Entertaining the Impossible: Killing off Stiles
In The Geekiary’s first Round Table discussion, we had a question about character deaths, and my fellow writer Undie Girl made the fantastic observation, “Honestly I don’t think the problem is that Jeff kills off characters too soon so much as he doesn’t know how to make death matter.” We, the fans, mourn the loss of our characters long after they’re gone, but the people on-screen seem largely unaffected. Now there’s been a big to-do about a major character death since long before Season 3B started. The end of season trailer, which aired after last week’s episode, teased “one hero will fall” while flashing the faces of the five main characters. Many of us fear for Stiles but at the same time comfort ourselves by saying, “They wouldn’t kill Stiles. He’s a fan favorite!” But my reason for writing this article is to ask that irresistible question: what if they did?
Gather your pitch forks and torches if you must, but hear me out first! Now if we compare Teen Wolf to that old cartoon Captain Planet, I think Stiles would probably be Ma-Ti, who wielded the power of Heart. As the show has progressed, Stiles has gone through quite the transformation but the one thing that has remained constant is his unshakeable loyalty to his friends. When Scott was bitten Stiles barely even blinked before he was trying to find a solution to his best friend’s problem. He became the unofficial voice of a large chunk of the fandom whenever the characters were presented with a new problem, and as a result, the fans have forged a deep connection to Stiles. I count myself among the legions of Teen Wolfers who consider him to be their favorite character.
Now you may be asking yourself, “Sarah, if he’s your favorite, then why would you even suggest Stiles be killed off the show?” And my answer to that is because his death would matter. It wouldn’t – couldn’t – be a death that is mourned for an episode and referenced a few times before never being heard about again. Of all the characters that have died, I think Kate is the only one to receive a proper burial. Anyone ever wonder what happened to Laura’s body, or Erica’s or Boyd’s? Because I sure have! With Stiles, it would be expected, perhaps even demanded, for a funeral to be shown. With Stiles, it would be expected to see his friends and father struggle with him being gone and the circumstances surrounding his death. What if Chris were the one to do it? How would that affect everyone’s relationship with Allison? Would they hold her responsible for the actions of her father? Speaking of fathers, how would the Sheriff cope? Would we get to see scenes with Melissa fighting to keep him sane, the woman having always been a place for him to draw strength and comfort from? How would Scott cope with being a leader and protector when he couldn’t even save his best friend? That last question has the most tempting of answers for me because while we always want to see the hero win, that isn’t always how things go. Sometimes they lose, and there are casualties.
Taking myself out of the show for a moment, Dylan O’Brien has gotten some high-profile work recently. He’s clearly got talent coming out of his ears and all kinds of untapped potential. He was hilarious in The Internship and has been cast as the lead in the film adaptation for James Dashner’s The Maze Runner. What if that takes off? Surely his burgeoning film career would take precedence over his television one? TV shows make good money to be sure but not nearly as much as feature films. Ages ago, when there were rumors floating around the Internet that Hoechlin was auditioning for Batman in the new Batman vs. Superman film, message boards blew up with, “Nooo! We don’t want to lose Derek!” Meanwhile I was thinking, “Man, he is an idiot if he passes that up!” Ultimately that rumor never came to fruition (and we got Batfleck instead), but for me, the point still remains. Tyler Hoechlin is more than just a pretty face. Just watch him in Road to Perdition, opposite some of the greatest actors of our generation. He was fantastic in that movie, and it makes me sad that he’s been regulated to beefcake appearances, such as his bit part in Hall Pass. O’Brien is another talent, and I would hate to see him suffer a similar fate. Now perhaps both men are blissfully happy being television actors who occasionally pop into a movie, and if that’s the case, then do that! I will happily continue to support their careers in whatever way I can.
Now, do I actually think they’re going to kill Stiles off? Nope! As I stated in the beginning, Stiles is too much of a fan favorite and killing him might just put the show at risk of cancellation by losing a good portion of their fan base. Some fans might watch the show as a whole, but others watch for their favorite characters. There’s no shame in that; that’s just how things go sometimes. I don’t mean to diminish at all what the other actors bring to the show by sitting here and praising Dylan O’Brien. They’re all fantastic and talented in their own special ways. And honestly? I don’t think the writers of this show have the balls to do something so radical. From a story telling perspective, killing off such a beloved character is gold and gives you so much material to work with! Just look at the questions I posed earlier. Can you imagine some of the scenarios that could spawn from them? A downside to all this would be once you kill off a character who started as the show’s adorably plucky comic relief, you’d be hard-pressed to find a way to get that light-hearted feeling back. Anyone brought in to potentially fill that role would be judged by the Stiles standard and left wanting.
With four episodes left, only time will tell what the writers of Teen Wolf have in store for us. Stiles will be forever changed, in one way or another, and one can only hope that if he survives past this season, the trauma and damage he’s inflicted and suffered won’t be swept under the rug. What are your thoughts? Is the idea of Stiles gone forever completely abhorrent to you or, like me, have you entertained the notion of what such a situation would bring to the show? Comment below with your thoughts and thank you for reading!
Author: Sarah Sue
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