Sometimes people die; it's a fact of life. That same concept applies to cinematic life and, as much as we may wish there were another way, sometimes our beloved characters have to die to move the story along (sometimes just because). Regardless of the reasoning, we’ve probably all watched a show and suddenly found ourselves clutching our hearts as they shatter into a million tiny pieces.
We’ve all seen the movies where a character dies: Gwen Stacey in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Rachel Dawes in The Dark Knight, Jack Vincennes in L.A. Confidential and most shockingly Bambi’s mom in Bambi. Okay, maybe that last one wasn’t so shocking, but still, the point is that movie deaths are impactful, but maybe not as much as when a TV character dies.
Now obviously there are spoilers ahead if you haven’t watched the show listed, so be forewarned. Let’s begin.
1. Breaking Bad
Moving into the season finale of Breaking Bad, we all knew that there was a 50/50 chance that Walter would die. Even though we knew it was a possibility, it was still a shock how he went (after saving Jesse, taking out the neo-Nazi gang and getting his money to his family. Watching Walter bleed out after taking a machine gun blast to the stomach was almost equal parts heart-wrenching and satisfying.
2. Person Of Interest
In a shocking twist that nobody saw coming, we watched as Detective Carter had just gotten her detective title back and then in a flash was taken out as she was attacked by a corrupt NYPD police office. Both her and Reese were shot, but Carter took a fatal wound and died in Reese’s arms.
3. Teen Wolf
After three seasons and a few minor characters being killed off, it was with a boatload of tears that we watched as Allison — the show’s leading lady — be stabbed by an Oni spirit. As she died in Scott’s arms, her final words were, “I’m in the arms of my first love. The first person I’ve ever loved. The person I’ve always loved. I love you, Scott McCall.”
The seemingly never-ending story of Agent Gibbs and his team of NCIS agents has been filled with countless tales of near death encounters and climactic stories. The one we never saw coming was when Agent Todd dove in front of Gibbs to take a bullet for her beloved mentor. At that moment we feared the worst but were relieved to know that she was OK because of her vest, then our hearts dropped as she took a sniper round to the temple and was instantly dead in Gibbs’s arms.
5. The West Wing
In one of the more heart-wrenching story arcs on The West Wing, we grew to love the wise-cracking secretary of President Bartlet. After purchasing her first new car, she’s involved in a car accident on her way back to the White House to show her friend and President what she bought. The reverberations of her passing were felt throughout the show and it sure affected us all deeply.
OK, OK a death on Lost is a fairly relative term considering the basic tenants of the show itself. Yet, just as John begins to accept his destiny as the leader of the island natives known as The Others, we discover (through a flash-forward) that Locke is in fact the man in the coffin three years later in Los Angeles. Seeing Locke lie there lifeless was more mind-blowing than several other aspects of the show itself, including him being strangled by Ben.
Lt. Col. Henry Blake
For a show that had a knack for balancing laughs and the serious repercussions of war, we were all shocked when Henry Blake — after finally received his discharge papers and saying goodbye to his friends and family — was hit by the reality of war when his transport plane was shot down over the Sea of Japan. The heart-wrenching moment was captured by the emotional telling by Radar O’Reilly.
As with any show that revolves around a high-profile security job, it’s pretty much a given that family is going to be the first target for leverage against the protagonist. Throughout the first season we watched as Jack Bauer’s wife survived through most of Day 1 better than Jack himself. A least until the CTU mole got her hands on Teri and shot her fatally in the stomach.
9. The Walking Dead
Considering that The Walking Dead is a show that revolves around death, you would think that a death wouldn’t hit us as hard as Lori’s did. After spending so much time trying to return to his family it was heartbreaking to watch Rick loose his wife as she forced an emergency C-section to give birth to her baby. The heartache continued as she had her son shoot her in the head so she wouldn't return as one of the walkers.
Whether you loved her or hated her, there was something special about the completely oblivious wife of our favorite serial killer, so it was truly difficult to stomach the reveal that after the cat-and-mouse game that Dexter had been playing with The Trinity Killer caused his wife’s death. Dexter pays the ultimate price for his games as we see Rita sit lifeless in a tub of her own blood with their baby crying in the corner.
Maybe you remember some of these deaths, and maybe not others. But, ultimately sometimes the television deaths are the ones that stick with us the most because we’ve spent months getting to know and love these characters.