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TV characters getting killed off overwhelmingly female, says pop culture critic

That's what On The coast pop culture columnist Kim Linekin says. She says rumoured money-related departures of leading female actors on shows like Empire, Arrow, Sleepy Hollow and The Walking Dead speak to Hollywood's gender imbalance.

SPOILER ALERT: This column discusses character deaths in shows like The 100 and Castle

Actress Stana Katic, from the ABC drama "Castle," arrives at the 2015 People's Choice Awards. Katic is leaving the hit program in its penultimate season, but reasons are unclear. (Danny Moloshok/Reuters)

A lot of leading ladies are getting the axe on TV this spring — and Game of Thrones hasn't even debuted yet.

On The Coast's pop culture columnist Kim Linekin says the departure of several female leads on shows like Empire, Arrow, Sleepy Hollow and The Walking Dead has some fans speculating that only straight, white men are safe on must-see TV.

One example is on the rom-com/mystery series Castle, where co-lead Stana Katic, who plays the love interest of Nathan Fillion's title character, will not be returning.

"They're letting Katic go now to cut costs. That's the official speculation," Linekin told On The Coast guest host Gloria Macarenko. "The unofficial speculation is that Katic and Fillion don't get along, and his character's name is the title of the show so he gets to stay."

A similar situation is playing out on The 100 where a popular lesbian character, seconds after she consummated her relationship, was killed by a man who disapproved of them.

"That follows an unfortunate TV trope known as 'Bury Your Gays,' because LGBT characters often die early on," she says.

Linekin says female characters getting killed off hurts even more because it's happening on TV, which has long been viewed as a safe haven for women, and it comes at a time when women are making strides towards pay equality in Hollywood.

"They're just confirmation that Hollywood values white male characters more because Hollywood is run by white males," she said, noting TV writers are 71 per cent male and 87 per cent white.

"Until the balance of power shifts, or white male writers just get a clue, we're going to see more casually sexist TV."

With files from CBC Radio One's On The Coast