If you haven’t heard of The Dead Lesbian Trope, you’re not alone. Since you’ve found yourself in class with me, you’re about to learn exactly what it is! The Dead Lesbian Trope refers to a troubling, recurring theme in media, specificially sitcoms, in which lesbian characters are killed to advance the plot, benefit other characters, and illustrate offensive metaphors geared toward the lesbian or entire LGBTQ community.
This spring, the writers of The 100 sparked outrage online. They built a relationship between Lexa and Clarke, the two main female characters of the show, for 3 entire seasons. The relationship was powerful, dynamic, authentic, and writers hinted that the relationship would remain the headline of the show. However, during sweeps, a time when ratings are calculated for television shows, they made a decision that made millions angry and hurt. In one episode,in the couple finally consummated their relationship. One commercial break later, Lexa opened the door to the bedroom, and was shot by a pointless, stray bullet. She died. The outrage stems from the fact that this instance fit the Dead Lesbian Trope perfectly- writers sent a message to the lesbian and LGBTQ community that it doesn’t matter how well your relationship is built, how established and secure things seem to be, homosexual relationships are destined for tragedy and failure.
The LGBTQ community already suffers from an extreme lack of representation in sitcoms, and to add an element that hurts the community even further is inexcusable. Sitcoms have become a staple in American culture, and writers have a huge opportunity to start conversations of equality and acceptance, rather than tragedy and death. I would hope that they choose the former, but statistics show that the latter happens the overwhelming majority of the time.