Female characters are being written off TV shows as they were disposable, no matter how important they are for the show. For a variety of reasons, like giving the male lead motivation or letting the actress go for budgetary reasons, the pile of losses is big.
1) ABBIE MILLS (SLEEPY HOLLOW)
On Sleepy Hollow, the lead female character, Abbie Mills, played by Nicole Beharie, was murdered by the end of third season.
The truth about Nicole’s departure it’s not clear, though.
The Hollywood Reporter stated that Nicole “had been unhappy and actively was trying to exit the series for quite some time”. After the show’s renewal Fox’s CEO affirmed: “It was not a decision that we wanted to make initially. We ended up being put in a situation where that was a decision that needed to be made”.
On the other hand, her character was being overshadowed for quite a while, which even started the trend #abbiemillsdeservesbetter.
Therefore, underutilizing her character, that was a co-lead, giving her less screen time and secondary storylines, especially to highlight the male co-lead, demonstrate how the sexism took over.
Besides that, her character died making a sacrifice for the team, which of course includes the male lead. With Abbie’s death Crane is motivated to go to Washington D.C and find the next witness.
2) LAUREL LANCE (ARROW)
Arrow too decided to kill off one of the main cast. The murder of Black Canary (Katy Cassidy) left many fans angry, since the character is the Green Arrow’s romantic interest in the comics and it was supposed to be the lead female.
The showrunner stated that “The reason to [kill Laurel off] is it is big. It is bold. It does move the show forward. It does impact all of our characters.”
The problem is that, when they started the season with someone in the grave, they didn’t know who would’ve end up being dead. That shows that they wasn’t planning on killing Laurel before and it didn’t have to be her, particularly.
“Arrow Executive Producer Wendy Mericle said of who is in the grave, ‘We don’t necessarily know who it is right now. We’re still planning out the whole season, but we want it, obviously, to have resonance, and if it doesn’t mean anything to the characters, it won’t to the audience either.'”
Another factor that enraged fans, was Laurel’s dying scene, where she didn’t have a chance to say goodbye to her father, but had enough time to support Oliver and Felicity’s love.
So, not only Laurel had to die to give Oliver the anger needed to fight the big bad of the season, she used her last minutes of life to incentivize him to pursue another woman.
In fact, it wasn’t the first time Arrow put women in refrigerators. Since the beginning of the series this plot device is used to give Oliver depth and to form his new and better character. You can count on Arrow’s refrigerator: Shado, Moira, Sara, Thea and now Laurel, all of them dead for the development of the male lead.
3) CAMILLE O’CONNELL (THE ORIGINALS)
The Originals was another TV show that decided to kill off female characters. Camille O’Connell (Leah Pipes) was a psychologist, bartender and a moral compass to Klaus. Since the pilot she was part of the main cast and also a love interest for Klaus.
According to the showrunner, they decided to kill Cami in the third season, and built her path towards her true death. The actress, as well, stated that she was warned about her character potentially dying.
The death, in this case, at least has been planned for some time, but that doesn’t change the fact that her death came to push the male lead (Klaus) forward.
In her last moments she talked to Klaus about what she meant to him, about dying and about how he was, actually, good. The way Cami was murdered and the grieve Klaus endured persuade him to finish the war against his enemies and contributed enormously to his character growth.
4) DAVINA CLAIRE (THE ORIGINALS)
The same can be said about Davina Claire (Danielle Campbell), also from The Originals. Although Davina was the main witch of the show since the first season, she died for the purpose of giving a male character (Marcel) motivation to fight the Mikaelsons.
In this case, Marcel is not the male lead, but a very important part of the main cast and he often antagonizes with the Mikaelsons to protect the community of vampires, while, for the Mikaelsons, family is all that matters.
Consequently, Marcel occasionally acts as the hero, fighting against the powerful family.
This time, though, he was at the family’s side, therefore a strong reason to initiate his anger was needed. Davina was, since the beginning, Marcel’s protégée and the impact of her death, especially since the killer was a Mikaelson, would drive the plot forward.
5) LEXA (THE 100)
Lexa (Alycia Debnam-Carey), even though wasn’t a lead on the show, has grown into a beloved character.
The controversy about her death was because the character became not only a fan favorite but also a symbol for LGBT representation. Moreover, the way the character died was another factor for the rage among fans, since she died shot by mistake, after having just experienced some happiness in the midst of all the chaos of the war.
The character were a leader, a fighter, and dying in battle would be the death she deserved.
6) ROSALIND PRICE (AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D)
Rosalind was a minor character in Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. The problem is that her character was, seemingly, created to be a “woman in refrigerator”.
She was introduced as a powerful women, in a high position. Since the beginning, Coulson was dazzled by her and her development in the show happened to lead the two into a romantic relationship. The romance, however, ended abruptly by her murder.
Coulson gained the motivation needed to end Ward and Hydra.
BONUS: KATE BECKETT (CASTLE)
ABC Network announced in April that, for budgetary reasons, Stana Katic and Tamala Jones wouldn’t return for a possible ninth season.
After eight years being the female lead of the show, the network didn’t even offer Katic the chance to negotiate a comeback. When it came to reducing costs, the women, including the lead, were the first to get cut.
The decision of cutting off Katic received serious backlash from the fans, who even initiated a campaign for the show to be canceled, with #CancelCastle, #NoStanaNoCastle and #NoBeckettNoShow among the hashtags that were used in Twitter.
The network, though, continued the contracts negotiations, announcing that Nathan Fillion, Seamus Dever and Jon Huertas would all comeback for the possible new season. Considering the news reported by the sites TVLine, Deadline and TV By The Numbers, it looked like the renew was a sure thing, at least for a final season.
At the end, though, the show was canceled.
If it wasn’t, the likely ending would be her death and the ninth season would contemplate a more developed Castle, changed by the tragedy. Also, her death would be perfect to change the whole dynamic of the show, giving the male lead all the screen time.