Damn you, thread manager!
Originally Posted by Iceman
Much more! And a good writer can raise the stakes and make the danger seem real without actually killing them off.
I totally agree, which is why I cannot understand the common belief that a film has no stakes if no major characters die. The stakes come from the peril the heroes are in, not necessarily from their deaths. Tension arises from the danger rising ever higher, the time for salvation dwindling ever lower. What's at stake is always a bigger catastrophe than the loss of one life. A city will be destroyed, the world will end, an important person or a loved one will die, etc. When the situation becomes so strained that the audience is on the edge of its seat and the heroes are at the end of their rope, that's when the stakes are highest.