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

Set visit Mudbound American Society of Cinematographers Nickelodeon unscripted dragons Starz television crime thriller Comedy Central Sneak Peek Western Pirates transformers strong female leads Winter TV finale Podcast ABC RT21 Ghostbusters 2018 Cartoon Network Polls and Games zombies Emmys Film Festival 007 spy thriller Ovation Opinion Spike justice league Creative Arts Emmys Lifetime what to watch Sci-Fi Britbox DGA Nat Geo Food Network mockumentary Rom-Com disaster Hulu Song of Ice and Fire adaptation Fall TV jamie lee curtis TV mutant miniseries Nominations robots Acorn TV El Rey ratings Anna Paquin Red Carpet The Arrangement National Geographic elevated horror diversity Paramount Network Walt Disney Pictures Paramount Shudder FXX Superheroes RT History Marvel doctor who Year in Review Musicals police drama Sundance E! Teen Star Wars DC Universe boxoffice space Country Elton John composers SundanceTV Pop YA 20th Century Fox GoT binge Lucasfilm Trailer Photos Pride Month Spectrum Originals Premiere Dates discovery Stephen King romance Animation Comic Book anthology Martial Arts Calendar Valentine's Day YouTube Premium technology Rocky Biopics TCM Ellie Kemper dramedy Oscars golden globes Star Trek singing competition Logo LGBTQ Trivia Lionsgate VH1 Adult Swim Quiz DirecTV Syfy USA Rocketman vampires Rock AMC IFC Epix X-Men CBS All Access Infographic PBS Marathons festivals Pet Sematary BBC America San Diego Comic-Con Extras Toys Heroines theme song Trophy Talk thriller LGBT Summer aliens TruTV adventure CMT comiccon Cosplay ESPN talk show animated DC Comics harry potter spider-man Disney Tarantino zero dark thirty based on movie Apple docudrama teaser political drama Box Office TLC HBO Musical Mindy Kaling See It Skip It Warner Bros. Christmas VICE A&E BET Dark Horse Comics anime BBC dceu Netflix Drama Pixar sitcom medical drama Kids & Family GLAAD APB supernatural witnail Super Bowl crime drama hist green book crime 2017 natural history cops serial killer ABC Family Reality Competition politics Thanksgiving spinoff Black Mirror Amazon Awards casting Schedule Cannes President Action 2015 Bravo blaxploitation Crackle Holidays Countdown Comedy comic Certified Fresh New York Comic Con Tumblr DC streaming service TIFF facebook Mary Tyler Moore TV Land Mystery Freeform USA Network streaming Masterpiece MCU CBS Character Guide cooking war psycho NBC The Witch period drama The CW social media toy story biography Chernobyl History dc 2019 Sundance Now Interview WGN ITV 21st Century Fox Mary Poppins Returns Showtime Writers Guild of America Watching Series Reality TCA 2017 MTV Video Games Election SDCC Tomatazos zombie MSNBC FOX nature Horror 45 psychological thriller TBS Columbia Pictures 24 frames sports Winners YouTube Red TCA game show Emmy Nominations OWN Spring TV Grammys travel richard e. Grant IFC Films Music Chilling Adventures of Sabrina cats Captain marvel SXSW Disney Channel CNN award winner Superheroe Best and Worst Women's History Month Fantasy cinemax CW Seed FX true crime Esquire crossover Fox News Comics on TV 2016 PaleyFest NYCC sequel Awards Tour Vudu Sony Pictures GIFs historical drama Brie Larson Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt First Look TNT Universal Amazon Prime cults E3 Shondaland science fiction Mary poppins