The Museum of Hoaxes
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Paul Krassner's Stereophonic Hoax, 1960
Jean Gauntt, the Immortal Baby, 1939
The Instant Color TV Hoax, 1962
Baby Yoga, aka Swinging Your Kid Around Your Head
Script of Casablanca rejected, 1982
The Lovely Feejee Mermaid, 1842
Swiss peasants harvest spaghetti from trees, 1957
The Great Space Monkey Hoax, 1953
Life discovered on the moon, 1835
Prankster causes volcano to erupt, 1974
Xenacate
This is a request for help. The proofreader has been going through the manuscript of Hippo Eats Dwarf looking for errors. This is the final check that the book receives before it goes to print. After this, nothing can be changed. Anyway, in the final chapter of the book (about death), I include the following definition:

Xenacate, v.: To kill a TV or movie character off so completely that no chance remains of bringing her back from the dead. Inspired by the TV show Xena: Warrior Princess. Its occurrence usually indicates that the actor playing the character has lost her job under unpleasant circumstances and has no hope of being rehired.

The proofreader has pointed out that it would be good to name a character to whom this occurred. (And I suppose it would be best to name a character on Xena itself to whom it occurred... It must have occurred to someone on that show in order to inspire the term. Though, in a pinch, an example from any show will do.) So can anyone think of a character who has been xenacated? If I use your answer I'll send you a free, signed copy of the book once it comes out (which will be in about three months). I need the answer by Friday, or Monday at the latest.

Update: I ended up using the red-shirted characters on Star Trek as an example. So thephrog wins the contest. I should note that I pulled a bit of a bait-and-switch, because I decided to revise my definition of Xenacate by deleting the part about the actor getting fired. After reviewing the few uses of the term on the internet, I decided that wasn't part of the word's meaning. Instead, it means to get killed off and not return. In which case the red-shirted characters are probably the most famous example of characters who only exist to get killed off. (Though I was tempted for a while to use the guy from MASH, but decided he didn't fit as well with the new definition.)
Categories: Death, Entertainment
Posted by The Curator on Wed Dec 07, 2005
Comments (88)
Off the top of my head, any of the Dr. Who's would do. They never come back, although I suppose the character isn't dead, just reincarnated.
Posted by ReadbackMonkey  on  Wed Dec 07, 2005  at  01:06 PM
Dr. Who would actually be the exact opposite of xenacation, since the character keeps coming back, no matter how completely he dies.
Posted by The Curator  in  San Diego  on  Wed Dec 07, 2005  at  01:15 PM
How bout Edith on All in the Family....she was pretty much dead on that show.
Posted by Heather  in  New Jersey  on  Wed Dec 07, 2005  at  01:35 PM
Not sure about Xena, but X-Files has had a spin-off show about the Lone Gunmen (about three computer geeks with and undergound newpaper). I liked the show and when it was pulled from the air I had hoped that it might come back. Then in the last season of X-files they killed them off securing the idea the the spin-off would not return.
Posted by Bill Whitaker  in  Seattle  on  Wed Dec 07, 2005  at  01:42 PM
Sherlock Holmes went over Niagara falls - all the more interesting because Arthur Conan Doyle caved in and brought him back.
But does that stop him having been truly xenacated? I suppose you did say "so completely that no chance remains of bringing her[/him] back from the dead"...
Oh well, I'm posting this anyway now I've typed it.
Posted by Owen  on  Wed Dec 07, 2005  at  01:44 PM
Henry Blake, M*A*S*H. Plane shot down. Abyssinia, Henry
Posted by Charybdis  in  Hell  on  Wed Dec 07, 2005  at  01:44 PM
How about McLean Stevenson being written out of MASH, it being announced at the end of his final episode that the character (Colonel Blake) had been killed in a plane crash.
Posted by Big John  on  Wed Dec 07, 2005  at  01:47 PM
The first example that comes to mind is that of Cyrus "The Virus" Grissom, the villain from the 1997 action film "Con Air". He was played by John Malkovich.

At the end of the film he was beaten soundly by Nicolas Cage, after which he - to quote from Screenit.com - "smashes through a glass walkway, lands on top of several powers lines (and is electrocuted) and then lands on a conveyor belt that stops him under a construction pile driver that slams down onto his face".
Posted by Ashley Pomeroy  on  Wed Dec 07, 2005  at  01:52 PM
The classic example has to be Mr. Hooper on "Sesame Street." That character died (when the actor who played him died in real life), and they had several shows explaining to children what death is.

The classic example of the opposite would be that kid in "South Park" (Kenny?) who dies in every episode.
Posted by Big Gary, dilettante extraordinaire  in  Dallas, Texas  on  Wed Dec 07, 2005  at  02:00 PM
I should have said [sic] (the text should really read "power lines" rather than "powers lines"). It is the sequence I remember most from "Con Air"; it was a parody of the kind of action/horror film ending whereby the villain recovers from certain death again... and again... and again. As in the "Friday 13th" films. I think the horror film that started off that kind of thing was "Carrie", which had a trick ending (albeit that it was a nightmare).

Outside the world of horror and sci-fi death generally means death; there is no chance that the victims in "Reservoir Dogs" or "The Godfather" will return from the dead. Paradoxially, the most spectacular death sequences, the ones involving molecular disintegration or gallons of green blood, they tend to occur in the kind of films in which reincarnation is most likely.

I am reminded of the classic exchange from "Ghostbusters", in the elevator, where Harold Ramis is explaining to his comrades that should be careful where they point their wands - "Try to imagine all life as you know it stopping instantaneously and every molecule in your body exploding at the speed of light" - and then Dan Aykroyd nodes sagely and says "Total protonic reversal."

Erm. The other problem is that whenever I think of a supposedly final death, I think of Bobby Ewing from Dallas; I reckon that if the cheque was big enough Xena could easily rise from the grave (or they could simply do an "Untold Stories of Xena" kind-of-thing, albeit that they would have to explain why Lucy Lawless is older).
Posted by Ashley Pomeroy  on  Wed Dec 07, 2005  at  02:01 PM
Huh. This is a stumper. Aside from MASH, another series or movie that kills off the main character at the end seems to escape me. I know there's another and it's bugging the crap out of me that I can't remember. Technically Star Wars counts, as it's really about Anakin Skywalker's rise and fall. Though I believe at the end it's really all about Luke.
Posted by Dan  on  Wed Dec 07, 2005  at  02:08 PM
I'm surprised you missed an obvious example; Denise Crosby's character (Tasha Yar) was killed off in Star Trek:TNG amid rumors about a contract dispute. However, she did kiss & make up with the producers, and they found a way to bring her back in as a guest character a couple of seasons later.
Posted by Andy  in  Brooklyn  on  Wed Dec 07, 2005  at  02:21 PM
Valerie Harper was removed from her show valerie due to a contract dispute. They killed her off, Replaced her with Sandy Duncan (I think) renamed the show, and it went from a moderate success to cancelation in no time flat.
Posted by Maurice Marvi  in  Basking Ridge, NJ  on  Wed Dec 07, 2005  at  02:27 PM
More and Valerie here

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0090540/
Posted by Maurice Marvi  in  In front of my TV. Oy!  on  Wed Dec 07, 2005  at  02:29 PM
The prototypical example of Xenacation might be found in The Killing of Sister George, the 1968 film by Robert Aldrich:

The "killing" in the title is a metaphorical death
Posted by andychrist  on  Wed Dec 07, 2005  at  02:31 PM
Although it wasn't a dramatic end - it happened off-screen - Vin Diesel's demise between the first and probably last of the "xXx" films fits the second part of the definition. His salary demands were such that he was ditched and replaced with Ice Cube; the character's death was explained away in a single throwaway line. Both films cost about $80m; the first made $141m and the second made $25m.

I am also reminded of Alien3, in which Ripley falls into a pool of molten metal whilst wrestling with an alien queen that has just burst out of her chest; except that Ripley came back for the next film, or rather a clone of Ripley, but it was a stupid idea all around.

I think the definition itself is flawed. If an actor has offended the producers he or she is unlikely to be around to film a lengthy death sequence; from what I remember "Xena" ended because the people who made it had run out of ideas (after doing six years of "Xena" and a similar period of "Hercules", plus a year of "Young Hercules"), not because Lucy Lawless was asking for too much money. And simply reporting that cast member X disappeared at the end of season Y is a bit dull.

The other example I can think of is "Blakes Seven", in which the entire cast were gunned down at the end of the last episode of the last series - there was some ambiguity as to whether they were merely stunned, but it remains one of the most famously jarring endings of a show ever. In that case everybody involved was fed up with the show.

Ah, Gabrielle. I liked her more.
Posted by Ashley Pomeroy  on  Wed Dec 07, 2005  at  02:38 PM
In the UK there was a popular SciFi series called Blakes Seven. First the convincingly killed off the main character (Blake) atthe end of teh 2nd series, and then the rest of the crew at the end of the series (the bad guys won!). However, in a deja-Dallas twist, Blake (or someone claiming to be Blake) reappers inthe last show, and one of the other characters reappeared 20 years later when teh show was resurrected. It seems that there is never a good way to kill characters so they stay killed....
Posted by Jon Smith  in  New Jersey  on  Wed Dec 07, 2005  at  02:42 PM
Another obscure one: in the recent movie Ladder 49, Joaquin Phoenix is the main character who bites it at the end.

And oddly enough my password I had to type for the spam protection was "death".
Posted by Dan  on  Wed Dec 07, 2005  at  02:42 PM
Dipping a bit further back, the 1980s saw the well-publicized deaths of Peter Horton's character on "thirtysomething", and the the death of beloved character Edith Bunker on "Archie Bunker's Place". (He died of a random bcycle/car accident; she of a stroke in her sleep.)
Posted by Joe Littrell  on  Wed Dec 07, 2005  at  03:03 PM
You could use a rare example of double xenacation.

In the UK soap Eastenders, the character "Dirty" Den Watts was killed off twice.

The first time was in 1989 when he was shot, and his daughter identified the body.

Death didn't stop him however, and he returned in 2003, to the surprise of everyone, only to again be killed off in September this year, knocked out with a doorstop and having his corpse encased in concrete under the floor of a pub.
Posted by Andrew Nixon  on  Wed Dec 07, 2005  at  03:32 PM
i did a bit of reasearch and Ephiny was one of the big characters in Xena she is an amazon princess who instructs Gabrielle (xenas companion) in using the staff as a weapon of defence. For a long time she was regent Queen of the Amazons in Gabrielle's absense, but this arrangement ended when she was slain in battle by Brutus in Endgame. well hope this helps. wink
Posted by Jonhenry  on  Wed Dec 07, 2005  at  03:41 PM
Tim Speedle on CSI: Miami. Shot and autopsied... Generally doesn't bode well for a return...

I'm not sure of the exact cause of it.

Shannon on Lost. They buried her, and at the end of the original show, I thought they might be doing the typical thing wherein they fake the audience out and they're still alive.
Posted by Kevin  in  Minneapolis  on  Wed Dec 07, 2005  at  03:54 PM
I think you need to draw a distinction between characters who die because an actor left and actors that died, thus necessitating an on-show resolution. There have been countless actors who have died during a series run, but relatively few characters who were killed when the actor who portrayed them was still alive and well. I think the latter is what Alex is looking for, for instance - Dr. Mark Green on E.R.

Likewise, one-off movies are meaningless as there is no continuation beyond that 'episode', but characters killed off in a long running series might count. Unfortunately, I can't think of any that didn't occur as either the result of the actor's death, or the result of adhering to the plot of a series of books.
Posted by Charybdis  in  Hell  on  Wed Dec 07, 2005  at  03:58 PM
I think I'll need to modify the definition so that it primarily means killing a character off in an extremely violent and irreversible way. It only secondarily (and not in all cases) might suggest that the actor was fired.

So the case of Malkovich's character on Con Air might work, because it was such an over-the-top and irreversible death.
Posted by The Curator  in  San Diego  on  Wed Dec 07, 2005  at  04:27 PM
Another UK one for you. In the TV series "Spooks", Helen Flynn, the character played by Lisa Faulkner, who had been portrayed as a regular in the first episode, was killed off in the second episode by having her head put in a deep fat fryer. For good measure she was shot too.

Is that over the top and irreversible enough for you?
Posted by Andrew Nixon  on  Wed Dec 07, 2005  at  04:35 PM
I'm also thinking that the term Xenacate probably derives from Xena the series in an ironic way. It wasn't that characters were killed off irreversibly on the show. Instead, Xena and Gabrielle died multiple times on the show, and no death for them was irreversible. It became like a joke. They kept dying and coming back to life. I'm getting this from an article I just found about love and death in Xena: http://whoosh.org/issue37/goodman1.html

Good thing the proofreader said something, or I might have had a flawed definition in the book.
Posted by The Curator  in  San Diego  on  Wed Dec 07, 2005  at  04:42 PM
In "Family Matters" (with Jaleel White as 'Steve Urkel') the Winslow family loses their youngest daughter, Judy, played by Jamie Foxworth walked up the stairs in the 3rd season and never came back.

They cut her due to budget, but I guess she never really died or anything - so I don't know if this would fit? But it's interesting ;')

Would characters from the hit TV show "Lost" count? They never come back and one just died recently!
Posted by Cindy  in  Elkins Park, PA  on  Wed Dec 07, 2005  at  05:23 PM
I think a great example would be the TV show Charmed. Shannen Doherty either quit or was fired because she didn't get along with Alyssa Milano. Her character was killed off, and she was even replaced by a new character, a previously-unknown half sister. I know she got fired from 90210 for similar reasons, but I don't know if they killed off her character or not.
Posted by Clare  in  Rhode Island  on  Wed Dec 07, 2005  at  06:11 PM
I'm glad you revised the definition, I thought the original definition was strange because on Xena anyone could come back to life from the afterworld.

Of all of the examples the MASH one was the best because there was no way in Korea anyone was going to back to life.
Posted by Walt  in  Optical Illusions Etc...  on  Wed Dec 07, 2005  at  06:27 PM
How about Poochie from the Simpson's episode 'The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show'? The universally despised Poochie vanishes from the cartoon and the viewers are told that 'Poochie died on the way back to his home planet'. The dialogue is then...

KRUSTY
Poochie's dead! (laughs) (kids in audience cheer) Well kids, we all know that sometimes when cartoon characters die, they're back again the very next week. That's why I'm presenting this sworn affidavit that Poochie will never, ever, ever return!

LAWYER
This document conforms to all applicable laws and statutes.

You can't get much more unequivocal than that!

DoctorPsi
Posted by doctorpsi  on  Wed Dec 07, 2005  at  06:51 PM
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