It seems today that all you see is violence and sex on TV. Sure that's (almost) the opening line to the Family Guy theme song, but nonetheless it's true. The big hit shows nowadays sometimes have tremendously bleak and disturbing concepts: losing an entire family at a wedding, watching your world fall victim to a plague, dealing with sociopaths in power and close to home, the list goes on.
Normally when it comes to certain characters in a show, the good guys always win in the end. But again, this doesn't seem to be the case anymore. No matter how much popularity a character has or how pure and innocent someone might be, on certain shows, no one is safe from the calamities that may fall upon them. Producers do such a great job at building up these emotional ties to the people on screen that when they feel any sort of pain, we, the audience, feel their pain as well. And yet we come back week after week to see what else they can do next.
The award for Most Heart-Breaking "Nice Guys Finish Last" Moment is dedicated to those moments in television history where we question the producers' decisions on our favorite shows. Those times where our minds can't comprehend what just happened despite rewatching the episodes over and over. Those scenes where our jaws drop, our bodies are stunned and the only questions that comes to mind is "Did that just happen?!" or "Why would they do that to him/her/them?!?!"
A number of factors come into play when coming up with the nominees for this category: What tragedy has fallen on the character? What has happened to him/her up until this point? Did he/she have this coming? What was the audience reaction to what just happened? This list of nominees are characters who are inherently good (although their actions may or may not always reflect that) and the event that truly made the audience feel sorry for him/her/them. With all that being said, here are the nominees!
Side Note: This list is being made in the context that nothing else has happened after the event that is being nominated. Anything that transpires afterwards in the series that contradicts, remedies, or changes how we feel about the character later on is irrelevant. Spoilers from this point on if you have not watched/have not caught up with any of these shows.
Jesse Pinkman (Breaking Bad)
Scene: Watching Andrea's Murder (Season 5, Episode 15 - Granite State)
Late in season 5, Jesse Pink runs into a string of bad luck when his DEA sting operation crumbles and he is captured by a neo-Nazi, white supremacist group who his former associate, Todd Alquist, is part of. During his captivity, Jesse is forced to cook the signature "Blue Sky" crystal meth that he and Heisenberg (Walter White) are known for. After a failed escape attempt, the neo-Nazis decide to send Jesse a message to keep him in place. See for yourself...
Throughout the show's run, Pinkman went down a very twisted and winding roller coaster of a ride. Jesse had plenty of moments where he went to a dark place: trying to sell meth to people at NA meetings, reverting back to using copious amounts of drugs, losing his girlfriend Jane when she choked on her own vomit, it has not been an easy path. Towards the end of the series, Jesse's humanity creeped out in big steps: trying to give his cut of the drug money to the family of Drew Sharp and Mike Ehrmantraut's grand daughter Kaylee and teaming up with the DEA to take down Heisenberg, but what seems to be the biggest turning point was his relationship with Andrea. Andrea seemed like the catalyst for Jesse's big changes in his sense of right and wrong and what's worth fighting for. Losing that part of his life in such a fashion was devastating to Jesse. And to have this horrific act carried out the likes of Todd is almost adding insult to injury. Watching that scene and Jesse screaming out in agony, you can't help but scream with him on the inside (and maybe the outside, too).
Noah (The Walking Dead)
Scene: "Noah's Death in the Revolving Door of Doom" (Season 5, Episode 14 - Spend)
Season 5 of the post-apocalyptic zombie show The Walking Dead was not kind to it's core group members. Since the beginning of the season till the end, the group (not including those Alexandrians) lost 4 members. Noah (who came onto the show in the fourth episode, Slabtown) met his end in possibly the most gruesome way yet:
(apologies for the poor audio quality)
This death was not only a shock but came at a very unfortunate time for his character and others. Earlier that episode, Noah had a conversation with the resident architect of Alexandria, Reg, about learning how to build walls and reinforce the town's safety. Noah showed promise of being a new source of optimism within the group, believing that Alexandria could really be the place that can bring them back to humanity. His death not only took that part of the group away but it also had a huge effect on Glenn who orchestrated the current run they were on and had to witness the walkers attack his friend up close and personal. This scene left the audience with a strange mixture of being grossed out by the carnage and being saddened by the loss of yet another member of the group.
Sansa Stark (Game of Thrones)
Scene: "Sansa and Ramsay's First Time as a Married Couple" (Season 5, Episode 6 - Unbowed, Unbent,Unbroken)
Sansa Stark's journey in season 5 has not been a pleasant one to say the least. Once Petyr Baelish informs her that she is to be married to Ramsay Bolton, once bastard son and now heir to Roose Bolton (the man who betrayed her family at the Red Wedding), everything seems to go on a complete downward spiral. If having to stay at Winterfell (a shell of a place she used to call home) with the only connection to her childhood being the broken manservant Theon Greyjoy/Reek wasn't bad enough, what happens after her wedding to Ramsay takes things to a whole other level...
Season 5 is not the only time Sansa has experience hardship in GoT. It seems that she can never catch a break anywhere she goes. First having to lose her dire wolf, next witnessing the decapitation of her father, being engaged and almost married to Joffrey (wasn't he a peach....?), actually getting married to Tyrion (to us that was her best option - to her that was humiliating), hearing her mother and brother were murdered, get framed for Joffrey's murder, almost getting killed by her aunt, almost being raped by a group of men at King's Landing, all before she even meets Ramsay. So for this scene to take place after all Sansa has suffered through makes it even more diffficult to watch. I was actually thankful for the producers' discretion to turn the camera away and not have to physically watch the scene take place. I sincerely hope that Sansa's story will take a turn for the better because anymore torment to this poor girl might be too hard to handle.
Peter Russo (House of Cards)
Scene: "Suicide by Frank Underwood" (Season 1, Episode 11 - Chapter 11)
The entire season, Peter was controlled by Frank Underwood and his associates. Whether it was hanging a DUI over his head, forcing him to close a shipyard that was vital to his town and reputation, or being tricked into breaking his sobriety. All the pressures caused by Franks's methodical manipulation and Peter's broken will lead to a truly diabolical act:
(apologies for this being a video recording of this scene - was unable to find a better copy of Peter's death)
What makes his case so fitting for this category is that Peter was a victim, plain and simple. His actions were never done out of malice or anger. In his own ways, he showed that he had a big heart and truly cared for the ones he loved. Peter did the things he did because he felt there were no other options. Does being easily manipulated say something about his competency as a politician?Definitely. But does that take anything away from who he was deep down? A genuinely nice, albeit misguided man who cared deeply for his community, his girlfriend and his kids? No, it does not. However, when all the cards came crumbling down, he couldn't help but to go back down the slippery slope that was his alcoholism. In the end, you can't help but feel sorry for Peter Russo who was cast aside like a used tissue when he no longer proved to be useful to Frank's grand scheme.
Beth Greene (The Walking Dead)
Scene: "The Loss of Beth Greene at Grady Memorial" (Season 5, Episode 8 - Coda)
Beth Greene was the only member of the group who wasn't present or near Terminus. Instead, the viewers find her held captive in Grady Memorial Hospital after being abducted at the end of season 4. It took the group until the mid-season finale to find out where she was or if she was alive for that matter. After an agreement was arranged between the GMH survivors and the group, tragedy hits when a couple people got a little too overzealous:
This scene was one of those moments that didn't fully sink in right away. The audience physically and mentally shared the same reactions as the characters on screen: shock, disbelief, heartbreak, and (once we managed to get our emotions in check) the urge to put a bullet in Dawn's head. It was gut-wrenchingly painful to see so much effort in finding and rescuing Beth go to waste in a split second. To make matters worse was to see the agony on the faces of the two characters closest to her: Daryl and Maggie. Beth was such a beloved character for her progression from quiet, background character farm girl, to a strong embodiment of hope and growth. This loss hit the audience so hard that it even sparked numerous petitions and campaigns to bring back the show's cherished song bird.
Edward Nygma (Gotham)
Scene: "The Birth of The Riddle" (Season 1, Episode 22 - All Happy Families Are Alike)
Those keenly tuned into the nerdiverse saw The Riddler coming from a mile away once they heard the name, Edward Nygma. But for those who either have sub-par knowledge of hero/villain alter egos or can watch a show for the sake of it being a show, might not have seen downward spiral that is Nygma's mind. Nygma is in the precarious position of being the cross between "hero support smart" and "mad scientist crazy". All that combined with the insults by his peers at Gotham City PD, his unsuccessful advances on Kristen Kringle, and his underlying need to be recognized as an intellectually genius with his riddles and questions, it was only a matter of time until this happened:
Ed is an interesting addition to the category for the sake that he belongs for a completely different reason than the rest. While the others suffered from more obvious, physical and emotional stimuli, Ed's was much more psychological. His mental stability slowly deteriorated day in and day out until he finally snapped under all the pressure. You can't help but feel sorry for a guy who tries desperately to fit in but miserably fails due to his social awkwardness and his tendencies for overstepping his boundaries. His character is much like that of Abby Sciuto form NCIS: odd, intelligent and has very peculiar quirks. But the fatal difference between the two is that she is unconditionally accepted into her group while Ed is shunned by almost everyone. His situation is heartbreaking when you consider that: if given the chance, Edward Nygma could have been a hero in the limelight instead of a villain in the shadows.
Daniel Grayson (Revenge) - Sacrificing His Life for Emily
Red Wedding (Game of Thrones)
Wayne Unser (Sons of Anarchy) - Killed by Jax Teller
Hank Schrader & Steve Gomez (Breaking Bad) - Killed in the Desert
Regina Mills (Once Upon A Time) - Robin Hood Reunites with His Wife
And the Winner is.....
Although all the nominees have gone through incredibly difficult times, Sansa Stark stands out as having the Most Heart-Breaking "Nice Guys Finish Last" Moment. All 7 might be victims in their own way but what sets Sansa apart from the rest is one crucial reason: she TRULY did not deserve what happened. All the others, to one extent or another, put themselves in harms way whether it was stabbing an armed woman with scissors, being an overstepping annoyance, or knowingly putting themselves in potentially dangerous situations. Of course Sansa could have predicted some hardships in her future when she returned to Winterfell, but to assume she would be humiliated and violated.... it's almost unthinkable. This award goes to you, Sansa! And here's hoping Ramsay Bolton gets what's coming to him!