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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.

 

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