given how few of them recur on shows in general.”
The article also highlighted the shocking death in The CW’s “The 100,” which killed off a prominent gay woman and pointed out the deaths of women in seven major recurring roles.
“TV has consistently and disproportionately killed female, LGBTQ, and minority characters,” Famke stated. Variety TV Critic Mo Ryan previously addressed the issue also, pointing out that “This year, dozens of lesbians and bisexual women have died on various shows, among them ‘The Vampire Diaries,’ ‘The Walking Dead,’ ‘Empire,’ ‘The Expanse,’ ‘The Magicians” and ‘The 100.'”
Every year more and more deaths are used as plot lines and, as Caroline notes, after she sourced hundreds of show summaries, character breakdowns and IMDB credits, she realized that “the overwhelming majority of tossed-off deaths belonged to women.” “I saw the same clause over and over again: ‘When a woman is found killed…’” she said.
The article also pointed out that while TV has become a fan of playing the death card, it seems that maybe it’s getting excessive.
“But if TV wants to use death to add jolts of intrigue, then its shows need to take a hard look at just how often they go to that narrative well as a matter of course. Death might have been a game changer back when it was rare for a show to play that card, but now it’s not only expected — it’s straight up boring,” Framke concluded.