R.I.P. Mark Darcy. 10 Literary Characters Who Died too Soon

When the news broke about the fate of Bridget Jones’ husband, Mark Darcy, in Helen Fielding’s new book Mad About the Boy, I was crushed. I still don’t know if I’m going to read it. It’s not the first time this has happened to me – I may have mentioned this before, but five years later I am still traumatized by the death of Marian at the end of season two of BBC’s Robin Hood. *sigh*

As a little literary therapy I thought I’d put together a list of some other characters we were sad to see go. Of course, I could fill half this list with characters from the Harry Potter series, but I thought that in order to avoid spoilers from new titles, I’d reach back in time to some older classics and the characters we had to let go.


Spoiler alert: although these are well-known classics, if they’re on your reading list you may want to avert your eyes to avoid discovering who meets their untimely death.


Lord of the Flies

By William Golding


Poor Piggy is a social misfit on the island from day one. Overweight with poor eyesight, he is mocked by the other boys and in the book’s climactic scene, he falls victim to Jack’s gang who have crossed the line into all-out savagery.


The Fellowship of the Ring

By J.R.R. Tolkien


Oh, Boromir. We know you strayed a bit from the straight and narrow in the end and tried to steal the ring from Frodo, but who could blame you? You’re a human after all and we’re notorious for our weak character among those of Middle Earth. At least you redeemed yourself in your final moments.


A Game of Thrones

By George R.R. Martin

Ned Stark

Sean Bean, what is it about you? You really need to learn to avoid sharp objects. This may be a newer title, but unless you’ve been living under a rock you know that the shocking death of Ned Stark was one of the first signs that George R.R. Martin had no intention of going easy on us. And he has stayed true to form ever since. This is one author who can never be accused of being predictable.


Jane Eyre

By Charlotte Bronte

Helen Burns

The death of a child is always heartbreaking. Watching the decline of Jane’s only friend in the deplorable conditions of their boarding school is all the more painful when you think that two of Charlotte Bronte’s own sisters died in similar circumstances. The Bronte sisters’ tragic ends in the care of a cruel headmaster were the inspiration for her portrayal of the kind-hearted Helen.


Curtain: Poirot’s Last Case

By Agatha Christie

Hercule Poirot

Well, maybe ‘too soon’ is not the right way to describe this arrogantly lovable detective’s death. He did live to a ripe old age, and accomplished a lot, so it shouldn’t have come as a surprise.  But despite his increasing years, even his creator, Agatha Christie seemed reluctant to let him go. Although she wrote Poirot’s death years earlier, she had it locked in a safe, only to be published when she knew she could write no more.


The Grapes Of Wrath

By John Steinbeck

Granma and Granpa Joad

As the Joad family sets off on their trip from Oklahoma to California, Granpa just isn’t ready to leave the land behind. He passes away on the first day of their journey. Later on during the voyage, Granma, who seemed to lose hope after the death of her husband, succumbs to the heat and poor conditions on the road.


Of Mice And Men

By John Steinbeck

Lennie is a mentally handicapped giant of a man who doesn’t know his own strength and the best friend of George. But when Lennie’s brute strength and limited mental capacities converge with tragic consequences, George knows what he must do to save his friend from a painful death by lynching.


A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

By Betty Smith

Johnny Nolan

Years of hard drinking and poverty take their toll on the Nolan family patriarch and the news of another baby on the way sends him spiraling into depression. His weakened state is no match for the pneumonia that tragically ends his sad life on Christmas day.


The Outsiders

By S. E. Hinton


When Ponyboy and his best friend, Johnny get caught up in gang violence, Johnny’s unthinking action leads to dire consequences. In the end, Johnny redeems himself and dies a hero, but the toll his death takes on his friends has some brutal ramifications.

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