Death is meant to be a powerful storytelling tool in fiction. As it can sometimes come out of nowhere, and rock people. Yet in some mediums, death doesn’t mean “gone forever”. In last nights Game of Thrones, a key character was resurrected. George R.R. Martin, the creator of Game of Thrones, is kind of infamous for the number of characters he kills, but he also has a solid notion about resurrection, as an old interview reveals:
“I do think that if you’re bringing a character back, that a character has gone through death, that’s a transformative experience. Even back in those days of Wonder Man and all that, I loved the fact that he died, and although I liked the character in later years, I wasn’t so thrilled when he came back because that sort of undid the power of it,” Martin said, referring to a comic book story where Wonder Man nobly chose to die rather than betray the Avengers, only for him to be brought back to life years later.
Much as I admire Tolkien, I once again always felt like Gandalf should have stayed dead. That was such an incredible sequence in Fellowship of the Ring when he faces the Balrog on the Khazad-dûm and he falls into the gulf, and his last words are, ‘Fly, you fools.’ What power that had, how that grabbed me. And then he comes back as Gandalf the White, and if anything he’s sort of improved. I never liked Gandalf the White as much as Gandalf the Grey, and I never liked him coming back. I think it would have been an even stronger story if Tolkien had left him dead,” Martin said.
He goes no to note that resurrection for him has a cost in Game of Thrones:
“My characters who come back from death are worse for wear. In some ways, they’re not even the same characters anymore. The body may be moving, but some aspect of the spirit is changed or transformed, and they’ve lost something,” Martin said.