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

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