TV Shows

The 100 Creator Talks about Lexa Controversy at WonderCon

Find out what The 100 creator, Jason Rothenberg, had to say about the Lexa controversy!

Weeks after the tragic death of fan-favourite character, Lexa (Alycia Debnam-Carey), The 100 creator Jason Rothenberg, finally spoke about the issue. Rothenberg took the stage at WonderCon to address the fan backlash after her death and how this perpetuated the trend of lesbians dying on television.

“The reaction has obviously been surprising to us, to me in particular, I didn’t ever imagine that it would be so intense. You design it to be a ride, you design it to be emotional — the show’s a tragedy, horrible things happen in every episode — but this landed in a different way for our audience, especially LGBTQ fans of the show.”

Rothenberg also talked about how he watches fan reaction videos every week after an episode airs, and how it was those videos that “began to drive it home for me” that Lexa’s death was affecting fans in a deeper way than previous casualties on the show. “On this particular Friday, I couldn’t watch them — they were too intense … one after the next, they were devastated by what they saw.”

He also conceded that Lexa’s exit ran deeper than he could have imagined, because of his personal experiences, saying that Lexa’s death “touched something real; it touched a nerve; it activated something in people who, their whole lives, have had to deal with things that me as a straight, white guy obviously couldn’t relate to.” He furthered this point by saying that he and the other writers “never really understood the power of that relationship and that character” before seeing the reaction to ‘Thirteen’ (the episode when Lexa died). “Knowing what I know now, I would’ve done some things differently.”

In an interview last week with TV Insider Rothenberg said that the fan’s reaction wouldn’t have changed the story, saying, “We would have told the same story. I stand behind the story; I just don’t think I would have gone out of my way to say ‘This is the best episode we’ve ever done!’” However, during the WonderCon panel he clarified this statement, saying that though nothing could have changed his decision to kill Lexa, he would have changed the context of her death if he had known how it would hurt the fans:

“When I was answering that question, I was thinking that the question meant, certainly in my mind, ‘would you still follow through with killing this character’ and the answer is — and I know it’s not going to make everybody happy — but the answer is yes. But I would do things differently.”

He also said he regretted some of his interactions on social media, which may have made it seem like Lexa was safe:

“My social media interaction with the fans in some way set up around this relationship an unrealistic expectation that Lexa would be okay, that she’d walk off into the sunset. Nobody is safe. That’s the kind of show it is. I regret the way that I talked about the show on social.

I love the fact that we have a bisexual lead, I love that a new audience came to the show because of this relationship, and I was excited and sharing my excitement, and that was misinterpreted to mean that I was promising a happy ending.”

As for the structure of ‘Thirteen,’ Rothenberg admitted that some aspects of the episode could have been done better. One of these things was the “sex and death happening so close together. I definitely am uncomfortable with that juxtaposition now. The death had nothing to do with the fact that she’d just had sex; it was this powerful, transformative figure who was killed because she was trying to change her people, and that’s always dangerous, as I think history has proven. That’s why she died and that’s why I allowed those two scenes to coexist like that. But in hindsight, I wish I’d found a way to separate them somehow,” given how this is a common trope in television – having lesbians die so soon after a moment of happiness in their relationship.

Next Rothenberg spoke to how many fans wished Lexa had gotten a stronger death, and not the stray-bullet she received, given she was such a strong character:

“On the one hand, I get that — and I totally believe you when you say that that would’ve made it better for you, but at the same time, this show really doesn’t traffic in heroic battlefield deaths. I was trying to make a point that life is fragile and somebody even as powerful as Lexa could die because she was in the wrong place at the wrong time. That was the tragedy that I was trying to underline.”

He also admitted he wasn’t aware of Tara’s death on Buffy the Vampire Slayer which was very similar to Lexa’s:

“I wish I knew more about this trope back then, because had I done my homework about it, I probably would’ve come upon the fact that in ‘Buffy,’ a character who was also a lesbian died by a stray bullet, and I was unaware of that because I didn’t watch that show. And so I would’ve, for sure, just for creative reasons alone, tried to differentiate our execution of that idea. That would’ve for sure been something that I tried to move the pieces around the board, but to try and make the same point that life is fragile.”

During the Q&A portion of the WonderCon panel a fan mentioned that The 100 fandom has raised over $80,000 for the Trevor Project on honour of Lexa, to which the showrunner said, “I do think that’s an incredible silver lining in all this.”

He also talked about how eye-opening this experience has been for him, and how grateful her his for it, saying, “it’s opened my eyes in a lot of ways, to the power that stories have in the world, and the responsibilities I have as a storyteller … I didn’t really understand enough, and now I do, I’m grateful for the experience.”

As for how our main character Clarke (Eliza Taylor) will go on after Lexa’s exit, Taylor said that “Clarke has always been very good at compartmentalizing, she’s always been very good at pushing forward even in the worst situations, but this one’s different, this is her love. It’s gonna be really, really tricky for her, and I think it really changes her for good, but in true Clarke fashion, she will somehow get through it.” Which gives us all hope for the coming episodes, as I don’t think we can bear it to see Clarke upset for too long.

I’m glad that Rothenberg has finally spoken about this issue, and hopefully this is something we can all learn from. I know I will miss seeing Lexa on my screen, but I’m sure this show will find its way to go on without her.


The 100 returns this Thursday, March 31st, at 9|8c on the CW.


By Nat, the Geek Girl

Southern California native who likes movies, books (Shadowhunter Chronicles, NA, YA fantasy, Red Rising series), TV shows (The Sandman), and San Diego Comic-Con. I also like to write, but don't get to do much of that aside from on here. I fell into the BTS rabbit hole, and I refuse to leave.