The Walking Dead and the Most Heartbreaking TV Deaths of the Last 20 Years

From Buffy to This Is Us, it was hard to say goodbye to these favorite TV characters.

by | February 26, 2018 | Comments

No one is safe on The Walking Dead — except for maybe Rick (Andrew Lincoln). Other central characters can be killed off week to week, and the uncertainty has often been the most exciting part of watching the show. In the midseason premiere of season 8, AMC’s hit zombie series said goodbye to a character who has been on the show since the very beginning.

Spoiler alert! This article contains plot details for a major character death in The Walking Dead and 18 other TV shows.

The mortality rate for television characters has increased dramatically in the last two decades. Really, since cable shows like Game of Thrones — with its Stark family curse — chucked out the rule book governing the survival of beloved characters, no one is safe. The best surprise deaths can make viewers mourn for fictional characters. When it’s just a publicity stunt or a blatant contract termination, it doesn’t hurt quite as bad.

Real-life losses like John Ritter (8 Simple Rules), Phil Hartman (NewsRadio), and Bill Paxton, who was starring in CBS series Training Day when he died in 2017, are a different sort of heartrending tragedy.

Here are 19 of most heartbreaking TV deaths of the last 20 years. Fictional characters only.

Want to argue for a more heartbreaking death? Tell us in the comments below.


Tag Cloud

slashers TCM independent E3 Amazon Prime Pixar reboot Ovation Martial Arts sequel classics Writers Guild of America hispanic Quiz name the review documentary cartoon Pop cancelled TV shows Trophy Talk HBO Go Alien Fantasy Family USA dragons unscripted animated Paramount Network Photos OWN TLC joker period drama romantic comedy BBC America archives Disney+ Disney Plus television sequels Travel Channel Pop TV NBC FOX police drama miniseries talk show Set visit Musicals CW Seed cancelled TV series PaleyFest Binge Guide VOD spain die hard pirates of the caribbean WarnerMedia Food Network Holiday Rocky natural history telelvision Netflix Christmas movies Best and Worst comiccon Hallmark Christmas movies renewed TV shows new star wars movies Arrowverse italian CMT Animation ViacomCBS emmy awards Netflix Podcast Tubi Superheroe Drama Cartoon Network king kong richard e. Grant Mindy Kaling BBC One space Sundance Now The Arrangement Oscars disaster sag awards Winners werewolf Cannes Disney Plus godzilla Chernobyl laika superman Winter TV Funimation Fox News Avengers dark Emmy Nominations 007 Exclusive Video Holidays Schedule CBS monster movies franchise zero dark thirty children's TV hidden camera X-Men Spring TV adventure cops halloween Lionsgate Ghostbusters Apple 72 Emmy Awards VH1 political drama anime PBS Mudbound Classic Film series transformers politics Music MCU remakes Elton John 2019 scary movies Calendar 2016 Trailer social media E! 24 frames BAFTA Marvel Television Sneak Peek rotten movies we love justice league golden globe awards Amazon Prime Video Spectrum Originals FXX Film universal monsters Opinion Turner war batman TV One Heroines nfl facebook based on movie Thanksgiving cats El Rey Marathons CBS All Access Pride Month WGN Rom-Com The CW concert cults Super Bowl Starz 2015 Chilling Adventures of Sabrina prank MTV witnail TBS comic books The Walt Disney Company New York Comic Con comedies Mary Tyler Moore FX on Hulu Creative Arts Emmys fast and furious deadpool HBO Max Sundance RT History AMC Box Office women Lifetime Christmas movies Adult Swim LGBT Television Critics Association National Geographic Tumblr a nightmare on elm street Peacock spider-man comics book adaptation 2020 medical drama worst movies saw Paramount YouTube game of thrones chucky ESPN diversity zombie black ABC Family blockbusters jamie lee curtis TCA 2017 Brie Larson TNT NYCC true crime Rock casting FX cancelled Song of Ice and Fire RT21 psychological thriller video on demand SXSW directors thriller composers Paramount Plus Awards Tour singing competition ABC streaming Black Mirror canceled Christmas Walt Disney Pictures Election Grammys doctor who scorecard reviews GIFs docudrama french Syfy foreign festivals blaxploitation DC Universe Toys Disney Channel james bond Sundance TV Video Games mission: impossible rotten GLAAD 20th Century Fox Captain marvel comic HBO what to watch See It Skip It sports Ellie Kemper popular nature Red Carpet adaptation asian-american Crackle kong parents VICE indie YA quibi DGA LGBTQ high school versus Rocketman golden globes child's play japanese Premiere Dates Hulu Fox Searchlight Stephen King dceu The Purge toronto stand-up comedy finale Lucasfilm green book screenings cooking A24 Certified Fresh Apple TV Plus worst spanish TCA Awards Marvel canceled TV shows Reality Competition rom-coms book Star Wars Warner Bros. news 2017 Character Guide ratings halloween tv Crunchyroll kaiju IFC Films APB Fall TV best revenge fresh Comic Book History TIFF Western Musical twilight criterion heist movie 21st Century Fox cars Lifetime Comics on TV Hear Us Out Summer Reality Infographic Logo TruTV Watching Series The Witch Britbox films MSNBC toy story Black History Month Kids & Family elevated horror Emmys Turner Classic Movies TCA Winter 2020 93rd Oscars crossover travel Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Superheroes Bravo Broadway movie kids First Look Sci-Fi venice PlayStation 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards GoT video TV Land ITV 4/20 Dark Horse Comics all-time documentaries festival zombies harry potter SDCC breaking bad Mary Poppins Returns Anna Paquin DirecTV dogs DC Comics romance IFC USA Network screen actors guild Nominations 71st Emmy Awards Action Hallmark aliens Discovery Channel boxing crime drama trailers Country Year in Review razzies Pet Sematary cancelled television football teaser Tarantino binge BBC Nat Geo theme song Teen Film Festival BET Awards Epix vampires Trivia Mystery game show biography australia Masterpiece hist spinoff technology ID YouTube Red TV Countdown Freeform Sony Pictures Awards spanish language ABC Signature Nickelodeon Horror christmas movies movies discovery Baby Yoda Apple TV+ Valentine's Day superhero 2021 indiana jones Spike Legendary dc anthology strong female leads ghosts Showtime supernatural Extras stop motion mockumentary Disney streaming service Amazon Studios historical drama latino CNN free movies Acorn TV boxoffice award winner crime thriller Vudu First Reviews hollywood President Mary poppins Comedy Central critics Shudder serial killer nbcuniversal Comedy Shondaland Biopics The Walking Dead Women's History Month YouTube Premium south america Polls and Games psycho Tomatazos American Society of Cinematographers mutant satire BET obituary 99% crime SundanceTV Endgame Disney rt archives Television Academy stoner TV renewals blockbuster sitcom 2018 45 The Academy Amazon A&E Pirates Star Trek tv talk dramedy cinemax Marvel Studios OneApp Universal Academy Awards docuseries DC streaming service spy thriller jurassic park science fiction San Diego Comic-Con TCA robots Columbia Pictures Interview Cosplay Esquire