It didn’t used to be that TV shows would kill off characters, and when they did, there would be so much uproar from disappointed fans that the writers would somehow find a way to bring them back, a la Dallas. But not anymore. That’s simply not the television climate. What with authors of source material like George R.R. Martin and Robert Kirkman ruthlessly killing off their characters for good and producers making relatively faithful adaptations of the stories that have become ratings giants, everyone’s killing off their characters on television these days. It’s cool. Permanently killing off characters is so commonplace these days that actors will use their character’s death so they can take on more high profile roles, like when Sonequa Martin-Green got her character on The Walking Dead killed so that she could become the star of Star Trek: Discovery. In fact, viewers go into every midseason and season finale of TWD wondering who’s going to die – it’s not even a surprise that characters get killed off anymore. And now, some fan favorites are gone forever, never to be seen again. It can be really tragic. There are some characters, of course, that you hate so much that you actually want to see them die, like Lori from The Walking Dead and Joffrey from Game of Thrones, so the writers are certainly free to get rid of them. But there are some you actually really like, and it really sucks when they die, because you have to keep watching a show without one of your favorite characters. So, here are 15 TV characters that were killed off who we wish were still alive. Also, it kind of goes without saying, but be warned that there are SPOILERS ahead!
15. Sasha Williams
Poor Sasha went through the ringer over the course of her stint on The Walking Dead. She saw her brother Tyreese killed by walkers and the love of her life Abraham killed by the barb wire-wrapped baseball bat of the sadistic Negan. And then Negan kidnapped her and kept her in a dark room with a zombie for so long that she decided she’d like to kill herself, so she had Eugene make her a pill that would kill her without pain. Sasha’s actress, Sonequa Martin-Green, took on the lead role in Star Trek: Discovery, so her death was pretty much earmarked. But she was a strong character who a lot of fans loved, and it was still shocking and sad to see her emerge from that box in the season 7 finale as a zombie. But still, she bought Rick and her other friends some time, so that was good.
14. Robb Stark
Robb Stark is not that important of a character in the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, but he did become a central part of the HBO drama series based on them, Game of Thrones. As the lovely people of Time magazine wrote, “Robb has risen to take his father’s place, as a lord of Winterfell and as a focal character in the show. We never saw what kind of warrior Ned was in the field, but in King’s Landing, he fought a straight-ahead battle, telegraphing his moves, and died for it. Robb, seeing the Lannisters’ numbers, shows himself capable of feints and deceptions – albeit at the cost of 2,000 men and the guilt of having sent them on a suicide mission.” And then he was struck down, along with his wife and unborn child, in the ghastly “Red Wedding.”
13. Rayna Jaymes
There is no Nashville without Rayna Jaymes, Connie Britton’s central character, but apparently the writers of the show don’t agree. When the series began its fifth season with a new home on CMT, they killed her off. She had managed to survive an attack by her stalker, but she couldn’t survive the car crash that took place just moments later. Suffice to say, she wasn’t having a very good day. They took her into hospital for treatment after the accident and it seemed like she was going to pull through and we could all calm down, but then things took a sudden turn for the worse and, shockingly, she died. Everyone – including Deacon – was devastated. Britton herself said that the death was “incredibly emotional” and “very difficult” to deal with – but it was her decision.
Stick was the awesome ninja master played by the great Scott Glenn across the Marvel/Netflix series, where he trained both Daredevil and Elektra to be as skilled as they are today, and in this year’s The Defenders, he was ultimately brought down by Elektra herself. As Glenn explained, “The reason I suggested it is because through [season 2 of Daredevil], I keep saying, ‘Elektra has to die! Elektra has to die!’ But all I’m actually doing is saving her life. I save her life at the construction site when Daredevil and I show up and kill the ninjas. I save her life again in Daredevil’s loft, by putting all that potion in. One time after another after another, I say she has to die, and then I save her life. I saved her life when she’s a little kid. The other teacher is [trying to] kill her, and instead, I kill him and pull her away and take her to her new foster home. So, I kept saying, to be consistent with the character, there’s no way I’m going to kill her. She’s my daughter.”
11. Shireen Baratheon
Shireen Baratheon never hurt anyone. She was a smart and well-read young girl, and she had such a kind heart. She used her intelligence for good, teaching Davos Seaworth to read. She was the adorable daughter of Stannis Baratheon and she never did anything wrong – she certainly didn’t deserve the fate she was ultimately dealt. Her own father decided to have her burned at the stake by Melissandre as a sacrifice to the Lord of Light in order to get his army victory over that of Ramsay Bolton. And what’s even more tragic is that it was totally unnecessary, since Stannis’ army didn’t even defeat Ramsay’s. Shireen’s death was one of the most difficult to watch scenes in all of television, and it was one of the great injustices in the history of Game of Thrones.
10. Chuck McGill
Sure, Chuck McGill was an antagonistic character in Better Call Saul, but those traits were just symptoms of his mental health problems. He probably wasn’t allergic to electricity, but he was certainly a troubled individual. His brother Jimmy never gave up on him, even when he set him up and then took him to court, and that was because they were brothers. Chuck clearly had a lot of mental health issues, since he ended up taking his own life by burning down his house with him inside it. There was some speculation about whether or not Chuck actually died, but the death was confirmed by actor Michael McKean, who said, “It seemed like this was kind of the end of Chuck’s chapter in the life of Jimmy McGill slash Saul Goodman. It’s almost like the rock and a hard place – they can’t be too comfy together for too long or else you have to ask, what is the point of having Chuck? If Chuck is the person that Jimmy cared for and took care of, and who transformed into his antagonist, and then transformed into this wreck – this person who has no choice but to try and fix himself and has no tools for himself – it seemed like a logical step.” Whether you liked him or not (probably not), he was a strong character, and his death was heartbreaking.
“Hold the door! Hold the door! Hodor! Hodor!” There was a lovable sweetness to the big, dopey character of Hodor in Game of Thrones, and the episode that featured his death was one of the most tragic and emotionally affecting episodes in the show’s history. His real name was Wylis, and he was just a simple fool being used for his strength and his kind heart. He never hurt anyone (well, unless it was to protect others) and he didn’t deserve to die. At least there’s some justice in knowing that there wasn’t a dry eye in the world when HBO aired the GoT episode “The Door.” Despite not appearing to be fully with it and only say one word (which we found out to be more tragic than we thought), Hodor was always an essential asset to Winterfell and a beloved part of the Stark family. It was really sad to see him go.
8. Sarah Lynn
On Netflix’s brilliant and underrated BoJack Horseman, Sarah Lynn is the human actress that played one of the Horse’s children on Horsin’ Around, but when she grew up and became an adult in Miley Cyrus sexualized pop star fashion, the pair of them became each other’s enablers in terms of drugs and drinking and depravity, which would ultimately become her downfall. She was a really lovable character with the tragedy of her character being that there was a fragile little girl under her brash, loud-mouthed outer self. BoJack Horseman has always been a sad show, but there is perhaps no sadder moment than when Sarah Lynn admits to BoJack that she doesn’t like anything about herself and then dies of a drug overdose while lying on his shoulder. She’s been missed dearly ever since. Suck a dick, dumb shits!
7. Theresa Cullen
In the Westworld episode “Trompe L’Oeil,” we saw the true extent of the horrors promised by its rich premise, adapted from a novel by the great Michael Crichton. Anthony Hopkins’ evil overlord Ford deals us the revelation that was long held as a fan theory – that Jeffrey Wright’s character Bernard, the guy in charge of relations between humans and cyborgs, is actually a cyborg himself. Bernard and Theresa used to be lovers, but once Ford overrides the protocols of Bernard’s programming (or whatever), he instructs Bernard to kill her, and does so completely callously and emotionlessly by smashing her head against the wall. It was tragic – once, they were lovers. She was a smart lady with a strong will and a good heart. She deserved a lot better.
6. Michael Cordero, Jr.
Jane the Virgin has always been a critically acclaimed show. It’s won a Peabody Award and been named the TV Program of the Year by the American Film Institute. It’s also been popular with audiences, warranting four seasons and counting, and the show satirizes and parodies various elements of the telenovela genre. Michael began the show as Jane’s fiancé and they had all kinds of problems that led to breaking up and getting back together a few times until finally they got married and Michael quit being a cop to be a lawyer. Sadly, he was killed in the show’s third season by an aortic dissection caused by a gunshot, and we wish he was still with us, because he was one of the good guys, which there’s a dearth of in Jane the Virgin, it seems.
5. Hershel Greene
When Hershel Greene first appeared in the second season of The Walking Dead, he was a bit of a jerk. He was just the owner of the farm where Rick and the gang had taken refuge on their way back from Atlanta when Carl got shot and screwed everything up for everyone. But Hershel quickly grew over the course of the next couple of seasons to become the sweet old man figure in the cast, the diplomatic negotiator with the level head, and one of the fans’ favorite characters. Sadly, he died in the fourth season – and he couldn’t have been killed in a more brutal and horrific way. He was beheaded by the Governor, cut down in the prime of his popularity. He’d already survived losing a leg – but he couldn’t survive losing a head.
4. Nicholas Brody
The moment that Nicholas Brody died in the third season of Homeland was the moment that the show started to go downhill. The show has never regained its former glory since then. The central mystery of the Islamic State brainwashing that the straight arrow Marine went through as a prisoner of war was what made Homeland such a compelling thriller for its first three years of airing on Showtime. Also, the performance of Damian Lewis in the role was always one of the most enthralling elements of the series. He won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series for his portrayal of Brody in the series premiere episode and received further nominations down the line. The only silver lining is that it opened up Lewis to star in another Showtime drama series, Billions.
3. Barbara Holland
Barb in Stranger Things had only a minor role in the first season, and she disappeared from a pool party and got sucked into the Upside Down. But then that was the last we heard from her, and if the Duffer brothers had their way, that would’ve been the last we heard from her. However, she became a breakout character on the show as her kind nature and status as a loser resonated with a lot of fans. The fact that she got killed off and forgotten about so early led to the trending hashtags #JusticeForBarb and #WeAreAllBarb. The writers listened, and an investigation into Barb’s death formed a large part of season 2, with Nancy – like the fans – being irritated that no one seems to care about her. But sadly, Nancy and Jonathan discovered that she is dead and she won’t be coming back.
2. Ned Stark
It’s almost easy to forget that there was ever a character called Ned Stark on Game of Thrones, because he died so early on and so, so much has happened since then. But Eddard “Ned” Stark emerged as the central character of the show in the first episode and throughout the first season of the HBO fantasy drama. Over the course of just a few episodes, he became a fan favorite, only to be struck down by an executioner before even the first season was over. Ned was a Sean Bean character, though, so his days were pretty much numbered from the start. Still, his death was sad and a tragic waste of such great potential – as well as a startling reminder that on this show, no one would be safe. There was a silver lining, however, as the death of Ned Stark made way for Tyrion Lannister to become the show’s new central character, and I don’t think any of us regret that.
1. Glenn Rhee
There were a ton of fan theories formulated between the season 6 finale of The Walking Dead and the season 7 premiere, about who it was that Negan killed. See, at the end of the season 6 finale, Negan made his long awaited first appearance and beat one of Rick’s group to death with his baseball bat, Lucille, just like he does in the comics. Problem was, they shot it from the point of view of the character and slyly made the audience wait another year to find out who died. But that meant that fans had a year to speculate about who it could be. In the comics, it is Glenn, but no one thought it would be Glenn after that gimmicky, controversial story arc where he died but then it turned out he didn’t die and he was lying under a dumpster the whole time. So, the main two predictions for the one who would be killed were Maggie, since the whole point of Negan’s kill was to make the audience hate him (although that backfired, because of Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s lovable charm) and Maggie was pregnant at the time, and Abraham, since the way the POV shot held itself the way he would, and no one thought that anyone else was tough enough to look back up at Negan after one strike from Lucille. Abraham was one prediction that turned out to be true, but so was Glenn. When the season 7 premiere finally rolled around, the audience would’ve been surprised that two characters were in fact killed by Negan, not just one, and Glenn was killed after Abraham, if they weren’t too busy squirming at the horrific violence and swearing off the show forever. The moment that Glenn’s eyeball popped out was the moment that TWD lost a huge chunk of its viewers.