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Subject: "Help me with my theory, the "Glenn Line" in TV & Film" Previous topic | Next topic
Buddy_Gilapagos
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Wed Feb-09-22 09:40 AM

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"Help me with my theory, the "Glenn Line" in TV & Film"


  

          

My theory is that a film, but more likely a long running TV show, can be dark and even kill fan-favorite characters up until they cross the Glenn Line (killing that one or two beloved/invested characters) but once you cross the Glenn Line, you lose your audience.

Of course this theory is sparked by TWD. I feel like there was a massive fan falloff for this show once they killed the Glenn character (does this post need a spoiler alert for old shows)?

Game of Thrones was famous for killing off beloved characters, but they never cross the Glenn Line because they never killed Ayra Starks (would Jon Snow be considered a Glenn Line character)*.

Anyway this theory of the GLenn Line character came up because I am recommending a show to people which is super dark and they killing all sorts of characters but in my mind I had established Glenn Line Characters and this show never cross the Glenn Line.

Anyway, for this theory to work I need more examples of shows/movies that cross the Glenn Line. Anyone got any more examples?



*GoT did in a way cross a sort Glenn Line for a lot of people by turning one of their favorite characters into a villain but that's a variation of the Glenn Line for later.



**********
"Everyone has a plan until you punch them in the face. Then they don't have a plan anymore." (c) Mike Tyson

"what's a leader if he isn't reluctant"

  

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Topic Outline
Subject Author Message Date ID
I think it's less about Glenn and more about the survivors, tbh.
Feb 09th 2022
1
Sansa was a weird one to thread
Feb 09th 2022
3
I think they could've drawn it out less, lol.
Feb 09th 2022
4
I hear you and I think its all related.
Feb 14th 2022
5
      wow, didn't know this
Feb 14th 2022
8
           It would've been really interesting to see how that played in public
Feb 14th 2022
9
                Man it would have been a whole different movie
Feb 15th 2022
10
I don't think Arya was the line in GoT
Feb 09th 2022
2
Yeah I know it was Tyrion for some people.
Feb 15th 2022
12
Boardwalk Empire is a contender
Feb 14th 2022
6
IMO, Glenn's death has served the show quite qell.
Feb 14th 2022
7
My uninformed counter
Feb 15th 2022
11

Frank Longo
Member since Nov 18th 2003
85467 posts
Wed Feb-09-22 12:40 PM

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1. "I think it's less about Glenn and more about the survivors, tbh."
In response to Reply # 0


  

          

The problem with killing a Glenn is it breaks your main characters, imo. There's just only so much punishment we can watch characters take, and if you get to the point where you think "I don't care how it happens, I just want these characters to stay alive," then you're at a point that isn't very interesting from a story perspective.

A character still needs to have hopes, dreams, something they're actively pursuing. Once you make shit hard enough for characters, we realize that these characters probably don't give a fuck about the things that define them anymore-- they're now just broken people trying to find any reprieve from pain. And we don't want them to pursue anything anymore, because we fear they'll just keep getting hurt. Once you're there, you've hit a wall in your story.

Game of Thrones worked even when they killed great characters because the surviving characters still had objectives, goals to pursue. The closest they came to fucking up-- and it generated huge amounts of backlash at the time, IIRC-- was the Sansa stuff, because for a couple of seasons, she was just getting passed off to rapist psychopaths. She had little things in there where she'd learn or show herself, but the core of the character for a season or two there was "try not to get raped/murdered by your husband." And that's just not that interesting a story to tell, watching someone living in fear, trying to not get raped. Once she had more agency, she became infinitely more interesting and her story far more watchable.

There are plenty of shows/movies where we watch people suffer for long stretches without the show/movie breaking who they are down to the point of "who cares, just stay alive." Cast Away is an obvious movie example of this. I'd argue the flashbacks of Yellowjackets mostly succeed in this regard as well. Take away things that matter to them, push them to the brink... but you can't ever get *that* close to getting them past the brink. An audience'll tap out.

You can kill "good", beloved characters and still have the audience stay tuned in. You just can't leave your survivors broken.

That's how I feel, anyway.

For beer lovers: http://thebeertravelguide.com
For movie lovers: http://russellhainline.com

  

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Mynoriti
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Wed Feb-09-22 02:25 PM

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3. "Sansa was a weird one to thread"
In response to Reply # 1


  

          

even after Joffrey had her slapped around and killed Ned in front of her, even after the attempted gang rape, people were still mad at her because she didn't go with the hound and she was still dreaming of her princess life. i mean, i think her character was 13 at the time. but the contrast was always Arya.

I don't think it was until she was with Ramsey that it all changed, because by that point you'd have to be a psycho to not feel for her.
Then once she came out of it, there was kind of a weird commentary (it may have actually been on the show), that she's such a badass girl boss now because of all the rapes and toruture she was put through.
which isn't necessarily wrong, but kinda fucked up messaging. as rough as it was for her, i'm not sure her arc works without the worst of it.

  

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Frank Longo
Member since Nov 18th 2003
85467 posts
Wed Feb-09-22 02:59 PM

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4. "I think they could've drawn it out less, lol."
In response to Reply # 3


  

          


>as rough as it was for her, i'm not sure her arc works without
>the worst of it.

Then again, GoT was known as "the show endlessly drawing it out" until it suddenly became known as "the show warp speeding to the finish line".

For beer lovers: http://thebeertravelguide.com
For movie lovers: http://russellhainline.com

  

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Buddy_Gilapagos
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Mon Feb-14-22 08:51 AM

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5. "I hear you and I think its all related."
In response to Reply # 1
Mon Feb-14-22 08:53 AM by Buddy_Gilapagos

  

          

I think you make a good point about TWD. When the show got to the point where it was purely about not dying (not getting to ATlanta, not reuniting family, etc.) it became a dreg to watch. I think Glen was the straw that broke the camels back for a lot of people.

But yeah I agree that there is only so much that an audience can take before you turn them off.

But going back to Sansa and comparing it to Glenn, the worst thing that GoT could have done for Sansa (and Arya) would have been to make them suffer for season on season, just to kill them. You would have lost people if they made that choice. They made both characters suffer a lot (and a lot of people thought too much) but there was still hope for both of them that was eventually fulfilled. Imagine how pissed people would be if Ramsey killed Sansa (and how satisfying on some level for Sansa to finally kill him).

But TWD did the opposite, you had these characters living a terrible life and tons of suffering, just to kill someone you were rooting for for so long. Even Marvel movies have the rule if you are going to kill an important character, you have to have it be in sacrifice to save others. They really didn't do that in a satisfying way.


Its kind of why a lot of horror movies are bummers. They will have the protagonist go through a lot of shit, just to die in the end. Its that difference that can distinguish a horror movie from a thriller or action movie.

There is a version of Get Out where the DK makes it all the way out and then is shot dead by the cops, test audiences hated it, rightfully so.




**********
"Everyone has a plan until you punch them in the face. Then they don't have a plan anymore." (c) Mike Tyson

"what's a leader if he isn't reluctant"

  

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Mynoriti
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Mon Feb-14-22 04:49 PM

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8. "wow, didn't know this"
In response to Reply # 5


  

          

>There is a version of Get Out where the DK makes it all the
>way out and then is shot dead by the cops, test audiences
>hated it, rightfully so.

  

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Nodima
Member since Jul 30th 2008
14864 posts
Mon Feb-14-22 05:35 PM

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9. "It would've been really interesting to see how that played in public"
In response to Reply # 8


  

          

Most people I knew who saw the movie in theaters left it kind of deflated, feeling like Peele pulled his haymaker at the last minute. But I know a lot of people, including Peele, think that we already know that's how this story would end in real life and there wouldn't have been any value in dropping the hammer like that. White audiences that didn't want to see it would've already checked out of the movie long before and Black audiences would be primed to expect the worst, so why not take that burden off them?


I get all that about why they changed it and I'm pretty sure the movie wouldn't have been as huge of a hit if Lil' Rel hadn't got that last laugh line, but I also wasn't shocked when Peele admitted he'd originally written it the other way because the ending he put out felt like a pillow out of nowhere.


~~~~~~~~~
"This is the streets, and I am the trap." � Jay Bilas
http://www.popmatters.com/pm/archive/contributor/517
Hip Hop Handbook: http://tinyurl.com/ll4kzz

  

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Buddy_Gilapagos
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Tue Feb-15-22 09:22 AM

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10. "Man it would have been a whole different movie"
In response to Reply # 9


  

          

It changes the movie from a horror movie to a action/suspense thriller and I think movie would have been big, but it I think a movie can only be so big as a horror movie with a downer ending.

Though it may have been a realer ending, I think it would have been just downright mean to do to a black audience (never heard an audience cheer in a movie more than the black audience in BK when Lil' Rell pulled up).

Its funny because in one of the commentaries JP says that he begun making the movie in the Feel Good Obama era and he felt the original downer ending was necessary to remind people that racism is still real but the movie ended up coming out after Trump won and felt like there wasn't a need to make that point as much and felt the audience could use a win and that was part of the reason he changed it. I think that assessment is right.


**********
"Everyone has a plan until you punch them in the face. Then they don't have a plan anymore." (c) Mike Tyson

"what's a leader if he isn't reluctant"

  

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Mynoriti
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Wed Feb-09-22 01:31 PM

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2. "I don't think Arya was the line in GoT"
In response to Reply # 0
Wed Feb-09-22 01:41 PM by Mynoriti

  

          

too me it was always Tyrion.
Jon technically did go, but there were immediate theories of him not being gone gone.
Arya would have been a big deal, but i don't see it having blowback compared the blowback that offing Tyrion would cause.
That could just be my own thinking though. Personally i thought the show was a bit lesser without Tywin.

  

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Buddy_Gilapagos
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Tue Feb-15-22 10:28 AM

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12. "Yeah I know it was Tyrion for some people. "
In response to Reply # 2


  

          

For my theory it doesn't have to be the same person for everyone. It just has to be that character that YOU love that if they killed you would lose interest in the show.

**********
"Everyone has a plan until you punch them in the face. Then they don't have a plan anymore." (c) Mike Tyson

"what's a leader if he isn't reluctant"

  

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Nodima
Member since Jul 30th 2008
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Mon Feb-14-22 03:39 PM

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6. "Boardwalk Empire is a contender"
In response to Reply # 0


  

          

Though I'm not sure it actually makes the list because its ratings didn't fall off at all afterward and I still enjoyed the hell out of the show (bringing in the wider crime world and adding Bobby Cannavale can have that effect) but when they killed off Michael Pitt's character essentially because he was a pain in the ass on set, it was a real pre-Thrones gut check moment that my dad certainly never recovered from. I'm sure some people had the same reaction while other people got into the show because the diehards remained hooked.



In any case, I personally know of exactly one person who quit that show because that character got got and that's the best thing I can think of right now, lol.



~~~~~~~~~
"This is the streets, and I am the trap." � Jay Bilas
http://www.popmatters.com/pm/archive/contributor/517
Hip Hop Handbook: http://tinyurl.com/ll4kzz

  

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Cold Truth
Member since Jan 28th 2004
43209 posts
Mon Feb-14-22 04:03 PM

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7. "IMO, Glenn's death has served the show quite qell. "
In response to Reply # 0


  

          

I realize that this is somewhat of a deviation from the point of whether or not a given audience will lose interest, but I think it factors in that it says more about fandom than the storytellers.

People may lose interest if a particular character gets offed. But I think, in this case, Glenn's death has served the show as well as his character could have- if not better. I think I've seen some quotes from some of the actors saying that killing Glenn was a mistake, but i disagree with them too.

Frankly, killing off important and beloved characters can be a hallmark of great storytelling, and I think they nailed it with Glen.

It spurred Maggie's growth as a character, and reverberates through to the current episode of the show, some 7 seasons later. I won't spoil it for anyone, but the ramifications of his death echo through the show as effectively and deeply as anything I can think of.

To that end, I think that, regardless of whether or not fans jump off after that line is crossed, I think that the way to determine whether the death of beloved, core characters works within the whole of a narrative is determined by what that death means, and how it's treated going forward.

And in this situation, it's not a simple "remember when that guy got killed?" note. The direct consequences of this are illustrated time and again, to good/great effect.

From a storytelling standpoint, that's great storytelling, because real people don't plot armor.

Of course, they sort of fucked that up by giving him a rather absurd suit of that armor not long before Negan came through and crushed the skulls.

  

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Buddy_Gilapagos
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Tue Feb-15-22 09:27 AM

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11. "My uninformed counter"
In response to Reply # 7


  

          

Since I didn't continue watching, I heard that they redeemed Neegan's character and I think that further pissed me off because I was like how are they going to redeem the white character who killed off one of the beloved PoC characters? You mention Maggie's character grew but I have the same reaction, they have to kill off a PoC character for the white character to grow?

Again, I know this is an uninformed opinion since I wasn't watching the show anymore so there is of course tons of nuance I know I am missing.


**********
"Everyone has a plan until you punch them in the face. Then they don't have a plan anymore." (c) Mike Tyson

"what's a leader if he isn't reluctant"

  

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