Characters dying on TV are nothing new, so you probably won’t bat an eye to learn that a number of LGBTQ characters have been killed off recently. We live in the age of “no one is safe,” right? Even if you had heard the phrase “bury yours gays” floating around on the internet, you might be surprised to learn that some people have become so fed up with how LGBTQ characters are treated that they want TV writers to take the Lexa Pledge, basically promising to treat these characters better, and by extension, treat real life members of these groups better.
Before going on to name all the straight characters that have died recently as well, there’s some context to bear in mind: the stigma against LGBTQ people was once so great, that they simply weren’t featured in entertainment, or else were given stories of tragedy to align with society’s once condemning view of such behavior. So gay couples, for instance, once almost unanimously saw their stories end with one or both members of the relationship being killed off. Happy endings simple weren’t something you saw. So understandably, when LGBTQ people were seldom featured — and usually then only to wind up dead — a lot of members of these groups aren’t fond of seeing that trend perpetuated, and would instead like to see stories more affirming of positive outcomes.
The show’s on this list aren’t here because they’re bad, but simply because they all happened to kill off LGBTQ members in fairly quick succession, sparking viewers to speak up online via causes like the Lexa Pledge. Fans have accused these shows of attempting to bait in queer audiences for ratings, misleading fans, or just recreating those same tragic stereotypes of the past. These are 12 LGBTQ TV Deaths That Inspired The Lexa Pledge.
LEXA – THE 100
Obviously we can’t get into this list without talking about the namesake of the pledge, so let’s start with the obvious. As a commander, Lexa was a powerful woman on The 100, and she was also openly in a relationship with lead character Clarke. The two women were happy together, and Lexa in particular became a popular character despite not being part of the books the show is based on. So quite a few people went through the various stages of loss when Lexa wound up getting shot by a stray bullet and ultimately succumbing to her wound.
What really bothered fans about Lexa’s death was the feeling of deception by the show’s staff. Deductive viewers looked at the cast credits for the episodes in advance, and noticed the actress playing Lexa stopping appearing at one point, leading many to suspect she was going to be killed off. Fans felt misled because one of the show’s writers allegedly denied this would happen, and the relationship between Clarke and Lexa was promoted heavily online. Fans felt the showrunners knew the relationship was a big draw to members of the LGBTQ community, and were playing up that angle to rope more viewers in, only to go for shock value by destroying that relationship.
Show creator Jason Rothenberg eventually apologized for the decision, admitting he didn’t realize what a personal symbol of representation Lexa was to so many fans. Though Alycia Debnam-Carey, the actress behind Lexa, was inevitably leaving the show anyway due to contract obligations for Fear the Walking Dead, Rothenberg admitted that in retrospect he would have handled the situation differently to avoid leaving fans feeling betrayed.
NORA AND MARY LOUISE – THE VAMPIRE DIARIES
Even in the world of the undead, lesbians haven’t been safe. Fresh off the disbelief that Lexa died in the CW’s The 100, another CW show went and ended another relationship just a month later with the deaths of both Nora and Mary Louise in The Vampire Diaries. Mary Louise was already destined for death, though — due to being injected with tainted blood — so a certain silver lining does exist: her character was able to go out on her own terms and use her sacrifice to strike back against her enemy.
During a quiet moment together, the two women are attacked by Rayna, and Nora becomes marked by Rayna’s sword. They escape the initial threat in their car, but Mary Louise knows that now that Nora has been marked, she’ll never be free from pursuit by Rayna. Unable to bear the thought of that, Mary Louise starts to sacrifice her already fading life to destroy the sword so Nora can be free. But Nora says she doesn’t want to go on in life without her partner, and joins hands with Mary Louise to share the sacrifice. The sword is destroyed, but the car they’re in explodes as well, ending their lives.
DENISE – THE WALKING DEAD
The spring of 2016 of this year proved to be a bad time to be a lesbian character on TV. Along with The 100 and The Vampire Diaries, The Walking Dead was the third big strike during those months that really kicked off the Lexa Pledge and got people talking about the frequency with which LGBTQ characters were dying.
The Walking Dead is a series centered around a zombie apocalypse, so sure, we’re expecting a lot of people to die. But this was another case where it was the way it was done that truly gutted people. Denise was right in the midst of chastising Daryl and Rosita for doubting themselves, reminding them that they’re stronger than they think. Her words also applied to herself, for walking away from her relationship with Tara, and seemed to be building to Denise admitting she needs to stop being afraid to tell Tara she loves her. And then a crossbow bolt pierces through her head.
The worst part is that the bolt wasn’t even meant for Denise, but for Daryl. And fans were particularly incensed that Denise was put into the role of a character who died in the exact same manner in the comics (Abraham), leaving many wondering why she was given this fate instead of the original character. Not that anyone was rooting for Daryl or Abraham to bite the big one, of course.
Denise’s death was just another reminder that on The Walking Dead, unless your name is Rick, or Daryl, or Michonne, you never know when your time could be up. Though considering the backlash this death received, we have to imagine that Tara is just about the safest character on television going into season 7.
KIRA – THE MAGICIANS
Another lesbian, and another March 2016 death. Though unlike many of the others on this list, viewers didn’t have long to get to know Kira. Her role in the series was small, more a means for character Julia to deal with a difficult problem in the episode than anything else. The problem being that Kira was a paralyzed woman, and wanted someone like Julia to use her powers to assist her in dying.
Issues involving assisted suicide are always going to be a thorny topic for a show to handle, but throw in a queer person requesting this (when we know how common a problem LGBTQ suicides are in real life) and this was an episode that critics had issues with. Julia only wound up doing what Kira asked, so some might look at Kira’s release from unhappiness as something to feel relieved about; her suffering was over, and she had found peace. But others questioned if Kira’s story was just an easy way to say The Magicians was inclusive, based on a one-off character.
AIDEN – THE ORIGINALS
In case you can’t tell so far, this is a very woman heavy list (what can we say? A lot of female characters died this year). But that certainly doesn’t mean men aren’t forced to experience the same tragic fates in their stories. Around this time last year, fans of The Originals were dealing with the loss of their favorite gay werewolf, Aiden. And as a spinoff show from The Vampire Diaries, you can bet he died in memorable fashion.
Aiden confesses his love to the vampire Josh, and if Twilight and Underworld have taught us anything, werewolves and vampire fraternizing is never received well. Aiden knows his love would never be accepted by either of their supernatural races, so he asks Josh to run away with him. The two aren’t even given the chance, however, and Aiden winds up getting his heart ripped out. Literally, he’s attacked and gets his heart ripped out of his body. The show portrayed this as a forbidden love from the start, and the outcome lived up to that beginning.
MAYFAIR – BLINDSPOT
The latest entry on this list comes arrived just last week, from the new NBC show Blindspot. Mayfair’s story as a queer character was a tragic one before the events of the series had even begun, with her lady lover Sophia revealed to have killed herself during one of the show’s flashbacks. She had a husband at one point as well, though before she can seek relationships in the current story of the show, the FBI agent is shot down.
An interesting detail to note is that when showrunner Martin Gero was asked about killing off Mayfair in light of the deaths from The 100 and The Walking Dead, Gero seemed to indicate things might have turned out differently had he known Mayfair would wind up as part of a trend. Gero stated it was too late to change anything by the time he knew, so the plot had to continue forth as planned. Though he did mention being pleased that this is an issue people are talking about, and that the TV industry needs to see some change.
CAMILLA AND MIMI – EMPIRE
The Vampire Diaries wasn’t the only show to feature a double dose of killing off LGBTQ characters this past April. But the circumstances behind the deaths of Camilla and Mimi were nowhere near as touching and heroic as TVD‘s Nora and Mary Louise in their final moments. Camilla and Mimi were very much not in love, and had a marriage based on the acquisition of power, aligning themselves with someone who they thought could further their goals. But as their lust for power far outweighed their love for each other, they were able to find the other expendable.
Amidst the scheming and backstabbing on Empire, Mimi, who has cancer, learns that Camilla is secretly hoping for Mimi to succumb to her disease. Suffice to say, Mimi wasn’t happy. Camilla rushes into damage control mode to stop Mimi from damaging her status, poisoning her wife and making it appear to be a suicide. Unfortunately for Camilla, she was once again being recorded in a private moment, and is soon blackmailed: either poison herself as well, or go to prison when the video of her killing Mimi is released. After marriage drove them apart, death brought Camilla and Mimi together to share the same fate.
MEECHUM – HOUSE OF CARDS
Though the Lexa Pledge came about specifically because of the number of lesbian characters being killed off on television, that’s not to discount the significance of other underrepresented groups. Gay men haven’t met quite as many violent ends to their stories as their female counterparts lately, but there have still been some big shows closing the curtain on them as well. Of particular note was everyone’s favorite Secret Service agent, House of Cards’ Edward Meechum.
The bisexual bodyguard was the protector of Frank and Claire Underwood, eventually even participating in one of the more out of left field threesomes you’ll ever see. Of course, the Underwoods, being willing to stoop to any lengths to feed their lust for power, prey on Meechum’s devotion. Frank brings Meechum closer to his side by getting involved with him sexually, and Meechum pays the price for falling for the manipulation. Though Meechum is eventually made a Secret Service member for Frank during his presidency, he serves the true purpose Frank kept him in reserve for when he takes a bullet for him during an assassination attempt, saving Frank, but dying in the process. And in case you needed further proof that March and April 2016 were rough months for LGBTQ characters, Meechum was yet another death in the March column.
WENDY ROSS-HOGARTH – JESSICA JONES
The first season of Jessica Jones last year had a subplot involving not one, but three gay women in it. So those of you who aren’t avid watchers of the show might be thinking that solace can be taken in the happiness of the two remaining women, who are finally able to live together in peace. Well, those people clearly haven’t heard how dark the series could get. And for those in the know, the phrase “a thousand cuts” conjures some pretty brutal images involving these characters.
Wendy’s final moments involving attempting to slice her wife with a knife a thousand times probably won’t help prompt much sympathy from the fans, but Wendy truly was a tragic figure. Being cheated on and going through divorce is rough for anyone, but then Wendy and her wife had to come across Kilgrave, and things got a whole lot worse. Wendy’s story ended with her manipulation, and ultimately her death after cracking her head on a table, but her demise spelled a sad conclusion for all three of the women involved in Kilgrave’s plot.
JULIE MAO – THE EXPANSE
The lone futuristic sci-fi show on this list deals with some familiar territory in alien pathogens adversely effecting a human host. Anyone who has seen some classic ‘80s films dealing with humans hosting alien DNA knows that those situations don’t usually end well. The same wound up being true of Julie Mao, whose body was taken over by the foreign organism that she was exposed to, with gruesome results.
Followers of the Syfy channel-based series were surprised by the reveal of Julie being found dead. She was a major focal point of much of the season, so it was expected encountering her would be a catalyst for the future plot. And in a way, she still has been, with the biohazard in her body spreading to others. But this means it’s not Julie that was important, but whatever had infected her. The Expanse has been renewed for a second season, so it’s still possible more could be revealed about her, but it’s looking like Julie’s death will wind up overshadowing her life, and her status as a missing person will only be remembered as the cause of an outbreak of whatever alien disease infected her.
TAMSIN – LOST GIRL
Though not a 2016 death, the story of Tamsin still finished within the last few months and played a big part in the finale of Syfy channel’s Lost Girl this last October. Tamsin’s death was a bit messier and more complicated than most, as she died giving birth to a child conceived through rape. The glass half full outlook is that she willingly sacrificed herself for the child rather than losing her life against her will. However, that’s not much consolation for fans who grew attached to Tamsin and still take the abuse she suffered and her death hard.
Lost Girl was at least better than most other shows in its treatment of LGBTQ characters by not having Tamsin be the token representative on the show. There were multiple throughout the course of the series, and the show can even boast that it concluded with many of its LGBTQ characters not only alive, but happy. The series finale saw several happy same sex couples, including the protagonist Bo, playing a strong part against the trope of the queer couples always being miserable/buried six feet under.
CHARLIE – SUPERNATURAL
Though one of the few on this list not from 2016 (or even the most recent season of Supernatural) the death of Charlie garnered its fair share of displeased fans back in 2015. Supernatural is another show known for its devoted following, so throw in the popular Felicia Day on top of that, and people aren’t going to be happy when her character is killed off. Especially when she’d been around on the show for years, and the manner in which she died was completely out of character in its sheer stupidity.
Despite knowing that people were out looking for her, Charlie elected to leave the safety and protection that the Winchesters’ group provided, and go out on her own for a quiet place to work on her laptop. It was little surprise to anyone that once Charlie was suddenly vulnerable and alone, her pursuers tracked her down at a motel and caught her trapped inside. It was out of character for this clever hacker to make such an obvious blunder, and it wound up costing her her life via multiple stab wounds, as she refused to turn over the information her computer skills had turned up. Sam and Dean come upon her bloody body slumped in a bathtub, and viewers were left frustrated that Charlie went from an intelligent, nuanced character to a motivation for revenge. Charlie’s death shocked and disappointed fans a year ago, and in 2016, viewers are feeling that cases like Charlie’s have become an all too common sight on TV.
How do you feel about the Lexa Pledge? Do you think there’s a good case for more shows adopting it? Share your thoughts and discuss it in the comments!