Zoe Barnes – House of Cards
Zoe Barnes was one of the first great characters in House of Cards. This journalist’s relationship with Frank Underwood becomes strained after she realises he’s not so clean-cut. In season two, this fractured relationship reaches a boiling point when Underwood tails Zoe on to a subway platform where he pushes her in front of a speeding train.
Joyce Summers – Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Buffy’s mother dying of a brain aneurysm hit fans hard because they’d become so used to the fantasy world she was living in, dealing with ghouls and other odd entities. To see a character die in such a stark, non-action way – with none of the usual music – was pretty novel for a show like Buffy at that time.
Adriana – The Sopranos
When Adriana first told Christopher, her fiance, that she’d become an FBI rat, he was down to live a life elsewhere under police protection. Or so he said. Later on, we saw Silvio driving Adriana to the woods and all became tragically clear. Not only that Adriana would meet her maker but that fan-favourite Christopher had done up his woman like a kipper.
Teri Bauer – 24
Talk about a bad day at the office. First Jack’s wife Teri is kidnapped while looking for their abducted daughter, then she offers herself up to be raped instead of her child. Then after escaping, she flees to a safe house to be reunited with Jack onyl for mole Nina Myers to shoot her just as she’s exiting. Jack finds and cradles her, knowing there’s nothing he can do.
Rosalind Shays – LA Law
Across five seasons, Rosalind ‘Roz’ Shays had become somewhat of an anti-hero on LA Law thanks to her ice cold, mendacious ways. This was someone who grafted her way into becoming a partner at the law firm she represented, only to sue them for sexual discrimination. Her death came when she walked into, and fell down, an empty elevator shaft.
Tara Knowles – Sons of Anarchy
Sod’s law for Jax. Just as he turns himself in to save Tara and his sons, Gemma – Jax’s mother – discovers Tara’s old plan to betray him. Not knowing that the wounds have healed, Gemma promptly picks Tara off with a meat fork! Fans were inconsolable later on when Jax discovered Tara’s lifeless body.
Omar Little – The Wire
Michael K. Williams’ portrayal of Omar Little is not just The Wire’s greatest character but one of TV’s best overall. Despite his reputation as a slightly less rotten egg among some true stinkers, there were dozens of characters who wanted Omar dead in this crime drama set in Baltimore, Maryland. And when they finally got him, it was truly gutwrenching.
Sarah Lynn – Bojack Horseman
In season three’s That’s Too Much, Man! BoJack pays a visit to Sarah Lynn, who is nine months sober and looking to celebrate by falling off the wagon. BoJack takes advantage of this and takes her on a month-long bender. At the end of the episode, he and Sarah visit a planetarium. Sarah says, “I wanna be an architect,” before dying of a fatal overdose.
Frank – The Last Of Us
Not only is Frank’s death considered to be the most heartbreaking death of 2023 (already!), many viewers have already labeled it the most gut-wrenching death of all time. Having formed a deep, romantic bond with hard-nosed loner Bill, it seemed that Frank would finally be able to live a happy life in The Last Of Us’ post-apocalyptic world. Not so – after becoming infected, Frank is forced to hang himself.
Matthew Crawley – Downton Abbey
At the end of Downton Abbey’s season three, heir Michael Crawley welcomes a newborn son into the world with Lady Mary. Thrilled, he drives off to tell his family the news, only to suffer a fatal car accident on the way, killing him and the hopes of thousands watching at home. What’s more, his death came on the Christmas Day special!
Charlie Pace – Lost
Charlie Pace’s life was saved several times by Desmond prior to his season three finale death. After infiltrating the Looking Glass station, Charlie stops to listen to a transmission from Penny, Desmond’s lost love, Mikhail floods the station with a grenade through the porthole. Charlie locks himself in the communication room to stop the whole station from flooding and save his friend Desmond’s life. The scene traumatised a whole generation of Lost fanatics.
Brian Griffin – Family Guy
Brian Griffin’s death in the twelfth season’s Life of Brian genuinely shocked viewers. Not only is it rare to seemingly permanently kill off anybody in animated TV, but seeing a fan favourite such as Brian bite the dust came out of nowhere, which is probably why the writers did it. Brian was replaced in the short-term by a ball-busting dog named Vinnie before returning two episodes later thanks to Stewie saving him in his time machine.
Susan – Seinfeld
Susan, played by Heidi Swedberg, wasn’t a popular member of the Seinfeld cast despite having a pivotal role as George Costanza’s fiance. Jason Alexander, who played Costanza, even admitted years later that he vented his frustrations at not being able to work off Swedberg’s acting style. Eventually, Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld killed Susan off outright by being poisoned from a glue adhesive on an envelope. Fans have since slated the show for killing off a character they actually liked.
Ned Stark – Game of Thrones
Opie – Sons of Anarchy
Fresh out of Chino State Penitentiary, Harry “Opie” Winston (played by Ryan Hurst) ends up right back in prison after punching Sheriff Roosevelt. While in prison, he gets involved in a fight, in which he’s hit with a lead pipe around the head. A few more strikes prove too much for Opie, who dies on the spot. Sons of Anarchy are still reeling from this death to this day.
Sayid Jarrah – Lost
Sayid was one of Lost’s truly lost souls. In a final move of bravado and balls at the end of season six, he sacrifices himself aboard Widmore’s submarine, spiriting away the Man in Black’s bomb, and subsequently exploding with it. Later on in the episode, Sun and Jin died from drowning. Happy fun for all the family, Lost was not.
Terry Crowley – The Shield
Remember how in the original Scream, Drew Barrymore was put on all the posters like she was a main cast member that would survive the whole film and then she died in the first ten minutes? That’s what The Shield did with Terry Crowley, who is shot dead by his new, younger partner Vic Mackey, in the pilot!
Lance Sweets – Bones
Shireen Baratheon – Game of Thrones
At first, when Melisandre suggested to Stannis Baratheon that he should sacrifice his daughter Shireen for the king’s blood to improve their chances at war, he was shocked. And then he was like, “Hm, okay!” Audiences couldn’t believe their eyes as poor Shireen was killed in the blink of an eye.
Rita – Dexter
Rita’s death in Dexter was one of TV’s biggest twists. Not just because she died but because of who killed her. Fans presumed, fairly, that Trinity (or Arthur Mitchell) was dead, so when he came back hellbent on killing Dexter and his loved ones, it was hard not to gasp. Dexter ended up killing Trinity but upon returning home he discovered Rita dead in the bathtub, having been murdered by Trinity.
Will Gardner – The Good Wife
A partner at the law firm that kicked off Alicia’s career, and her romantic partner, Will Gardner was a huge part of The Good Wife. He bit the dust in tragic circumstances after taking a bullet in the neck during a confused, misguided shootout between a courtroom cop and Jeffrey, one of Will’s clients.
Rayna Jaymes – Nashville
Fans who thought season five of CMT’s Nashville was going to be plain sailing had the rug pulled right out from under their feet when Rayna Jaymes suffered a car crash. While things seemed stable in the hospital, the character, played by Connie Britton, soon took a turn for the worse.
Derek Shepherd – Grey’s Anatomy
Another show, another car crash. This time is was Derek Shepherd in Grey’s Anatomy. Surviving a car crash, fans never questioned that Patrick Dempsey’s character would pull through with the right treatment. Unfortunately, thanks to a tardy neurosurgeon, Derek slipped away into unconsciousness and was declared brain dead.
Lori Grimes – The Walking Dead
With a show called The Walking Dead, audiences should expect the very worst. Still, seeing Lori Grimes crash and burn left a sour taste in the mouths of thousands of fans. After sacrificing herself in order to save her newborn child, her older son was then tasked with putting her out of her misery via gunshot.
George O’Malley – Grey’s Anatomy
At the end of Grey’s Anatomy fifth season, George O’Malley was about to commit to full army life. He appeared sporadically throughout the season, which made it all the more shocking when John Doe wrote “007”, George’s nickname, in the palm in Meredith’s hand. By the end of the episode, George was dead. He later returned in a dream sequence in season 17.
Moira Queen – Arrow
When Slade made Oliver choose between saving his mother and saving his sister, fans were shocked to see Moira stood up and asked Slade to pick her. Just when you thought her guts may have quashed the ordeal, Slade pulled out his sword and stabbed Moira right in the heart. Ouch.
Jimmy Darmody – Boardwalk Empire
Jimmy Darmody wanted power but power didn’t want Jimmy Darmody. Then he tried to assassinate his former mentor Enoch Thompson, played by Steve Buscemi. Enoch, in retaliation, shot Darmody in season two’s finale, tearing the hearts of out many fans.
Bill – Big Love
In the last episode of the fifth season of HBO’s Big Love, polygamous family patriarch Bill (played by Bill Paxton), suffers three bullet wounds to the chest at the hands of a crazy neighbour. It was a creative move chosen to cement Bill’s reputation as a hero.
Anastasia “Dee” Dualla – Battlestar Galactica
The tail end of Battlestar Galactica was pretty rough and tumble. Anastasia Dulla (Kandyse McClure), who had served as a comforting voice of reason throughout the series, returned home from a date with ex-husband Lee, looked herself in the mirror, smiled, and shot herself in the forehead.
Diana – V
V fans went through a roller coaster of emotions when Jane Badler joined the reboot of the show she’d originally starred in. First they were excited to hear the news. Then they were cheesed off that she spent a heap of episodes doing a whole lot of nothing. Then they were appalled when she was killed by her daughter.
Allison Argent – Teen Wolf
Teen Wolf’s biggest couple was arguably Allison and Scott. In lots of ways, without them, the show wasn’t really all that. So imagine the upset caused by Allison’s death in season 3’s penultimate episode when she suffered a sword through her chest. Though she did end up falling and dying in the arms of her one true love, Scott.
John Locke – Lost
After returning to the outside world, John Locke, now going as Jeremy Bentham, did everything he could to return to the island, and convince everyone who was there to do the same. Failing miserably, he attempted to hang himself only to be prevented by Ben, who then strangled him anyway. For Locke to be reborn, he needed to die at the hands of someone else. While fairly unlikable across the series, Lost fans were… lost without him.
Lawrence Kutner – House
Sure, the biggest player in House was Dr. House himself, hobbling around being all cynical and clever. But his protege, Lawrence Kutner, showed true potential across the series. So naturally, the writers decided it would be fun for Kutner to take his own life.
James Novak – Scandal
Yeah, I guess you could say this TV death was scandalous. No but seriously, when Jake decided to shoot and kill a reporter, an NSA employee and then James Novak all in one go like it was just another day (all because James knew a little more than he perhaps should), it was a sucker punch for fans.
Agent Caitlin Todd – NCIS
When Caitlin jumped in front of Gibbs to take a bullet, it seemed like that was gonna be all she wrote. And then, hello! Turns out she was wearing a bullet proof vest. So everything was fine. Or was it? Gibbs complimented her bravery. “Wow,” she said. ”I thought I’d die before I ever heard a compliment – ” only to be cut off by another gunshot, this time fatal.
Gary Shepherd – Thirtysomething
Fans had followed Nancy’s tough journey battling ovarian cancer in Thirtysomething keenly. And when she went to hospital for surgery to see if any cancerous tumours remained, everybody feared the worst. The news turned out great. Nancy was going to be fine. Just one problem: her friend Gary had just been announced dead from a car crash.
Lucy Knight – ER
Chicago General’s emergency room, understandably, saw a lot of crazy stuff. Sometimes it was randomly tragic, sometimes purposely violent. In the case of med student Lucy Knight, it was the latter. Being stabbed to death on the job is never a good thing and this instance was no exception.
Ianto Jones – Torchwood
Torchwood had a bit of a kink for killing off big-time characters. Still, Ianto Jones’ death was a bit of a kick in the teeth. Fans not only rooted for him, but his romance with Captain Jack. The response to Ianto’s death was so severe, fans threatened to boycott the show. Death threats were even made!
Gus Fring – Breaking Bad
A lot of TV character deaths lean more into the tragic factor, whereas poor Gus Fring’s death in Breaking Bad is outright horrific. After being bombed by Walter and Hector Salamanca, Gus is seen walking out of Hector’s room. At first, the audience presumes everything is fine. Gus, sure, he’s a little shaken, but nothing serious. Except half his face is gone.
Maude Flanders – The Simpsons
Poor Homer. Painting a target on your chest and asking cheerleaders to catapult free T-shirts at it. What could go wrong? As sod’s law would have it, one of the catapults hits Maude Flanders, knocking her off the bleachers and SPLAT, into the car park. While Maude wasn’t the most beloved character the cartoon, her absence caused a bigger stir than expected.
Mrs Landingham – The West Wing
Things certainly went west on The West Wing for Mrs. Landingham, the outspoken confidante of the president, when she died in a car crash. Ironically, Landingham had just gotten her driver’s license and purchased her first ride.
Michael – Jane the Virgin
When season 2 of Jane the Virgin ended with Michael being shot, fans couldn’t wait to see whether he survived into season 3. Remarkably, he did. He even got married to Jane. Then on the tenth episode he suddenly collapsed and died, a long-term victim of a gunshot wound.
The Night King – Game of Thrones
The Night King was the Darth Vader of the Game of Thrones universe. As such, he was a very large, very bad guy who plenty of ordinary heroic folk wanted to kill. And eventually they did. ‘They’ being Arya Stark, which surprised a helluva lot of fans. What’s more, the Night King’s death came in the middle of the season. Look, let’s just not talk about that final season.
Bellamy Blake – The 100
In the final season of the 100, you’re basically waiting for Bellamy to come back from his absence and reunite with Octavia, his sister. You’re also hoping for him to make tracks romantic interest Clarke. Of course, Clarke decides to kill Bellamy instead, quashing the hopes of a fandom who had their fair share of surprise deaths across the series.
Hodor – Game of Thrones
This gentle giant loved by all fans was a man of few words. One word, actually: Hodor. And we only found out when he bit the dust. It turns out it comes from the words “hold the door” that were ordered to him during a seizure that mentally disabled him. As he allows Bran to escape while holding off the undead wights, his name takes on a sudden, devastating meaning.
Poussey Washington – Orange is the New Black
Unlike a lot of the characters in Orange is the New Black, Poussey Washington was loved for her witty, sweet and non-abrasive personality. Her tragic death comes during a peaceful protest within the prison when a heavy-handed racist guard suffocates Washington in scenes that bear a stark resemblance to real life.
Wallace – The Wire
Before he was pretend-beating people up in boxing rings, Michael B. Jordan played the naive 15 year old Wallace in The Wire. After tipping off Stringer Bel about the location of Brandon, only for Brandon to then be killed, Wallace cannot live with himself as an accomplice to a murder. He becomes an informant and historically things always work out well for informants. Spoiler: they don’t!
Peter Russo – House of Cards
Peter Russo was a pain in the backside, really. A liability in lots of ways, especially when he was popping pills, this Democratic Congressman got on the nerve of Frank Underwood probably more than anyone. In a moment of madness, Underwood decided enough was enough. He went and got Russo drunk in his car before leaving with the ignition still on. After a quick shutting of the garage door, it was cya later alligator for Russo.
Lane Pryce – Mad Men
There certainly were some mad men AND women when Lane Pryce got an earful from Don Draper for embezzling company funds to settle some personal debt. Fired from his dream job and too ashamed to tell his family, Pryce hanged himself in his office, dropping the jaws of Lane Pryce stans.
Henry Blake – M*A*S*H
The OG. The GOAT. The first ever shock death in television. In the mid 1970s, what with the news in America being bad enough, scripted TV (especially comedy) didn’t feature a whole lot of death. So when Radar was seen reading out the death of Henry Blake in the season finale of M*A*S*H*’s third year, audiences across the world were stunned.
Eddie Munson – Stranger Things
In hindsight, Eddie Munson (widely regarded the MVP in the fourth season of Stranger Things) foreshadowed his own death when he claimed that he “wasn’t the hero type.” Still struggling with the shame of leaving Chrissy to die in episode one, Eddie atoned for his cowardice in the show’s fourth season by bravely facing off against the winged creatures of the Upside Down. Viewers expected it to be the turning point for his character and were shocked when it turned out to be the end of the road instead, with Eddie suffering a violent death.
Colin Zabel – Mare of Easttown
Detective Colin Zabel’s last words to his mother were “my whole life’s been about being careful… look how far that’s gotten me.” As it turns out, Colin’s decision to abandon his cautious ways results in his death literally a few hours later, as he is abruptly shot in the chest by the murderous Mr. Potts whilst trying to rescue his kidnapping victims. The fact that the moment came just after Colin and his partner Mare admitted their mutual romantic feelings made it all the more stinging.
Vivien Harmon – American Horror Story: Murder House
Fans rightly expected a TV show with ‘Murder House’ in the title to include plenty of death and destruction, but everyone was still completely caught off guard when leading lady Vivien Harmon – played by Connie Britton – was bumped off in the penultimate episode. After being impregnated by a demon, Vivien endured a seriously traumatic birth that ultimately resulted in her bleeding to death.
Ben Sullivan – Scrubs
Loved for its goofy comedy, Scrubs was also prone to veering into some seriously dark territory. The fourteenth episode of the medical sitcom’s third season sees the return of the lovable Ben Sullivan, Dr. Cox’s brother-in-law and best friend. In one of the most devastating moment of misdirection in TV history, it is revealed at the very end of the episode that Ben is actually dead, and Dr. Cox has constructed a fantasy to cope. The final shot of the seemingly untouchable doctor sobbing at his best friend’s funeral is completely and utterly heartbreaking.
Detective Carter – Person of Interest
Unexpected deaths always hit the hardest, as Detective Carter proved in the third season of Person of Interest. Shortly after getting her badge and gun back, Carter is ambushed and shot multiple times, dying in fellow detective Reese’s arms. The moment comes entirely out of the blue, and left viewers struggling to pick their jaws up off the floor.
Dris – Top Boy
Starting out as a trusted associate of Sully and Dushane, Dris suffered a stroke in between Top Boy’s second and third seasons, leaving his physical capabilities diminished. Frustrated at being sidelined, Dris ends up selling information to a rival gang. When Sully finds out in the series finale he takes to Dris to a rooftop, ostensibly to kill him, but the camera pans away before the shot is heart. Many assumed that this meant Sully, who seemed on the path to redemption, spared his longtime friend. Then season four arrived and it was revealed that no, he did not.
Glenn Rhee – the Walking Dead
Along with Daryl and Rick, Glenn was one of the original male heroes of The Walking Dead, and arguably the most likeable. Kindhearted and brave in equal measure, Glenn was always willing to risk his life for his friends. His death – which came at the start of the seventh season at the hands of new series bad-guy Negan – was perhaps the most brutal moment in entire show, and easily the most tragic, leaving viewers as crushed as Glenn’s skull.
The Viper – Game of Thrones
Although he wasn’t a main character, everyone was rooting for The Viper when he went up against The Mountain in Tyrion’s trial by combat. For one thing, the life of Tyrion – a fan favourite since the beginning – lay on the line. The Mountain was also the arguably one of the most sadistic characters in a show packed with unhinged psychopaths. Viewers dared to get their hopes up after The Viper seemed to get the upper hand, but his thirst for revenge led to a moment of complacency and one of the most horrific deaths in TV history.
Kenny – South Park
One of the longest running South Park jokes is Kenny dying – usually in utterly bizarre and violent circumstances – only to reappear in the next episode with no explanation. Fans were so used to this gag that when Kenny permanently died of muscular atrophy it came as a genuine shock. The muffled, orange hooded character did eventually return to the show, but only after his absence was keenly felt for an entire season.
Shane – The Walking Dead
The brewing feud between series protagonist Rick and his once-best friend meant viewers were expecting Shane’s death to come at some point. However, when the good-hearted Dale was turned into a walker snack in the eleventh episode of The Walking Dead’s second series, viewers assumed the show would follow the unwritten rule of only killing one main character in an episode. Instead, the episode quickly followed with a confrontation between Shane and Rick that ended with the former’s brutal demise.
President David Palmer – 24
Season 5 of 24 got off to an explosive start by killing off David Palmer. While visiting his brother Wayne, Palmer stands in front of a window when a shot rings out, killing him instantly. Jack, who is later framed for his assassination, ultimately catches the real culprits, before finding out they’re connected to a much bigger terrorist plot and that Palmer was about to blow the lid off it.
Tara Maclay – Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Tara Maclay was introduced in season four of Buffy the Vampire Slayer as a quiet but precocious student. Together with Willow Rosenberg, she was one the first recurring lesbian couples on a prime-time network show in the US, making her hugely popular with Buffy’s LGBT fans. You can imagine, then, how distraught they were when Maclay caught a stray bullet from Warren in the 2002 episode ‘Villains’.
Billy Thomas – Ally McBeal
A lot of fans knew that actor Gil Bellows’ time on Ally McBeal was coming to an end, so it wasn’t too much of a kick in the teeth seeing him die, but it still hurt. The way in which the creators caught audiences off guard was by diagnosing him halfway through the third season with a benign brain tumour, setting him up for a finale death, and then picking him off in the very next episode. Billy Thomas collapsed in court and died, and he took the show with him.
Prue Halliwell – Charmed
Charmed followed three witch sisters - Prue, Piper and Phoebe - stopping the world from evil demon threats week-in-week-out. Prue, played by Shannon Doherty, checked out during season 3’s All Hell Breaks Loose finale. She and sister Piper are attacked by Shax, an assassin sent by The Source of All Evil, leaving the season on a cliffhanger. It is later revealed that Prue’s injuries proved fatal.
Howard Hamlin – Better Call Saul
One of TV’s most recent and shocking deaths was Better Call Saul’s Howard Hamlin. In Plan and Execution, Howard chews the ears off Kim and Jimmy, bravely slating all their wrongdoings. His reward? Getting shot in the head by Lalo Salamanca. Although fans were crippled by this creative decision to kill one of the only pure characters on the show, they were glad to see him vent his frustrations right before.
Bobby Ewing – Dallas
When Bobby Ewing was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver in the season 8 finale of Dallas in May 1985, it was watched by over 300 million viewers in 80 countries, numbers that seem astounding in today’s over-saturated market. What was even more astounding was Pamela Ewing waking up to the sound of running water in the season 9 finale to find Bobby, showering with a big smile on his face.
Marissa Cooper – The OC
At the time of Marissa Cooper’s death, everything seemed to finally be going her way. Then she and boyfriend Ryan got into a car accident and that was that. Ryan pulled her from the wreckage and cradled her while she died in his arms. It was so shocking that one of the, if not the, biggest OC stars would bite the dust so abruptly. Apparently Mischa Barton wanted to leave the show to do more films.
Stringer Bell – The Wire
By the end of the third season, Stringer Bell (played by Idris Elba) is fronting as a real estate developer to launder drug money the Barksdale organization is raking in. As he approaches one property that he’s renovating, Omar bursts into the house, shooting Stringer’s bodyguard before Stringer up the stairs, where he’s cornered by Mouzone. Attempts to bargain his survival prove futile. Mouzone and Omar fire a dozen bullets into his chest.
Linda Reagan – Blue Bloods
In the season 7 finale, Linda Reagan’s husband finds himself in the bad books of a major crime organization after a drug bust. In retaliation, they set his, Linda and their children’s house on fire. Luckily, all four were seen to escape, quashing any fears of a character death. But then at the beginning of season 8, a bit of lousy exposition revealed that Linda had died in a helicopter crash while treating patients.
Leslie Shay – Chicago Fire
In the season 2 finale of Chicago Fire, “Real Never Waits” Leslie Shay enters a burning building and is struck by falling debris, her fate remaining unclear. It was eventually revealed that an arsonist had intentionally set the building ablaze with traps to kill first responders like Shay. Her tragic death was confirmed in the season 3 premiere. Fans were devastated to see her coworkers painting a tribute on the door of Ambulance 61.
Dexter Morgan – Dexter: New Blood
Set a decade after the universally loathed finale of Dexter’s eighth season, Dexter: New Blood shocked fans by ending with the death of its central character. Many assumed that New Blood was going to be the first of a number of seasons, but the final episode saw Dexter finally lose his life after his son shoots him in the heart (albeit under Dexter’s instructions).
Ruth Langmore – Ozark
Intelligent, fierce and resourceful, Ruth Langmore quickly became a fan favourite after her introduction in the first season of Ozark. After a truly compelling redemption arc that saw Ruth turning her back on her criminal past and trying to forge a new, positive direction in life, the character was coldly gunned down in the season four finale, leaving viewers devastated.
Zeke Landon – Manifest
After HBO axed Manifest, Netflix acquired the rights to the show for a fourth, final season. Whilst fans of the show were accustomed to shocking deaths, the midseason demise of Zeke Landon still came completely out of the blue. After realising his purpose is to save Cal, Zeke uses his supernatural abilities to absorb his cancer, choosing to die in his place instead.
Villanelle – Killing Eve
She might have been a ruthless murderer for hire, but fans of offbeat spy series Killing Eve were still rooting for a happy ending for Villanelle. Alas, it was not to be. Just when it seemed that Eve and Villanelle were going to get their happy ending, the assassin was shot repeatedly by a sniper, with a horrified Eve watching her lover’s body slip into the darkness of the Thames.
Jimmy Darmody – Boardwalk Empire
The death of Jimmy Darmody – a traumatised WWI vet and firm fan favourite – in the second season of Boardwalk Empire truly rammed home the point that no one in the show was safe. After turning on Nucky Thompson and unsuccessfully trying to assassinate him, Jimmy allows himself to be lured to his death, even talking his former boss through the process of shooting him in the face.
Lexa – The 100
Lexa’s death in The 100 upset fans so much that there were widespread calls to boycott the show, prompting creator and executive producer Jason Rothenberg to pen an open letter apologising for the decision. Lexa’s death came via a stray bullet moments after she finally consummated her relationship with Clarke, with infuriated fans accusing the show of using the trope of lesbian characters getting killed just after they embrace their identity.
Alison Bailey – The Affair
After Ruth Wilson decided to depart from The Affair, her character Alison Bailey was written out of the show in shocking fashion. Although it initially appears that Alison has killed herself, it soon transpires that a heartbroken Ben attacked her, inflicting a serious head wound before dumping her into the ocean to drown.
Nina Krilova – The Americans
Nina Krilova, a KGB officer and FBI double agent in spy drama The Americans, managed to make it through four seasons without getting caught. Unfortunately, Nina’s luck eventually ran out and the Russian government arrested her for treason. After being told that she’s getting transferred to a different prison, Nina is led to a basement, informed she’s been sentenced to death, and unceremoniously shot in the back of the head.
Tommy Merlyn – Arrow
Oliver Queen’s best friend since childhood, Tommy Merlyn was a trust fund millionaire and all-round spoiled brat. After an earthquake caused a building to collapse, trapping Laurel, Tommy ventured into the rubble to rescue her, but became trapped himself when the rest of the building came down. Oliver arrived to find Tommy impaled on a metal bar, with the two reconciling before he passed away.
Warrick Brown – CSI: Crime Scene Investigation
The ninth season of CSI got off to an abruptly shocking start with the death of fan-favourite Warrick Brown. After being shot by LVPD mole Jeffrey McKeen, Brown was found bleeding to death to death in his car and passed away in Grissom’s arms. It was a heartbreaking moment, but fans didn’t have to wait too long for Brown to get his comeuppance.
Logan Roy - Succession
In the third episode of Succession’s fourth and final season, the stalwart Logan Roy was finally picked off. His death happened abruptly, mostly away from the camera, having suffered a medical episode on a plane. Roy’s kids are tasked with saying their goodbyes to their dying father through a phone held close to him. The whole thing, which played out in real-time, sent social media into a spin.
Max - Homeland
Homeland was coming to an end in 2022, so fans were gearing themselves up to face the almost certain death of at least one character. However, nobody expected that casualty to be dear old Max. Watching this much-adored tech guru get kidnapped, tortured, and finally executed was pretty awful, especially given that Max had been with viewers since the pilot of the Showtime classic.
Hank - Breaking Bad
A few episodes before episode 14 of Breaking Bad’s season five, Ozymandias, Hank finally put the pieces together. Ingeniously, he worked out Walter White was Heisenberg after finding a book that’d been signed by Gale Boetticher in the same handwriting as notes found at Gus Fring’s lab. Attempting to lure White into an arrest, Hank ended up getting shot in the head by gang leader Jack Welker.
Anya - The Midnight Club
The adolescent patients of Brightcliffe are all terminally ill but that didn’t make the death of Anya any easier. This irreverent bonce cancer patient said her goodbyes in episode seven. To make matters just that little more heartbreaking, Anya had experienced what her life would’ve been like had she survived hours before her death.
John Shelby - Peaky Blinders
Fans of Peaky Blinders were hugely taken aback by the end of Season four’s first episode The Noose, in which John Shelby was shot dead outside his house in front of his wife Esme and brother Michael. The perpetrators were Italian assassins hired to wipe out the Blinders by the orders of baddie Luca Changretta. On Christmas Day, no less!
Black Noir - The Boys
After Black Noir admitted that he knew Soldier Boy was Homelander’s father all along, Homelander killed him in a blind rage. In Black Noir’s final, crushing moments, his cartoon animal friends attempted to console him, promising him that he’d soon be “in the sweet embrace of Christ the Lord.” Surreal and heartbreaking.
Helen Flynn - Spooks
In the second episode of BBC’s classic Spooks, Helen Flynn was brutally murdered by right-wing leader Robert Osbourne after he failed to get in vital intel on MI5. Audiences were shocked to see Helen’s hand being forced into a sizzling chip fryer. When her head went in, they were appalled. Osbourne then got one of his henchmen to shoot Flynn in the head, finally killing her and ending both her and the audience’s torment.
Ashtray - Euphoria
Ashtray was tough as nails. You always expected him to wriggle his way out of the worst situations. In the season two finale of Euphoria, he did just that, outsmarting the cops by feigning unconsciousness before jumping back up to kill another officer. It was a brief moment of triumph that was voided by a sniper shot. Fezco, his young partner in crime, could only watch on as he died.
Bonnie - How To Get Away With Murder
Bonnie Winterbottom went through her fair share of trials and tribulations over the course of How To Get Away With Murder’s six-season run, so to see her bite the dust in the series finale was so depressing. Here you had a budding lawyer, who had overcome incredible trauma only to be caught in the crossfire trying to help Frank.
Ben - The Umbrella Academy
Okay, Ben was already dead, but his ghost was a real presence throughout this quirky series. After years of confiding in Klaus, the only person who could see Ben , he decided to sacrifice himself to save Vanya, entering the afterlife for good. “Can you hug me as I go? It’s been a long time,” Ben asked Vanya before breaking into a million pieces, just like viewers’ hearts.