5 Emotionally Traumatic Ways to Kill Supporting Characters

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Posted on July 20, 2017

As a writer, one of the hardest things to do is to find impactful ways of killing supporting characters, should your story call for it. While there are hundreds of ways to do this, there are some that can cause more trauma than others. Keep reading to see how the below ways can cause emotional trauma for your readers.

Accidental Death

An accidental death of a supporting character is a potent way to create an emotional toll on a protagonist. The loss could cause problems for the protagonist, especially if the supporting character was a support system for them.

The accident could take any form you like; you could even set up the accident as a point of conflict for the protagonist. This is a great way to manifest your main character’s greatest fear in the form of the death of a loved one or a rival.


A suicide is shocking; it can cause your protagonist to go through the stages of grief. To make this plot point more traumatic, have your protagonist find the supporting character. This is a sensitive subject, however, so be respectful about your description of the act.

Road Rage

A road rage incident, particularly if your main character is involved, can cause shock and trauma in your story. If similar incidents have been mentioned in passing before, then this method of death won’t seem strange when you introduce it into your story.

Terminal Illness

The sudden diagnosis of a supporting character’s terminal illness can be tragic, both for the main character and your reader. By putting a deadline on that character, you’re counting down to a grief that is coming for the main character; you can also show how your main character deals with the illness and with the eventual death.

Mistaken Identity

If your supporting character has a similar description to your main character, a death by mistaken identity could be a traumatic way to kill them off. Because their death could have been avoided, the main character could feel guilt over their passing and simultaneously wonder who is trying to kill them.

Finding ways of traumatically killing supporting characters can be difficult for writers, but you owe it to your readers to provide impactful deaths. Try using one of the methods above and see how it can change the tone of your story.