Tuesday, December 29, 2009

IN MEMORIAM -- FICTIONAL FRIENDS WE'VE LOST THIS YEAR

As 2009 draws to a close, it's a fitting time to remember the loved ones we've lost this year. Whether it's the faceless billions killed in one or another global apocalypse, or a single caring doctor who sacrificed herself to save her friends, they touched our lives in ways that words can't begin to describe. And yet words are all we have to pay tribute to just some of the colorful characters who've passed on in 2009. Just because they didn't exist in three dimensions doesn't mean they weren't every bit as important to us as other public figures who squirmed out of this mortal coil in the past 12 months. Join me in thanking, honoring and remembering our fictional friends.

Ellie Fredricksen, devoted wife who sacrificed her dreams for a balloon salesman
Ellie Fredricksen, born circa 1930, died of natural causes on May 29. As a young girl, Mrs. Fredricksen aspired to be an explorer. She met her kindred spirit and future husband Carl on a neighborhood expedition when they were both children; they bonded over a shared admiration for the famed explorer Charles Muntz, who discovered Paradise Falls in South America. The Fredricksens dreamed of traveling one day to that fabled land, but in fact barely made it out of their own neighborhood throughout the course of their long and supposedly happy marriage. Underneath the cheerful exterior lay a piercing regret, say Mrs. Fredricksen's friends. Even as she kept a scrapbook documenting the mundane pleasures of married life, Mrs. Fredricksen reportedly cursed her choice of husband, a man who attained no greater station in life than that of a balloon salesman. Friends blame Mr. Fredricksen for his wife's death, and consider it a bitter irony that it was only after his wife's passing that he carried out the dream of going to Paradise Falls. (Up)
Man, survivor of global apocalypse and symbol of human resilience, succumbs to disease, again

 
Man, of unknown age, died December 2 of this year on the Coast. Man was famous for embodying the strength of the human spirit. He had survived the apocalypse that claimed the lives of billions of people, including his wife, Wife, nee Woman. In an effort to escape the grim prospects at Home after the global cataclysm, Man took his son, Boy, on a trip to the Coast. It was to be their last vacation together. After successfully evading or killing several Bad Guys bent on enslaving or cannibalizing them, the father-son team reached their destination in a journey that -- before the apocalypse -- might have gained them a slot on the Amazing Race. With his illusions crushed by finding the Coast every bit as desolate and uninhabitable as the miles of terrain they just covered, Man succumbed to despair and illness. Boy was placed in foster care with some Good Guys who happened along the Road after Man's death. (Editor's note: Man had died previously in 2006 in print, and was resurrected and killed again this year on celluloid.) (The Road)

Amanda Grayson, teacher, and mother of galaxy's most famous interspecies logician

More than 6 billion lives were cut tragically short this year, 2258, when the planet Vulcan imploded, the result of a Romulan revenge plot.  Amanda Grayson, an Earthling expatriate and former teacher, was among those killed as she awaited rescue on an ill-fated cliff, which collapsed in the seconds before she was to be beamed to safety. She is survived by her husband Sarek, an astrophysicist and the Vulcan Ambassador to the United Federation of Planets, and her son Spock, the half-Human, half-Vulcan logician and First Officer of the Starship Enterprise. The Lady Amanda, as she was commonly called in Vulcan society, died at other times in alternate realities, such as in a shuttle accident at Lunaport soon after Spock's alternate-reality death in 2239. In yet another reality, Amanda happily lived to help Spock get in touch with his human side, after the latter's death and rebirth. She will be sorely, or perhaps just logically, missed. (Photo: Winona Ryder in Star Trek)

President Thomas Wilson, calmed TV viewers as world came to an end

President Thomas Wilson died this year, 2012, in the tsunami that destroyed a large swath of the east coast of the United States. The tsunami was but one of the many catastrophes worldwide that were brought about by a rapid increase in the temperature of the Earth's core, in turn caused by neutrinos from a massive solar flare in 2009. Not much is known about President Wilson, other than that he was avuncular and in perhaps advanced middle age or early-mid old age. He was one of the first African American Presidents of the U.S., standing on the shoulders of such giants as Presidents Douglas Tilman, Tom Beck, David Palmer, Wayne Palmer, and others. Wilson will likely be remembered for his bravery in foregoing rescue and instead remaining in Washington, D.C. to calm what was left of a doomed nation with these now-famous words of consolation: "Today we are one family." This insufferable sentimentalist is survived by his smoking-hot daughter Laura, who is likely to help repopulate the planet with her equally handsome new romantic partner, the geologist Adrian Helmsley. Helmsley was the first to sound the alarm about the impending disaster, not counting the ancient Mayans who supposedly saw this shit coming down the pike many hundreds of years ago. Props to the Mayans, and to President Wilson. (2012)

Dr. Juliet Burke, nee Carlson, presumed dead in nuclear explosion


Juliet Burke, a former fertility doctor with the Medical Research Laboratory at Miami Central University and later for The Others, was presumed killed when she detonated a hydrogen bomb in order to prompt a rupture in the time-space continuum. Earlier in her career, Burke's successful treatment of her sister's cancer attracted the attention of Mittelos Bioscience. Only when her domineering and unfaithful husband Edmund was run over by bus, under suspicious circumstances, did Dr. Burke feel liberated enough to accept a job offer from the firm. She was assigned to work on an uncharted island with apparent curative powers, and her desires to return home were frustrated. She and her colleagues were named "The Others" by the survivors of a plane crash on the Island, and relations between the two groups were marked by frequent hostilities, kidnapping, imprisonment, and the excessive pursing of lips. Dr. Burke, however, gained the trust of at least one of the survivors, and, after an otherworldly set of events, became key to their survival. Then, after being transported back in time to 1974, she became a mechanic with the Dharma Initiative, an experimental research community on the Island. In an effort to save her friends trapped in a bizarre game of time-space hopscotch, Dr. Burke detonated a hydrogen bomb. The incident is thought to have killed Dr. Burke, at least in the present dimension, but some theorists believe she was transported to another dimension, or may exist in several other dimensions. That is, dimensions other than the TV screen.  (Lost, with credit to Lostpedia page for some information. Photo by ABC Television.)

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