Margaret Atwood Said Hulu’s ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Can’t Kill This Character

Margaret Atwood wrote the novel Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale is based on. The author also recently published a sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale called The Testaments. During talks with showrunner Bruce Miller, Atwood told him there is one character in The Handmaid’s Tale who cannot die. Fans of the show might be surprised to find out it isn’t June.

Margaret Atwood The Handmaid's Tale character
Margaret Atwood | Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for Hammer Museum

Margaret Atwood said one character can’t die in ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’

June is the main protagonist of The Handmaid’s Tale. Miller has also said the show is told entirely from June’s perspective, meaning when she dies the story is over. Because of this, June has a lot of plot armor in the show. However, there is another character that also has plot armor.

Atwood told Miller that Aunt Lydia cannot die in the show. The character survived an assassination attempt after season 2. Miller was quick to reassure fans that Aunt Lydia survived at the end of the season.

“You can do what you want to her, but you can’t kill her,” Atwood said.

Miller also assured Ann Dowd, who plays Aunt Lydia, that the character will not die on the show.

“Don’t worry, you live,” Miller wrote to Dowd.

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Nevertheless, she persisted.

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Aunt Lydia plays a large role in ‘The Testaments’

Warning, spoilers for Atwood’s The Testaments appear in the remainder of the article. The Testaments has three narrators, and all of the narrators appear in The Handmaid’s Tale. Aunt Lydia is one of those narrators. The other two narrators are June’s daughters.

In The Testaments, Aunt Lydia is a different character than fans of the book and TV versions of The Handmaid’s Tale know. Aunt Lydia is not actually a true believer in Gilead. Instead, she has a long-term plan to bring the totalitarian society down.

“I have just finished reading ‘The Testaments’..thank you for writing such a profound, relevant, epic and immense story. Aunt Lydia moved me the most. I love your storytelling:) @MargaretAtwood,” a fan wrote on Twitter.

Ann Dowd narrated her character’s part in the audio book for ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ sequel

Dowd voiced Aunt Lydia’s parts in the audio book for The Testaments. In the show, Aunt Lydia is a very nuanced character and Dowd is beloved among fans of the show. After the first season of The Handmaid’s Tale, Dowd won an Emmy Award for her portrayal of the character.

“Reading the audiobook — I’d never done one — the profound privilege and pleasure of reading Atwood out loud, and the challenge, may I say, was present, start to finish,” said Dowd.

Dowd also gave insight to how The Testaments will affect the way she plays the character on The Handmaid’s Tale.

“Having realized that the Lydia I know from The Handmaid’s Tale isn’t that different from the Lydia in The Testaments, on a very essential level, it has to affect the way I move forward,” she said.

The actress also hinted at how the character from The Testaments fits in with where the last season of The Handmaid’s Tale ended.

“We’re left, at the end of [The Handmaid’s Tale] season three, with many of the young girls gone from Gilead; our finest, most pure resource has been taken, and Lydia should have caught it, in her opinion. So when something of this level occurs she’s going to do a lot of thinking and a lot of self-reflection,” she said.