This season on television, to love a character was to fear that they might end up dead. It was a season of death and controversy, one that may permanently alter the way we think about character and stakes on television.
In a study of the 2015-2016 television season, Vox collected data on characters who died in television series after appearing in at least three episodes. The numbers are pretty staggering: 241 characters bit the bullet this season, but the death toll is particularly high for women, minorities and LGBTQ characters, given that they appear much more infrequently than straight white men, who still dominate the television landscape.
The numbers also reinforce many of the claims that’ve appeared in the media with regards to queer women dying on television and the “Bury Your Gays” trope.Vox’s study shows that 10 percent of the deaths recorded were queer women, and there was hardly a more notable character death this season than Lexa’s on The 100. But that number doesn’t take into account any queer women who were introduced and then killed in fewer than three episodes. Autostraddle’s own study shows that in the last 40 years of television, only 11 percent of shows have included lesbian or bisexual female characters, which really illustrates just how disproportionate the number of queer female character deaths are when compared to the total number of queer women who appear on television.