This Is Us and the Most Heartbreaking TV Deaths of the Last 20 Years

From Buffy to Nashville, it was hard to say goodbye to these favorite TV characters.

by | February 28, 2017 | Comments

Spoiler alert! This article is going to contain spoilers for This Is Us and 17 other major TV show deaths.

Last week’s This Is Us featured a death that was inevitable from the character’s first appearance on the show. Just like in real life, however, there’s no amount of preparing that can make it easier to go through such a loss.

This Is Us prepped us last week when William (Ron Cephas Jones) started getting his energy back. They said this is a normal side effect of ending chemotherapy, but ending chemotherapy also means there aren’t drugs staving off cancer. William has terminal cancer, so it was only a matter of time. So Randall’s (Sterling K. Brown) road trip with his estranged biological father proved to be their final moments.

The mortality rate for television characters has increased dramatically in the last two decades. Really, since cable shows broke the mold, no one is safe. The good ones are able to 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) and Phil Hartman (NewsRadio) — and now Bill Paxton, who was starring in CBS series Training Day when he died February 25 — are a different sort of heartrending tragedy.

Here are 17 more 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

Polls and Games Sneak Peek Year in Review Disney YA IFC crime thriller TCA justice league HBO science fiction GoT dc TIFF X-Men Summer Winter TV crime drama Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt MSNBC travel Pop Fall TV serial killer Mystery CMT Biopics Western adventure Interview Disney Channel The Arrangement Sundance TV Land Comic Book comiccon BBC aliens Awards 24 frames FOX AMC Super Bowl Grammys Action sitcom Pirates diversity Valentine's Day dceu docudrama Thanksgiving Spring TV TNT WGN Red Carpet Tomatazos Adult Swim Martial Arts Sci-Fi Marvel VICE Masterpiece PaleyFest 2017 DC Comics ABC Reality Competition Starz Podcast Schedule police drama crime Photos Freeform politics Trivia TBS Showtime Winners RT History PBS CBS GLAAD Reality Mary Tyler Moore GIFs Bravo Opinion Amazon 007 Nominations Food Network sports A&E thriller political drama USA Animation TV Comedy Central Emmys FX Extras Teen Rock based on movie Cosplay E3 First Look President E! FXX Fantasy Infographic Horror Trailer Rom-Com Countdown Premiere Dates 2016 NYCC Lifetime The CW Superheroes TruTV 45 SundanceTV medical drama cops war supernatural social media Ellie Kemper Musical Watching Series Warner Bros. ESPN Universal technology period drama romance Marathons Fox News Best and Worst BET dramedy Music what to watch Netflix Star Wars ITV Crackle BBC America singing competition Oscars American Society of Cinematographers Cartoon Network Rocky vampires TCA 2017 CBS All Access biography cats Nat Geo OWN TLC Writers Guild of America transformers Paramount Calendar composers CNN talk show Logo DirecTV cinemax VH1 Syfy Video Games SDCC ABC Family 2015 harry potter boxoffice Holidays Musicals LGBTQ historical drama El Rey Ghostbusters Mindy Kaling TCM Certified Fresh Character Guide Lionsgate zombie Hulu Comedy Star Trek Tumblr Nickelodeon NBC Drama DC Universe discovery Toys Esquire cooking MTV APB History Box Office Set visit Country Dark Horse Comics binge 21st Century Fox psycho Kids & Family Election