Every Time A TV Character's Death Just About Killed You

Photo: Courtesy of ABC.
We know we don't KNOW our favorite TV characters, as in really know them, but somehow we can still erupt in tears and convulsions when they're taken away from us. And there's a special type of sadness reserved for the moment a beloved small-screen character dies. Sure, we'll see the actor or actress again shortly, but never again will they deliver a witty one-liner, withering blow, or laugh their contagious laugh. At least, until the reruns. Not every TV character's death will leave a chasm in your life, though. Nor will it make you feel like you've lost a close and personal friend.
When Gus Fring died in Breaking Bad (this is just the first of MANY spoilers that are about to go down, for those of you enjoying major shows in streaming form), it was shocking, yes. Did it completely gut you? Probably not.
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The TV characters discussed here left an irreplaceable void both the world of the show and for fans. It goes without saying, but MASSIVE, HUMONGOUS SPOILERS AHEAD. You've been warned.
Cue up this song, then read on to reminisce about the TV characters we've loved and lost. But, really. There are death spoilers in here.
This slideshow contains graphic images.
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Tara, True Blood

After finally getting accustomed to a vampiric existence, Tara's killed by another vampire. At least she's given an opportunity to reconcile with her abusive mother, Lettie Mae, before passing through the veil of the after life.
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The Tenth Doctor, Doctor Who

The Tenth Doctor's drawn-out regeneration came after he saved the life of his companion's adorable grandfather, Wilf. Before the radiation finished him off, the Doctor visited all the people he'd known and loved while in David Tennant form. But there was no visit more heart-breaking than when he traveled back to a few moments before he met Rose. Before regenerating, he says the iconic line, "I don't want to go." We didn't want him to go, either.
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Courtesy of ABC
Sun & Jin, Lost
Being marooned on an island gives a couple ample time to work on their relationship. As a result, Sun and Jin’s relationship flourished amidst the island’s stress. For Lost viewers, Sun and Jin’s love was a constant source of all the ~feels.~ That’s what made their agreement to drown together all the more tragic. Till death do them apart, alright.
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Photo: Courtesy of NBC
Jack, This Is Us
We don't know how Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) died yet, but we know that his death had a profound effect on all of his children. That funeral scene made us weep right alongside the Pearson kids.
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Photo: ABC
Derek "McDreamy" Shepherd, Grey's Anatomy
Meredith and Derek struggled for so long to line up their relationship. Just when things finally seemed like they were going to work out for the endgame couple, Derek had to go off and die in a tragic car crash.
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Photo: Netflix
Barb, Stranger Things
Will we ever get #JusticeForBarb? Fans of the Netflix series wept for Nancy's underappreciated BFF when she was brutally slain in the Upside Down.
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Photo: The CW
Lexa, The 100

Life is about more than just surviving, but damn, Lexa, why did you have to die right after consummating your relationship with Clarke?
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Photo: ABC
Wes, How To Get Away With Murder
We knew someone was going to die on HTGAWM since the Season 3 premiere — but who was under the sheet remained a mystery until the midseason finale. Tragically, it was loyal-to-a-fault Wes who died in the house fire. He didn't even have time to find out that his girlfriend Laurel was pregnant.
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Photo: HBO
Hodor, Game of Thrones
He held the door. We couldn't hold back our tears.
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Photo: The CW
Elena Gilbert, The Vampire Diaries
Technically, Elena isn't "dead" — but she might as well be. Due to a particularly cruel spell, vampire Elena is doomed to a very long sleep until her BFF Bonnie dies. Elena sacrificed spending time with her human friends — who will likely die by the time she wakes — in order for Bonnie to live a long, happy life. Having Elena say goodbye to her best friends, knowing she will likely never see them again, and her vampire boyfriend Damon, whom she won't see for decades, was downright heartbreaking.
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Photo: The CW
Keith, One Tree Hill
Uncle Keith was like a dad to Lucas, which is why it was devastating when Lucas' actual father Dan shot his own brother in cold blood. Later we found out that Karen was pregnant with her now-dead fiancé's child, making the whole situation all the more tragic.
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Photo: Netflix
Poussey Washington, Orange Is The New Black
Poussey's accidental death at the hands of guard Bailey was perhaps the show's most disturbing and heartbreaking moment.
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Robert, Brothers and Sisters
Because no character played by Rob Lowe should ever die.
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Photo: Courtesy of ABC.
Mike Delfino, Desperate Housewives
Because he represented the only hope for a happy life — not just for Susan, but for all divorced housewives.
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Photo: Courtesy of NBC.
Dolores Landingham, The West Wing
Because nobody understood our favorite fictional President better than the wisecracking, nurturing Dolores.
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Photo: Courtesy of NBC.
Ben Sullivan, Scrubs
Because Ben was the only reason we wound up caring about the otherwise terrible Dr. Cox.
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Photo: Courtesy of ABC.
Sheriff Graham Humbert, Once Upon A Time
Because he was Jamie Dornan. And because no one else can pull off a wool vest and leather jacket at the same time.
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Photo: Courtesy of Fox.
Scott, Beverly Hills, 90210
Because he was David's only friend, and because 90210 really knew how to stir tears with this educational episode aimed at suicidal teens.
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Photo: Courtesy of FX.
Jax Teller, Sons of Anarchy
Because someone this beautiful should never commit suicide by highway crash. At least they save his Hamlet-esque death for the very last episode.
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Margaery Tyrell, Game of Thrones
In a season filled with female characters taking their power back, Margaery's wildfire-emblazoned death was a serious blow. At least we still have her grandmother to carry the thorny rose banner in the forthcoming war.
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Photo: Courtesy of ABC.
Dan Conner, Roseanne
Not only did the series finale crush fans' happiness by revealing the winning lottery ticket was fiction, but viewers also learned that the Conner family patriarch had died of a heart attack. Talk about going out with a bang.
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Photo: Courtesy of ABC.
Denny Duquette, Grey's Anatomy
He literally got a new heart in a transplant, and he figuratively helped Izzie Stevens find hers. Unfortunately, he died of a stroke later on.
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Photo: Courtesy of ABC.
Charlie Pace, Lost
Charlie began the show as a self-involved former rockstar and recovering addict, and his journey on the island involved him becoming a healthier, more well-adjusted, kinder person. In the end, he sacrificed himself so that others could survive.
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Photo: Courtesy of FOX.
Marissa Cooper, The O.C.
Mischa Barton spoiled her character's death before the episode aired, but it was still hard to watch Ryan hold Marissa in his arms while she died from injuries sustained in a car accident.
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Photo: Courtesy of HBO.
Ned Stark, Game of Thrones
The Starks were the good guys in season 1, with patriarch Eddard "Ned" Stark serving as the moral and ethical voice of reason in King's Landing. His beheading at the hand of the new King Joffrey was one of the instigating incidents in the war over the Iron Throne, which would also lead to the horrifying deaths of Ned's wife, son, daughter-in-law, and unborn grandchild at the Red Wedding.
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Photo: Courtesy of HBO.
Brother Ray, Game of Thrones
Brother Ray (Ian McShane), we hardly knew ye. Of course, we should have known that a character this good natured, wide-eyed, and hopeful wouldn't last very long in Westeros. Still, would it have killed the showrunners to keep him around a little while longer?
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Photo: Courtesy of NBC Universal.
Henry Saracen, Friday Night Lights
"The Son," the episode in which Matt Saracen deals with the death of his father, whom he disliked and felt abandoned by, is one of the series' finest. "I just want to tell him to his face that I hate him, but he doesn't even have a face," Matt laments to Coach Taylor.
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Photo: Courtesy of FX.
Violet Harmon, American Horror Story
Perhaps even more upsetting than her death is the fact that Violet was quickly resurrected as a ghost in the murder house — and she didn't even realize she had died from swallowing all of those pills until Tate took her to see her corpse.
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Photo: Courtesy of The WB.
Jen Lindley, Dawson’s Creek
The series finale of Dawson's Creek flashed forward five years to reveal that Jen was now a mother! That would've been fine, right? Wrong. The show then had to destroy all of us by having Jen die of an undiagnosed heart condition, and making sure she recorded a gut-wrenching video message for her daughter before passing away.
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Photo: Courtesy of AMC.
Lane Pryce, Mad Men
A partner at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, Lane hanged himself in his office after it was discovered he'd embezzled company funds. Don, Roger, and Pete were greeted with his lifeless body the next morning.
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Photo: Courtesy of HBO.
Mrs. Hobbes, Sex and the City
The four central characters' families didn't play a large role in their lives on Sex and the City, so Miranda's mother's unexpected passing serves as an impetus for Charlotte, Samantha, Miranda, and Carrie to deal with grief and loss in their own lives. In the process, they all discover previously unknown facets of themselves.
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Photo: Courtesy of TBS.
Seymour Asses, Futurama
Seymour was a stray dog Fry found and adopted, and the two were best friends. When Fry was accidentally cryogenically frozen, Seymour tried to lead his family to the lab to rescue him, but they didn't listen. In a particularly heartbreaking episode, it's revealed that Seymour waited 12 years for his best friend to return. One day, the pooch laid down and simply never woke up, and Fry discovers his fossilized body a millennium later.
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Photo: Courtesy of AMC.
Hank Schrader, Breaking Bad
It was never going to end well for the DEA agent with a strong moral code whose brother-in-law became a meth kingpin. When Walt begs for the white supremacist gang to spare Hank's life in the desert, Hank already knows it's too late. He's resigned to his fate, and Walt just has to watch his grisly murder.
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Photo: Courtesy of FOX.
Maude Flanders, The Simpsons
Poor Maude, mowed down by a T-shirt cannon meant for Homer.
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Photo: Courtesy of PBS.
Matthew Crawley, Downton Abbey
Actor Dan Stevens had asked to be written off the show, but did he have to depart in such a gruesome manner? His character died in a car accident on the way back from meeting his newborn son, George. We weren't emotionally ready for it...at all.
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Photo: Courtesy of AMC.
Merle Dixon, The Walking Dead
Rick chained Merle to a rooftop in Atlanta, and we all figured he became a walker's dinner. Nope. The resilient and painfully resourceful Merle sawed off his own hand and took refuge with the Governor. He was eventually reunited with his brother Daryl only to be killed by the Governor, and then shot again by his brother after turning into a walker. Nobody said post-apocalyptic life was easy.
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Photo: Courtesy of PBS.
Mr. Hooper, Sesame Street
After the beloved Sesame Street storekeeper passed away, the show used it as an opportunity to teach children about death by having Big Bird mourn his friend in this moving tribute.
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Photo: Courtesy of CTV.
J.T. Yorke, Degrassi: The Next Generation
He was stabbed by a student from a rival high school, and the entire Degrassi crew came together to mourn the loss of their friend.
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Photo: Courtesy of The WB.
Joyce Summers, Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Buffy is heartbroken when she arrives home to find her mother's lifeless body on the sofa after she passed away from a brain tumor.
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Photo: Courtesy of HBO.
Adriana La Cerva, The Sopranos
After she admitted to becoming an FBI informant to her mobster fiance, his crew had her executed in the woods by made-man Silvio Dante.
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Photo: Courtesy of CBS.
Coach Ernie Pantusso, Cheers
Actor Nicholas Colasanto passed away after a heart attack, and Cheers' creators decided to write his character out of the show. He was replaced by Woody Harrelson, playing a young bartender named Woody Boyd, and other characters frequently mentioned Coach in loving memory.
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Photo: Courtesy of HBO.
Nate Fisher, Six Feet Under
Even though it was a show about death, no one was prepared for Nate Fisher's untimely demise following surgery for a brain condition. The Fisher family members' various reactions to his death — especially during that hard-to-watch burial scene — were just as gut-wrenching.
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Photo: Courtesy of Showtime.
Rita Morgan, Dexter
Shortly after Dexter realizes his love for his family is becoming more important to him than his need to kill, he comes home to find Rita dead in the bathtub. Their son Harrison sits on the floor next to his mother's lifeless body, sobbing in a pool of blood, in a scene that mirrors what happened to Dexter after his own mother's death.
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Photo: Courtesy of HBO.
Felix Turner, The Normal Heart
Watching Felix's body waste away from AIDS is heartbreaking, as is the final scene in the hospital where Ned and Felix declare their love for one another before Felix passes away.
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Photo: Courtesy of HBO.
Omar Little, The Wire
Shot at a convenience store. RIP.
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Photo: Courtesy of NBC.
Zeek Braverman, Parenthood
Like most Jason Katims dramas, Parenthood had the ability to reduce us to tears in almost every episode. Whether or not patriarch Zeek would die was kind of a foregone conclusion for the show's final season, but it still cut viewers to the core when it happened.
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Photo: Courtesy of CBS.
Edith Bunker, Archie Bunker’s Place
Edith suffered a fatal stroke in her sleep, and a heartbroken Archie Bunker, who wasn't known for his ability to expression emotion, delivered this extremely poignant speech. "It wasn't supposed to be like this. I was supposed to be the first one to go. I always used to kid you about you going first. You know I never meant none of that and that morning when yous was laying there. I was shaking you and yelling at you to go down and fix my breakfast. I didn't know. You had no right to leave me that way, without giving me just one more chance to say I love you."
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Photo: Courtesy of ABC.
Paul Hennessy, 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter
After actor John Ritter tragically passed away at the age of 54, his character on the show collapsed and died while buying milk. He was replaced by David Spade, but the show just wasn't the same after its beloved star's passing.
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Photo: Courtesy of AMC.
Lizzie, The Walking Dead
She may not have been the most friendly, lovable, or sweet-natured young person in the TWD universe, but she did have some badass potential. Carol's decision to take out the borderline sociopathic girl was mostly heartbreaking for what it did to Carol — and continues to do to her conscience well into season 6.
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Photo: Courtesy of PBS.
Isis The Dog, Downton Abbey
Blame terrorism for this one. It's been rumored that the show's producers needed a way to get around the awkwardness of the beloved Grantham family dog's name, which led to the plot surrounding Isis' demise in season 5. Fortunately, the Dowager wrapped a neat bow around the story line, by gifting Robert with a brand-new puppy just before the series wrapped. But we still feel like the OG yellow lab was robbed.
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Photo: Courtesy of CBS.
Will Gardner, The Good Wife
Because all we really wanted was for Alicia to be happy, and Will seemed like the answer. Of course, we couldn't have predicted the lust-worthy swagger of Jeffrey Dean Morgan's Jason a few seasons later.
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