Top 10 – Short Lived Characters
“A candle the burns twice as bright burns half as long… Mmm hmm”
– Scruffy, The Janitor
The most precious things in life are those that last the briefest, a snowflake, a rose blossom, the career of Fred Savage. They twinkle in the darkness before being swallowed by it, reminding us of our mortality and marking the passage of time. Is it their brevity that makes them so wondrous? Or does the memory of their shortcomings fade before that of their successes? Who can say for sure, but it is these brightest of flashes in an otherwise dull and listless life of successful stars and beloved characters that endure for years that we celebrate in the first Top 10 of the New Year!
10) Space Core – Portal 2
Hey lady, are we going to space?
Space core featured so briefly in the legendary Portal sequel’s grand finale and yet it became one of the most memorable moments and one of its most enduring memes. Space core was a one note little ball of personality, a desperate craving to reach the final frontier that didn’t border on the obsessive, it left the border for dead and made a b-line for the stratosphere.
Knock knock! Who’s there? Space? Spaaaaace…
Spoiler alert, he gets there in the most dramatic way possible (although you can probably guess it involves portals) and because he’s a machine he doesn’t really die he doesn’t make it much higher on the list. If ever there’s a third instalment he may yet come crashing back through the ceiling, but for negligible screen-time before vanishing he at least deserves a nod.
9) The Ghost of Christmas Present
It’s so difficult to filled with boundless joy and love when your lifespan extends to only one day, but what a day to be alive! The embodiment of each and every Christmas lives for that day alone, and experiences every beautiful and tragic moment of it all at once, walking through feast and famine alike trying to bring cheer and warmth to the darkest of hearts. It is that noble duty that brings one of the many brothers Present to spend an hour in the company of the hard hearted Ebenezer Scrooge.
My personal favourite iteration must be that of the Muppets Christmas Carol, all the warmth and boisterous joy realised in a giant fuzzy ginger, although he lacks the most terrible moment, revealing the filthy and corrupt children of man beneath his robe, Ignorance and Want. Somehow would have been a little too dark for the Muppets.
8) Buzz-Buzz – Earthbound
(It’s impossible to see, but his sprite is on there!)
A bee he is, not. He is Buzz-Buzz, or at least he was Buzz-Buzz until your porky neighbours slightly podgier mother steps in because bugs are icky. Buzz-Buzz is a powerful warrior who has come to warn Ness about the dangers of Giygas, a powerful alien who has come to Earth as the ultimate evil. It’s up to Ness to stop him to find the chosen children to go back in time to defeat this powerful alien…
And so, as Buzz-Buzz and Ness begin their adventure, having already defeated the menacing Starmen out front, the two head back to take Porky Minch and his brother back to their home. On arrival, a brutal bloodbath ensues! Before the death happens, Porky and Picky are taken upstairs for their butts to be smacked for being out so late at night. Then, Porky’s mother notices Buzz-Buzz and out of sheer brutality swats the bee, mortally wounding him. Buzz-Buzz then tells you the backstory of the game and he asks “did you get all that?” If you press no, he’ll hold onto his life long enough to tell you again. And again. And ag– Until you press Yes. Then he passes away.
7) Emperor Uriel Septim VII – Oblivion
Oblivion is a hilarious game and we all love it to bits. It’s only funny because of all of the glitches in the game, but hey, Oblivion does have a semi-serious story behind it, which gives you an incredibly important character to follow from the offset. Yes, you follow the Emperor himself through a series of catacombs, in an attempt to escape from assassins. With the elite guards of the Emperor, the Blades, by his side – this seemed like a simple little mission of escape.
Well actually it doesn’t end like that, as during this tutorial section of the game, the Emperor tells you that he’s going to be killed then and there. He gives you a powerful amulet and tells you to and find Martin. Well, alright – Then he gets assassinated. In front of you. You don’t do a thing about it. HAH! Though this was quite a sad scene, as the Blades really made it sound as if it was all their fault. Trust me: If an assassin poofs in through a wall, it really isn’t your fault.
6) Damien Cockburn – Tropic Thunder
The man who only wanted to create the best war film ever was sadly cursed with a cast so far up their own backsides that they could see the back of their own heads. Inspired by the writer of said war story’s grim suggestion, Damien Cockburn abducts his headline acts and dumps them in the depths of the jungle with only a few hidden cameras and a madman holding the pyrotechnics controls for company, in a desperate last bid to save the project.
Cockburn, played by Steve Coogan, suffers at the hands of his producer, and the deaf ears of his cast and crew. After abducting his stars he gives them a stirring speech about getting into the reality of Vietnam and making it real, he sets himself up as a truly powerful figure, a legend, a veritable messiah of the silver screen. Then he steps on a landmine.
Ah well, it was fun while it lasted.
5) Russel Franklin – Deep Blue Sea
Now we’ve all seen it happen, the black guy always dies first unless it’s Denzel Washington, Morgan Freeman, Laurence Fishburne or Samuel L Jackson, and especially not after any of them have just finished a heroic or authoritative monologue.
But sharks as well we know have no concept of common courtesy, story structure or narrative expectation, and don’t know when to stay in the water when they’re not welcome. They straight up kill Sammy Jackson before he can even finish talking! They don’t even let him make it through the first hour of screen time, I mean what the hell?
1999’s Deep Blue Sea may have been a pretty weak film otherwise, but the vicious murder of its biggest star was one of the most epic and moves and a huge smack in the face of the audience.
4) Aerith – Final Fantasy VII
This is the death that destroyed RPG fans across the world, with people who still to this day don’t want to believe they did it. It’s a huge risk, to kill off a main character from a game, but to do so to one of the primary protagonists is insanity. So for the short while you had Aerith, she was incredibly good. In fact many people, myself included, opted to having her in the team because she was so good. Some of her unlocks at later levels were invaluable at that.
However, Sephiroth does away with her with relative ease. It’s a crying shame, but it did make for one of the most talked about moments in gaming, not just RPGs. In fact, this death was so pivotal to the game, it was considered the number 1 Top Video Game Moment by IGN. This isn’t the only list to feature Aerith’s death to be so important: ScrewAttack added this into their WTF Moments in Games list. This isn’t the last list Aerith’s death will be listed on either: It’s a critical moment and it really made you step back and appreciate how wonderfully shocking video games can be.
3) Stay Puft – Ghostbusters
One of the most infamous movie monsters of all time and he’s barely even there before he’s fluffed. The titanic marshmallow mascot is the squishy vessel to a dark god Gozer, who journeys through New York leaving sticky destruction in his wake.
Is there really that much more to say about this 100ft killer confection? They cross the streams and coat the city in gooey, hot, white… marshmallow, and seal the gate to Gozer’s realm in the process, free Dana from the control of Zuul the Gatekeeper and Louis from Vinz Clortho the Keymaster, save the day and screw over Walter Peck in the process.
But what did we lose in the process…
2) Greedo – Star Wars
Greedo is the reason we have all heard the phrase “Han shot first“. This little alien dude considered himself to be quite the elite employee for Jabba the Hutt’s. Truth be told, it’s probably true that even Jabba didn’t really think much of Greedo, who was no more than a typical underling. Greedo was greedy, as his name might suggest, but he was dreadful at shooting his blaster pistol, which all in all led to his untimely demise.
The fact that people will forever be bickering about whether or not Han shot first is testament to how little impact Greedo had on this franchise. He was just the sacrificial lamb needed to make the Star Wars fandom have something to chat about for a long time.
1) Mufasa – The Lion King
Long live the king!
Oh Scar, you are the nastiest piece of work imaginable. This is truly the ultimate in death scenes in a film, especially for:
- A child’s animated film.
- A Disney film.
- Betrayal and of course…
- A short-lived character.
Mufasa, your death is one of the most striking moments in animated film history. In fact, it might be the most striking – I don’t think it’s quite the saddest (see Bambi), but it’s certainly the most visually shocking. The betrayal, although so easy to see coming from a mile off, was not something that was the norm for Disney at the time. It was dark, it was harrowing… And ultimately, it served as a bleak reminder of the whole message of the film. Mufasa was once a child, like Simba, who would have needed help in his times of need. Mufasa grew big and strong, becoming the king of the pride… And then betrayal struck, ending Mufasas’ life.
It’s the circle of life.
In a world where fifteen minutes of fame can be as dim as a presidential candidate or as bright as a savant eating lightbulbs, can we really leave our list to a mere handful? Well yes, we could, if they deserved to stick around they would have done! But we do honourable mentions, so honourable mentions we shall have, but don’t worry, we’ll keep them short.
Winston Payne – Ace Attorney
If you like prosecutors in Ace Attorney, or if you’ve ever played the games, chances are you’ll have bumped into Winston Payne, or one of the Payne family. These ‘legendary‘ prosecutors are known for many a thing, such as having never been defeated for over 7 years (a record that not even the Von Karmas could have claimed). But if there’s one thing for certain, it’s that these guys, although they don’t die, are the first guys you beat in each of the games.
That’s right: Your first opponent in the Ace Attorney franchise usually starts with one of the Payne family, or Winston himself. Sporting a truly fabulous hairstyle that’d make even a grandfather weep out in exasperation, Winston is known for one thing only: His arguments are heavily flawed and he’s used just as a tutorial to the game and nothing more. He’s really quite a ridiculous prosecutor, which makes me think… If he’s telling the truth about this whole seven year undefeated record, then did he specifically choose who he goes against? He seems to like pairing up against green defence attorneys.
The Majority of Game of Thrones
Ned Stark, Syrio Forel, Kahl Drogo, Oberyn Martell.
Love no character, for George R. R. Martin is cruel and sadistic, he will take from you everything that he gave, everything that he made you love he will crush and watch you bathe in the blood you once depended on. Perhaps the character you’re so enthralled with that you’ve come to respect and admire over the seasons will meet with a grisly and pointless end, or more likely the hero or loveable rogue will die within seconds of you thinking that maybe, just maybe things are finally going to turn around.
If your heart is already broken, just leave it behind, it can only take so much.
All right, that’s enough of that.
In order for these characters to be so well beloved it’s important that they don’t stick around long enough to become hated and pointless, like Family Guy. If you want to truly appreciate them we must enjoy them in their own lifetime, as short as it may have been it was good while it lasted, and now we’re going to move on to something else, and as per usual you get to pick what that something is.
As always, thanks for joining us for this weeks list and please, let us know what you think. Do you agree with our choices for Top 10? Who would you have in the list and at what position? Do you think Scars betrayal of his brother, Mufasa, is one of the most visually shocking scenes in a children’s film? As always, let us know what you think in the comments below, or get involved on Facebook and Twitter.