12 TV Deaths That Hurt the Most in 2022

Saddest TV Deaths 2022
Netflix, Paramount+

Television fans were delivered several gut punches in 2022 when several shows killed off beloved characters. But which ones hurt the most?

As we look back on the year, we’re also looking back at those television sendoffs that hit us right in the feels. These are the TV Insider staff’s picks for the saddest fictional deaths of the past 12 months.

These include some newly-introduced characters on both returning shows such as Stranger Things and freshman hits like Wednesday, House of the Dragon, and Yellowjackets. Plus, emotional farewells for characters on long-standing favorites like This Is Us, Better Call Saul, Killing Eve, SEAL Team, Chicago Fire, and Ozark, and one we’re still unsure how to feel about on Dexter: New Blood.

So if you haven’t seen the following shows, it may be best for you to come back later after you’ve finished them. We won’t spoil it for you, but let’s just say we’re still not ready to talk about that Euphoria ending.

Gwendoline Christie in 'Wednesday'
Vlad Cioplea/Netflix

Principal Weems (Gwendoline Christie) in Wednesday

Do you mean to tell us that Gwendoline Christie felt beautiful on screen for the very first time in Wednesday, and now her character’s dead, not to return?! We reject this notion (so does Jenna Ortega, if this TikTok reveals anything). The glamorous-even-when-stressed headmistress of Nevermore Academy was killed by the nefarious Ms. Thornhill (Christina Ricci), who injected her with a lethal dose of nightshade. While her shape-shifting abilities made it seem Weems was not to be trusted earlier on, Weems was an ally to Wednesday in the end, making her death a gloomy twist that we’re not sure was necessary. In a season full of murders, this one’s buildup felt rushed and unearned. Should Wednesday get a second season at Netflix (given its skyrocketing viewership, the odds are high), Weems’ presence will be sorely felt. But we never did see her body after the murder. And in TV, one should never believe a character’s kaput unless it’s made undeniably clear (like others on this list — Luke, sweetie, we are so sorry). — Kelli Boyle

Gaten Matarazzo as Dustin and Joseph Quinn as Eddie and in Stranger Things

Eddie Munson (Joseph Quinn) in Stranger Things

Eddie, wake up! We don’t like this! Joseph Quinn’s Eddie Munson captured the hearts of Stranger Things fans faster than Kate Bush could run up that hill. The leader of the Hellfire Club trekked into the Upside Down with the Hawkins gang to put an end to Vecna’s (Jamie Campbell Bower) reign of telepathic terror. Eddie and Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo) formed a beautiful bond over the course of the season, culminating in one final epic moment together on top of Eddie’s Upside Down trailer home when he played the guitar solo from Metallica’s “Master of Puppets” to distract the alien bats from flying over to Vecna’s lair. Only Dustin made it out of the scuffle, and Eddie died a hero (just like Sean Astin’s Bob Newby). Like Bob, Eddie came and left in a bright flash. And unfortunately, in this series, the more quickly beloved a character is, the safer it is to assume they were born into the series to die. The writing was on the wall with Eddie. Still, there are hints he might not be gone for good. — Kelli Boyle

Jodie Comer & Sandra Oh in 'Killing Eve'

Villanelle (Jodie Comer) in Killing Eve

This one hurts so bad not just because it happened, but because of the television trope it flippantly flung Killing Eve into in its final moments. Jodie Comer’s Villanelle was indulgent in every sense of the word. She experienced and expressed everything in the extreme, from her fashion and the way she ate her breakfast to her unabashed emotional declarations. Sure, she was a psychopathic professional assassin, but she was so inquisitive about her emotions, her past, and her future (namely, the one she dreamed of with Sandra Oh’s Eve Polastri) that she actually evolved for the better. Villanelle and Eve got a glimpse of what their relationship would feel like in the Killing Eve series finale after a four-season wait, but then in the show’s final moments, Villanelle is shot to death in the Thames River. To give Villanelle such a transformative arc, only to murder her the second she was actually happy, criminally added Killing Eve into the depressing “bury your gays” trope that deems queer characters unworthy of happy endings. This death is depressing in the narrative, and tragic because it makes no narrative sense. — Kelli Boyle

Patrick Fabian as Howard Hamlin - Better Call Saul - Season 6, Episode 7
Greg Lewis/AMC/Sony Pictures Television

Howard Hamlin (Patrick Fabian) in Better Call Saul

Better Call Saul may have kept its main man alive through the final episode, but Season 6 was filled with deaths. Despite all the losses, none hit as hard as Patrick Fabian‘s Howard Hamlin. While we were moved by the death of Nacho Varga (Michael Mando) early in the season, it was Howard’s shocking and unexpected demise at the hands of loose cannon, Lalo Salamanca (Tony Dalton) that takes the metaphorical cake. Despite starting the series as the pompous lawyer Jimmy (Bob Odenkirk) initially believed was responsible for holding back his career, Howard turned into a sympathetic character who was undeservingly targeted by Jimmy and Kim (Rhea Seehorn) in what they believed would be a career-damaging scheme. Ultimately, it turned out to be a fatal one when Howard confronted the couple in their apartment at the same time Lalo dropped in for an unexpected visit, shooting the poor innocent dead. – Meaghan Darwish

This Is Us - 'The Train' - Mandy Moore as Rebecca

Rebecca Pearson (Mandy Moore) in This Is Us

It’s not often viewers are given a chance to cope with the concept of a character’s impending death, but This Is Us made it a signature element over the years. Who could forget Jack Pearson’s (Milo Ventimiglia) tragic demise? And still, with the foresight of Rebecca Pearson’s (Mandy Moore) looming death, it didn’t make her ending any less emotional. As viewers watched her live with Alzheimer’s in the final season, Rebecca’s vitality faded, but her love for her family never subsided. Along with Moore’s moving performance, Rebecca’s final moments offered a bittersweet catharsis as she was reunited with Jack aboard a train in the afterlife. – Meaghan Darwish

Euphoria Season 2 Javon Walton
Eddy Chen/HBO

Ashtray (Javon Walton) in Euphoria

It’s always tragic when a child character bites it in the show. It hurts more when we know how that death will affect another beloved character, in this case, Ashtray’s brother Fezco. Although he is way too young to be in the drug game, he understands his position, but more importantly, his brother Fez’s position. He knows his big brother is getting set up to take the fall for a death he didn’t commit, so Ashtray protects him the only way he knows how: violence. It’s unfortunate for him that SWAT is already waiting to burst through the door. But being a boy with the heart of a man does not allow his brother to take the fall; he barricades himself into the bathroom and kills as many officers as he can before he, too, inevitably, gets shot. It’s very poetic that one of Ash’s stray bullet ends up hitting Fez because this gun’s blazing effort, although done to protect him, will hurt him in unimaginable ways. – Isaac Rouse

Julia Garner as Ruth Langmore in Season 4 Part 2 Episode 7 of Ozark
Tina Rowden/Netflix

Ruth Langmore (Julia Garner) in Ozark

If you’re a fan of Ozark, that automatically means you’re a fan of Julia Garner’s Ruth Langmore. When you meet her in the first episode, you don’t know what to make of her. But by the time we reach the final season, you realize she’s the realest character in a show full of schemers. Despite doing her fair share of terrible things throughout the show, she’s the only one who deserves to get away clean. Instead, the show opted for an ending a bit closer to reality. The schemers, the bad people content with being terrible, they’re the ones that get away with anything. It’s the people with integrity that bite the dust, especially in this game of money laundering and drug trading. – Isaac Rouse

Dexter: New Blood, Michael C. Hall, Showtime
Kurt Iswarienko/SHOWTIME

Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall) in Dexter: New Blood

Although fans of the series were thankful to see a spinoff come to fruition and Michael C. Hall reprises his role as the titular serial killer with a heart of gold, it was time for Dexter to go by the last episode of Dexter: New Blood. Although he was admittedly rusty at the serial killer game, Dexter had gotten sloppy in his old age when it came to killing efficiently. That goes hand in hand with the justification of his murdering, as we slowly see the Harry’s Code part-time vigilantism excuse is thrown out the window when his ass was legitimately on the line. What made his death sad was that his son Harry had to do it. What made it sting especially is that fans of the series no longer get to ask for another series of Dexter or a definitive conclusion because we finally got one. It’s the end of an era. It’s Joe from You’s time now. – Isaac Rouse

Lucerys Velaryon (Elliot Grihault) in House of the Dragon
Ollie Upton / HBO

Lucerys Velaryon (Elliot Grihault) in House of the Dragon

This was an unfortunate situation for all parties involved since this was a beef between kids rooted in their respective families’ grievances with one another. One night, pretty much every child character gets into a fighter after Aemond Targaryen joyrides the recently deceased Visenya’s dragon. Her daughter is obviously upset about this and approaches the boy about it. Kids from the other houses join in, and stuff about Lucerys “Strong” lineage comes out, and then the Targaryen boy loses an eye. But it’s not that simple; the boy just wanted a dragon of his own after being bullied for not having one. So after years of festering emotional damage, Aemond and Luke, now young men, clash in the sky with their dragons during a boiling point in their family’s feud for the Throne. But it was only meant to be hazing. Unfortunately, it ends in the horrific death of Luke and his dragon. It sucks seeing the young perish, and it’s even more terrible when it happens alongside a majestic beast like Arrax. – Isaac Rouse

Ella Purnell in 'Yellowjackets'
Kailey Schwerman/SHOWTIME

Teen Jackie (Ella Purnell), Yellowjackets

Fans knew Jackie didn’t survive the soccer team’s time in the wilderness following the plane crash in 1996, but how she died was a mystery in the first season. The finale gave us the answer, with a twist. Jackie and her best friend Shauna (Sophie Nélisse) finally let everything out: Shauna was pregnant with Jackie’s boyfriend’s baby and wasn’t jealous of but felt sorry for her best friend. After, Jackie left the cabin in which the survivors were staying, and while we were led to believe that Shauna then joined her outside and brought her inside… she didn’t. Jackie froze to death overnight, with the others finding her the following morning. That made it even more tragic! What that does to Shauna is something we’ll have to wait to see in Season 2 (premiering March 26!) As co-showrunner Jonathan Lisco told TV Insider, “That [was] the most emotional way to do it, so that Shauna is haunted by these ghosts for the rest of her life.” – Meredith Jacobs

Jimmy Nicholas as Chief Hawkins in 'Chicago Fire'
Adrian S Burrows Sr/NBC

Evan Hawkins (Jimmy Nicholas), Chicago Fire

Heading into the aptly titled “Completely Shattered” — which ended up describing how Hawkins’ girlfriend, paramedic Violet (Hanako Greensmith), was feeling by its end — we knew that someone wouldn’t be making it out of a fire. Just as things were actually looking up for Violet and Hawkins — their relationship was out in the open, though they’d be spending less time together with his upcoming transfer — the paramedic chief stepped in to help evacuate a victim during a structure fire at a movie theater. The building collapsed on them on their way out. Once 51 dug them out, Violet started CPR, insisting, “I can save him” and begging Boden (Eamonn Walker) “let me try.” But it was too late. The devastation didn’t end there, with Violet’s grief in subsequent episodes. – Meredith Jacobs

Max Thieriot in 'SEAL Team'

Clay Spenser (Max Thieriot), SEAL Team

There’s a reason showrunner Spencer Hudnut described Clay’s death as “super gut-wrenching” to TV Insider: It was. The sixth season began with Clay losing his leg due to gruesome injuries sustained in the ambush that ended the previous finale; as a result, he was no longer able to operate (though it wasn’t completely off the table at that point). After an emotional eight episodes, it seemed he’d found his new purpose — helping at Ray (Neil Brown Jr.) and Naima’s (Parisa Fakhri) vet center — only to be killed by a security guard while stopping a vet from breaking into the Air Force recruitment office then turning his gun on himself. As heartbreaking as that was to watch, it was absolutely gutting to watch his wife Stella (Alona Tal) and brothers, especially Sonny (AJ Buckley), deal with their grief in the episodes that followed. – Meredith Jacobs