gladdecease: (*sad-making angst type stuff)
gladdecease ([personal profile] gladdecease) wrote2013-10-26 09:06 pm

thing the thirtieth [presumed dead reclist for [community profile] trope_bingo]

So your favorite character is dead.

Well, that sucks. There's a couple things you can do about it: you can accept it, and try to move on; you can live in denial, and pretend it never happened; you can imagine ways they might have survived. And if you're lucky, maybe it'll turn out that they did.

Sherlock Holmes is one of the more famous cases, pretending to be dead so Watson would write his death for the public, so he could get rid of his enemies in secret. The BBC Sherlock adaptation's is in the middle of an interesting take on it, and goodness knows I'd love to see Elementary try it. (Not for a few years yet, I hope.)

Of Reichenbach-related fics I've read go, I favor the work-in-progress The Sigerson Letters by h3rring and makokitten for Sherlock, and The Three Favors by Katie Forsythe for the ACD book version of Holmes. Sigerson deals with John in the interim, and Sherlock subtly making contact with him via pseudonyms and the like. The Three Favors brings a heartbreaking twist to things - and really, the idea that Holmes thought Watson could only write a convincing death for Holmes if he actually believed him dead is more heartbreaking, so I'm really quite okay with the twist.

Another well known presumed dead context: superhero comics! There used to be a saying - no one stays dead except Jason Todd and Bucky Barnes. That's certainly no longer true. It might be more accurate to say no one stays dead except the Waynes and Uncle Ben, but even that isn't always certain. Death is very impermanent in comics - and in the rare cases when it isn't, fans are more than ready to take up the task.

One prime example is Ted Kord, the second Blue Beetle, who was so unlucky as to be killed off during a Crisis event, and succeeded by the more popular Beetle Jaime Reyes in a way that essentially requires Ted's death for him to take on the mantle. (Not to mention that Ted doesn't exist, dead or otherwise, in the current comics continuity.) This leads to a lot of denial fic, and a lot of fix-its - many based on the almost fix-it that appears in the 2010 Booster Gold run.

An excellent death fix that predates those comics is DoctorV's Mullet-verse, a cracky, long, and involved series including kidfic, zombies, failed attempts at villainy, time travel, legacy heroes, and a heaping helping of denial. It's... hard to explain properly. But trust me, it's worth reading. Set aside a weekend, or space the fics out over a few days.

A fic on the opposite end of things - which takes into account the almost fix-it from Booster Gold, the Flashpoint reboot, and two months of new 52 continuity - is the fantastic Trapped on the Merry-go-round by Muccamukk. Ted, having accepted that he needed to die to keep the world from falling into a Crisis-related dystopia, is about to die again when the reboot happens, and Rip Hunter drags him into the reboot. The resulting events, and the reason why Rip saves Ted, make for a very fun read.

Stargate's good for presumed dead fics - they've got a canonical "get out of death free" clause in Ascension, and there's any number of episodes where Jack or John or the entire team goes missing for awhile, to say nothing of the countless near death situations. argosy's Ascending Order takes one such situation ("Tao of Rodney") and turns it into a presumed dead fic, with an Ascension escape clause. Most of the fic is centered on John dealing with his grief and realizing Rodney is still helping out around Atlantis, and it works really well.

I also really enjoy kisahawklin's Cardiogenesis (The Heart of the Matter), which also kills-but-not-really Rodney off. This one takes advantage of the mysterious, poorly understood Ancient technology in Atlantis to bring back Rodney, and then bring back Rodney, in a way that makes you think about personality, individuality, how much you can influence that and how much is set in stone.

Another genre's take on dead-but-not-permanently is ~magic~. Buffy Summers crawled out of her own grave, the Winchesters have died and been brought back any number of times (including one very similar to Buffy's), when Andy Brook's contract with Moloch wasn't up when he died, he got revived... you name a horror/fantasy show, and it's probably messed around with death at least once. For a long time one of my favorite subgenres of Supernatural fic was character death fixes - Anna's, Gabriel's, then Sam's, then Castiel's... for human characters, death fixes are pretty easy. They happen so often in canon, after all! Angels are a little more complicated, and I think no fic shows that better than In His Image, a Gabriel resurrection/redemption fic by Whit Merule where Kali revives him. Since she's from a different pantheon he doesn't come back quite the same, and he spends a long time trying to figure out who he is now, and where he stands when it comes to the Winchesters and his brothers' world-destroying fight.

To end this rec list, here's a fic that plays the trope straight: on admin error {execute contingency plan} is a really excellent Person of Interest fic written by jedibuttercup for Yuletide 2012, that takes a situation where Finch and Reese are presumed dead and says, "Okay, what then?" The Machine is still functioning, after all, and there is someone out there who can do the legwork...

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