Most Shocking TV deaths

Characters deaths that we're still not over

I’ve cried many tears over the passing of a beloved TV character, and I know I’m not the only one. Characters dying on our favorite tv shows has become part of the norm. While death has always been a tool writers have used, in recent years we keep losing our beloved character to TV heaven at an alarming rate.

We know our favorite characters are not real, but that doesn’t mean the loss of them is easy to accept. We love these characters, some of them have been part of our lives for years, and so when they’re gone, we grieve them.

Here are some of the most unexpected and devastating TV deaths.

Ned Stark, Game of Thrones


Ned Stark was good, noble and honest. Everything we’d been taught about story told us that he was the protagonist of Game of Thrones. Ned was our hero and that meant that he was safe. Except, he wasn’t, Ned was beheaded before the first season even ended.

Many, many deaths followed his on Game of Thrones, but Ned Stark’s death shocked TV audiences in an unpreceded way and arguably changed the rules of death in television. In fact, I would argue many of the television deaths that have followed are trying to imitate the shock value of Ned’s death.

Lexa, The 100


Lexa’s death was also shocking…just not in the way that the writers expected. Despite only joining the show in season 2, the Commander of the 12 Clans very quickly became a beloved character and an important one for the LGBTQ community looking for representation.

After building up her character and her romantic connection with Clarke, Lexa met her demise by a stray bullet. For many, her death felt like a betrayal, one that shook the foundations of the show and will be tied to its legacy in some way. Lexa’s death instigated a very important conversation about the “Bury your gays” trope and its prevalence in media.

Derek Shepherd, Grey’s Anatomy


For more than a decade we’d invested in the ups and down of the romance between Meredith Grey and Derek Shepherd. Ever since hooking up in the pilot, MerDer were pretty much THE couple of the show. By season 11, they were married with kids. So yeah, we got comfortable because whatever happened, MerDer would always find their way back to each other.

Grey’s Anatomy proved it still had the ability to deeply shock us by killing off McDreamy in a car accident. Meredith lost the love of her life and we lost the relationship that had shaped so much of the Grey’s Anatomy we feel in love with. The show has continued to succeed without him, but I can’t lie, sometimes I still get sad thinking about how his children will never know him.

Joyce Summers, Buffy the Vampire Slayer


“The Body” is one of the most devastating episodes about death. Buffy has saved the world countless times, but when she finds her mother’s lifeless body she is powerless to save her. In a world full of vampires, demons and magic, Buffy loses her mother in the most human way.

There isn’t anything supernatural about Joyce’s death, she dies because of an aneurysm. The episode explores grief in a beautiful and haunting way. It’s heartbreaking to watch as Buffy and the rest of the Scoobies grapple with the senseless reality of death.

Charlie Pace, Lost


The thing about Charlie’s death is that we should have been ready for it. Desmond had promotions about Charlie dying the entire season, but time and time again he managed to avoid his tragic fate. In the finale of season 3, Charlie accepted he couldn’t avoid his fate and sacrificed himself for Claire and Aaron.

Charlie started the show as a selfish drug addict and ended up a selfless hero. Even as he’s drowning he manages to write Desmond one last important warning, NOT PENNY’S BOAT. Charlie’s death was one of the saddest moments in Lost.

Allison Argent, Teen Wolf


Allison Argent was a badass. She might have started as Scott’s girlfriend, but Allison quickly became an integral part of the pack all on her own. With her bow and arrow, there was never an enemy Allison was too afraid to face. She died the way she lived, protecting her friends. Still, her death at the hands of the Oni is one of the most difficult to watch.

Allison was deeply missed, but her legacy was felt in Teen Wolf, especially in the new Code she created for the Argent family: “We protect those who cannot protect themselves”.

Will Gardner, The Good Wife


Will Gardner was the great love of Alicia Florrick’s life, of this I have no doubt. Their love was complicated, their timing always sucked, but their chemistry was undeniable. Will’s death came out of nowhere, he’s shot in a courtroom by his mentally ill client and then he’s just gone.

Alicia nor the audience were prepared for the loss of Will and to be honest, I’m still not sure I’m over it.  Alicia and Will weren’t even on good terms before he died, and whatever they could have been was left unresolved. Will had complicated relationship with just about every character on the show, so his death really shifted a lot of the dynamics of the show.

Rita Morgan, Dexter


In a show where the main character murders people every episode, Rita has the distinction of having the most terrible death on Dexter. Rita, was Dexter’s girlfriend, eventual wife and mother of his child. Nice, sweet and somewhat naive Rita never found out about Dexter’s true nature. Her ignorance did not save her from death at the hands of one his enemies, the Trinity Killer.

Dexter finds Rita dead in a tub filled with her blood, their son Harrison is on the floor sitting in a pool of her blood. It’s an image I’ve never really been able to forget.

Quentin Coldwater, The Magicians


This is the most recent death on the list, and a very divisive one. It’s devastating to lose the character who has basically served as our protagonist for four seasons. Subversion of our expectations is something The Magicians excels at. Quentin’s death strived to continue this tradition by killing off the traditionally safe white lead.

Quentin wasn’t just that, he was a bisexual, mentally-ill man whose search for happiness despite all his struggles resonated with audiences. I’ve come to terms with the reality that the narrative I was reading wasn’t the one the writers were setting up, but I’m still frustrated with Quentin’s death. I still cried and was devastated by the loss of Quentin, but I’m also disappointed by the end of his story and all the promise it had.  

Matthew Crawley, Downton Abbey


Matthew had everything he had ever wanted; he was heir to a large estate, married to the love this life, and had just met his new baby son. It all came to an abrupt and tragic end when he got into a fatal car accident. Audiences were shocked and many fans stopped watching after Matthew’s heartbreaking death.

BRB, gotta go cry now.

What TV death has left you heartbroken?


Gabriela Acevedo

Gaby is a TV-obsessed fangirl and writer. Television is her true love, but movies and books aren't far behind. Currently living in Los Angeles, she's originally from Puerto Rico, which is still her favorite place in the world. Find her on twitter @gabsteramy.

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