- "I did seriously consider killing Ron," Rowling said
- It's easy to imagine that he might have bit the dust relatively early
- How much freakier the latter Potters would have felt without good ol' Ron around
"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" features one of the more soul-destroying death orgies in Fantasy-lit history, with a whole cavalcade of Potter supporting players winding up as casualties in the climactic wizard battle.
The series never shrank from death -- Books 4 through 6 each end with a major character dying, and the whole saga begins with Harry as a newly orphaned baby. But in a new special feature on the "Deathly Hallows 2" DVD, author J. K. Rowling notes that she'd planned one fatality that would have probably scarred a generation of young readers.
As reported by the Guardian, Rowling says, "I did seriously consider killing Ron." Apparently, she briefly thought about killing off Harry's red-headed sidekick around the middle of the series, when she "wasn't in a very happy place."
It's an interesting piece of what-might-have-been trivia. In some ways, it reminds me a little bit of the mythic notion that Han Solo was supposed to die in Return of the Jedi -- an idea which was supported by original Star Wars producer Gary Kurtz and Harrison Ford. Kurtz told the Hollywood Reporter that Solo lived because George Lucas didn't want to kill off any of his main characters. It's hard to accuse Rowling of any such anxiety, given the "Deathly Hallows" bloodbath.
Still, it's fun to speculate on how such a major change would have altered the book series. Rowling doesn't specify in what context she was picturing Ron's death, but it's easy to imagine that he might have bit the dust relatively early. Lots of people were shocked when Rowling killed off Cedric Diggory in "Goblet of Fire," but Diggory was a minor character who, in hindsight, was always kind of a handsome readymade corpse -- think of how much freakier the latter Potters would have felt without good ol' Ron around to relieve the tension.
Conversely, imagine if Ron had sacrificed himself in Deathly Hallows' climax. It certainly would have changed the tone of the ending, which was a pretty upbeat Happily Ever After, all considering.