Gary Mendez – A Million Little Things
It was difficult going into A Million Little Things Season 5, knowing Gary would probably die from cancer, but we weren’t prepared for much his death hurt. The last two episodes of Season 5 were the hardest, knowing that Gary wouldn’t survive and that he and Maggie were on borrowed time. We were all sobbing as Gary asked Eddie and Rome to help him end his life. Seeing Gary say goodbye to his loved ones made it real.
Gary had been the heart and soul of the series, so it hurt to lose him.
Will Gardner – The Good Wife
As it is with many of the deaths on this list, it’s not so much crying about the death itself that happens during these episodes, but it was impossible not to cry watching Diane and Kalinda dealing with the melee at the courthouse and trying to get in touch with Alicia. Will’s body on the table, knowing nothing could be done. It was all horrific and unexpected.
Joyce Summers – Buffy the Vampire Slayer
This death happened just like in real life. It was completely unexpected. There weren’t bullets or vampires. Joyce thought she was doing fine, but succumbed to a brain tumor while at home alone on the sofa. Buffy walked into the surreal situation, and we got to see a girl who is normally surrounded by death utterly floored by the reality of someone close to her dying of natural causes. “The Body” remains my favorite episode of the series.
Nate Fisher – Six Feet Under
Nate had a brain problem called AVM. He had it under control, and had just had surgery even, ensuring he was well. But he died due to post-op complications. Um. NO! That doesn’t happen to our favorite television characters. That’s too real. But coming from a show about death, would we expect less? The funeral afterward was another sucker punch. Of course, this was before we knew the finale was coming and we’d never hear Sia again without crying softly (or heavily).
Mark Greene – ER
Mark Greene suffered from cancer for a long time before he died, and his daughter was really suffering as well. He decided to spend the end of his life tring to make hers better by taking her to Hawaii where he grew up. Rachel eventually calls Elizabeth to come help her with him and while his family is on the beach and life carries on and he listens to that damn sappy version of Somewhere Over the Rainbow, he dies. Seriously, reliving these on YouTube is killing me!
Poussey Washington – Orange Is the New Black
Long before this brutal type of killing was realized in our everyday lives, Poussey Washington lost her life while standing up for injustices in prison. It was a violent and crushing death on the surface and in how fellow inmates and viewers responded to it. The show wanted to shed light on everyday injustices in prisons and by police officers on the black community, and they succeeded. It’s just too bad it didn’t have the desired effects to bring about actual change.
Peter III – The Great
The Great is very lightly based on history, but the one thing we knew couldn’t last was the marriage between Peter III and Catherine II. Frankly, we never expected to fall for the couple at all. Our Catherine and Peter had a love-hate relationship that we couldn’t help but root for, even though it was the very definition of toxic. So it was pretty surprising when just moments after declaring his enduring love for Catherine (when he was defying her direct orders), Peter fell through the ice and died, leaving Catherine gasping for air at the shock of it. Her reaction was visceral and heartbreaking, which made the death all the more effective to propelling her story forward.
Allison Argent – Teen Wolf
Allison returned from the dead in Teen Wolf: The Movie, but that doesn’t eliminate how we felt about her death when it occurred. Back then, it seemed like something was off with Allison long before she died in a season that threatened to kill off one of the main characters. Nobody expected it to be Allison or Scott. They’re going to find their way back to each other! Well, in her final moments, as she lay dying in his arms, she did tell Scott he was the only guy she ever truly loved. Another truly shocking moment. The tighter lid they keep on the story, the more emotional the loss.
George O-Malley – Grey’s Anatomy
Oh man. George made a major decision, to join the Army and do his doctoring there. So OF COURSE nobody would recognize him when a heroic man in uniform who had just been dragged by a bus after stepping in front of it to save a pedestrian was rushed in, barely alive. But when they figured it out? Holy tears batman. Sob much?
Charlie Pace – Lost
Charlie had such a wonderful journey as a character on Lost, which made watching him accept a suicide mission terrible to watch. Even though Desmond already saw it happen in a vision, it was possible to change the endings of them before, so we hoped Charlie’s fate would change, as well. Instead, he saved everyone, and drowned after giving Desmond a message on his hand. Gut-wrenching!
Lt. Colonel Henry Blake – M*A*S*H
Everybody wanted to get away from the war. Their ticket home was the one thing they all agreed upon was the best thing that could happen to them. So there were happy faces and tears of joy that quickly turned to tears of sorrow when Henry Blake’s helicopter was shot down on his way home. So unfair!!!
Logan Roy – Succession
Logan Roy’s death was a stunning development on its surface, but beneath that surface, it made perfect sense as the series rocketed toward a conclusion. The premise was always to find his successor, whatever that might be, and let’s face it, Logan wasn’t such a great guy that he needed to survive to the end. A great character, yes, but one of poor character, as it may be. What made this death sad was how his children handled it as the great man left the earth not surrounded lovingly by family but on a business trip on the day of his eldest son’s wedding. His children lived in his often dark shadow, but they felt the enormity of the loss before they could even understand what it meant.
Paul Hennessey – 8 Simple Rules
When John Ritter died suddenly in real life at the age of 54, the 8 Simple Rules character did as well, while buying milk. The entire cast cried throughout the episode, and knowing they were really missing their friend and father figure make the scenes all the more heart wrenching. John Ritter was loved by all of us as much as by them, too. A last article written by the character about his children only increased the sobs.
Billy Baker – All American
It broke our hearts when Billy Baker died on All American Season 5 Episode 11. He went out a hero saving Jabari from a bus accident. Since it was sudden, no one got to say goodbye, which made it difficult for the Bakers and Spencer to grieve. Spencer was especially filled with guilt since he and Billy were arguing when Billy died. As his family began to move on, Billy’s presence lives on inside his family, and he’ll be forever missed. He had been the patriarch of the series, and there is a gaping hole from his absence.
Lucy Knight – ER
When Carter was stabbed by a lunatic in the ER, as he fell to the floor he saw his friend, Lucy, was already bleeding on the floor. While Carter made it, Lucy didn’t. It was pretty rough on the entire ER because she was loved by all. No, it didn’t help knowing Kellie Martin wanted to leave the show. Not one bit.
Juliet Burke – Lost
Let’s be honest, Sawyer didn’t start out as the romantic hero, but that’s sure how he ended up, and he paid the terrible price of having the love of his life dying in his arms after she fell down into the hole with the bomb they were trying to set off. He heard her down there, alive, and dug his way to her. First she said to him what they’ll say when the remember each other in the afterlife. Just wow. Then she asked him to kiss her, then said she had something really important to tell him and died in his arms. It’s even more powerful watching it again!
Gabriel Reyes – 9-1-1: Lone Star
In the series’ supersized season four finale, what should’ve been a happy celebration of love as Carlos and T.K. prepared for their wedding took an utterly shocking turn when, mere hours after Carlos asked his father to be his Best Man, the Reyes Patriarch was gunned down at his doorstep.
And worst yet, as it stands, there is no rhyme, reason, or answers to who is behind the senseless murder.
With one grooming tragically losing his mother a year prior, a wedding was marred by tragedy, and one of the most compelling characters and father/son relationships on the series came to a close in a most devastating fashion, changing the trajectory of this series and Carlos’ arc for seasons to come.
Sybil Crawley – Downton Abbey
Sybil’s baby wasn’t being born properly, and if they didn’t do something soon, she was going to die. Well, guess what? She died! Lord Grantham refused to take the word of the doctor Lady Grantham trusted, and as a result, her daughter died in childbirth. All because he wanted to stick with the old-fashioned practices. Sybil delivered her child, and everyone thought all was well. Only later her health deteriorated, and she was gone. It was unexpected and shocking.
Bobby Simone – NYPD Blue
The actual death scene of Bobby Simone on NYPD Blue was beautiful, full of meaningful touches and thoughts as he came closer and closer to death after suffering from a bacterial infection that went to his brain due to complications after a heart transplant. He cried as he came to one more time befor his las breath and so did we.
Zeek Braverman – Parenthood
We almost always expected Zeek would die before the series concluded, but they dragged his life out to the bitter end, allowing him to live to see his grandchild born and start planning a vacation with Millie. That was the kicker. You just knew he wouldn’t make it then. So when he died in his chair, it felt too permanent. No Parenthood reunion show or movie would ever be the same because Zeek was the heart of the show. Spreading his ashes? Goodness.
Lexie Grey – Grey’s Anatomy
Plane crash on Grey’s and the body count rises. Mark declares his love for Lexie, who only wants him to hold her hand while she goes. Instead, he tells her how wonderful their lives will be when the end up together. They’re meant to be. And she just slips away. Oh for God’s sake! Meredith arrived on the scene about 30 seconds after she was gone. Scream sobs from her and us!
Seymour Asses – Futurama
Fry found stray dog Seymour and they became best friends. When Fry was accidententally cryogenically frozen, Seymour tried to get Fry’s family to understand what happened. When they didn’t, he spent the next 12 years in one place, just waiting for Fry to come back. Then he died. The zinger? Fry came out of it and had the chance to clone Seymour, but stopped just short. Why? Because he learned Seymour lived 12 more years without him and didn’t think it was fair to do that to his friend, who had shared a wonderful and full life without him, forgetting all about him while he was gone. See the irony there? There was nobody to tell him Seymour’s entire life was spent waiting for the friend he loved so much and he would have given anything to see Fry again. Oh. I’m sobbing just thinking about it again!
Mr. Hooper – Sesame Street
For a lot of thirty somethings, Mr Hooper was their first exposure to death. Actor Will Lee’s passing hit the Sesame Street family hard, but the writers decided to use it as a teachable moment and not dodge the issue of death. Using Big Bird as a surrogate for kids, the grieving cast members gently try to explain death the the six foot tall four year old. Big Bird’s confusion, anger, and sadness still resonate. We dare you to watch that scene and not get a little choked up.
Jamie Whelan – Law & Order: Organized Crime
When Whelan first joined the Organized Crime Unit, he was a spitfire — a mini-Stabler that did his own thing and caused as many problems as he solved. We were looking forward to what he might become under Stabler’s tutelage, but he never got that chance. Minutes after bantering with Reyes about his vacation plans that had been interrupted by this case, Whelan was shot in the neck. In short order, he nearly bled out, learned he was paralyzed, and begged to die before getting his wish. If that wasn’t devastating enough, the team’s responses were painful, especially Jet’s. Whelan was the second man she loved this season and her stunned silence when she learned that Whelan was gone broke our hearts.
Captain Liam Shaw – Star Trek: Picard
Shaw’s introduction as captain of the USS Titan led us to believe he’d be an obstacle at best, and a villain at worst. His refusal of Picard and Riker’s call to adventure, his obvious prejudice towards Seven’s Borg history, and his less than exemplary dinner manners pointed the way to an officious, bigoted, uncouth stick-in-the-mud, a real party pooper.
So how amazing is it that he developed in Season 3’s most popular non-TNG character? He proved to be a talented engineer, a staunch battle companion, and a clear-sighted judge of character. We learned how he lived with his survivor’s guilt from Wolf 359, worshiped Commodore La Forge, and never lost touch with his Chicago roots.
His death may have been telegraphed from early scenes, but that doesn’t detract from its tragedy. Passing the torch to Seven on the field of battle only cements the man’s legacy as a leader of worth whose only hope was to captain his ship in a safe and sensible manner.
Amber Volakis – House
Amber was a really strong character and a great foil for House. Although she doesn’t end up working with House, she becomes involved with Wilson and ends up as a patient of House’s when she is poisoned with Flu medication due to bad kidneys after a bus accident her and House were in. It was like a “Wilson can’t have nice things” scenario when she died in his arms. Wilson was gutted and we were for him.
Rosita Espinosa – The Walking Dead
AMC’s zombie epic wrapped up on a hopeful note after 11 seasons, but there was a big death in the form of Rosita Espinoza.
The decision was driven by star Cristian Serratos wanting closure as the franchise expanded.
Rosita was one of the most badass characters in TV history, saving several key players. She died while trying to save her daughter, Coco, at the Commonwealth.
Despite believing Rosita escaped unscathed, we later learned she was bitten by a walker, bringing the show to a close as the remaining survivors prepared for what came next.
Rosita’s memory lives on at the Commonwealth thanks to a memorial and, of course, through Max and Eugene’s daughter, Rosie.