Have TV writers become too bloodthirsty?

164052__bernard_lAsk not for whom 24‘s death clock tolls. (Warning: Spoilers ahead from last night’s episode.) Some fans are still hoping that Tony Almeida (Carlos Bernard, pictured) didn’t really die after falling victim to his own deadly syringe. After all, though he appeared to expire in Jack’s arms, we didn’t actually see him breathe his last, as we did Lynn (Sean Astin) earlier in the episode, plus (as commenters to EW.com’s 24 TV Watch have noted) the episode’s final clock readout wasn’t silent for him, as it has been for other key characters who have died, like Edgar last week. And finally, three important characters in two episodes seems like a lot, even for this show. Nonetheless, it’s pretty clear that Tony (one of the few remaining characters who’ve survived all five seasons so far) really is dead, given this posting on the 24 website, not to mention two newspaper articles published today.

The New York Times reveals that Tony was initially supposed to die in the season opener, in the same explosion that killed his wife Michelle (Reiko Aylesworth), but producer Howard Gordon reconsidered. Gordon also suggested that when 24 goes off the air, it’s likely to end with the death of protagonist Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland). ”He’s a tragic character,” Gordon says, ”and tragedy ends in death.”

Unexpected deaths of prominent characters has been an unavoidable TV trend this season. The Times article also notes the death of The L Word‘s Dana (Erin Daniels) from breast cancer on this week’s episode, not to mention noteworthy deaths on Lost, Smallville, Desperate Housewives, Battlestar Galactica, and other shows. According to the Los Angeles Times, you can chalk up writers’ willingness to kill off beloved characters to a couple of things: free-floating post-9/11 dread, and reality TV shows like Survivor and American Idol, which have made viewers accustomed to seeing their favorite personalities booted from the show on a regular basis.

Still, the L.A. Times writes, some TV fans think the death toll is getting too high. Certainly some actors do; Louis Lombardi is still upset over the death of his popular character Edgar during the final moments of last week’s 24. Still, with more deaths promised over the next few months on 24, as well as Lost, The Sopranos, The Shield, ER, and even Everwood, it doesn’t look like the bloodletting will end any time soon.

addCredit(“Carlos Bernard: Joe Viles”)

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  • MiniMarie

    I agree that there are too many character deaths these days. It’s okay if it really furthers the plot or is time, but lately every show is doing it, and mostly it seems that this is purely for shock value. For 24, a show primarily about shock value, it might work — but other shows need to stop and relax! And even on 24, there’s almost nobody left to care about.

  • Brett

    24 has never said they would hold onto a character for the sake of holding onto a character. I am a HUGE Tony fan. Seeing him go last night was a HUGE shocker. David, Michelle, Edgar, Lynn, Tony… this season is pulling out all the stops. But, you must remember that 24 has always had this mentality. Killing Jack’s wife in the Season 1 finale was a tattooed note to all of us: DONT INVEST. Well, actually, INVEST–WE’LL STILL KILL ‘EM! Seeing Tony take one to the heart, literally and figuratively this season was so good. Of course, he was pretty much on the backburner since being rotisseried with Michelle… it was a nice book-end for him seeing him die in Jack’s arms. Only 4 characters are around since the beginning of 24 Season 1: Jack, Kim, Mike Novik, and Aaron Pierce. Yet, who doesn’t think that Chloe is AS integral as Nina was in Season 1? Come to think of it, they pretty much talked about Christopher Henderson in Season 1, they just never mentioned him by name. Speaking of: I wouldn’t be suprised if Barry was bought by Henderson to manipulate Kim into not loving Jack anymore.

  • Jakeem

    Somebody, please stop them before they kill again!

  • Bren

    A spoiler alert is pretty unnecessary when you PUT A PICTURE OF ONE OF THE GUYS WHO DIED next to the article. This is also a big problem with your reality show recaps.

  • Todd

    Does anyone know who dies on The Shield?????
    Also, nice observation, Bren.

  • Kyle

    Well it’s still possible 24 could pull a fast one on us.
    Sure the 24 site says Tony died.
    But who is to say that Tony doesn’t die in Jack’s arms. But they are able to revive him. Many people have been pronounced clinically dead a few seconds and then revived.
    The LA times article gives me less hope with the comments about Kiefer filming the last scene.
    But I really am holding on to hope because 1. Tony deserves a silent clock 2. Tony deserves revenge. 3. Tony deserves to go out a hero not by a needle from an old dude.

  • R.O.B.

    I think 24 is pulling a fast one on us. Not only is Tony not dead, but Michelle also survived. At the end of this season, they will be reunited with new names and a new, private life.
    Either that, or Tony will be revived (albeit pronounced dead) and become a Jack-like non-agent. Now that would be awesome.

  • Kyle

    I kinda thought Michelle’s death was fake too.
    Only I thought she might be in on it. She was hell-bent on getting outside in the premiere.
    And you never see her face when she went crispy.

  • jarrod

    I don’t know if they’re bloodthirsty but they’re boring
    as hell. Use your heads people!

  • Ron Mwangaguhunga

    Ladies and gentlemen of the jury: We are truly in the TiVo era where prescribed programming times no longer apply when popwatch can write, “Warning: Spoilers ahead from last night’s episode.”
    Priceless.

  • Joe C

    As a 24 fan, I believe the characters have to die for the sake of realism. And yes, ultimately, Jack has to die too. If you don’t like it, there’s always the Food network; nobody dies there.

  • Ali

    I taped 24 from Monday night….haven’t watched it yet…and this is how I find out Tony has died – from the photo you posted!
    I just loved Tony on 24 – I’m so disappointed they killed off that character. Anyone know if Carlos Bernard will be in any upcoming movies/tv shows?
    I hate the idea that they would kill Jack off at the end of the series – hope the writers/creators rethink that one.

  • Below The Beltway

    Say It Ain’t So Tony

    Just when I thought that a season that has seen the death of two popular characters within the first half hour of the first episode, and the death of annoying-but-loveable Edgar Stiles last week, could not possibly go any further, it does.

  • Lisa

    When Edgar died, I was in shock, and while I was sad, it was one of those plot twists that makes 24 the great show that it is. However, losing Tony the next week was just a letdown. It just seemed like they dragged out Tony’s life for no real plot reason. If he were to have lived and dealt with his anger and need for revenge, it would have been interesting, but to have him survive just long enough to find out his wife died, and then kill him off, was more depressing than anything. I understand Jack is ultimately a tragic character, but I love 24 because it is suspenseful, so I am concerned that the show is going from adrenaline-filled to depressing. And although I am not a fan of the character Kim, if he loses her too (or Audrey), it will be overkill (no pun intended).

  • Honeybean

    …personally, if they kill Kim, the party is at my house.

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