An Arbogast-on-Film ongoing question/poll/post thingie is to contemplate the one you may have saved from a horror movie and to write a few words about it. Now, there is something you need to grasp before I get to my two choices (though I'm sure there are many, many that will be mentioned as I review those films, here I want to just put two choices - one from movies, one from television). This isn't about whether you feel the death had a storytelling point or was 'justified'. It isn't about whether the death so avoided would have destroyed the narrative (which is the fact when it comes to my TV choice).
What the posting is about, is who's death was so emotionally involving and generated such sympathy that you want to break the 4th wall and yank that character to safety. Again, when it comes to my television choice, I'm completely onboard for the character's death because it was necessary to show the audience that the risk was very real and no one was safe - we needed to understand the stakes our protagonist was facing.
Even on my movie choice (to a much lesser extent) I'm able to understand the decision to kill my choice in order to force the heroine into losing everything she was fighting for. It was a detail that added to the character's sense of isolation and exhaustion and the grim circumstances she found herself in. I didn't like it - I think the movie is pretty much bad - but I understand the sentiment that led to my save-ee's being killed.
This is about wanting to react to the death by stopping it from a purely emotionally affecting stance and not about the plot, or the script, or the integrity of the film or performances. Are we clear? Okay.
Movie: I'd want to save Newt in Alien(superscript 3). Unlike most child characters, I didn't find Newt cutesy-wootsy or irritating or an obnoxious little brat. She was smart, she was clever, she was a survivor who could have gone on for who knows how long, except that she was 'rescued'.
I loathed her casual, off-the-cuff death because she should have been safe. She should have made it back to Earth and gotten on with what life she could have - instead an emergency escape pod crashed into a planet and her cryo-tube was flooded, drowning her. A horrible, unfair death in a horrible and unfair universe. I would break the fourth wall and scoop up her tube, depositing it on Earth to be found. Sure, she'd live the rest of her days not understanding how she got there, or where Ripley was and why she'd abandoned her - but she would have a chance to grow up and have the life she was denied when that pod crash landed.
Television: Jenny Calendar/Janna of the Kalderash gypsy clan- Jenny had been basically robbed of her having her own life by being made responsible for ensuring that Angel was never able to know a moment's peace... a moment's unbridled happiness. To serve her clan's blood feud against Angelus and to 'serve vengeance', she was sent to Sunnydale to watch over Angel and to make sure he stayed suffering for the death of some gypsy princess back in his soulless, evil days.
Despite this, she managed to put herself through college and to get a job she enjoyed teaching high school computer science. She also managed to find herself falling in love with a 'sexy, old, fuddy-duddy' with a fetish for tweed suits. Despite the responsibilities (enforced through playing on her sense of guilt for not caring about her family's loss from way before she was born via her Uncle Enyos), Jenny had a pretty good life. She even found herself helping the Slayer, doing more to save the world than just making somebody else unhappy.
And the worse part of it all - she wasn't even told why Angel had to 'suffer', except out of pure spite as far as she'd know. Her family didn't tell her they'd cursed Angelus - they didn't tell her that only through suffering could Angel's human soul remain - they didn't tell her what would happen if he fell in love with a Slayer and made love to her, forgetting for a moment his sense of guilt and remorse.
And, she forgot that a public school isn't safe from vampires - especially one that she is attempting to 'save' by returning his fled human conscious to him.
She didn't know that she was going to lose the respect and the love of a wonderful man and her inclusion in a group of heroes when her secret identity was blown. She didn't know that hateful Uncle Enyos was going to swoop into town and inform her that she was failing in her duty. And still, he didn't tell her the specifics of what would happen to Angel if she didn't keep him always aware of his own misdeeds and pain over it.
And that is why when Dru has a psychic-flash that Angelus is in danger of being sent away by Ms. Calendar's soul restoration ritual, he visits her in her classroom (where she is working on the translation for that very ritual). Poor Jenny is terrorized by an out for murder Angelus - thrown through a door, bruised and hunted - Jenny finds her fate in front of a huge second story window at the school, as traffic passes by completely unknowing.
"Sorry, Jenny. This is where you get off," Angelus grins at her, just before snapping her neck.
I want to break through the 4th wall and remind Jenny that she isn't safe after dark in the school. I want to plead with her to work on the translation from home. I want to remind her how much Angelus won't like what she is working on and that Dru has precognitive abilities. I want her to be a damned sight more paranoid for her own safety. I want to save her every... single... time... I... watch...'Passion'.
And I want to be with Buffy when she has to hold a sobbing Giles following his failed attempt to get his own vengeance on Angelus.
Newt on the slab. (image borrowed from here)
And Poor Jenny:
It was hard to run in that long skirt. (Image borrowed from here.)