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Perhaps the watershed moment was in June 2011 when in the ninth episode of the first season of Game of Thrones, Sean Bean’s Ned Stark had his head chopped off. Or maybe it all goes back further to 1960 when Alfred Hitchcock, after using the appearance of star Janet Leigh to promote his film Psycho, killed her off dramatically and early and left his audience shocked to their core — uncertain as to how one was supposed to navigate a film that had broken a cardinal rule of Hollywood.

The truth is that it’s probably, like all things drama-creation related — a mix of both. Hitchcock may have pioneered the idea that on screen, as in life, a star was as expendable and as subject to the cruel whims of fate as any of us are in the real world, but it took cinema’s younger, more mild-mannered and less disruptive sister, television, decades to get to the point where it would lead the kill fest that has become the norm over the past two decades...

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