Grey’s Anatomy aired its 283rd episode recently from season 13 and yet I’m still stuck on season 11 after the episode in which Shonda Rhimes killed McDreamy (Derek Shepherd played by Patrick Dempsey). 

I was simply not ready for it. I felt as if I needed some time to accept things before I was able to watch again without despising Rhimes.  

I’m still stuck on Rayna James being gone and can’t decide what to do. Watch the new episodes or move on to attach myself to characters from another show? 

It’s an actual dilemma!

That may sound peculiar, but for television fanatics out there, it makes total sense.

Why DO we care so much about TV characters? 

What does it mean when we concern ourselves with what happens to a fictional character? 

How is it possible to so quickly empathize when we know these characters are not real? 

Well, I asked those same questions myself when I put off watching The Walking Dead after reading an article that told me Glenn (Steven Yeun) died.

Here’s what came up:

Grey’s Anatomy aired its 283rd episode recently from season 13 and yet I’m still stuck on season 11 after the episode in which Shonda Rhimes killed McDreamy (Derek Shepherd played by Patrick Dempsey). 

I was simply not ready for it. I felt as if I needed some time to accept things before I was able to watch again without despising Rhimes.  

I’m still stuck on Rayna James being gone and can’t decide what to do. Watch the new episodes or move on to attach myself to characters from another show? 

It’s an actual dilemma!

That may sound peculiar, but for television fanatics out there, it makes total sense.

Why DO we care so much about TV characters? 

What does it mean when we concern ourselves with what happens to a fictional character? 

How is it possible to so quickly empathize when we know these characters are not real? 

Well, I asked those same questions myself when I put off watching The Walking Dead after reading an article that told me Glenn (Steven Yeun) died.

Here’s what came up:

Copyright 2016-2017 Global Media Fusion, Inc.

Copyright 2016-2017 Global Media Fusion, Inc.

Pitch@MovieHatch.com

New York - Los Angeles

London - Austin

Pitch@MovieHatch.com

New York - Los Angeles

London - Austin

How do TV writers capture a viewer’s emotions?  

More importantly, how do they do it in a fashion that gets viewers hooked to such an extent that when a character pass away or leave the series, it becomes a major media event and a focal part of a viewer's life.

Every now and then a character really resonates with audiences and that character transcends the show itself, such as John Snow, Rayna James, McDreamy and Don Draper among so many others.

Even we – as viewers - are left wondering how our emotions could be so strong for a fictional character.  

This is nothing new. In fact, it has gone on since the beginning of storytelling.  

For instance, the 1970’s TV audiences were crushed when Edith Bunker died or when J.R. Ewing was shot.  

Viewers went wild and it was all people could talk about for months and months.  

How do TV writers capture a viewer’s emotions?  

More importantly, how do they do it in a fashion that gets viewers hooked to such an extent that when a character pass away or leave the series, it becomes a major media event and a focal part of a viewer's life.

Every now and then a character really resonates with audiences and that character transcends the show itself, such as John Snow, Rayna James, McDreamy and Don Draper among so many others.

Even we – as viewers - are left wondering how our emotions could be so strong for a fictional character.  

This is nothing new. In fact, it has gone on since the beginning of storytelling.  

For instance, the 1970’s TV audiences were crushed when Edith Bunker died or when J.R. Ewing was shot.  

Viewers went wild and it was all people could talk about for months and months.  

Why we care so much for TV Characters

Why we care so much for TV Characters

In the 1980’s the last episode of M.A.S.H brought everyone to tears…  people mourned all the characters and felt a personal loss.  

The late 1990’s brought Ally McBeal when woman across the country united and felt supported for her ability to make it acceptable to have their own hidden similar thoughts in the workplace.  

In the early 2000’s, it was the joy of when Rachel and Ross finally got back together on Friends.  Now we unite for This Is Us or Game of Thrones or the Americans or Scandal.

Were you shocked to find out Rebecca (This Is Us – Mandy Moore) knew Randall's father was alive all those years?

Were you truly depressed when Lane Pryce (Mad Men) commits suicide?

How many of you were disappointed when Erin (Chicago PD) turned back to alcohol and drugs to deal with her problems?

Wasn’t it a relief when they found out that Dimitri (Madam Secretary) was really alive?

How did you feel for Mike Ross (Suits) when Rachelle said yes to his marriage proposal?

In the 1980’s the last episode of M.A.S.H brought everyone to tears…  people mourned all the characters and felt a personal loss.  

The late 1990’s brought Ally McBeal when woman across the country united and felt supported for her ability to make it acceptable to have their own hidden similar thoughts in the workplace.  

In the early 2000’s, it was the joy of when Rachel and Ross finally got back together on Friends.  Now we unite for This Is Us or Game of Thrones or the Americans or Scandal.

Were you shocked to find out Rebecca (This Is Us – Mandy Moore) knew Randall's father was alive all those years?

Were you truly depressed when Lane Pryce (Mad Men) commits suicide?

How many of you were disappointed when Erin (Chicago PD) turned back to alcohol and drugs to deal with her problems?

Wasn’t it a relief when they found out that Dimitri (Madam Secretary) was really alive?

How did you feel for Mike Ross (Suits) when Rachelle said yes to his marriage proposal?

We seek

Every person is looking for something or someone. 

It could be love, life purpose, a friend, family or career fulfillment. 

This is exactly what TV characters are created on. Each TV character is always in search of something or someone… just like real people. 

In the TV program Person of Interest, John Reese (Jim Caviezel) lost his purpose when he found that the woman he loved died, until a billionaire found him and gave him a new reason to live. 

Viewers have a deep need to see characters that represent themselves in society. 

People want to see characters that embody real life conflicts – heartbreaks, pursuit of happiness, anxiety, love.  OR real life ambitions and dreams – love, wealth, beauty success.

Remember Joey Potter (Katie Holmes) from Dawson’s Creek? 

She is Dawson’s best friend who has been in love with him since they were kids. She came from an underprivileged family. Later in the series, she began a life outside of Capeside after earning the valedictorian award in high school.  

Her struggles, desires and needs reflect a true representation of what many viewers also experience.

Through the characters, viewers are able to get perspective on how to achieve what they want, or how to find that thing they’re longing for. 

It gives them hope that something better is going to happen, and sometimes, it gives them a release for pent up frustration or pain of their own. 

We seek

Every person is looking for something or someone. 

It could be love, life purpose, a friend, family or career fulfillment. 

This is exactly what TV characters are created on. Each TV character is always in search of something or someone… just like real people. 

In the TV program Person of Interest, John Reese (Jim Caviezel) lost his purpose when he found that the woman he loved died, until a billionaire found him and gave him a new reason to live. 

Viewers have a deep need to see characters that represent themselves in society. 

People want to see characters that embody real life conflicts – heartbreaks, pursuit of happiness, anxiety, love.  OR real life ambitions and dreams – love, wealth, beauty success.

Remember Joey Potter (Katie Holmes) from Dawson’s Creek? 

She is Dawson’s best friend who has been in love with him since they were kids. She came from an underprivileged family. Later in the series, she began a life outside of Capeside after earning the valedictorian award in high school.  

Her struggles, desires and needs reflect a true representation of what many viewers also experience.

Through the characters, viewers are able to get perspective on how to achieve what they want, or how to find that thing they’re longing for. 

It gives them hope that something better is going to happen, and sometimes, it gives them a release for pent up frustration or pain of their own. 

We empathize

Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of a character. 

Some studies explained that observing another person’s emotional state activates parts of the neuronal network involved in processing that same state. 

It’s easy for some people to develop affection for a certain character because they can relate to its dilemma and life struggles. 

They are able to identify themselves with these TV characters.  

Just like viewers were able to relate to Lucas Scott (Chad Michael Murray) from One Tree Hill as he tried to fit in with the basketball team where his stepbrother is the team captain.  

Or to Paige Matthews (Rose McGowan) from Charmed as she gets to know the Halliwells and decides to embrace a family she barely knew anything about. 

To some extent, characters on television provide viewers with a feeling of belongingness and that they are not alone.

We empathize

Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of a character. 

Some studies explained that observing another person’s emotional state activates parts of the neuronal network involved in processing that same state. 

It’s easy for some people to develop affection for a certain character because they can relate to its dilemma and life struggles. 

They are able to identify themselves with these TV characters.  

Just like viewers were able to relate to Lucas Scott (Chad Michael Murray) from One Tree Hill as he tried to fit in with the basketball team where his stepbrother is the team captain.  

Or to Paige Matthews (Rose McGowan) from Charmed as she gets to know the Halliwells and decides to embrace a family she barely knew anything about. 

To some extent, characters on television provide viewers with a feeling of belongingness and that they are not alone.

BLOG

BLOG

Why We Care So

Much for 

TV Characters

Why We Care So

Much for 

TV Characters

Join us on social media:

www.Facebook.com/MovieHatch

www.Twitter.com/MovieHatch

www.instagram.com/MovieHatch

    

It’s not fair not to share!

Please share this blog with your friends.

 

Want to see some of our other blogs?

Why We Care So Much for TV Characters

Pitching Do's and Don'ts

Confidence for Creative People

The Film & TV Process

Join us on social media:

www.Facebook.com/MovieHatch

www.Twitter.com/MovieHatch

www.instagram.com/MovieHatch

    

It’s not fair not to share!

Please share this blog with your friends.

 

Want to see some of our other blogs?

Why We Care So Much for TV Characters

Pitching Do's and Don'ts

Confidence for Creative People

The Film & TV Process

Every now and then a character resonates so much it transcends the show itself

Every now and then a character resonates so much it transcends the show itself

How is it possible to become so attached to characters we know are not real?

How is it possible to become so attached to characters we know are not real?

Our moral compass demands that characters are given justice in TV shows

Our moral compass demands that characters are given justice in TV shows

We need

Our moral brain is another reason why we care so much about what happens to these characters. 

We get so caught up with the plot, and can relate to the program in real life, that it becomes natural for us to demand the right endings. 

We need to see justice served and fairness achieved, just as in real life. 

This explains why we tried so hard to find evidence that Jon Snow (Kit Harington), from Game of Thrones will be alive in season 6. 

This is the reason why we were aghast when Stefan Salvatore’s heart (Paul Wesley) from The Vampire Diaries was ripped right from his chest as Caroline (Candice King) watched his life drain from his body. 

In short, we don’t just develop an emotional connection to the characters; our moral sense also demands that these characters are given justice and are treated right.

There are people who watch TV to unwind and get away from the real world for a short 30-60 minutes. 

It’s surprising to discover that it’s when people care so much about TV characters - even though they are not real – that this is when they are sometimes most connected to the real world. 

We need

Our moral brain is another reason why we care so much about what happens to these characters. 

We get so caught up with the plot, and can relate to the program in real life, that it becomes natural for us to demand the right endings. 

We need to see justice served and fairness achieved, just as in real life. 

This explains why we tried so hard to find evidence that Jon Snow (Kit Harington), from Game of Thrones will be alive in season 6. 

This is the reason why we were aghast when Stefan Salvatore’s heart (Paul Wesley) from The Vampire Diaries was ripped right from his chest as Caroline (Candice King) watched his life drain from his body. 

In short, we don’t just develop an emotional connection to the characters; our moral sense also demands that these characters are given justice and are treated right.

There are people who watch TV to unwind and get away from the real world for a short 30-60 minutes. 

It’s surprising to discover that it’s when people care so much about TV characters - even though they are not real – that this is when they are sometimes most connected to the real world. 

Viewers feel for these characters and they relate to these characters because it reflects their own personal desires and needs.  

People demand the same fairness in real life to happen to those characters that they’ve invested so much time into getting to know. 

In creating a television series, it’s important for screenwriters to think about these attributes and incorporate them in their work. 

Producers and writers need to examine their own scripts, or projects, and ask themselves if their characters fill those human needs. 

Creating fictional characters with these elements is a sure-fire path to a successful TV program. 

Making sure they are multi-dimensional, relatable, contradictory, unexpected and authentic is the road to winning the hearts of viewers.

Viewers feel for these characters and they relate to these characters because it reflects their own personal desires and needs.  

People demand the same fairness in real life to happen to those characters that they’ve invested so much time into getting to know. 

In creating a television series, it’s important for screenwriters to think about these attributes and incorporate them in their work. 

Producers and writers need to examine their own scripts, or projects, and ask themselves if their characters fill those human needs. 

Creating fictional characters with these elements is a sure-fire path to a successful TV program. 

Making sure they are multi-dimensional, relatable, contradictory, unexpected and authentic is the road to winning the hearts of viewers.