Disclaimer: Article contains spoilers of the newest James Bond movie No Time to Die (2021). We are part of a society in which certain fictional characters are admired and respected. We watch their movies and TV shows hoping to understand more about their lives, who they are, and why we feel so close to them. The truth is that at times we need someone else to believe in, someone who will not let us down, and that is what fictional characters are. So, what happens when they die? When their stories are over, do we mourn the death of a fictional character?
I sat at the movie theater last night and watched one of the most famous fictional heroes sacrifice himself and put an end to the James Bond era. 007 will not end as they already introduce the next generation of double o, but he who introduces himself repeating his last name, “Bond. James Bond,” will no longer be a part of the franchise. Although I am not personally a Bond fan, I can understand what it must have been for his followers to watch this character with nearly seven decades of history die.
The professional opinion
Just like I watched James Bond die, I have seen multiple fictional characters die throughout the years. Some of them hurt more than others. They were characters I grew up admiring and respecting. Characters who had a hand in the woman I am growing to become. Derek Shepherd from Grey’s Anatomy, Erin Strauss from Criminal Minds, Lota de Macedo Soares from Reaching for the Moon, and the list goes on and on. The truth is, if you ask your friends, they probably have at least one character they mourned.
According to Robert Rowney, a staff psychiatrist at the Cleveland Clinic, there is a reason for this: “These characters are an escape from some of the stresses of life. Watching these shows allows you to decompress and not have to think about things for a little while. You’re exposed to different aspects of the characters’ lives — their losses, their loves, and their own griefs, everything that goes into the human condition — and you eventually begin to empathize with them and form an attachment. We see some of ourselves in them.”
So, if we create an emotional bond with these characters, wouldn’t it be perfectly normal to mourn them when they are killed off the screen? Wouldn’t it be perfectly normal to try to understand how the fictional world continues without them?
A bond broken
No Time to Die premiered a few weeks ago, breaking a bond — pun intended — of 68 years. Towards the end of the movie, James Bond sacrifices himself because he has been infected with a poison that would kill the love of his life (the newest Bond Girl) and his daughter (who has the same mesmerizing eyes as Daniel Craig). Fans watch as missiles bring an island to extinction, drowning the one hero who has stopped to have a drink in the middle of a battle.
With six different actors, 24 movies, 27 Martinis, 24 cars, 73 kisses, 287 units of alcohol, and 415 kills, James Bond made himself at home in the hearts of millions of fans who have found a way to watch all of the movies over and over again. With such a long history, it is only understandable that his followers take the time to mourn his death and wish there had been at least one more movie by the hand of this man with a license to kill.
As a fan of many different fictional characters, I understand what it feels like to have one of them taken away. We look up to these individuals who were created as an entertainment, a distraction from our day-to-day lives, and they become a part of our lives. We watch episodes and movies over and over again. We attend conventions to meet the actors who have portrayed them. We buy merchandising, cover our rooms in posters, and get tattoos with their faces or referencing them. We create a bond with them, so it is only normal that we mourn the death of a fictional character.
Rest in peace, Bond, James Bond. Your fans will most definitely carry your legacy.