The 50 Greatest Fictional Deaths of All Time

The most tearjerking, hilarious, satisfying, and shocking death scenes in 2,500 years of culture, chosen by Slate editors and contributors. Needless to say, this piece contains spoilers:

Pac-Man in Pac-Man

Author: Toru Iwatani
Year: 1980
Original medium: Video game

Author: Dan Kois
Source: Slate
Published: Jul 20, 2022
Length: 33 minutes (8,250 words)

How OXO Conquered the American Kitchen

Whether it’s a salad spinner or a vegetable peeler, chances are your kitchen has at least one product from OXO — a brand that actually engineers and designs its own housewares goods, and has inspired broad devotion because of it. Slate’s Dan Kois visits the company’s New York headquarters for a piece that straddles the line between process deep-dive and corporate profile. Not all garlic press is good garlic press, after all.

Down on the mezzanine level of its giant warehouse building, OXO maintains a torture chamber for kitchenware, a workshop to fulfill the company’s need for incessant product testing. The room is filled with handmade cycle-testing rigs: soldered-together robots, run off Raspberry Pis, that endlessly push and prod and spin OXO products to see what it takes to make them break. The robot that tests salad spinners, for example, pushes down the plunger 200,000 times. “Sometimes,” Mor said, “you can’t make a robot to test something, so you just have to bring in temps for a week to, like, open wine bottles.”

Author: Dan Kois
Source: Slate
Published: Jun 20, 2022
Length: 12 minutes (3,066 words)

The American Addiction to Speeding

“The nation’s most disobeyed law is dysfunctional from top to bottom. The speed limit is alternately too low on interstate highways, giving police discretion to make stops at will, and too high on local roads, creating carnage on neighborhood streets. Enforcement is both inadequate and punitive. The cost is enormous. And the lack of political will to do something about it tracks with George Carlin’s famous observation that everybody going faster than you is a maniac and everybody going slower than you is an idiot. The consensus is: Enforce the speed limit. But not on me, please. Because while it would be nice to save 10,000 lives a year, it sure is fun to drive fast.”

Source: Slate
Published: Dec 15, 2021
Length: 18 minutes (4,627 words)

How Justin Timberlake Came Undone

“Timberlake had clearly come to a realization: His formerly marketable silence no longer flies. But his apologies felt to many like a belated, hollow attempt to take a stand after decades of studious neutrality.”

Source: Slate
Published: Nov 18, 2021
Length: 16 minutes (4,192 words)

The Stories Only Women Are Told

“Women need to keep talking. To one another, sure. But also, to the boys and men we hold dear—and not just in times like these, in times of crisis when it feels like we are simply shouting our despair into the void.”

Source: Slate
Published: Nov 4, 2021
Length: 11 minutes (2,869 words)

‘This Is Going to Change the World’

“As the new millennium dawned, a mysterious invention from a charismatic millionaire became a viral sensation—then went down in flames. Ever since, I’ve wondered: Was it all my fault?”

Author: Dan Kois
Source: Slate
Published: Aug 1, 2021
Length: 39 minutes (9,798 words)

The Night Gary Drove Me Home

“It is not a normal thing to do—to acknowledge to yourself that you may have slept with a serial killer.”

Source: Slate
Published: Jun 16, 2021
Length: 9 minutes (2,422 words)

Called by God

“With the help of OUR, a rich person can become a vigilante hero for the day, their living room transformed into a personal situation room. For those who can’t afford the situation room, Ballard carries the drama with him to every interview and every fundraiser.”

Author: Meg Conley
Source: Slate
Published: May 11, 2021
Length: 10 minutes (2,684 words)

Mr. Bailey’s Class

“Before he was Philip Roth’s biographer, Blake Bailey taught the eighth grade. His students say he made them feel special. They worshipped him. They trusted him. He used it all against them.”

Source: Slate
Published: Apr 29, 2021
Length: 27 minutes (6,763 words)

How the School Reopening Debate Is Tearing One of America’s Most Elite Suburbs Apart

Noreen Malone recounts the very public and heated debate around school reopening between a teachers union and wealthy, liberal parents in a Boston suburb.

Source: Slate
Published: Dec 18, 2020
Length: 24 minutes (6,178 words)