I'm kind of a scripted TV addict - the weirder and cultier the show the better - which means I'm no stranger to mourning characters who've fallen victim to creative burnout or cancellation. And sure, I could rend fabric and shout to the heavens about the untimely televisual departures of poor Sydney Bristow, Ted Crisp, Joel Robinson, or Isaac Jaffe, but I won't. Because I know there are worse fates than being cut down in one's prime.
See, some folks come back wrong. Folks like Twin Peaks' Dale Cooper, and Firefly's Hoban Washburne.
Be warned: spoilers for long-dead entertainments abound below. If you're not familiar with Twin Peaks or Firefly, I beseech you to turn back, and watch them both immediately instead. Beyond here be dragons.
When Dale Cooper came breezing into the town of Twin Peaks back in '89 to investigate the murder of a high school student by the name of Laura Palmer, he didn't seem to have a care in the world, except perhaps to find a room both clean and reasonably priced:
Or so we thought, until the movie was announced.
I can't tell you how giddy I was at the thought of all the mysteries of Twin Peaks finally being answered, Dale's fate chief among them. Only that's not how the movie went. Not at all. No, in true Lynchian fashion, questions were dodged, new ones were thrown on the pile, and continuity went out the window, all in favor of an ending more thematically resonant than actually sensical, one in which Dale and Laura meet in the Black Lodge, or perhaps simply the Red Room, or maybe a Red Robin (yummm), shortly after Laura's death, and several months before Dale's even scheduled to arrive in town. Point is, I have no effing idea what happened. And suddenly, a riveting cliffhanger of an exit for a beloved character was erased in favor of a resounding, "Huh?"
The transition from small to silver screen was no kinder to Hoban "Wash" Washburne. Pilot of the titular craft in Joss Whedon's short-lived space-western Firefly, Wash was the crew's conscience and comic relief both.
But it also introduced the saddest phrase in the entire Browncoat (yes, Firefly fans have their own nerdy label) lexicon: "I am a leaf on the wind."
I'll not include a clip of the moment that line was uttered. Some spoilers are simply too unfair to share. Suffice to say, it's the most controversial moment in the movie, and one that made me wish, if only for a moment, that Firefly had been allowed to rest in peace.
Many of the entertainment losses we mourn are sad but bearable. Though the shows, books, or movies end, the characters live on in our minds (and, in the darker recesses of the internet, the occasional creepy work of slash-fic, but that's a post for another time.) Perhaps it's a kindness to allow them to continue to.
Because sometimes, the alternative is even worse.