— Please Remember That Art Is Subjective & Any Opinions Given Here Are My Own —
Despite my user name, I can safely say that Pyrrha Nikos was easily one of my favorite characters in RWBY & like most of the community — I was both shocked & horrified at her death. However, it seems that many fans have failed to progress beyond the first stage of grief.
There are five stages of grief — outlined by Swiss psychiatrist Elizabeth Kübler-Ross in 1969. They are as follows:
1.) Denial - avoidance • confusion • shock • fear
2.) Anger - frustration • irritation • anxiety
3.) Bargaining - struggling to find meaning • reaching out to others
4.) Depression - overwhelmed • helplessness • hostility • flight
5.) Acceptance - exploring options • new plan in place • moving forward
Some fans — admittedly have moved onto the second stage & seem content to remain there. But, continuing on —
Let's begin with the harsh truth — Pyrrha was always going to die. That's simply how she was written. Monty knew her fate from the beginning of Volume One. Do I believe in destiny? No — I believe in the writing staff having full control over the outcome of the story.
So what purpose did her death serve? Well, there are two that I can name off the top of my head:
1.) Raising the Stakes
2.) Loss of Innocence
With her death, the audience now knew that characters could be killed if the writers saw fit to do so. Sure, Yang lost her arm in the episode prior — and I'm sure there were more than a few heart-attacks at the decapitation fake-out — but we knew Yang wasn't going anywhere. Pyrrha — on the other hand — caught everyone off guard. Everyone had faith that Ruby would save her at the last moment. Pyrrha wasn't a side character, she wasn't a villain — she had been with us since the second episode of the show & was arguably the best combatant Beacon Academy had to offer. If this fate could happen to her, it could happen to anyone.
Her death told the students at Beacon — and in a way, us as well — that this world was cruel & unforgiving. The days of epic food fights & living in relative saftey were a thing of the past. Ozpin himself states:
"But right now they're still children, so why not let them play the part? After all, it isn't a role they'll have forever."
We all knew that at some point dark days were coming — we just didn't know when or how. There is nothing wrong with leaving a character — even a beloved one — dead.
Let me ask you — all of you:
• How many of you wept at the end of the second episode of Volume IV? I know I did.
• How many of you felt their hearts ache when Jaune wore the Pyrrha's red sash in remberance?
• How many of you got choked up at seeing the three remaining members of Team JNPR in their room during Ruby's closing monologue?
Bringing Pyrrha back would cheapen all of those moments. They would no longer carry any emotional weight. When you remove death from the equation, you remove risk. You remove loss, you remove tragedy. These are powerful elements in storytelling & yes, they should be used sparingly. But when you use them — make them count.
To close, I'm going to go a bit off-topic & discuss Marvel's Agents of Shield. Don't worry, I won't spoil anything if you aren't caught up. But there is a point. Season Four was — at times — painful to watch. Not because it was bad, but because it was really good. And you knew that if someone died — they were gone. And the show doesn't shy away from killing major or even beloved characters. But anytime it happens — they make it count.
When Pyrrha died, we were all shocked. Many of us were brought to tears. Whether she died in vain or not is irrelevant — when she died, our hearts stopped — then they broke. For better or for worse — Rooster Teeth made that moment count.
And still — even in death — Pyrrha is the driving force for Jaune wanting to better himself.
— As Always, I Welcome Any Comments, I Simply Ask That You Be Civil To Each Other — And Myself —