If a human life is threatened, the stakes are high. When a fictional character that we’ve come to know dies, something important has happened. It hits us at a primal level. We find ourselves caught up in an experience outside our norm. Nobody seems to say it, but we’re talking about the struggle between good and evil.
Often the event leaves behind a problem that must be solved, either by unlocking a puzzle or by direct action. We become personally involved in the story. Along the way we meet captivating characters. Hurdles are cleared—more threats encountered—we have a sense of danger survived.
At the resolution, our fear changes to relief or even triumph. Perhaps justice is done or shattered lives renewed.