Some shows follow a fun group of mystery-solving teens and their talking great dane, others go into graphic detail of people’s head being cracked open like an egg. The difference is certainly there but makes you question, does violence make for a good show, and can it become too much?
Sometimes you need that violence to add that extra bit of realism or intensity to the plot. A show where the characters just take a nap if something bad happens is far less engaging then if they are ripped to pieces. A great example is The Walking Dead in which the humans, and us, clearly fear the zombies (oh sorry, walkers) because it’s not like they want to hug you to death. They want to eat you, and it usually gets very violent and gory. It’s the violence that makes the tone all the scarier.
Violence is a great way of showing certain characteristics and personalities of characters to add that extra bit of visual storytelling
Violence can also be a great way of showing certain characteristics and personalities of characters. In Game of Thrones one of the most iconic and violent deaths is of beloved character Oberyn Martell who meets a grisly end at the hands, quite literally, of the Mountain. If you haven’t watched the show and this scene, what basically happened was that Oberyn got his head crushed inwards. Yes this as violent and horrible as it sounds. But it also was some brilliant character development for the Mountain as it for one showed us how unbelievably strong he is, and also how brutal a villain he is. This scene helped cement him as one of the scariest villains in the series. In shows like Hannibal which rely on brilliant practical effects for kills work brilliantly at showing how messed up some of these serial killers can be, hence adding that extra bit of visual storytelling.
Killing off a villain can also be extremely satisfying, especially when you get violent with it. Not to come across as overly sadistic but I am sure I am not alone when I say the joy I feel watching a troublesome villain meet a sadistic end. In Breaking Bad one of the most iconic villains, Gus Fring was a villain that just refused to die, so when it finally did happen, it needed to be something good. So they decided to blow up half his face in a reveal that at first made you think he had somehow survived again. It was a brilliant twist and reveal and I can think of no better way out for the character. Ramsey Bolton in Game of Thrones I think also deserves an honourable mention as it is not every day you see someone as awful as him getting eaten alive by his own dogs, and by the woman he abused. Go Sansa Stark you queen.
And sometimes your favourite characters do get killed off, and when it happens in a particularly brutal way boy can it hurt. Glenn from The Walking Dead is sadly a perfect example of this as while he was one of the most beloved characters in the show, it didn’t spare him from the hands of such a graphic death. Watching Negan mercilessly beat his head in with Lucille was one of the hardest things to watch and made his death all the more impactful. It also made Negan one of the best and most hated villains almost instantly.
Last modified: 21st May 2020