The Walking Dead and A Game of Thrones are two epic length stories that deal with worst of humanity, and zombies and dragons.
Both were recently transformed into wildly successful television series from their original text.
Game of Thrones is the title of the first book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R. R. Martin with four following volumes already printed and two more to come. The Walking Dead is an ongoing comic series with 15 volumes printed, each about 6 – 8 issues, with single issues released monthly or biweekly.
Over the past few years I’ve been catching up with each monster series and ravenously reading hundreds and hundreds of pages about zombies, magic and all things that make me the nerd that I am.
The most important thing about these stories. and ones like them, comes from the fact that the fantasy elements take a second stage to the human elements of the story. Another, more ‘real’, example of this is The Wire.
Stories that deal with people like The Wire, Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead show the fragility of humanity and create a world like our own the inevitably goes on. The world is uncertainty and that’s why these are the best stories.
Sure reading about thousands of zombies sliced in half by a hatchet rocks, but the gripping story about person carrying the blade and the fact that every page turn could mean the end for your favorite person in the story keeps you buying each novel.
Now in most stories the hero isn’t going to die. We know this because the story would fall apart and there would be no happy ending. Some argue that stories like The Walking Dead go on and on to exploit fans and keep selling books, but each of these stories has an end and, believe me, they do kill a lot of your favorite characters.
That is where these three differ and why they succeed on such an incredible level.
No one is safe in these stories.
I have actually thrown books down, numerous times, when someone meets their end and said that I would never read another page and that I wished I never started them.
But you know what happens? I walk over a few seconds later, check to make sure no one saw me rage out and then keep reading.
I don’t know many stories like this where the conflict rises to such a point where even the character who as been in the story for volume after volume simply fades away, but it shows that these are the best types of stories because they are real.
Not in the sense that zombies walk the Earth (if only!), but that the conflict between people is more dangerous than anything in the wilderness.
In television there is so much riding on ratings and ads that no one will write in the death of a major character. The Walking Dead TV series strays from the graphic novel story line the do maintain that element of no one is safe, which I believe generates their success.
The same applies to movies, you rarely see a main character in real danger mid-story because it affects the possibility of a sequel, which in today’s day and age is possible for any movie.
People die in The Wire, Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead and it’s that uncertainty that draws people in and keeps them reading even if their favorite character dies.