MTV is launching a special website for angst-ridden fans of its "Teen Wolf" series to collectively mourn the sudden death of one of the show's main characters in Monday night's episode.
-- SPOILER ALERT -- Stop reading if you don't want to know who died...
Immediately after the third season's penultimate episode ended at 11 p.m. ET, MTV had the site TeenWolfMemorial.com ready to offer solace for people upset that the character Allison Argent wound up on the wrong end of a sword wielded by a mythical Japanese demon.
Argent, played by actress Crystal Reed, is the ex-girlfriend of Scott McCall, the drama's lead character.
Argent's death shouldn't entirely be a surprise; MTV has been advertising that one of the show's main characters would be killed off. The network kept that character's identity a secret, although the announcement that someone was doomed launched plenty of online speculation.
With the advertiser-supported website, MTV is looking to seize upon the anticipated interest by offering interviews with Reed and other cast members who offer "eulogies," as well as a place for young fans to vent.
"We could equate it to digital hyperventilating," said Tom Fishman, vice president of content marketing and audience engagement for MTV.
"Teen Wolf" is one of MTV's most popular shows, reaching a series-high of 3.5 million viewers for the third season premiere. About six in 10 viewers are female, with a median age of 21.
Jeff Davis, the show's executive producer, said that MTV approached him before this season with the idea of shaking things up, perhaps with an untimely death. He was reluctant. "As the creator of the show, these characters were like my children," he said.
Shortly after, Reed asked for a meeting and told Davis that she wanted to move on and do other things. So the decision to send her character off in a coffin was set.
"You can start to feel like (it's) a cheap ratings grab," he said. "Our audience feels so passionate about the show. The characters live and breathe for them, so you don't want to cheapen it."
But he was pleased that Reed gave the writers a chance to come up with a solid story, and he's glad the memorial site was set up.
For the young "Teen Wolf" audience, the episode also offers a lesson that first love — no matter how passionately felt — is rarely last love. Even though Argent and McCall had broken up, and McCall was dating someone else, many fans of the show still wanted to see them get back together.
One thing Davis is still unsure about is whether or not it was a good idea to tease fans ahead of time that one of their favorite characters was going to die — a surefire way to convince fans not to miss it — or just spring it on them as a surprise.
"It's a fine line between art and commerce," he said. "It's hard to say."
For all the content being offered on the site, "the most important thing you'll find when you log on is other fans," Fishman said. For MTV, the possibility exists that the site could backfire, and be filled with angry messages that reflect poorly on the show.
"I actually think that this is a place where they can express their anger," Davis said. "I'm OK with that."
Reed may be able to defuse any anger with her website interview, where she discusses her desire to move on to other work, so people won't feel that her character was killed off against her will.