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How "Lexa Deserved Better" Became A Rallying Cry For Positive LGBT Representation

Over a year after Lexa's death on The 100, her fans are still fighting for positive representation of queer women on television.

March 3rd, 2016 was a day like any other — unless you were a fan of The CW's The 100.


In that evening's episode, titled "13," Commander Lexa (Alycia Debnam-Carey) was shot by a stray bullet, intended for her love interest Clarke (Eliza Taylor).

The CW

To add insult to injury, Lexa was shot just minutes after the couple finally got together following a season's worth of romantic buildup.

Spoiler alert: This is something that has happened before.

You can read more about the "Bury Your Gays" trope here, here, or here.

Before the shocking episode, The 100 had received a great deal of praise for its LGBT representation.

And then, when Lexa was killed during Episode 7 of Season 3 — well, the internet exploded.

Showrunner Jason Rothenberg's Twitter follower count plummeted and countless hashtags (#LGBTFansDeservedBetter, #WeDeservedBetter, #LexaDeservedBetter) began trending worldwide.

In the days that followed, fans expressed their anger, disbelief, and grief over the outcome of the episode.

Twitter: @theheatherhogan

The fan response to the turn of events was swift and unprecedented. Reaction videos of fans watching the scene circulated, as well as tribute videos to the character.

The rallying cry "Lexa Deserved Better" popped up (and continues to be seen) in countries all over the world.

And the phrase itself has come to be associated with the fight for LGBT representation in television and media, as well as a way to remember the beloved character.

Some accused the writing staff of deliberately leading fans on, killing Lexa off for shock value, and perpetuating the Bury Your Gays trope that has become all too familiar for many queer viewers.

The CW has declined to comment to BuzzFeed News regarding the character's death and the widespread fan reaction that followed.

“Despite my reasons, I still write and produce television for the real world where negative and hurtful tropes exist,” Rothenberg wrote at the time in response to the barrage of criticism. “And I am very sorry for not recognizing this as fully as I should have. Knowing everything I know now, Lexa’s death would have played out differently.”


Upset fans also channeled their response into action, raising over $160,000 for The Trevor Project, a nonprofit organization supporting LGBTQ youth.

Seemingly overnight, Commander Lexa and her death became the go-to example used to illustrate a year in television that saw so many queer characters killed off.

Now, over a year since the controversial episode aired, the Clexa fandom refuses to let the world forget about that moment in television history and their insistence that they, well, deserved better.

Little Reminder: Lexa Deserved Better #Lexa #LexaDeservedBetter #AlyciaDebnamCarey

Ever since the character's death, any tweets mentioning The 100 will almost always be immediately followed by a reply from a member of the fandom.

Twitter: @NetflixLifee

And that includes tweets to lists and articles that fans thought should have included the character as well.

Since fans recently succeeded in supporting a campaign to resurrect Netflix's Sense8, it's easy to understand why others would try to do the same for their favorite characters or shows.

#Sense8 Shocker: Netflix just announced a NEW two-hour special will air next year!!!! ❤️💛💚💙💜…

BuzzFeed News spoke with one Clexa fan group that has been hard at work attempting to get a spinoff story up and running. "The Grounders" would be a project that focused on Lexa's origin story and rekindle the character's legacy on screen.

The CW

"I’m not a teenager," the 33-year-old co-founder of the spinoff project, who preferred to remain anonymous, told BuzzFeed News in a phone interview.

"A lot of people like to throw negative things around like that, ‘You’re not a teenager, grow up!' I get so angry, personally, and frustrated. She wasn’t just a fictional character, she was far more. What is very much real is your own emotions and how you connect with someone and what they mean to you in your daily life. It becomes unimportant whether that’s a real or fictional character, because their impact is real."

"Episode 307 slapped me right back to reality, where LGBT people are killed for their sexuality, bullied, disowned by their parents," another anonymous member of The Grounders project told BuzzFeed News. "It reminded me of the Orlando Shooting, it reminded me of death. Death that I, a queer lady, deserve."

View this video on YouTube

"It's ironic because Lexa taught us that life should be about more than just surviving, and the writers taught us life isn't even worth surviving."

The group — which is composed of fans, artists, and writers — has written a general synopsis for the plot of the spinoff and even created some promotional materials. They also have one caveat for the spin-off series — showrunner Jason Rothenberg would not be involved in any way.

The group recognizes that many shows, including The 100, are violent and many characters are killed off – it's pretty much a guarantee, actually. The difference, for them, is the storylines characters are given before their death.

"If you want equality in death, give us equality in life. We know that LGBT characters can die, we’ve seen plenty of that, but we never get the chance to see the same storylines as the heterosexual white male characters, to be blunt," the co-founder of the group added.

"We need LGBT characters to have a chance, to have a happy ending, or at least survive."

For many grieving fans, the consensus seemed to be that they didn't just lose a fictional character on a television show — it was so much more than that.

Mourning for fictional characters certainly isn't a new phenomenon, but it is a process that is now amplified — and done in the company of other fans — thanks to the internet and social media.

But, sometimes it helps to get together in person. Next year, the second annual Clexa Con — a media and entertainment convention created by queer women, for queer women — will take place in Las Vegas.

The first event took place on March 3rd of this year, on the one-year anniversary of Lexa’s death on The 100. What started as a simple idea among friends — to bond over a character they loved and lost — quickly morphed into something much bigger.

"We are currently expecting thousands of attendees along with celebrity guests, panelists, content creators, journalists, media personalities, vendors, and artists," Winebarger said. The program will also serve as a platform for upcoming queer filmmakers to showcase their work.

"This event is for the LGBT person sitting in their small town feeling completely alone and alienated. This is for those of us that have felt like we were less than the rest of society, just because of our sexuality."

“It wasn’t just a gathering of people because of a ship, it was a family reunion among friendships built over the last year," wrote one Clex Con attendee of her experience.

"After Lexa's death, it felt like a tipping point for fans where a groundswell of people felt empowered enough to stand up and say, 'enough is enough,'" Winebarger explained. "We are powerful and we are important — It’s time our community felt that."

The CW

"All the mainstream media coverage of the Bury Your Gays trope was all down to Lexa and her impact on us," noted the co-founder of The Grounders. "I don’t think any other character could have inspired such a reaction. There were so many queer deaths on television last year, and yes they were mentioned — but it was Lexa."

With this year's Emmys celebrating several queer storylines, actors, and series, fans like those from Clexa Con and The Grounders groups are — cautiously — optimistic that their voices are being heard.


"The fight for better representation won’t really be 'over' until women, LGBT people and people of color make up a more proportional share of the people who get to create content, greenlight content, and when we all receive equal funding and opportunity," said Winebarger.

But that doesn't mean they'll forget the character that, in a not-so-small way, lit the flame.


This post is part of a series of stories about stans and super fans.