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Get The Tissues: These Are The Most Tearjerking Character Deaths In TV History

Get The Tissues: These Are The Most Tearjerking Character Deaths In TV History June 9, 2017

Get a box of tissue ready as we revisit some of the most heart-breaking and gut-wrenching moments in television history.

WARNING!

We have two warnings for you for you read on: 1. SPOILERS! Needless to say, we're going to be revealing character deaths. You know what that means. Proceed with caution. 2. TEARS! If you make it through this list, you will cry. And cry and cry. Steel yourself now.

When Seymour Died on Futurama

IMAGE BY: FOX
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We learned that when Fry was frozen for a thousand years, life went on without him. However, for his dog, Seymour, he went to the pizza parlor everyday waiting for Fry to come back. Only he never did. In one of the saddest sequences ever, we watch Seymour faithfully sit and wait for Fry, even through rain and snow because dogs really are man's best friend. If this doesn't get you right in the feels, you have no soul. We're not crying, you're crying...

When Ben Sullivan Died on Scrubs

IMAGE BY: NBC

He was Dr. Cox's friend, maybe best friend. He was everyone's favorite patient. His death was almost too much for 'Scrubs' that not even Dr. Cox could adequately cope. This death was certainly a gut-punch to everyone, including the audience.

When Adriana Died on The Sopranos

IMAGE BY: HBO

When you turn FBI informant in a mob family, you know nothing good can come of it. The audience knew what was coming and so did Adriana and that made it all the harder to watch as she was taken out into the woods.

When Connor Gavin Died on Rescue Me

IMAGE BY: FX
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What was supposed to be one of the happiest moments as Tommy and Janet were about to re-marry turned to a horrific tragedy. Their son, Connor, was killed by a drunk driver and our hearts broke.

When Charlie Pace Died In Lost

IMAGE BY: ABC

Despite Desmond's future-sight rescues, it was pretty clear that sooner or later, Charlie was going to die. But when he did, it was ultimately his choice, taking his last seconds of life to warn his friends of impending danger.

When Any Stark Died in Game of Thrones

IMAGE BY: HBO

Where to begin? Ned's beheading? Which death at The Red Wedding are we going to point out as the most brutal? Starks have a tough time of it in Westeros, and it's never easy to say goodbye.

When Buffy Died in Buffy: The Vampire Slayer

IMAGE BY: WB
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It's never going to be a good time when your title characters die, and naturally, Buffy finds a way to make it even more devastating, sacrificing herself to save her sister.

When Bobby Singer Died in Supernatural

IMAGE BY: The CW

The old family friend of the Winchesters had a rough life, and his death was not something fans took very well. He's still around, kinda. But there's always a pain to seeing Bobby in his state. 

When Matt Serecen's Dad Died in Friday Night Lights

IMAGE BY: NBC

While Matt's dad wasn't terribly liked, the absolute devastation Matt himself had to go through in dealing with the funeral has made this one of the more emotionally brutal television deaths.

When the Tenth Doctor Died in Doctor Who

IMAGE BY: BBC
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Even though we all knew that David Tennant was leaving the show, his regeneration was particularly devastating, a simple "I don't want to go," as his final goodbye. 

When Omar Little Died on The Wire

IMAGE BY: HBO

You never see the bullet coming. With Omar, his life was always going to end with a gunshot, but to have it be at the hands of a child, and then to have his toe-tag mixed up with another's, made losing him all the worse. 

When Poussey Died On "Orange Is The New Black"

IMAGE BY: Netflix

Poussey was a fan favorite on “Orange” for a lot of good reasons: She was kind, she was gentle, she was young and sensitive. And deep into the fourth season, we learned she was locked up for nonviolent, barely criminal reasons: trespassing, and dealing small amounts of pot. This piece of questionable justice becomes all the more outrageous and heartbreaking when, in the same episode, Poussey is accidentally killed. An officer kneeling on the 92-pound woman’s back during a near-riot suffocates her to death on the prison floor, shocking everyone at Litchfield Penitentiary.

When Oberyn Martell Died on Game of Thrones

IMAGE BY: HBO
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All the Viper had to do was finish off the Mountain, but instead, we watch with dread as he refuses to do so, wanting to make the Mountain confess his crimes. Well, the Mountain did just that, but while he was crushing the Viper's skull with his bare hands.

When Etta Died on Fringe

IMAGE BY: FOX

Despite only being on the show in the final season, Olivia and Peter's daughter found a way to show off the best and worst traits of both her parents, all swirling inside her. Of course, the one trait both parents share is a willingness to self-sacrifice, one that Etta was all to ready to make.

When Hank Died on Breaking Bad

IMAGE BY: AMC

After a season and a half of being bedridden, angry, and lacking confidence in himself, ASAC Hank Schrader of the DEA found that he was a lawman again, and a good one. He found that out right before neo-Nazis shot him dead.

When Opie Died on Sons of Anarchy

IMAGE BY: FX
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Opie wanted out of SAMCRO, he was out of SAMCRO and then he wasn't. The club took his wife and then sent him to jail. It was there that he sacrificed himself for Jax. And as Jax tearfully looked on as his best friend was beaten to death, so did we.

When Mark Greene Died on E.R.

IMAGE BY: NBC

You would think that having terminal brain cancer and fighting it for over a year would mean that we would be ready for Mark's death. But saying goodbye to the closest thing the show had to a leading character was far from easy. 

When Marshall's Dad Died On

IMAGE BY: CBS

Death on sitcoms always packs a wallop because we’re used to the easy, breezy comedic machinery that keeps a series going year after year. So interrupting the formula with tragedy is potent when done right. On “How I Met Your Mother,” Marshall is giddy to call his father and tell him the good news that Marshall and his wife, Lily, are able to conceive. But then Lily appears, tears in her eyes, and tells Marshall his father died of a heart attack. “My dad’s dead?” Marshall asks, helpless, before Lily embraces him. Just as we think the rest of the scene will play out in silence, Marshall says with a ragged, pained sob, “I’m not ready for this.”

When Literally Everyone Died On "Six Feet Under"

IMAGE BY: HBO
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“Six Feet Under” at its core deals with the inevitability of death, and all the healthy and unhealthy ways we deal with it. Yet despite the show’s message, writ large, that “everything, everyone, everywhere, ends” it still comes as a bittersweet shock when, at the end of the series finale, every main character dies. Not en masse, but via a series of flash-forwards to their individual, future deaths. Some die tragically, some die surrounded by loved ones. Some die ironically, and others sweetly. We watch them go, one by one, and we feel waves of conflicting and complementing emotions. It’s all so sudden, and kind of baffling, sad and beautiful in equal measure. Just like life. And death.

When Hodor Died On "Game Of Thrones"

IMAGE BY: HBO

For a show that traffics in killing off main characters like spitting out watermelon seeds, it takes a lot for its deaths to shock and devastate viewers six seasons in. But the series outdid itself with the death of Hodor, the simple-minded, gentle giant named for the only word he ever speaks. Everyone within Westeros and watching the show on TV knew “hodor” to be only a nonsense word. But then Bran, Hodor and Meera find themselves being chased by a horde of wights, i.e., zombies. Meera and crippled Bran escape as Meera screams at Hodor to “hold the door” to the cave in which they were hiding, keeping the wights sealed in. Meanwhile, Bran uses his power to possess Hodor’s body, which produces a vision of the past, inadvertently linking Hodor’s mind to that of his younger self, the latter experiencing his own future death as the wights rip the older Hodor apart while Meera screams, “Hold the door.” Young Hodor collapses and seizes from the trauma of the time warp, convulsing on the ground and repeating “hold the door” over and over until it slurs into the single word that becomes the only thing he’ll ever say for the rest of his life.

When Becky The Duck Died On "Saved By The Bell"

IMAGE BY: NBC

A generation of ‘90s kids has fond memories of “Saved by the Bell,” but no one points to it as a shining example of great writing or acting. Still, it managed to surprise viewers with the episode titled “Pipe Dreams.” Everyone at Bayside High is souped when an ocean of oil is discovered under the football field. The school stands to get very rich, which thrills the students and faculty. But tragedy strikes when an oil spill contaminates the pond by the football field, where Zack Morris and his biology class were caring for the animals that lived there. Of particular importance to Zack is Becky, an adorable duck with whom he's developed a close bond. After the spill, Zack comes running to his biology teacher with Becky in tow. She’s covered in oil and not moving. “She’s probably in shock, just please help us, sir!” he shouts. But Becky’s already dead. The normally unflappable Zack comes unglued, and you’re just like, “I can’t believe I’m crying at ‘Saved by the Bell.’”

When Rev. Smith dies on "Deadwood"

IMAGE BY: HBO
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The (fictionalized) Henry Weston Smith was always an eccentric character in HBO’s “Deadwood,” but as his behavior grew stranger, it became clear he was suffering from a brain tumor or some other degenerative disease that led to increasing headaches, violent seizures, and hallucinations. With a malady that would be difficult to manage or cure even 140 years later, there’s no hope for Rev. Smith, only pain. That’s why the villainous Al Swearengen steps up to end his incurable suffering. “You wanna be a road agent? Deal out death when called upon?” Al asks dimwitted employee Johnny, placing a cloth over the seizing preacher’s face. “Make a proper seal, stop up the breath,” he coldly demonstrates as Rev. Smith’s body struggles. “Apply pressure even and firm, like packin’ a snowball.” But as the reverend’s thrashing weakens, Al leans in close and whispers to him gently, “You can go now, brother.” All of Al’s many complex shades of moral gray are on display in the scene, and it’s gutting.

When Sarah Lynn Died On "BoJack Horseman"

IMAGE BY: Netflix

Tragic child star Sarah Lynn’s last words were foreshadowed as early as the series’ third episode, when in a flashback to her halcyon “Horsin’ Around” days, she proclaims at age 6 that she wants to be an architect when she grows up. She low-key continues voicing interest in architecture throughout the series, even as she spirals deeper into the hard-partying lifestyle of a former child actor/adult pop star, but no one around her seems to care or even hear these statements. While on a heroin bender with BoJack at the end of the third season, Sarah Lynn insists they visit one of her favorite architectural landmarks: The Griffith Observatory. “I wanna be an architect,” she sighs inside the planetarium, then slumps softly at BoJack’s side, never to wake up.

When Simon Donovan Died On "The West Wing"

IMAGE BY: NBC

White House press secretary C.J. Cregg gave Secret Service Agent Simon Donovan such a hard time when he was assigned to protect her during a stalker scare that you just knew they were gonna fall in love. After C.J.’s stalker is found and arrested, the pair finally shared the kiss they’d been building up to over several episodes. The resolution of their sexual tension felt like a climax, which made it all the more shocking for viewers when, minutes later, a practically giddy Simon is gunned down by robbers while buying flowers for C.J. at a Korean grocery store. Scoring emotionally devastating scenes with Jeff Buckley’s version of “Hallelujah” has become almost a cliche by now, but this 2002 TV episode was the first time many of us heard it, and the emotional gut-punch was simply too much to bear.

When Greg Died On "Family Ties"

IMAGE BY: NBC
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“Family Ties” broke the sitcom mold with its hour-long, commercial-free episode, “A, My Name Is Alex.” When Alex Keaton’s best friend, Greg, dies in a car crash, Alex is distraught. Other than the difficulty of losing his friend, Alex suffers from profound survivor’s guilt. He was meant to be in the car with Greg, but didn’t show up out of laziness. The second half of the episode is shot on a spare, empty set, like a black box theater. It reflects Alex’s mind as he struggles with despair. Greg’s ghost haunts Alex’s thoughts, and Alex tries to change the past, grasping Greg’s collar and begging him, “Don’t go. Don’t go. Don’t leave, OK? Don’t leave!” We cried all the tears. The episode won all the Emmys.

When Kenny Died For Real On "South Park"

IMAGE BY: Comedy Central

Anyone with even a passing familiarity with “South Park” knows the show’s oldest running gag is that Kenny dies in every episode, only to reappear without explanation at the beginning of the next one. But in the fifth season, Trey Parker and Matt Stone decided to play for keeps. Instead of suffering a gory, slapsticky, hilarious death, Kenny dies in the hospital, from terminal muscular dystrophy. His tragic death and funeral were treated with unexpected pathos, bringing tears to the eyes of viewers. The only thing less expected was that, when the show returned for its sixth season, Kenny remained dead, retroactively adding further gravity to his final episode. (Later, though, Kenny literally fades back into existence without any context or explanation at the end of the sixth season. His sudden reappearance goes unremarked upon by the other characters, as is tradition.)

When Amy Pond Died on Doctor Who

IMAGE BY: BBC

When her husbnad Rory fell to the Weeping Angels, sent back in time and never able to time travel again, there was no question what Amy was going to do. Even though we know they died together and happy, we never wanted them to leave.

When Dr. Ramoray Died On "Days Of Our Lives"

IMAGE BY: NBC
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Dr. Drake Ramoray was a “Days of Our Lives” fan favorite. Brilliant and handsome like all good soap-opera doctors must be, Dr. Ramoray was an award-winning neurosurgeon and a beloved figure in Salem, enjoying a particularly close relationship with his sister, Amber. It was only because of behind-the-scenes difficulty with actor Joseph Tribbiani that the writers were forced to kill off the popular character. We all remember where we were when we watched Dr. Ramoray fall down that elevator shaft to his doom. And although he didn’t technically die, he was left in a coma that, in one final twist of the irony knife, only he had the skill to treat. “Days” fans around the world were shattered by the unexpected loss of their favorite character.

When Col. Blake Died On "M*A*S*H"

IMAGE BY: FOX

In the third season finale of “M*A*S*H,” Lt. Col. Henry Blake gets the news every soldier wants to hear: He was being discharged and rotating back to the States. The entire 4077th, thrilled for their commanding officer, throw him a jolly going-away party. Throughout the episode, the main characters share warm, happy farewells with Blake before he boards a helicopter to start the journey home to his family. Then, the next day, an emotional Cpl. Radar O’Reilly enters the operating tent. Barely audible, he delivers an official message: “Lieutenant Colonel Henry Blake's plane was shot down over the Sea of Japan. It spun in. There were no survivors."

When James Died On "Good Times"

IMAGE BY: CBS

“Good Times” is remembered as a dumb sitcom with a dumb proto-Urkel breakout character with a popular catch phrase. But it started as a Norman Lear-developed “Maude” spinoff that was meant to be thoughtful and message driven before Jimmy Walker dominated it. In fact, that’s why the great John Amos wanted off the show, which led to the writers killing off his character, the patriarch of the Evans family. The send-off ended with a now iconic scene in which Florida Evans, after an episode’s worth of denial about her husband’s death, finally breaks down screaming “Damn, damn, damn!” The scene has been often parodied over the years, but in its own context, it still packs an emotional punch.

When George Died On "Scrubs"

IMAGE BY: NBC
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As a hospital show, even a particularly wacky hospital sitcom, “Scrubs” inevitably dealt with a lot of death. The show wrung a lot of pathos from the deaths of its characters, mostly its many one-episode patients. But the most touching of all came with the episode “My Last Words,” toward the end of the show’s long run. Drs. Dorian and Turk sit with George, an older, terminally ill but lucid patient who has mere hours to live. Acquiescing to George’s last wish, J.D. and Turk smuggle in a can of beer for him to drink, and they try to comfort him about death, promising that his will probably come quietly and painlessly. But George is defiant, unready to let go of life. That’s when J.D. and Turk admit that, though they can’t let it affect them or their jobs, they’re terrified of death too. The three men spend the next few hours sharing stories and laughter about their lives, and as George drifts sleepily away exactly the way the doctors described he would in the end, he whispers one last, happy thought: “Hey, man. That beer... tasted great..."

When Edith died on "Archie Bunker's Place"

IMAGE BY: CBS

When the second season of this “All in the Family” continuation began, viewers learned Edith Bunker had died off-screen of a stroke. In an iconic scene, Archie sits on their bed, holding Edith’s left-behind slipper. For all his irascibility, Archie’s great love and affection for his wife was always true, and consummate actor Carol O’Connor sells his character’s bone-deep anguish as he breaks down in tears: "It wasn’t supposed to be like this, you know. I was supposed to be the first one to go. I know I always used to kid you about you going first, but you know I never meant none of that. And then that morning, when you was laying there. I was shaking you, yellin' at you to go down and fix my breakfast. I didn't know. You had no right to leave me that way, Edith. Without giving me just one more chance to say I love you..."

When Blackadder, Baldrick and George went over the top on “Blackadder Goes Forth.”

IMAGE BY: BBC

“Blackadder” was well known for placing the (more or less) same main characters in a whole new time period for each season. In its fourth and final year, this tradition took a turn for the gallows, setting the comedy in World War I, during which the characters spend the entire season as British soldiers literally in the trenches. In the series’ iconic final scene, it’s time for the men to go “over the top,” despite many failed attempts to escape their bleak situation. Facing certain death with stiff upper lips and a simple “Good luck, everyone,” the men charge forth as the chaos of cannonfire and images of no-man’s land fade into a final, silent shot of a poppy field.

When Lane Died On "Mad Men"

IMAGE BY: AMC
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Somewhat timid and fussy, yet kind and lovable, Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce’s CFO Lane Pryce brought a welcome and distinctly British quality to “Mad Men.” In dire financial straits during the fifth season, Lane forges Don Draper’s signature to embezzle funds from SCDP. And when Don catches him, he “allows” Lane to resign rather than be fired in disgrace. Don believes he is being merciful, but Lane can’t manage the thought of returning home to his country and his family unemployed, broke and humiliated. “What will I tell my wife? What will I tell my son?” Lane weeps, but Don is unmoved. Lane, feeling broken and out of options, hangs himself in his office, leaving only a boilerplate resignation letter as a suicide note. Don is the only one who understands its significance.

When Mr. Hooper Died On "Sesame Street"

IMAGE BY: PBS

When “Sesame Street” actor Will Lee died in 1982, the show’s creative team decided his character, Mr. Hooper, would die too. They used the opportunity to help the show’s preschool audience learn to understand and cope with death. After the people of Sesame Street tell Big Bird that Mr. Hooper died, Big Bird mentions wanting to show a drawing he made to Mr. Hooper “when he gets back.” Big Bird’s adult friends gently explain to him that there’s no coming back from death, that it’s forever. Big Bird grows upset, and demands to know the answer to life’s greatest mystery: “Why does it have to be this way?” The emotional adults helplessly offer the dreadful, inadequate, yet only true reply anyone has ever had for that unanswerable question: “Because. Just because.”