I recently finished watching the fifth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. **Warning, several spoiler alerts ahead.** She died at the end. Just as Monarch of the Glen season three kills off a main character at the end, just as Torchwood kills off several main characters at the end of season two, just as Serenity kills off one of my favorite characters in a completely unnecessary twist. It's very depressing, to say the least.
It's my second to least favorite plot device. If a story has reached a point where characters being in immense danger is no longer extreme enough, and the only next step is their death, does that mean that the story is more real, or just that the author(s) made a wrong turn? I don't think I have it in me to kill one of my main characters in a novel. Does that make me a weak writer?
Worse yet, I know from my helpful Netflix that Buffy will come back. That's my all-time least favorite plot device—the trickery that the character is well and truly dead, buried, headstone and casket and the whole works, then miraculously returns from the grave. It's one thing to make the readers think the person died (in fact, it's one of the key steps of Campbell's Journey of a Hero), but to carry through with the death, then resurrect the character is cheap. It takes everything you've believed in before—the suspension of disbelief to fall into the author's world—and cheapens it down to a parlor trick. A "oh, you had a bad dream, and none of it really happened, Dorothy" moment.
Yeah, I never cared for the Wizard of Oz either, not even as a kid.