Sorting Algorithm of Mortality

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

Panik: Why aren't you dead?!
Yami: As I explained earlier, I'm the main character. You, however, can just go right ahead and die.

"Word of advice, if the Will says you need to spend the night in a Haunted House you better hope everybody else there are black guys and sluts."

Liz, 30 Rock

So you're watching a Horror show, slasher flic, or maybe an action show that promises a high body count. In order to prove just how high the stakes are and how willing the show is to be Darker and Edgier and scarier, it bravely advertises that Tonight Someone Dies! Not just anyone though, but someone on the poster!

So who dies? That's a tricky question. Kill the wrong person, or too early, and you risk angering the viewer. Execs and writers have, through time, trial, and (mostly) error, discovered that killing off "unpopular" minorities is safer than popular ones or majorities.

This has led many to notice patterns, a kind of Sorting Algorithm of Mortality, whereby a character's odds of gruesome, violent death are established relative to the rest of cast. The following is a rough generalization, some movies or shows might mix it up depending on which roles and traits a given character has, but few outright subvert or avert it, and when they do it's painful.

Compare Acceptable Targets. Once killed, see Sorting Algorithm of Deadness to see how likely they are to come back. See also Rule of Empathy.

To use the Sorting Algorithm of Mortality, simply add the Scream Score for each applicable row, then divide by as many rows (At this point, 14 or less). Remember: this is a relative score, so you need at least 3 or more characters from the same movie or series to establish a baseline. To keep this page clean, please put speculation on the mortality of a cast in the Wild Mass Guessing Sorting Algorithm of Mortality page.

Likelihood of death So dead Average life expectancy Die? Me? Ha!
Scream Score! 5 4 3 2 1
Age Older and Wiser Parent, Clueless teens Single adult Protagonist teens Child
Sexual Orientation Slut, Bisexual, Innocent Virgin Gay Straight Reluctant Celibate
Love Interests by Genre Rich Bitch, Horror Genre Hooker with a Heart of Gold, Temporary Shallow, Romance show Shrinking Violet Damsel in Distress, Action Series
Role Villain, Faceless Goons, Mooks, Red Shirt, The Obi-Wan, The Big Guy Loners, Plucky Comic Relief, Mauve Shirt, Long-lost Friend, The Smart Guy The Lancer, Hero of Another Story, The Sidekick, The Scrappy Ignored Expert, Those Two Guys, The Chick Hero, Creator's Pet
Race Black, Twofer's Mexican Asian Indian/Native American Caucasian or The Same As The Writer
Gender Tough Girl, No Biological Sex, Feminine Man Male Token Girl Action Girl, Final Girl
Aesthetics Ugly Fat "Average" Fashionably Scarred The Cutie
Personality Nihilist, Crazy Survivalist, Innocent, Pragmatic Jerk Jock, The Ditz, Insufferable Genius Nerd, Jerk with a Heart of Gold The Captain, The Watson The Messiah, Friend to All Living Things
Flaws Too Dumb to Live, Skeptical, Genre Blind, Dirty Coward, Greedy Fell astray, The Stoner, Butt Monkey (gritty), Smartass Wears Glasses Crippling Phobia Mentally Handicapped
"Virtues" Holier Than Thou, Curious, Pragmatic, Ambitious Quiet Girls and Quiet Guys Smart, Genre Savvy[1] Determinator The Pollyanna, The Fool
Species Robots (non-living), Undead, Snakes, Arthropods Cats, Clones, Mechanical Lifeforms Human, Human Aliens Pretty Aliens Dogs (except in literature) (or Disney)
Occupation Retiring Law Officer, Villain by Default, Happy Family Man, Competent secondary female Military Commander, Anyone Serving Under Him, Hero's Best Friend, Mentor Scientist With Questionable Ethics, Innocent Bystander Adventurer Archaeologist, Teacher Superhero, Nun
Prognosis You Are Already Dead, Take a Moment to Catch Your Death, Bond One-Liner, Last Stand Your Days Are Numbered, Pre-Mortem One-Liner, You Shall Not Pass Prepare to Die, He Didn't Make It, Time Bomb, Pre-Ass-Kicking One-Liner, Jump Scare You Have No Chance to Survive, If My Calculations Are Correct Badass Boast, Million-to-One Chance, Ineffectual Death Threat
Health Chunky Salsa Rule, Incurable Cough of Death Overdrawn At the Blood Bank, Soap Opera Disease I Can Still Fight, Made of Plasticine, Littlest Cancer Patient Made of Iron, Only a Flesh Wound, Ill Girl Nigh Invulnerable, Healing Factor, Consumption
5 4 3 2 1
Pool predictions Killed Mid-Sentence Drop A Bridge On Him Sacrificial Lion, Stuffed Into the Fridge Sacrificial Lamb, Dead Star Walking Plot Armor, The Worf Effect

In order to apply this to all of the characters from a work, the matching tropes are:

  1. Nobody Can Die: Nobody dies.
  2. Plot Armor: Characters that you're supposed to care about don't die.
  3. Red Shirt: Unnamed characters exist in order to die.
  4. Anyone Can Die: Exactly What It Says on the Tin
  5. Kill'Em All: Everybody dies.

As a Death Trope, Spoilers ahead may be unmarked. Beware.

Let's Sort Some Mortality!
  1. In a Deconstruction or Parody, increase to 5