If you’re anything like me, you get pretty invested in the lives of the characters you watch on TV. They are almost like friends, in a way, who make you feel better about yourself and give you hope for the future.
But in light of recent character developments (*cough* GLENN RHEE *cough*) I thought it would be good to discuss the SADDEST moments in recent TV history.
Yeah, I’m going through the Denial part of the 5 Stages of Grief. I'm not even sorry.
Here are the SADDEST DEATHS (in my opinion) in TV history. If you don't cry thinking about them, good job.
Warning: TONS OF SPOILERS.
15. The entire Red Wedding (Game of Thrones)
NGL, I was pretty prepared for this one, having read the ASOIAF books, but that doesn’t mean that it still didn’t hurt like someone had stabbed ME when Rob Stark, Catelyn Tully-Stark, and Talisa Stark were slaughtered.
THANKS A LOT, GEORGE R.R. MARTIN.
14. Haley Hotchner (Criminal Minds)
Oh BOY did this one hurt a bunch. After spending nearly all of season 5 chasing down George Foyet, a.k.a The Reaper, our beloved Aaron “Hotch” Hotchner gets a call from Foyet himself, who has both Hotch’s ex-wife Haley and little son Jack held captive. Haley knows she’s going to die, and proceeds to tell Hotch she loves him, and asks him to show their son the meaning of love because “it is the most important thing.” In tears, Hotch returns the sentiments, and tells his son to “work the case.” Upon arrival to his house, Hotch finds Haley dead, and in his despair, finally kills Foyet, and then immediately goes to find Jack, who had hidden under a bench in Hotch’s old office. “Working the case,” was code to go hide.
BRB, I’m going to go hide under a bench to avoid having anyone see my tears.
13. Finn Hudson (Glee)
Cory Monteith overdosed in 2013, right when Glee was in the middle of its fifth season. Glee did one of the most wonderful tribute episodes to the late actor and the beloved character called “The Quarterback.” Also, like in some TV shows, Finn was never forgotten, and his presence was a recurring motif until the series finale in 2015.
Basically— any TV show that has a rendition of RENT’s “Seasons of Love,” in it will probably make you cry. I re-watched the two-hour special TWICE in one day, and whenever my brother mentions Finn, I tear up (#firsttvcrush).
12. Lizzie (The Walking Dead)
The Walking Dead remains, in my mind, as one of the most beautifully devastating TV shows in history. If you can get past the gore, it is all about the morals and the trials and tribulations these characters go through while just trying to survive.
But Lizzie, a young child, desperately wanted to prove to Carol (the gang’s resident Mom friend) that walkers (zombies) didn’t want to hurt anyone, and rather wanted to play. It was surely just a child’s illusion as a way of coping, but then Lizzie killed her innocent and curious little sister in an attempt to show Carol that she was right, and everything came undone. Not soon after, Lizzie took the infant Judith and was about to kill her when Carol (in tears and in shock, I might add) talked her down. Knowing that Lizzie was a danger to those who survived, Carol took her out into the meadow and told her to “look at the flowers. Just look at the flowers, Lizzie. Look at the flowers,” before shooting her in the head.
It always hurts when a child dies, particularly on a TV show as emotional and haunting as The Walking Dead, but Lizzie’s death still brought me to tears, despite how misguided and psychopathic she was.
11. Joyce Summers (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
Her death was so, so very sad because we didn’t see it coming. Her health had gotten better, and then she died of a sudden brain aneurysm, leaving the Scoobies without a maternal figure in her life.
Much like her daughter, Joyce was strong and brave, and for her to have died the way she did seems like a bit of a disgrace to the character. Buffy’s finding her on the couch was probably the saddest scene in the entire show—just because it was unexpected.
10. Ned Stark (Game of Thrones)
George R.R. Martin strikes again, and our hatred of Joffrey only continues to grow. For threatening to name King Joffrey as a product of Queen Cersei and brother Jaime Lannister’s incestual love, Joffrey cuts off Ned’s head… In Book 1 and Season 1. Despite being a main character, Ned wasn’t safe… And it goes to show that no one in the GOT world is ever safe.
Jesus... Can Sean Bean EVER catch a break?
9. Violet Harmon (American Horror Story: Murder House)
Perhaps what is most devastating about Violet’s death is that neither her nor the audience actually knew she was dead until much later in the season. To cope with her pain of learning how her crush Tate died, Violet takes a bunch of pills. That is how Tate finds her later, and as he drags her to the bathroom to get her under the water, he screams, “Don’t you die on me, Violet!”
But she does, and we don’t find out until later, when Tate takes Violet down into her basement and she sees her own body. She cries and screams, and we all do, too.
8. Tracy Mosby (How I Met Your Mother)
Despite the show having ended in 2014, this is perhaps the one death I’m most bitter about.
Ted spends the entire nine seasons telling his children the story of how he met their mother… after she’s DEAD and he wants to date their Aunt Robin. They built up this beautiful, almost PERFECT soulmate for this seriously-flawed Ted Mosby, and then they just kill her off?
No, thanks. But it’s still horribly, horribly sad.
7. Matthew Crawley (Downton Abbey)
Lady Mary and Matthew Crawley were the couple that should’ve been for the absolute LONGEST time, and when they finally got together, fans were delighted. Mary’s snarky wit and Matthew’s cheerful optimism were a match made in heaven… until the Christmas episode of Season 3, right after the birth of their child George, when Matthew is run off the road by a food truck. His car flips, and the last thing our TV sees before the season ends is Matthew’s bloody face.
C’mon, Julian Fellowes—you couldn’t have let Mary be truly HAPPY for more than one entire SEASON? Either way, it came as a shock to all viewers… Merry Christmas from the Crawleys, everybody.
6. Lexa (The 100)
Okay, even though I like Clarke and Bellamy together, Lexa’s death was a WHOPPER. She and Clarke had just consummated their relationship when Clarke was attacked by Lexa’s chief advisor, Titus. He chases her with a gun, and he fires right where Clarke is standing (in front of the door) just as Lexa opens it.
Yes, a stray bullet kills one of the few LGBT+ individuals on The 100. And it really created some backlash— people across the Internet began to complain about the deaths of LGBT+ people on TV shows, and now people are refusing to watch.
Lexa’s death is sad because it’s dumb. It’s a truly horrible way to kill such a complex and interesting character. But we all knew it was coming—the actress Alycia Debnam-Carey was cast as a main character on Fear the Walking Dead. It was just a matter of time.
5. Poussey Washington (Orange is the New Black)
This is one death I will never truly get over, because much like Lexa’s, Poussey’s death was accidental, and it was a very dumb way to take out such an amazing character. Poussey was my favorite character on OITNB from day one, and for her to die at the hands of Bailey the guard was ridiculous, and even more devastating because it was accidental.
But her death is SO important, because it says something about the #BlackLivesMatter movement going on in the world. If you were angry about Poussey’s death like I was, it’s time to join the movement, and make sure that people don’t die deaths like Poussey does just for being who they are.
4. George O’Malley (Grey’s Anatomy)
I haven’t even watched Grey’s, and I know that this is pretty sad. George throws himself in front of a bus to save a woman and becomes horribly disfigured. He’s then brought in to be treated, and no one recognizes him until he traces ‘007’ on Meredith’s hand—an inside joke about George between the interns. However, George’s wounds turn out to be fatal, and he flatlines on the table.
Because George was one of the original cast members, it’s hard to let him go, especially the circumstances surrounding T.R. Knight’s departure, but it’s not the end of the tears for Grey’s fans. George was sweet, and we’ll never forget him.
3. Lincoln (The 100)
Lincoln was one of my favorite characters on The 100. He was kind, courageous, and loved Octavia more than anything… Which was why it hurt SO BADLY when he sacrificed himself to get his fellow captives out of camp, and ended up being shot in the head to prove a point.
Much like Lexa, Lincoln’s death created backlash, as it was eerily reminiscent of innocent shootings happening across the United States. But Lincoln’s death is so sad not only because Octavia literally spiraled afterwards, but because it MEANT something. It showed that POC are worthy and wonderful, and that they shouldn’t have to die for the world to see that. It also hurts because Lincoln was a Grounder—he wasn’t actually part of the 100, but he still saw them as his family, despite the fact that they literally tortured him in Season 1.
I’M NOT OVER IT.
2. Glenn Rhee (The Walking Dead)
Glenn’s death is the most recent on this list, and I’m struggling to write about it, honestly, because Glenn was my favorite character. He was such a big part of The Walking Dead from the very first episode, and his one-liners were certainly a big part of what made me turn on my TV every Sunday night.
But it’s devastating to lose him because now, in the seventh season, we’ve lost one of the four characters left from Season 1… And then there were three. Also, Glenn had just been reunited with his pregnant wife, Maggie, and now he won’t be there to see the birth of his child.
I’ll miss you, Glenn the Pizza Delivery Guy.
1. Rory Williams and Amy Pond (Doctor Who)
Okay, so it’s been just over FOUR YEARS since they died, and I’m not even remotely CLOSE to being over it.
Doctor Who is a startlingly BEAUTIFUL show with good moral themes and a sense of hope in our world, and it’s probably my favorite, actually.
BUT BOY DID THEIR DEATHS HURT.
And it was unnecessary, too—if the Eleventh Doctor hadn’t read the book about them dying, then they wouldn’t have had to die. But they die, and Amy’s goodbye to her beloved Doctor— “Goodbye, Raggedy Man!”— who had been there from her childhood hurt so badly, not only because they were the best of friends, but also because he loved her, and now he would never be able to see her again.
Whovians around the world bawled their eyes out that day (myself included), so I thanked my lucky stars when Steven Moffat (also the director of Sherlock) brought Amy back to truly say goodbye to the Doctor who loved her before he regenerated.
God, love hurts, doesn’t it?
I’d recommend nearly all of these shows because they pack a punch—good writing packs a punch—but if you ever need a laugh, turn on your favorite show. There’s no harm in doing so.