One last Pretty in Pink posting, I promise.
As my very-soon-to-be-fourteen-year-old noted during her first viewing of PIP, "This movie's more about Duckie (Jon Cryer) than anyone else." This observation, of course, is absolutely correct, which is why the original ending the filmmakers intended and really wanted, i.e., Andie's (Molly Ringwald) and Duckie's dancing together at the prom, made perfect sense to them. Duckie's the most compelling figure in the movie -- whether it's his lipsynching and dancing to "Try a Little Tenderness", fighting that evil James Spader character in the halls of the high school, proclaiming his love for Andie flat on his back alone on her bed, or smirking at the audience near film's end. (The Andie/Duckie ending, of course, made no sense to a teen audience who wanted true love with Blane, across the great economic divide, to win out. And the audience won, as is Hollywood's way.)
But, in essence, what John Hughes faced -- and failed to reconcile -- is precisely what Shakespeare did in Romeo and Juliet (and, believe me, this is the only time John Hughes's and Shakespeare's names should appear in the same sentence!): What to do with a character who's far more interesting than your romantic leads?
Mercutio is far more exciting and dynamic than Romeo and/or Juliet could ever even dream of becoming. So, what's a playwright to do? That's right, kill him off early -- before the writer and the audience can become too infatuated with him and make a mess of the arc of the love story. So Shakespeare does just that to the benefit of his play, while Hughes doesn't get rid of the trouble and ends up needing to produce a future-Buffy-the-Vampire-Slayer (but not the one everyone knows!) out of the blue for the Duckman.