If there’s one cliche that I haven’t mentioned on this site that I really ought’ve that also NEVER seems to get old, because it is in the essence of awesome contained within a very character, it’s the BADASS. The charismatic, jack-of-all-trades, often heartthrob, cool-as-can-be, handles-every-situation-with-flair-poise-and-mad-skills character, who can be anything from “the hero with the edge” to “the dark hero with the hidden heart-of-gold” to a douchebag who’s just so awesome we don’t care, to the GAR* who can totally betray you for noble reasons, so you can still totally love him for it when he repays his debt in the end. THAT guy. Easily the best part of any book, movie, or show.
And man do we secretly enjoy killing that character off.
Think I’m wrong? Okay, I’m not saying we don’t shriek and throw the book we’re reading about this character in across the room, or the remote control at the TV as we watch them die on-screen. But you can’t deny that killing off “the badass” seems to just add to that character’s badassery. Heck, even just having them go out quietly at the end of the series has just as much emotional impact as having them exploded out of our lives in some “fry-the-Coke” scenario.
That being said, I think that’s why, as much as we hate to see them go, having them die off is not only another gilding on their decoration of badassery, but it feels almost fitting. Most of these characters, with their habit of being drawn into daring and or dramatic situations, have it coming that they’ll end up dying in either a violent setup, or later on as the lingering result of one.
On the other hand, not all badasses end up dead, and still manage to turn out just as cool and memorable in our minds. Others just get a “death scene” that later turns out to be somehow staged for some reason or another, which is almost like a bonus, because they get an awesome exit while at the same time a reason to come back into the story that actually isn’t usually some kind of cop-out.
But I think the self-sacrificing badass tends to be the running favorite, and yet another cliche that doesn’t appear to have run out of steam, mostly due to the fact that if a character is deemed awesome enough to be badass, it just doesn’t matter. It’s like the nature of tired cliches can’t touch them they’re so awesome.
So even while we mourn such guys as these who get offed, we can’t help feeling a little satisfied that they were able to die by the principle of, “a good death is its own reward”. It comes from the kind of enjoyable sadness that only good drama can bring, and badasses blow it out of the water. In terms of entertainment value, there just isn’t much more you can ask for.
*see the entry on Urban Dictionary