When it comes to our favorite TV shows, a sad fact is that not every character is going to make it to the series finale. Just like in real-life, death is a tragic reality and we don’t get to escape it on television either. Sometimes these TV show deaths are completely unexpected and we are all left shellshocked. Other times, we can see a death coming from the first episode. No matter how dramatic, sad, expected, orout of the blue the deaths might be, TV viewers are always taken aback.
There are so many reasons why a character might die on a show. If the TV show is based on a book, they could be meeting the same fate as their source material. (Though let’s face it, book adaptations are usually nothing like what they were based on.) Other times, deaths occur because an actor decided to leave their show (we’re looking at you, Patrick Dempsey). A lot of times, though, deaths simply happen as a way to add a new dramatic dimension to a show. Whatever the reason may be, these characters did not deserve to die, or didn’t deserve to die yet at least!
Be warned: there are spoilers ahead for characters who have died on TV shows that are still on air!
17. Derek Shepherd, Grey’s Anatomy
Now, was Derek Shepherd the best guy? Certainly not. He cheated on his first wife, messed with Meredith’s head, and even treated her like crap at times during their marriage. More important than Derek not deserving to die was Meredith not deserving to lose her husband. Just when they’d finally gotten their issues settled and were expecting a new baby, Derek had to go and get in an accident. What added insult to injury was that because of all the build-up to Patrick Dempsey’s departure, the actual death itself just felt like an anticlimactic letdown. Of all the ways for this brilliant neurosurgeon to go, we didn’t expect his death to be so ironic and boring.
16. George O’Malley, Grey’s Anatomy
Out of all the deaths on Grey’s Anatomy, the worst is still George O’Malley’s death. (Yes, worse than McDreamy’s.) He was one of the most tender characters to ever be on Grey’s Anatomy. Like so many in Shondaland, T.R. Knight actually chose to leave the show after his character’s screentime was drastically cut down. But instead of giving him an Izzie Stevens-esque exit, Shonda Rhimes ruined everyone’s lives when she killed him off. The end of the fifth season made it seem like George was leaving (for the Army) and that his character could possibly come back one day. Instead, he died a hero in Seattle.
15. Poussey Washington, Orange is the New Black
Certain shows make it hard to like the main characters and you might think Orange is the New Black would be one of them. But Poussey was one of the easiest characters to love in the history of TV. We mean it. So, when Poussey met her untimely fate, we were all heartbroken as could be. But her death wasn’t just sad, it was criminally negligent and a shining example of how poisoned the justice system really is. Her death was an accident, but that is no excuse. OITNB made a statement with Poussey’s death, showing that even when people protest peacefully and try to diffuse tension rationally, things can still go very, very wrong. Poussey was so close to being released from prison too, it was messed up in every sense of the situation.
14. Hodor, Game of Thrones
Everyone knows Game of Thrones loves to brutally, and unexpectedly, kill characters off for no damn reason. But what makes this particular GOT death so damn tragic was that Hodor died to save Bran – who was actually kind of the worst already. So not only did Hodor die heroically saving Bran, no that wasn’t traumatic enough, Bran warged into Hodor, taking over his brain for a moment, and went into the past. Bran actually was the one who destroyed Hodor’s mind from the start. Hodor was mentally impaired as a child, but still functional and able to say more than one word. But because of Bran’s decision, Hodor became mentally crippled and only able to say his new name, Hodor. We’ll never hear the phrase “hold the door” again without wanting to cry.
13. Catelyn Stark, Game of Thrones
Poor Catelyn, she just suffered from being in the wrong place at the wrong time. No offense to Robb and Talisa, because they didn’t deserve to die so gruesomely either, but we can’t say we were shocked that they were given the axe. Robb betrayed a promise. He didn’t listen to his own mother. What kind of idiot doesn’t listen to Catelyn Stark? This matriarch didn’t deserve to go out like that. And certainly not so soon in the series! The Stark children have been without their mama for far too long. At least they’re finally starting to adjust.
12. Jack Pearson, This Is Us
This is Us has spent two seasons proving that Jack Pearson was not just the best dad and husband, but basically the best person ever. Why would someone so good at heart have to die? For the sake of dramatic flair, we get that Jack had to be killed off to give this show an endless source of sad storylines. This is Us just loves to make us cry. But it still sucks! They managed to wait for nearly two full seasons before revealing how Jack actually died. Now that we know just how heroic Jack was (seriously, he was saving his daughter’s dog from a fire), we have to pray that the Jack flashbacks never slow down, seeing as he is the best character on the show. We only wish we could have seen Jack as sweet old man doting on his granddaughters.
11. William, This Is Us
Just like Jack Pearson had to die, so did William in order to give Randall a more dramatic storyline on This is Us. But he didn’t deserve to die, especially not so soon after finally meeting his biological son! William might have made a mistake letting Randall go in the first place (though Randall was better off with Jack and Rebecca at the time), but he had made amends. William got a second chance at life after he gave his son away and he didn’t squander it. He was a good man who led a quiet and peaceful life secretly wishing he was a part of his son’s life but respecting his mother’s wishes. Once he finally met Randall, William was like an endless faucet of wisdom and life lessons. One season was NOT enough of him!
10. Glenn Rhee, The Walking Dead
In the zombie apocalypse, death is basically imminent. Still, Glenn Rhee was one of the original survivors on The Walking Dead and his death was pretty uncalled for. If only the group had never met Negan and the Saviors. To make it even worse, Glenn really only died in the place of someone else. Not to blame Daryl Dixon, but let’s blame Daryl Dixon. Daryl pissed off Negan, and instead of Daryl dying for it, Negan made an example of Glenn. His death was downright nasty to watch, and Glenn doubly didn’t deserve that. Poor Maggie really cannot catch a break when it came to her loved ones dying right in front of her.
9. Carl Grimes, The Walking Dead
Carl Grimes being killed off is probably one of the most shocking deaths on this list. The Walking Dead is based on the comics of the same name and in the comics, Carl is alive and well… still! The entire cast of the show was vocal about how surprised they were when they found out Carl was being killed off for pretty obviously no damn reason. And for all the ways that Carl could have died? We did not expect such an anticlimactic death after everything the Grimes family had been through already!
8. Wes Gibbins, How to Get Away With Murder
On How to Get Away With Murder, it’s hard to say that anyone is ever fully innocent. The show wouldn’t be interesting if they were, though! However, Wes had a truly tragic backstory. He was the product of rape; he watched his own mother die by suicide; he witnessed his biological father take a bullet to the head when he first met him. As if that wasn’t all upsetting and unfair enough, Wes then lost his girlfriend when she was murdered and finally, Wes became a murder victim himself. Why couldn’t we get a chance to see Wes happy for longer than one measly second? Seriously.
7. Dr. Lance Sweets, Bones
Not Sweets! Everyone loved him. How could they not? In their field, the stakes weren’t always high but working as part of the Jeffersonian team or the FBI always had the potential to get very tricky. Sweets managed to get caught up in something very dangerous, and it wound up getting him killed. He was a character who certainly deserved to make it all the way to the finale. But at least his death was able to motivate Booth and Bones. He did get some great final parting words, “The world is a lot better than you think it is. It’s…” WHAT IS IT?! Now that’s a cliffhanger ending!
6. Bobby Singer, Supernatural
It is not shocking to see a beloved character die on Supernatural. In fact, what’s more shocking is when a character lasts for several seasons and seems to be in good enough health to make it a while longer. Still, every death is usually pretty heartbreaking if the character had been around for a while. But something being heartbreaking is different than it being completely undeserving and unfair. Bobby Singer was the father that Dean and Sam didn’t have growing up and he deserved to live more than John Winchester ever did. Not only did Bobby know literally everything there is to know about monsters and hunting, he was also a good reality check for the Winchester brothers. Anytime they got a little carried away, he’d call them “idjits” and smack them upside of the head. Tough love, baby! At least on Supernatural, every character has the opportunity to come back from the dead and Bobby is one of the privileged deceased who makes regular appearances.
5. Kevin Tran, Supernatural
Poor, Kevin. All he wanted to do was get his AP coursework done and get into Princeton. Kevin was only 20 when he was killed. He was just a kid, which is obviously why Dean felt so awful and blamed himself for Kevin’s untimely death. We’re not going to blame Dean, but it was dumb to let Gadreel possess his brother, even if he didn’t realize who Gadreel really was. Kevin had so much potential on Supernatural, we find it hard to understand how he could have just been killed off like that with such little thought. If only he was around to help Sam and Dean with Lucifer now, they’d be better off!
4. Stefan Salvatore, The Vampire Diaries
Don’t get us wrong, Stefan had a very long life. Compared to everyone else on this list, he might be the death we can all be least sympathetic for. Then again, his long life was complicated from the start because of his parents and his mother’s “death.” As if that wasn’t enough, he was then turned into a vampire, had multiple setbacks in his love life, and a weird competition with his brother that seemed like it would go on for eternity. Throughout it all, Stefan remained a good guy, though. Much better than his brother Damon – that’s for sure! He even moved past the “love of his life” and sacrificed himself for everyone else. He was able to find peace in death and at least we have that to hold on to comfort ourselves. That said, Damon Salvatore probably should have been the one doing the self-sacrifice. He’s got a lot to redeem himself for, and this could’ve been the way.
3. Opie, Sons of Anarchy
Life for Opie on Sons of Anarchy was never easy, but being a part of the group never came without some baggage. Opie had no other choice but to join the club, seeing as it was in his blood because his father was part of the First 9. Despite his gruffness, Opie was an easy-to-love kind of guy. His death was not only uncalled for, but very brutal too. He died as a dedicated member of the Sons, as well as a great best friend to Jax. Of course, his death left a big shadow over Jax and sort of forced his friend to avenge him, so it served a purpose. Doesn’t make it any less unfair though.
2. Bob, Stranger Things
Poor Bob. He was too innocent and pure for this world. But then again, when it comes to the world of Stranger Things, innocence is stamped out fast. Those kids are dealing with some intense sh*t! Bob wasn’t tough enough for the Upside Down and all the monsters hiding inside. Still, did he really have to go so gruesomely? At least he went out like a hero because his death gave Joyce, Hopper, and the younger generation time to escape to safety. Bob didn’t deserve to die, but poor Joyce also did not deserve to witness his death and become even more traumatized by everything that happened to her and her sons.
1. Barb, Stranger Things
Justice for Barb! Literally, she goes somewhere she doesn’t want to be just to be a good friend, and gets killed instead? Just because she wanted to have Nancy’s back, she went. Of course, she goes outside to give her so-called BFF some ~alone time~ with the douchiest (at the time) guy ever and winds up getting slaughtered. After the fact, Nancy barely even looked for her dedicated BFF and instead got distracted by her love triangle. The whole town was so swept up looking for Will that it was almost like Barb hadn’t suffered the exact same fate! At least Nance managed to get justice for her friend in season two of the show.