NEW YORK (AP) — Thousands of young fans of MTV's "Teen Wolf" series are turning to a website set up by the network to offer a gathering place for people to collectively mourn the sudden death of one of the show's main characters.
Twelve hours after "Teen Wolf" ended Monday night, more than 100,000 people had visited the TeenWolfMemorial.com website, with more than 4,000 posting messages about the character Allison Argent, who died after a mythical Japanese demon stabbed her with her sword.
Even more dramatic, she died proclaiming her undying love to her ex-boyfriend, the drama's lead character Scott McCall.
"Every post and everything I see brings back a new wave of tears," posted one fan, identified on the site as Jamie C.
The death of Argent, played by actress Crystal Reed, wasn't entirely 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 on fan interest by offering interviews with Reed and other cast members who offer "eulogies," as well as a place for people 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 MTV approached him before this season with the idea of shaking up things, 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 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 wanted to see them get back together.
One thing Davis is still unsure about is whether 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.
And it did: "I will always miss you," wrote fan Kaliegh W. "Now I hate this show."
"My tissue box ran out and it's 11," wrote Natasha S. "Oh, OK. Teen Wolf doesn't want me to sleep. Fine."
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.
David Bauder can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter@bauder. His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/david-bauder