So, fridging. I’m sure we’ve all heard the term, it means the kidnapping, torture or killing of a female character with the express purpose of causing angst for the male hero. It originated in comics. The term was first coined in 1999 by writer Gail Simone in reference to the Green Lantern Comic #54 in which Kyle Rayner (the Green Lantern) comes home to find that Major Force (the bad guy) has killed Kyle’s girlfriend Alex DeWitt and stuffed her into a refrigerator.
There are a whole SLEW of examples across all different types of media. Jenny Calendar in Buffy the Vampire Slayer (although her death was also because she was trying to restore Angelus’ soul…still remains that he killed her and left her for Giles to find in the cruelest way possible), Haley Hotchner in Criminal Minds, just about every “friend or acquaintance” on MacGyver or Matlock – always used as a plot device to jumpstart the plot and provide angst for the respective leads.
It has bled over into more than just killing off a female character. I’ve seen the deaths of POC and gay characters labled as ‘fridging’ (as well they SHOULD be) because their deaths only serve to increase the angst of one or more of the male heroes. (I’m not going to get into the trope of “Gay characters never have happy endings” because that would be a whole entry in and of itself. Also the depressing lack of POC survival in so many things, again a whole entry in and of itself). Ianto’s death in Torchwood, and Boyd’s death on Teen Wolf are perfect examples of this.
An alternative definition that I found, that for the life of me I cannot seem to find again *headdesk* is “the death of a character to provide angst for the main character and push the plot along.” It raised the question then – when is fridging NOT fridging? The whole point of writing something is to create conflict, to cause ‘angst’ for the main characters and often the best way to do that is to ‘go after the person they care about the most’. So when is fridging NOT fridging?
When you write conflict and create angst for the main character – because really, the happy ending is that much sweeter when it’s harder to get there – how do you do it without ‘going after’ (for lack of a better phrasing) the things/people they care about? Their job, their house, their family, their love interest, their pet, etc. At some point one or all of these is going to be at risk. So where do we draw the line between being true to the story and manufacturing angst?
I don’t have the answer to this. It’s precisely why I wanted to post about this. I’m interested in hearing YOUR thoughts. How do you draw that line in the sand? Where do you draw it?
*waves hand* discuss amongst yourselves 😀
Have a great weekend!
The following websites were used as resources: