This "literary trend" has spice, tradition, drama, and employs a mega elaborate method to murder the hero/heroine of a story. Yes, we are talking about the "Deathtrap" in fiction!
It is often used as a means to create dramatic tension in the story and to have the villain reveal important information to the hero; confident that the hero will shortly not be able to use it. It may also be a means to show the hero's resourcefulness in escaping, or the writer's ingenuity at devising a last-minute rescue or deus ex machina.
Examples of narrative uses:
A well known example is the cliché of the moustache-twirling villain leaving the heroine tied to railroad tracks. Its use in the James Bond film series and superhero stories is well known.
On occasion, the villain may employ a slow deathtrap because they enjoy their victim's suffering prior to death, either due to sadistic tendencies or a desire for painful vengeance.
Another rationalization for a deathtrap is when a particular villain simply enjoys leaving his victims some small chance of survival, just for the sake of sport. Such "sporting" villains include the riddler, who has an uncontrollable compulsion to create intellectual challenges for his enemies.
Other stories have had villains use deathtraps as a means of testing the heroes or to distract them while the villain attends to other matters. On some occasions, the deathtrap is a machine that "absorbs" the energy from the hero/heroes.
*All in all "deathtraps" are used in novels, film and in satiritical ways to portray a dramtic death or daring escape. This "literary trend" will never go out of style, because there will always be villain and hero/herione in a story and somebody's bound to get killed.*
By: Literary Diva of Blogtalk Radio