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

Schedule Podcast FX SXSW docudrama Tumblr Pixar 2016 Biopics Food Network Quiz cooking Watching Series DGA spider-man TBS 45 X-Men Reality Competition Action ABC Family San Diego Comic-Con Pirates CNN YA Sundance Now serial killer Tomatazos 21st Century Fox dceu Starz television A&E transformers Teen Britbox USA Network Syfy First Look Christmas Adult Swim Interview award winner Animation Disney Channel Song of Ice and Fire MSNBC Election BBC IFC Films Cosplay cinemax Infographic CBS DC Universe Trailer Valentine's Day Super Bowl aliens Captain marvel Ghostbusters GLAAD GoT police drama Rom-Com miniseries Masterpiece politics PBS Winter TV casting CBS All Access harry potter FXX streaming Esquire IFC TCA Paramount Network Fox News Amazon Prime WGN crime thriller blaxploitation Mindy Kaling travel CW Seed YouTube Red BET Awards Tour Nominations Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Opinion TIFF YouTube Premium TV Land Brie Larson Walt Disney Pictures Spring TV Horror golden globes anime crime drama crossover Summer HBO E! TNT adventure Year in Review PaleyFest DirecTV Toys RT History robots Star Trek Spike E3 discovery Sony Pictures GIFs Emmys BBC America 24 frames 2015 Mystery boxoffice Sundance Western Music Country historical drama zombies Pop binge ratings AMC psycho cats Comedy Central thriller Lionsgate Rocky Fall TV Mary poppins period drama Photos Universal Columbia Pictures Set visit Thanksgiving Holidays Marathons Best and Worst TCA 2017 festivals NYCC Trophy Talk Lucasfilm Box Office science fiction TV MCU crime comiccon sports what to watch green book cults SDCC Rock Crackle Trivia Ellie Kemper Fantasy Apple Logo Calendar medical drama History doctor who 20th Century Fox sitcom Writers Guild of America diversity comic El Rey Netflix Black Mirror romance Comedy Red Carpet Amazon Reality Mary Tyler Moore Superheroes Star Wars Creative Arts Emmys Nickelodeon Drama Character Guide New York Comic Con zombie Sneak Peek APB SundanceTV Awards Extras See It Skip It justice league Musicals finale CMT Lifetime Certified Fresh mutant Bravo Warner Bros. cops talk show facebook TruTV ABC Sci-Fi 2019 Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Countdown Winners Premiere Dates social media DC streaming service Kids & Family technology Dark Horse Comics ITV biography National Geographic composers Superheroe based on movie Hulu 007 VH1 TLC 2018 supernatural Marvel unscripted The Arrangement USA Martial Arts Epix Musical NBC spy thriller Polls and Games vampires Grammys Comics on TV LGBTQ Showtime political drama Acorn TV hist Disney FOX TCM MTV Ovation VICE DC Comics The CW OWN war Comic Book ESPN Shondaland jamie lee curtis Cartoon Network 2017 Mary Poppins Returns Shudder dramedy Freeform singing competition Oscars Paramount President Nat Geo dc American Society of Cinematographers Video Games