(with thanks to @abigailb, who came up with the term)
Thank you for coming, everyone! I see we have a good range of female characters here tonight – girlfriends of superheroes, wives and daughters from action movies, and secondary characters from television shows…
Now, we’re all very much aware of the primary danger to all of you – the constant threat of “fridging”, the killing of love interests (invariably female) to motivate the hero to revenge. You’d think villains would have realized this course of action invariably leads to their downfall, and stopped, by now, but I guess if they were smart they wouldn’t be villains…
Anyway, tonight we’ll be talking about a disturbing element of that threat that has recently been identified – the fridge magnet.
That’s right – the hero whose every partner, casual hook-up, or anyone he so much as flirts with, ends up dead.
For many years, the primary danger came from James Bond, and we were at least aware of that – but with the rise of movie franchises, and the increased danger presented by a hero appearing in more than one movie, the danger is now everywhere. From Wolverine to Dominic Torretto, the fridge magnet could now be any male lead in any genre of film.
How can you identify a fridge magnet?
He may be a character whose worth is defined, partly or wholly, by the physical things he possesses – and a woman is just another thing to be possessed, used up, and thrown away.
Or he may be a character whom the audience expect to remain miserable and/or damaged, for whom yet another dead female is a simple shorthand to illustrate that misery.
And having identified him, what can you do?
Go to the writer. Remember, only the writer of your film or television show can save you – by redeveloping your hero and you into characters who have a complex, interesting and ongoing relationship. This will satisfy the audience, filling them with emotions and dilemmas, without resorting to the crude, simplistic device of yet another death.
The writer has doomed you to this fate – but they can save you, and become a better writer in the process…