Unlike many character deaths that were taken from the source material, Carl (Chandler Riggs)’s end came out of nowhere and still infuriates fans who believed he would take up the leadership mantle if and when Rick departed. Alas, Carl succumbed to a bite on his side, but with his last breaths, he asked for peace; and instead of killing Negan, Rick honored his son’s wish.
Glenn Rhee, The Walking Dead
Sometimes, having knowledge of the source material doesn’t make certain fictional deaths any easier to stomach. That was certainly the case for many when lovable former pizza boy Glenn Rhee (Steven Yeun) had a smashing introduction to Lucille, Negan’s barbed-wire baseball bat. TWD had been getting more convoluted and boring up until that point, and some felt the gore — along with the soul-crushing sadness that came from watching such a good, kind character die in such an awful way — was too much.
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Derek Shepherd, Grey’s Anatomy
“How to Save a Life” is both a very good song by The Fray and an episode that shattered hearts of Grey’s Anatomy fans all over the world. Although their romance wasn’t without its ups and downs, since the show’s beginning, Derek (Patrick Dempsey) and Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) had been meant for each other. That all came to a halt when Derek was struck by a truck and died from head injuries, thus ending the love story of Meredith and “McDreamy.”
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Commander Lexa, The 100
Although it’s been more than three years since Lexa (Alycia Debnam-Carey) told Clarke life was about more than just surviving, for many fans, the wound of losing their beloved heda is still fresh. Although the Commander’s death via stray bullet led to a social media uproar, plenty of good came out of it, too: fans raised more than $160,000 for The Trevor Project, an organization that helps LGBTQ+ youth.
Madison and Nick Clark, Fear The Walking Dead
In the span of five episodes, two-thirds of Fear The Walking Dead’s leading family was gone. Even almost two years later, Nick (Frank Dillane)’s death stings because he was one of the most interesting characters in the franchise; a recovering addict with a penchant for covering himself in walker blood and chilling with the undead just for the thrill of it, the clear “favorite child” who got along better with zombies than with his mother. And love her or hate her (her kids certainly did both), Madison (Kim Dickens) was a compelling, middle-aged female lead on a genre show — characters like her are so rare in today’s TV landscape, you could count them on one hand. For better or worse, Fear is moving full steam ahead into “Morgan mode.” But it’s hard not to mourn the dark, twisted family drama that could have been.
Robb Stark, Catelyn Stark, Talisa Stark, etc., Game of Thrones
Book readers knew what was coming when “The Rains of Castamere” started playing, but those with less knowledge of the source material had a harder time with Season 3, episode 9. The show’s final season did little to endear viewers to the Starks, but back in 2013, they were utterly beloved — and the losses of Robb, Talisa and Catelyn were particularly painful (especially because Catelyn didn’t return as the ghoulish Lady Stoneheart).
Sybil Branson, Downton Abbey
While most probably remember the big, tragic death that came in this season’s finale, Sybil (Jessica Brown-Findlay)’s loss is one of the show’s most heartbreaking. She was (finally!) happily married to Tom Branson, and she’d given birth to their baby girl. But later, it became apparent that something was very wrong, and the Crawley’s most free-spirited daughter succumbed to eclampsia. While Downton’s no stranger to pulling at the ol’ heartstrings, this turn of events came with tears aplenty.
Hodor, Game of Thrones
“Hold the door!” Poor Hodor died as he lived — protecting the Starks, and one Stark in particular. The irony here is that Bran “created” him in a way, since his order to “hold the door” was what damaged Hodor’s brain when he was young. Hey, at least Hodor can say he died to save King Bran the Broken.
Bob Newby, Stranger Things 2
Stop staring at Joyce and RUN, Bob (Sean Astin)! No matter how many times we re-watch the Stranger Things series, it’s hard not to start screaming at the screen when Bob Newby stops to smile at Joyce (Winona Ryder) instead of just, you know, sprinting out of Hawkins Lab. Bob will forever be remembered as one of the purest souls in Hawkins: A true superhero who didn’t deserve the grisly end he got. Poor Bob.
Teddy Flood, Westworld
“There’s a path for everyone in this world, and mine leads me back to you.” Teddy (James Mardsen)’s end was nothing if not fitting. His whole world revolved around Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood), so it makes sense that his death would revolve around her too, in a way. Although Teddy had died hundreds, if not thousands, of times, this one seems to have stuck — and hopefully, it made a point to the woman he loves that the ends don’t always justify the means… especially when “the means” means recalibrating your entire personality.
There are character deaths that we accept. There are character deaths that shock us. There are character deaths that bring us to tears. There are even character deaths that we cheer. And then there are the fictional losses that crack our hearts in ways that take weeks to heal — tragic final moments that really move us.
Throughout the past decade, there have been quite a few beloved characters who’ve met their respective ends, shattering the hearts of fans everywhere in ways that still hurt to this day (ask any Grey’s Anatomy fan how they feel about “How to Save a Life” by The Fray.)