13 TV Deaths That Hurt the Most in 2021

Kevin Alejandro in Lucifer, Matt Czuchry in The Resident, Giacomo Gianniotti in Grey's Anatomy
John P. Fleenor/Netflix; Tom Griscom/FOX; ABC/Ron Tom

Another year of television has gone by, and that means we’ve inevitably had to say goodbye to fan-favorites. But in some cases, that means a permanent goodbye, with characters killed off, and sometimes it’s only a question of where the most heartbreak comes from: the death itself or the aftermath.

In 2021, such was the case for multiple shows, like Law & Order: SVU (and Organized Crime) and Station 19. For some shows, it was how they chose to move forward after a major exit (like on The Resident and The Blacklist). In one instance (The Flash), the death was undone, but it was still memorable. And then there were the out-of-nowhere deaths, like on 9-1-1: Lone Star.

Scroll down for the characters whose deaths hurt us the most in 2021.

Gina Torres as Tommy Vega, Derek Webster as Charles in 9-1-1 Lone Star
Kevin Estrada/FOX

Charles Vega, 9-1-1: Lone Star

We may have only known Charles (Derek Webster) for a short period of time, but it was utterly heartbreaking when Captain Tommy Vega (Gina Torres) came home to find her husband dead, What hurt more — that she knew, as a paramedic, there was nothing that could be done, or the way she kept it from her friends, dealing with the loss in the immediate aftermath on her own?

Megan Boone as Liz Keen in The Blacklist
Will Hart/NBC

Elizabeth Keen, The Blacklist

Once we knew Megan Boone was exiting the NBC drama and it would be continuing on without her, we knew her days could be numbered. But it was still a shock when she was shot in the Season 8 finale, and knowing she died without finding out Red’s (James Spader) true identity (are they related?!) is definitely going to stick with us for a while.

Melonie Diaz as Mel Vera, Sarah Jeffery as Maggie Vera and Madeleine Mantock as Macy Vaughn in Charmed
Colin Bentley/The CW

Macy Vaughn, Charmed

Knowing Madeleine Mantock‘s last episode was the Season 3 finale, it seemed like a happily ever after couldn’t be in the cards for her and Harry Greenwood (Rupert Evans). But her farewell turned out to be bittersweet. In her dreams, Macy married and had a child with Harry and spent time with her sisters, Mel (Melonie Diaz) and Maggie Vera (Sarah Jeffery). In the real world, she got her goodbyes and then joined the Guardian.

Jesse L. Martin as Detective Joe West in The Flash
Jack Rowand/The CW

Joe West, The Flash

Joe’s (Jesse L. Martin) death may have been part of the Reverse Flashpoint and fixed, thanks to Barry Allen (Grant Gustin), but for that period of time that the retired CCPD captain and Iris West-Allen’s (Candice Patton) father was dead, oh, did it hurt (even if we had a feeling it’d be fixed). It offered a taste of what it would feel like if Joe’s death couldn’t be changed, and now we know how much we’d hate it.

Giacomo Gianniotti as Andrew DeLuca in Grey's Anatomy
ABC/Ron Tom

Andrew DeLuca, Grey's Anatomy

The writing may have been on the wall with DeLuca’s (Giacomo Gianniotti) pursuit of the sex traffickers, but it was still hard to watch as he died in surgery after the doctors thought they’d saved him. Did the fact that we saw a moment with him and Dr. Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo), then he went off with his mother on that beach in her mind lessen the loss? Not really.

Isabel Gillies as Kathy Stabler in Law & Order: SVU

Kathy Stabler, Law & Order: SVU

Detective Elliot Stabler (Christopher Meloni) returned to the world of Law & Order (for his spinoff, Organized Crime) with a crossover that kicked off with a car bombing that ultimately killed his wife, Kathy (Isabel Gillies). We’re not sure what hurts more with this one — that Kathy deserved a better death than for the focus to be on Stabler and Captain Olivia Benson’s (Mariska Hargitay) reunion over her hospital bed, how it was drawn out, or watching Stabler’s grief as he tried to find who was responsible.

Kevin Alejandro as Dan Espinoza in Lucifer
John P. Fleenor/Netflix

Dan Espinoza, Lucifer

Did it take us a bit of time to love Dan (Kevin Alejandro) on Lucifer as much as we did by the end of the series? Yes. But by the time he died — in the arms of his ex-wife, Detective Chloe Decker (Lauren German) — we were as heartbroken as his friends and family. The only bright light is we got to watch his journey to just that, his way to heaven.

Joe Spano as Tobias C. Fornell. Juliette Angelo as Emily Fornell in NCIS
Sonja FlemmingCBS

Breena Palmer & Emily Fornell, NCIS

While we may not have seen much of either character — Michelle Pierce appeared in six episodes as Dr. Jimmy Palmer’s (Brian Dietzen) wife, Juliette Angelo (above in Season 16’s “Daughters”) in eight episodes as Tobias Fornell’s (Joe Spano) daughter — the fact that their deaths (or, in the case of one, news of it) came in such a short period of time was a major gut-punch. Breena died, off-screen, due to COVID complications, and we saw the aftermath, including his farewell to her with a letter. Two episodes later in Season 18, Emily, who had been battling addiction, died after a relapse.

Matt Czuchry as Conrad Hawkins in The Resident
Tom Griscom/FOX

Nic Nevin, The Resident

For four seasons, we watched Dr. Conrad Hawkins (Matt Czuchry) and nurse practitioner Nic Nevin’s (Emily VanCamp) love story. But with VanCamp’s exit came the need to write out Nic, and she died from injuries sustained in a single car accident. She donated her organs, allowing her to continue to save lives. It was absolutely devastating to watch not only her husband’s reaction but her father Kyle’s (Corbin Bernsen) as well, especially due to the actors delivering the best performances of the series.

Bravo Team in SEAL Team
Cliff Lipson/CBS

Full Metal, SEAL Team

With an RPG headed Bravo’s way, Scott Carter, a.k.a. Full Metal (Scott Foxx) saved his SEAL brothers, closing the door to their cover and suffering what would end up being fatal injuries in the blast. Despite Jason Hayes (David Boreanaz) and Clay Spenser’s (Max Thieriot) best efforts, he died. From Jason trying (but being unable) to keep it together then reading the letter Full Metal left for them to burying him at sea as he wanted to the team toasting to him at the bar at the end, it was a powerful way to end Season 4.

Okieriete Onaodowan as Dean Miller in Station 19
ABC/Eric McCandless

Dean Miller, Station 19

When firefighter Dean Miller (Okieriete Onaodowan) was brought in after getting caught in an explosion, Dr. Miranda Bailey (Chandra Wilson) knew the person in the ambulance was dead (“no siren, no rush”). The loss of Dean is one that’s still felt as his friends and family grieve — especially Vic Hughes (Barrett Doss), whom he’d just saved, and Jack Gibson (Grey Damon) — and worry about his daughter.

Jared Padalecki as Cordell Walker, Matthew Barr as Hoyt in Walker
Rebecca Brenneman/The CW

Hoyt Rawlins, Walker

Cordell Walker (Jared Padalecki) and Hoyt’s (Matt Barr) relationship may have been very complicated at the time of his death, but when the former’s undercover op came back to haunt his family, the latter was with him to “Defend the Ranch” — and it cost him his life. “I love you all,” he said as he died, surrounded by the Walker family. “I always knew it would end this way.” That doesn’t mean we had to like (or accept) it!