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The status field in a character's information box (and its companion category) contains an out-of-universe observation which reflects the last information given to the audience about whether that character is living or dead. The policies explained below are in place to demonstrate which are the three permissible terms for use in the field, to describe the criteria for their use, to control the alteration of major characters' statuses, and to describe an important way in which the status and the anti-spoiler policies cross over.
The statuses Edit
It is the current established policy of this wiki to use only "Alive", "Deceased", and "Unknown" for the status field.
Additional verbiage, such as "Presumed deceased", "Alive (comatose)", "Deceased (shot)", or "Arrested" and other conditionals and variations are never valid. Specific and very brief data about manner of death, however, may be included in the separate "Died" field. Anything about a living character's health or whether they are in government custody is found inside the article body itself, not the info box.
In those instances when real life, historical persons are mentioned as characters in-universe, they are listed as either "Alive" or "Deceased" according to their actual status, so long as there is no contradictory information given in-universe. This is because (to repeat the introduction of this page) the status field contains an out-of-universe observation which reflects the last information given to the audience about whether that character is living or dead. In the instances of real-world persons, this information does not have to be in-universe.
If a fictional character is last seen or mentioned in an in-universe source to be living, "Alive" is the correct entry.
As explained above, no additional verbiage, such as descriptive or conditional statements ("arrested", "comatose", etc.), are permissible inside the status field.
If a fictional character is last seen or mentioned in an in-universe source to be dead, "Deceased" is the correct entry.
As explained above, the status of any characters based on historical persons (such as George Washington) is identical to their actual, real world status.
If a character is not explicitly seen or mentioned to be dead, but events imply that the character could soon die, this is when his or her status is listed as "Unknown" on account of the uncertainty and ambiguity.
These characters must be in clear and imminent danger, with nothing else concrete mentioned about their fate at any later point. It's important to stress that statuses reflect the final moment of the most recently aired episode. If, for example, a character is last seen alive as the final clock ticks away to end the episode, though his or her life is in imminent danger, they are still listed as "Alive" until the next episode airs, rather than "Unknown".
Major changes require discussion Edit
It is not unusual for the status of a character to be a topic of dispute among users. Before changing any significant character's status, it is necessary that you propose the change first on that character's Talk page. Then, if there are no responses or after a civil discussion results in consensus, the status can be changed. In other words, if the possibility of a dispute is likely, no editor may change the status of a character without first proposing that change on the character's talk page. This process can be repeated as necessary. And although it is generally not needed for unimportant characters, it still may be beneficial to propose those changes beforehand as well.
This particular component of the policy is reproduced on the Wiki 24:Consensus and precedent policy page, which explains the other situations in which editors are obligated to propose certain changes before making them.
Compliance with spoiler policy Edit
In accordance with the spoiler policy, absolutely no spoiler content can be taken into consideration when altering a character's status. Spoiler content includes anything that is unofficially leaked or officially released in a promotional trailer, teaser, or advertisement, before the material is released or published in full. Status changes can only be recorded from episodes that have aired or comics, novels, and other content that has been published. This was a problem, for example, with the Tony Almeida article, shortly before Season 7 aired, when many editors infringed this policy and persisted in changing Tony's status from "Deceased" to "Alive".