When discussing, say, predictions for the ending of a novel, I've often heard logic along the lines of:

This character must survive, because if (s)he doesn't, the story would be [depressing/underwhelming/meaningless/etc.].

Is there an English term for this? I was thinking it could be some form of prediction, expectation or perhaps "predestination", but I can't find a logical adjective to add to refer to this specific form. Note that I am not looking for a description of the validity of this technique, just the usage itself.

  • While I'm sure there's a word for something happening because it seemingly must happen (the first-person POV character not dying because they are the narrator of the story)—and even that isn't a certainty—I can think of no circumstance that would preclude a story from being depressing, meaningless, or anything else. Many stories are those things. May 24, 2018 at 4:12
  • @JasonBassford Agreed. Nonetheless, I've heard the argument made... I think it comes down to the specific instance. The idea as I see it is that, for the particular story, it would seemingly destroy the point the author has been making, marginalize other portions of the work, or otherwise undermine the nature/course. The argument may not be valid, but it seems pretty common either way! I think it's more about personal feelings than reality. I'm trying to describe the argument independent of its legitimacy.
    – Wasabi Fan
    May 24, 2018 at 4:28
  • 1
    It sounds like wishful thinking to me . . . (Which isn't actually a logical argument at all—but more a fallacy of faith.) May 24, 2018 at 4:43

2 Answers 2


One phrase is plot armor. It means that a character of the story cannot possibly die. (E.g. the Game of Thrones had originally been praised for the lack of it.) It's an ever more established phrase.

Look, plenty of people on the show right now, unfortunately, have "plot armor" and the days of "anyone can die" are gone. You could argue that Tormund, despite having fallen with the Wall, is alive because he needs to be with Brienne. You could also make the case that Gendry and Arya are safe because they need to wind up together too. And those are just love connections. It used to be that this show (because of the books, naturally) would kill you off regardless of what your predicted path might be. Now, things are bit more traditionally TV.

By Matt Fowler


Urban Dictionary has this on the topic (entry from April 2008):

Character shields (also known as plot armor or plot shield) are plot devices in films and television shows that prevent important characters from dying or being seriously injured at dramatically inconvenient moments. It often denotes a situation in which it strains credibility to believe that the character would survive.




1.1 derogatory Always behaving or occurring in the way expected.
‘the characters are stereotyped and extremely predictable’

Need say more?

  • It's EOLD (English Oxford Living Dictionaries)
    – Mari-Lou A
    May 24, 2018 at 9:13
  • @Mari-LouA Which is EOLD? What has that got to do with me?
    – Kris
    May 24, 2018 at 9:18
  • The link, what does the L stand for in ODOL? Oxford Dictionary Online ?? Learners?
    – Mari-Lou A
    May 24, 2018 at 9:32
  • end-of-life in dementia
    – Kris
    May 24, 2018 at 9:47

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