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Elizabeth Sandifer

Elizabeth Sandifer created Eruditorum Press. She’s not really sure why she did that, and she apologizes for the inconvenience. She currently writes Last War in Albion, a history of the magical war between Alan Moore and Grant Morrison. She used to write TARDIS Eruditorum, a history of Britain told through the lens of a ropey sci-fi series. She also wrote Neoreaction a Basilisk, writes comics these days, and has ADHD so will probably just randomly write some other shit sooner or later. Support Elizabeth on Patreon.


  1. Alex Antonijevic
    March 4, 2019 @ 10:30 am

    Maybe the show should’ve kept some straight white men around for the purpose of fridging, since they are the only people that can be fridged without comment, these days. But if the show forgoes them entirely, any character they kill off is going to cause an outcry.


    • Kim
      March 4, 2019 @ 11:27 am

      Well, that’s a perfect excuse to do away with fridging altogether then, isn’t it? As it’s a tired trope which speaks to lazy storytelling and is often used instead of much more effective alternatives I, personally, will be glad to see it gone.

      Also, first time commenting here! Don’t know why it’s taken me so long – I’ve been lurking since about 2014. Love the site, El, thank you so much for it!


      • kevin merchant
        March 4, 2019 @ 1:09 pm

        How do you kill off a character in Dr Who without invoking the “Fridging” trope? Characters have always died in Dr Who and most of them have a metaphorical target on their back. How do you make death “meaningfull”. It definitely seems to be a problem in the more diverse Who. Which I like BTW (ie more diverse)


        • MattM
          March 5, 2019 @ 10:54 am

          A character dying isn’t automatically a fridging (though some people like to claim it is!). A fridging is where the sole reason for the character’s death is to motivate the main character.


    • Elizabeth Sandifer
      March 4, 2019 @ 1:24 pm

      I’m trying to think of shows that have fridged straight white men. Whedon has done it occasionally—Doyle in Angel, and I guess you could argue Walsh in Serenity, though none of the angst consequences of that decision ever come up.

      Oh, Killing Eve totally fridged a straight white guy. Game of Thrones has fridged several, though it is of course disproportionately a show about straight white guys.

      But past that? As I think through shows I’ve watched lately, the fridgings don’t generally come for straight white guys. Which badly aggravates the existing disparities of representation in media.


      • mx_mond
        March 4, 2019 @ 1:35 pm

        “Oh, Killing Eve totally fridged a straight white guy”

        If you mean Bill, then he wasn’t straight.


        • Elizabeth Sandifer
          March 4, 2019 @ 1:54 pm

          Oh right, they totally established his bisexuality moments before killing him. 😡


          • TomeDeaf
            March 4, 2019 @ 5:40 pm

            It’s in the same episode, but not quite moments before, it’s part of the plot point of “why he knows Berlin so well”, and they also take pains to have his wife and baby in the episode – so I’d say it’s more of a holistic (and slightly clunky) “make this guy more sympathetic by adding more characterisation/home life/history” before offing him rather than specifically cynically playing the bi card.

            And there’s two (brilliantly written) bi leads, so it’s hard for me to be too angry at the show on that front.

          • David Anderson
            March 7, 2019 @ 2:07 pm

            Chibnall is almost certainly trying to cast Jodie Comer as Missy.

      • Tom B
        March 4, 2019 @ 6:52 pm

        JMS fridged some straight white men on Babylon 5. Marcus was one, they had the Starfury pilot on for the 2nd season just so they could have the Shadows eventually kill him. You could argue that Sheridan was fridged, but that turned out to be a Princess Bride type thing where he was only mostly dead.


        • Aylwin
          March 4, 2019 @ 10:17 pm

          “I’m getting better!”

          I think the pilot (Keffer) was killed off because he had only been included in the first place at the behest of management, plus the actor was a pillock. That was the rumour anyway.

          And surely it wasn’t a fridging in any case, because no one gave a toss he was dead.


          • Roderick T. Long
            March 12, 2019 @ 10:32 pm

            JMS has indeed said explicitly that Keffer was added at the behest of management, because they wanted a hotshot pilot character (whereas JMS found such characters tiresome). While I don’t know what the actor was like, JMS has also said he was planning to kill off Keffer from the start, and thus presumably before the role was even cast.

            That said, JMS has occasionally fibbed about the reasons for an actor leaving the show (most notably Michael O’Hare).

      • kevin merchant
        March 5, 2019 @ 8:46 am

        The best fridging of a straight white male was the opening scene of Buffy the Vampire first episode


        • Przemek
          March 5, 2019 @ 9:52 am

          Was that fridging? Aren’t we using the term too loosely here? I don’t recall that guy causing anybody any angst or driving the plot of more than one episode…


      • Leslie L
        March 6, 2019 @ 3:27 pm

        The first thing that came to mind was Lionel Luther from Smallville, which happened a few episodes before the finale for a season 7.

        That was almost 11 years ago.


      • AG
        March 6, 2019 @ 8:12 pm

        It’s easy enough to find examples. It’s literally what TvTropes is for.
        (Although, Doctor Who is basically like a slasher for most of their episodes, so it’s got quite the straight white guy body count already)

        -Arrow begins by fridging the titular character’s Dad.
        -The cop protagonist of Psycho-Pass has his partner fridged.
        -Jason Todd
        -Inigo Montoya’s father
        -If Doyle is being counted, then Qui-gon Jinn
        -Alias fridges their lady spy protagonist’s fiance. Same for Nikita.
        -Damages has two lady protagonists whose love interests do not fare well at all
        -How to Get Away With Murder centers around the murder of the protagonist’s husband
        -BtVS also fridged Xander’s friend Jesse in the pilot.
        -Assassin’s Creed II fridges their protagonist’s father and brothers. Where is the mother? ¯_(ツ)_/¯
        -Uncle Ben
        -Hamlet’s dad
        -Professor X is fridged for Logan’s manpain in Logan
        -The 1990 Flash kills Barry’s cop brother
        -The current Flash show fridged Caitlin Snow’s boyfriend/husband Ronnie Raymond twice!
        -Tifa Lockhart loses her father to Sephiroth in FF7
        -Apparently, older TV procedurals like MacGyver and Walker Texas Ranger had a rolodex of “old friends” who kick off the episode plots by getting fridged.
        -Olivia’s Dunham’s boyfriend was fridged in Fringe. Myka Bering on Warehouse 13 gets the same.
        -Once Upon a Time gives a fridged boyfriend as the backstory for their Evil Queen (whose redemption arc is a core part of the show). One of her new loves also gets fridged in later seasons.


        • TomeDeaf
          March 6, 2019 @ 11:01 pm

          Can we count Hamlet’s and Inigo’s fathers if they don’t appear or die on screen/stage? I thought that was very much part of the fridging trope – that they are introduced only to get killed off.

          Maybe there’s more of an argument for old King Hamlet, who is at least in the play if only as a ghost.


          • AG
            March 7, 2019 @ 9:55 pm

            Some of the examples given above my post don’t fit the “only introduced to get killed off” definition. Some of them are regulars/recurring. Neither are most of the most infamous examples of women, including the trope namer.

            It’s more important that they function as a source of angst for someone else. Not every Spiderman or Batman story shows the death of their parental figures.

          • Voord 99
            March 17, 2019 @ 8:03 am

            I’m coming in a bit late to this, but I tend to see the gendered aspect of fridging as important to it being fridging in the first place.

            One can definitely extend it to gay, trans, ethnic minorities, etc., to head that reasonable objection off. But even there it might be analytically (as distinct from morally) useful to make some distinctions. The death of Tara on BTVS is definitely an instance of a terrible anti-gay trope that shares territory with fridging. But the fact that the character motivated is Willow puts it a little out of the territory of fridging for me. (While still terrible!)

            But can you fridge a straight white man without stretching the definition of fridging beyond its usefulness? I’m very hesitant to say that — or at any rate I think it would take some doing. Take Uncle Ben in Spider-Man — let’s specifically take Sam Raimi’s Uncle Ben. Isn’t he a bit too much of a patriarchal voice of authority who provides the film with its moral center for one really to feel that this is fridging? (I pick that Uncle Ben, because there are things that I like about that version, mostly that he’s uncompromisingly working-class.)

            In general, I think fridging is like the Bechdel test. One of the main things that it tells you is obvious but still important: we don’t have enough stories with female (gay, trans, ethnic minority, etc.) protagonists. Because it’s trivially easy for stories to pass the Bechdel test elegantly if they have female protagonists, but quite hard otherwise, because an awful lot of talk in stories is necessarily talk that includes or is about the protagonist. Similarly, things that happen in stories are going to be framed in terms of how they emotionally affect the protagonist.

            It is therefore quite impressive that the most recent series of Doctor Who managed to have a fridging in a show with a female protagonist. That takes effort.

          • Elizabeth Sandifer
            March 17, 2019 @ 1:13 pm

            looks at the portion of the essay on The Six Thatchers she’s already written

            Have you been reading my drafts? Cause damn. Well-anticipated.

          • Voord 99
            March 17, 2019 @ 4:04 pm

            Thank you. That’s very nice to hear.

  2. MattM
    March 4, 2019 @ 12:21 pm

    “The thing that cuts against this is Patrick Ness, who never appeared anything less than thrilled to try his hand at the Doctor Who universe”

    Did he, though? I got the feeling that he was excited to have his own television show, but had to fit it in as ‘a Doctor Who spinoff’. Apart from the Doctor’s cameo in the first episode and the Weeping Angels shoved into the finale, there seems to be pretty much no engagement with Doctor Who in any way, shape or form. Which is a big problem given that it was marketed as a Doctor Who spinoff.


    • TomeDeaf
      March 4, 2019 @ 5:43 pm

      Yeah, they invited him in to write a Doctor Who episode, and he got excited at the Coal Hill spin-off possibility also suggested as it chimed with something he’d wanted to write anyway (IIRC).

      There are a few other Who tidbits here and there – references to Zygons, UNIT, and the like. But yeah, not much else.


  3. Tom B
    March 4, 2019 @ 6:58 pm

    I wouldn’t have minded a second season just to see what Ness had planned with an Angel civil war. I could easily see it being its own version of a Time War as allies of the Angels on each side are sent back in time, in this case possibly one side of Angels sending their own allies back in order to have them set things up to stop plans the Angels on the other side are carrying out.

    Certainly, with hindsight we’d have been better off if Ness had given this idea to Chibnell to use for his Doctor Who series and in exchange Class got Tim Shaw.


    • Sleepyscholar
      March 5, 2019 @ 2:44 am

      For some reason (can’t imagine why) I wasn’t paying that much attention at the end of The Lost. How did you know it was an Angel civil war? Did someone say?

      Incidentally spooky PS: I only yesterday downloaded the album Amends, by Them Are Us Too, whose Cash Askew passed away in the Ghost Ship fire. I had never heard of either until two days ago.


      • TomeDeaf
        March 5, 2019 @ 10:14 am

        Patrick Ness tweeted that that’s what Series 2 would have included, yeah.


        • FezofRassilon
          March 6, 2019 @ 6:17 pm

          Why do all the aliens want to have their civil wars at Coal Hill School?


  4. Aylwin
    March 4, 2019 @ 10:27 pm

    Hey, was “Politboro” in the strapline always spelt that way? Have I just not noticed before?


  5. Przemek
    March 5, 2019 @ 9:58 am

    All I’ve got to say about “The Lost” is that I’m glad we can finally go back to the good stuff on EP. Well, at least until we get to S11…

    “And this is also one of the things that hobbles the Chibnall era—for all its commitment to diversity, it’s still dominated by white guys.”

    My main problem with the Chibnall era is the fact that it’s dominated by one particular white guy.

    Also, apparently “Class” is going to Big Finish now because of course it is. This feels like scraping the bottom of the barrel, even for BF…


    • Citizen Alan
      March 15, 2019 @ 2:10 am

      I am suddenly giggling over the idea that 10 or 20 year from now, the actors from Class will still be doing BF stories in which they gamely try to pass themselves off as high school students despite having gravelly middle-aged voices.


  6. Daru
    March 6, 2019 @ 6:10 am

    Well out with a self-destructive whimper went Class. Really a shame. Totally agree regarding the dominance of white males behind camera – I feel so bored of storytelling coming from this template now. So bored.

    It did feel genuinely good at the time when Jodie was cast, but I know underneath I still had in the whole lead up to series 11 a nagging feeling of dissatisfaction (that I still did my best to not take into the series) at the the lead writer and producer both being white men.

    Watched the hell out of Russian Doll recently, and really dug the fact that the lead female actor was also one of the creators, a writer, director and producer, as well as there being a large number of other women involved. I could feel it and hear it.


    • TomeDeaf
      March 6, 2019 @ 5:13 pm

      Yes! Or Fleabag, or Killing Eve, or A Discovery of Witches, or Sex Education…


      • Daru
        March 10, 2019 @ 10:53 am

        Absolutely! I still need to watch Fleabag and Killing Eve, but it is SO GOOD that those shows like others you list have women at the forefront in both the camera and the creation. there are many templates now on how to have real diverse voices and creators involved, rather than (sadly) like Chibnall did in a way that has felt somewhat hollow.


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