Greatest Fictional Deaths

Slate posted this long list and several sidebar articles/interviews on Wednesday. (I’m guessing they compiled it a while back and waited for a relatively slow news day to post it.)

Slate, Dan Kois, 20 July 2022: The 50 Greatest Fictional Deaths of All Time

Subtitle: “The most tearjerking, hilarious, satisfying, and shocking death scenes in 2,500 years of culture.”

Part of my curiosity about such lists is that I am not actually very cultured — many classic books and films I’ve never seen! — and I was curious to see how many of these 50 I was familiar with. (There are science fiction folks — writers and critics — who somehow have managed to absorb much more popular and classic culture than I ever have. American novels, 19th century European novels, the Greek “classics,” and on and on; while another writer I can think of seems to have seen every movie ever made, and posts a daily “Patreon” looking back at one or another.)

So from this list, here are the ones I’ve seen, heard, or read:

I’ll count Beowulf and Macbeth, though I read them back in high school and not since. I’ve seen the musical and movie Les Miserables, but not read the book. I’ve seen the movie of Little Women, though not read the the book. Sherlock Holmes — yes, all the stories at least up until “The Final Problem”. Also movies and TV versions.

Others yes: The Wizard of Oz; “The Lottery”; The Lord of the Rings (books long ago, movies when they came out); Psycho (several times); Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead (the play); Bonnie and Clyde (long ago); The Left Hand of Darkness; Watership Down; MASH; Hitchhiker’s Guide; Doonesbury; Thelma and Louise; Angels in America (the entire play, twice); Brokeback Mountain; A Storm of Swords (only the TV version); The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao; Up; Contagion.

So this counts up to… 23! Not too bad. A few of the recent ones on the list, games and even some movies, I’ve never heard of. Falling out of touch with popular culture, I guess. I have a copy but have not read Richard Powers’ The Overstory, a novel about trees, which just came out a couple years ago.

Part of my problem, however, is that I don’t retain close memories of most books or movies. Of the 23, for example, I can only call to mind the specific death scenes referred to in about half. This memory issue is why I so frequently take detailed notes of books I read.

This link shows the sidebar essays, almost all by Dan Kois but some interviewing the creators, about

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