In honor of ER meeting its end tonight, NPR looks at the lesson-giving, plot-driven ways most guest characters meet theirs on such medical TV dramas. A few of the most common:
- Death by heroism. Saving a dog, old person, or otherwise vulnerable individual can drastically increase a character’s chances of death by heroism.
- A terrible secret. Characters commonly die from terrible secrets—usually the secrets themselves are not deadly but actions to conceal the secret—by, say, withholding information from Dr. House, usually are.
- Redemption. A crotchety character who hates mankind but, in the course of his hospitalization, meets a sunny-side-up type who changes his whole outlook is in terrible danger of dying of redemption.
- A physician who does not love life. The deadliest mistake a TV hospital patient can make is choosing a physician who does not appreciate something in his life, especially a loved one. Such a patient will likely die to teach said physician a lesson, and die alone or in otherwise wretched circumstances, to make the lesson more poignant.
Click the link for more ways to kick the bucket on TV.