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25 Saddest TV Deaths That Were Totally Heartbreaking

Imagine that someone punched you square in the gut while you were suffering from a stomach ache. Now, imagine that this person also ripped your heart right out of your chest and easily crushed it. It sounds like a pretty brutal beat down, but in all truth, this is what it feels like to watch our favorite TV characters die.

It’s no secret that we all connect with fictional characters on a personal level. Since we identify with their flaws and see bits of ourselves in them, we often grow to love and respect these characters as we would our own loved ones IRL. So when we’re forced to see them suffer such a terrible fate on screen, it cuts us pretty deep. It feels like the world is ending and our souls are basically shattered to tiny pieces — not to be dramatic. Basically, nothing can make the world collectively lose their sh*t quite like a major plot twist that involves the death of a beloved fictional character.

See all the shocking TV deaths that we’re still not over to this day. (FYI: Keep in mind that there are major spoilers ahead! So if you’re not all caught up on these shows, then you might want to proceed with caution!!)

1. Michael Cordero from Jane the Virgin

When we first saw Michael’s death scene, we were in total denial. We expected the narrator to laugh and say something like, “Gotcha! Of course, that’s not what really happened!” or “Michael was rushed to the hospital and on his way to a miraculous recovery.” But none of that happened. The reality of it only hit us when we saw Jane break down at the end after she got the call (and we basically broke down too).

Michael and Jane were supposed to grow old together. They were supposed to stay partners in crime and have children and make more fun memories as a family. We would have never guessed that Michael would suffer more complications after recovering from that gunshot, let alone collapse without warning. A piece of every fan’s soul died on that day. And obviously, we’re still not over it.

2. Joel Goran from Saving Hope

Joel was quite a handful. In one moment, we hated him for being an inconsiderate douche, and the next, we were legit swooning over his flirty encounters with Alex. He was selfish, immature, and not the best at maintaining healthy relationships. But at the same time, he was an amazing doctor and his intentions were usually good. We all felt a deep connection to his character because of his flaws (and because of his charm too, let’s be real). So when he ended up losing his life while trying to save a patient… Our world just crumbled.

3. Lawrence Kutner from House

Of all the TV deaths that we’ve ever seen, Dr. Kutner’s was by far the most shocking. He actually stood out as the best among his peers and he genuinely enjoyed working as a fellow for House (which was more than the others could say). He literally had no reason to take his own life. But still, for reasons unknown, he committed suicide.

In all fairness, we do understand that Kal Penn wanted to leave the show. But the abruptness and lack of explanation for his character’s death felt so rushed, and it only made his death all the more disturbing. We’ll never know what he was really going through or what led him to do it, and it’s still nagging at us to this day.

4. James Novak from Scandal

James wasn’t just any old reporter who worked for a steady paycheck. He was determined to learn the truth, and unfortunately, his persistence eventually cost him his life. B-613 murdered James for knowing a little too much about the death of Sally Langston’s husband, Daniel Douglas. And though he didn’t necessarily play a major role on the show, we knew him well enough to know that he didn’t deserve to die. He was only doing his job. And seeing his husband, Cyrus, completely lose it in front of the press was honestly too much for our hearts to bear.

5. Bobby Singer from Supernatural

Okay, so we know that a character’s death on this show doesn’t always mean that they’ll disappear for good. After all, we did get to see where Bobby landed in the afterlife and he did reappear when Sam and Castiel called out to him for help. But still, seeing Bobby exit the real world for good felt like a devastating loss. We’ll admit that we were hopeful when Bobby insisted on staying around as a spirit to help the Winchesters. But when that backfired, Sam and Dean had no choice but to let go of the best father figure they had.

6. Allison Argent from Teen Wolf

As if the Argents haven’t already been through enough (with the suicide of Allison’s mom), the writers decided to kill off Allison’s character after her battle with the Oni. But because of Crystal Reed‘s desire to be written out of the show, the creator, Jeff Davis, explained that they had no other option.

He said: “To be honest, we struggled to think of a reason why Allison would leave Beacon Hills. [Having her die] was more true to her character. She’s not the kind of person who would just say, ‘OK, guys, I’m out of here. Take care.’ It was a powerful, painful moment.” Darn right it was.

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7. Lexa from The 100

Alycia Debnam-Carey, who played Lexa, also happened to be a regular on another show, so we can understand why she was written out. But still, that didn’t make her character’s death any less painful to watch. Lexa and her love interest, Clarke, had reconnected and finally gotten intimate, which gave viewers hope for the future of their relationship. But only moments later, Lexa got killed. This actually played directly into the trope of lesbian characters dying off and never getting their happy ending. It’s no wonder why the writers ended up facing major backlash from the LGBTQ+ community.

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8. Rita Morgan from Dexter

Rita was the light of Dexter’s life. She was literally his anchor. And then Trinity came and took her away from him in the cruelest possible way. Dexter came home to find their child sitting and crying in a pool of her blood. And behind that spilled mess was Rita lying dead in a bathtub. Our hearts just couldn’t take it – and we’re surprised that Dexter didn’t lose his mind right then and there.

9. Prue Halliwell from Charmed

At first, when she received that powerful blast from Shax, we didn’t think that the show could possibly kill off one of the main three. We assumed that Leo would be able to heal her and that she’d be good as new, just like before the time switched back. But then… She never got healed. Losing the eldest Charmed One was like losing the glue that held the trio together.
But after some backstage drama, Shannen Doherty had to go and Rose McGowan stepped in as the secret fourth Charmed one… which didn’t make a ton of sense regarding the prophecy of the three most powerful witch-sisters, but we let it slide because Paige was a great character.

10. Rayna Jaymes from Nashville

She was a supportive mom, a loving wife, and the reigning Queen of Country who stole all our hearts. So in a sense, watching her flatline was like watching the heart of the show die. Connie Britton did explain that she wanted to exit the show, and when she discussed it with the showrunners, they believed that killing her off was the best decision.

“When I was talking to [showrunner] Marshall this summer, I was like, ‘Does she have to die?’ But then I realized: She would never leave her family. She would never leave her kids. She would never leave Deacon. So there really wasn’t any alternative,” Connie said.

11. Raina St. Patrick from Power

Raina was the sweetest, most innocent character on this show. Like, she actually died trying to stick up for her brother, for crying out loud. But the worst part was that her brother stood aside and watched the whole thing unfold without doing a thing… We know that he’s only a kid, but our newfound hatred of him is still pretty strong.

“The decision to kill off [Raina] isn’t hard because it’s the right decision…” creator Courtney A. Kemp said when asked about it. “It’s the thing that would happen. Ghost is constantly fighting this idea that he’s a criminal, but he is. And it was the logical next progression in Tariq’s story; something he couldn’t change or take back would happen. Our show is not about power, it’s really about powerlessness. The idea that you don’t have power over what’s happening next no matter how much you think you do. So we wanted something that at this stage of the series would change everyone’s life forever.”

12. Oberyn Martell from Game of Thrones

He was so close to getting his revenge, but he temporarily let his guard down and demanded a confession from Gregor about killing his sister. Though he did end up getting his confession, Gregor took this opportunity to overpower Oberyn and literally crush his skull… It was the most cringe-worthy death scene that would lead to tons of nightmares. But we take some comfort in the fact that Oberyn’s poisonous blade caused some damage.

13. Lori Grimes from The Walking Dead

Poor Lori went into labor right in the middle of a zombie attack, and someone had to literally slice her stomach open to perform a C-section (with no surgical tools or meds to ease the pain). She was also forced to stifle her screams in order to avoid attracting zombies. So basically, it was the literal definition of hell.

While a part of us could sense that she wouldn’t survive this, we still kept our fingers crossed and hoped for a miracle. Unfortunately, she passed shortly after her child was born. And to spare her the fate of becoming a zombie, her son shot her in the head. Talk about depressing.

14. Will Gardner from The Good Wife

It came as a major shock when Will was fatally shot by a client, but little did we know that his abrupt exit was already in the works almost a year ahead of time. Like, what???

“We strongly considered the ‘Sending Will to Seattle’ route,” said showrunners Michelle and Robert King. “[Will] could get disbarred or run off to Borneo to do good works. But it didn’t do much for us dramatically. It was the softer blow, but at a certain point, the show wasn’t looking for the softer blow. We wanted there to be a painful turning point in Alicia’s life.”

15. Nicholas Brody in Homeland

It was one of the most emotional episodes that ever aired. One of the central characters, Nicholas, was sentenced to death by Iranian authorities and hanged in a public square.

Showrunner Alex Gansa said: “His shelf life had expired. It was time. We spent a lot of hours in the story room figuring out what we could do with his character, and a lot of the emotional landscape had been crossed. We didn’t want to repeat ourselves. Then we thought of this cool thing Saul could do with him to find political asylum in Iran and use that operationally. So it just felt like once he was in Iran, he wasn’t getting out of Iran—and his time was up.”

16. Jen Lindley from Dawson’s Creek

There were so many points throughout the show when we wanted to just give Jen a hug. From getting ditched by the guy who knocked her up to developing a heart problem out of the blue, she went through so much. But then she got really sick to the point where she was dying and everyone had to say their emotional goodbyes. And as if that weren’t painful enough, we also had to see the emotional video message that she recorded for her daughter… (Excuse us while we go get some tissues.)

17. Charlie Pace from Lost

Charlie understood that his death was coming – and so did we. But it didn’t stop us from shedding a few tears when he slowly submerged into water and spared Desmond’s life, also giving him one last warning. Some might say that he was one of the most annoying characters on the show. However, we’ve seen so much character growth and he actually died a courageous hero.

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“Not Penny’s boat.” ICONIC.

18. Derek Shepherd from Grey’s Anatomy

To kill off such a huge fan favorite seemed downright cruel. And the fact that he died because of incompetent doctors makes it all the more heart-wrenching. Fans suspected that he was forced to exit the show because Shonda Rhimes personally disliked the actor, Patrick Dempsey. However, Shonda explained the real reason why she had to let him go.

“Meredith and Derek’s love had to remain Meredith and Derek’s love,” she said. “As painful as it was for me as a storyteller, because I had never really thought that was going to happen, it preserved what felt true to me[…] Derek was going to have to die in order for that love to remain honest. Because I really couldn’t have the idea that he just turned out to be a bad guy who walked out on his wife and kids be a true story.”

19. Jonathan Kent from Smallville

Any Smallville fan would agree that Jonathan was one of the best fathers to ever grace our screen. This doesn’t mean that he was perfect, but he was fiercely loyal and so protective of his family. His honesty, work ethic, and strong moral compass helped shape Clark into the best hero he could be.

So when he suddenly collapsed one night and died right on the brink of winning an election, it was a huge, huge blow. We’re still not fully recovered yet and it’s been years..

20. Matthew Crawley from Downton Abbey

To this day, we’re still heartbroken over Matthew’s untimely death. His wife had just given birth to their son and it was actually Christmas day. Fans were understandably livid, even to the point where they claimed that his death actually ruined their holiday.

However, the writers stepped up and explained that killing him off was their only option. After all, actor Dan Stevens was going to leave the show for good, and writing him off as “estranged or parted” from his wife wouldn’t make much sense with the storyline. So yeah, we totally get it. But still… After watching that death scene, a part of us died too.

Dan told the TODAY show, “I spend a lot of my time apologizing [for Matthew’s death]. Yeah, I get a lot of, ‘My wife was very upset by this. You have to apologize to my wife!’ Then they call them over. ‘Katherine! Come over here. This is the young man that upset you.’ ‘Say sorry!’ You have to apologize, in public… a lot, almost every day.” Serves him right, TBH.

21. Zeek Braverman from Parenthood

He was the tough, courageous patriarch of the family, but what really drew us to him was the fact that he had a soft spot for his kids. It was evident even in his very last line before his death when he told his wife: “Boy, we did good, didn’t we, Camille?”

We don’t know about you guys, but the fact that he passed away peacefully in his sleep didn’t do much to ease the blow. It was just the saddest case of a beloved family member who passed way too soon.

22. Joyce Summers from Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Can we please take a moment to appreciate how amazing of a mom Joyce was? Of course, she overreacted to the news about her daughter killing vampires, but even despite her flaws and weak moments, she proved to be an amazing single parent and a supportive mother figure to the Scoobies. She played an integral role in so many people’s lives, and sometimes we actually wished that she was our mom. Out of all the tragic Buffy deaths (Not over Tara dying either, quite honestly), this one was especially painful to see go.

23. Jack Pearson from This Is Us

This show never fails to tug at our heartstrings (it can make even the blackest, coldest heart feel things). So when we found out that Jack died, it literally broke us. What’s really frustrating, though, is that we still have no idea how the beloved family patriarch died. We’ve been racking our brains for months, trying to figure out how it all went down. But on the bright side, Milo Ventimiglia did reveal a few ways that he didn’t die. Sort of.

“[Jack] did not die by sticking his head in the microwave while making popcorn,” he said on Jimmy Kimmel Live. “He eats a lot of popcorn! He didn’t die while eating a peanut butter and banana sandwich on the toilet, like Elvis. Gluten didn’t kill him. He was not overcome with emotion at a Bieber concert. And he didn’t die giving birth.”

24. Stefan Salvatore from The Vampire Diaries

We’d have loved to see both Salvatore brothers come up with some sort of loophole to outsmart Katherine. But in order to save the town of Mystic Falls from hell fire, Stefan had no other choice but to kill Katherine and sacrifice himself in the process.

The fact that this all happened right after his marriage to Caroline didn’t make things any easier. After he left a message for her, explaining what he did, she returned a message of her own, saying that she supported his decision and that she would always love him. Of course, Stefan responded and said he would always love her too. *Weeps uncontrollably*

25. Enzo from The Vampire Diaries

Just the memory of that death scene is giving us heart palpitations. The swiftness of Stefan, the Ripper, as he tore Enzo’s heart out… The look of shock on Enzo’s face… The guttural scream that rose from Bonnie as she dropped down and held Enzo’s corpse… It was almost as if we were there in Bonnie’s shoes, feeling her pain.

This death especially hit us hard, and perhaps more so that Stefan’s. Why? Well, one, because Enzo’s charisma and dark humor made the show ten times more entertaining, and two, because his love interest, Bonnie, had already been through more than enough. This show has thrown her curveball after curveball, from losing her Grams and being stuck in a prison world to sacrificing herself and actually dying once. Like, hasn’t she been through enough??

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