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30 TV Shows That Killed Main Characters

This Is Us

One of the most shocking things to happen to any series, This Is Us writers killed Jack. The tricky part was that the audience expected him to die, but we just didn't know how. Then, we suspected it was in a house fire, but he escaped! Sadly, he died of cardiac arrest hours later due to smoke inhalation. Jack’s death was shocking and devastating.

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NCIS

NCIS has a habit of killing off several characters that emotionally break fans. It’s hard to pin down the one that lands it on this list. Was it Mike Franks? Or how about Jenny Shepard? Could it be Paula Cassidy? We’re going with Jenny Shepard since she was a main character. As hard it was to see Mike Franks and Paula Cassidy go, they were more side characters.

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House M.D.

House has had a couple of significant deaths. Amber was one of the biggest, but we had a full episode watching her deterioration. What we didn’t expect was Dr. Kutner’s suicide. His body was found, creating a scene that was so incredibly bleak that it was hard to stomach. Thankfully, the actor, Kal Penn, wasn’t fired. Instead, he went to work for President Obama as an Associate Director in the White House Office of Public Engagement.

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John Ritter was one of the best comedic actors on TV, but he died unexpectedly during the shows filming. The only thing the show could do was also have him die in the show. The series had two episodes titled “Goodbye” that handled the family’s reaction. It was heartbreaking, and we cried with them.  

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House of Cards

Spoiler alert ahead if you haven't heard about the newest season. After Kevin Spacey’s sexual assault scandal, Netflix decided that his character on House of Cards had to die. The series didn’t show his death because they wanted Spacey’s immediate removal. Instead, Claire Underwood, his wife, is taking over the final season to complete the series.

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Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones is known for killing off characters, so we’re not going to list everyone that’s died in the show. We are, however, going to bring up the death of Ned Stark. See, at the time, anyone who hadn’t read the books thought he was going to be our hero – our savior. Then, he lost his head.

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Grey’s Anatomy

Grey’s Anatomy is another series that loves killing their characters. Out of everyone, two stand out the most: George O’Malley and Derek Shephard. Both deaths were hard for audiences considering they were both fan favorites. Somehow, the series continues without them, but it’ll never be the same.

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Lost

Lost saw a lot of character deaths during its run, but few were as hard as Charlie and Juliet Burke. People came to love Charlie, even if he was a little crazy at times. Then there was Juliet who everyone was sure was one of the “bad guys,” so to speak. Then there was the finale…we’re not gonna talk about that.

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The Walking Dead

It seems like The Walking Dead can’t keep their actors and actresses alive! We know it’s a zombie apocalypse but wow. Lori was one of the first, but a lot of people were happy to see her go. People weren’t happy after what happened to Abraham and Glenn. In fact, the show lost a lot of viewers after this choice.

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24

If 24 is known for anything, it was the death of Teri Bauer. She was Jack Bauer’s wife, and audiences watched her die at the very end of the first season. Then there was George Mason, President Palmer, and Edgar Stiles. We’re just scratching the surface. How could you do this to your characters, 24?!

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ER

With a show like ER, we knew there was going to be a lot of death. What we didn’t expect was for the main characters to die. Out of all the shocking things in the series, audiences were first floored with the death of Lucy Knight. We couldn’t believe she was sent off in such a brutal way. Then, there was Dr. Greene. The series continued, but it wasn’t the same.

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Roseanne & The Conners

After Roseanne tweeted racist statements over her social media, the show decided that they were going to continue without the titular character. While Roseanne was coming to a close, the family won’t be going anywhere. They’ll be appearing in a series called The Conners. As for Roseanne, the series killed her off through an opiate overdose.  

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Sons of Anarchy

Few shows were as tough to watch as The Sons of Anarchy. This series is about a motorcycle club that went through more than its fair share of rough patches. If you haven’t seen the series, but want to, it’s best to go to the next slide show. For those that have, we saw the series conclusion by watching Jax get run over by a semi. It was rough, didn’t feel like a great send-off for some, but that’s what we got.

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M*A*S*H*

M*A*S*H* was one of the best and hardest series you could watch on television. Sure, there were funny parts, but there were also episodes that were heart-wrenching. The death of Lt. Colonel Henry Blake was one of the hardest in the series. While on his way home, his plane was shot down over the Sea of Japan, and he had been killed.  

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Homeland

Anyone that gets attached to characters may want to stay away from Homeland. This serious is rough for fans because they have a habit of offing the main characters including Nicholas Brody and (most recently) Peter Quinn. While Brody’s death was dramatic, it didn’t hurt as much as Peter Quinn’s. We’re still hurting.

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The Wire

The Wire was an incredibly realistic portrayal of the dangers of city life, so the death of one of the characters isn’t a huge surprise. That doesn’t really make D’Angelo Barksdale’s death any less surprising. He was killed after being sent to prison as an inside job. Following that, his killer was also killed. 

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Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Supernatural series have a way of killing off characters, and it makes the heart ache. Buffy shocked everyone when they killed off Buffy. The first time, fans didn’t have to wait long before she was brought back. The second time, however, it took a bit. The series didn’t revive her until the beginning of the next season.

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Boardwalk Empire

Lots of characters died in Boardwalk Empire, but the most emotionally tolling death was Jimmy Darmody’s. We watched him walk to his death, completely unarmed. Jimmy accepted his fate, and Nucky kills him mid-sentence.   

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Supernatural

Out of all the shows, Supernatural has probably killed its main characters more often than any show out there. Now, fans expect to see Dean and Sam Winchester brought back, but the first time was a huge surprise. Mostly because Dean was hit by a truck. Yeah, we didn’t see that coming.

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Downton Abbey

The actor that portrayed Matthew Crawley asked to be written off the show, but they could have written him off in a better way. We were left in shambles when his character died in a car accident on the way back from meeting his newborn son—his new son! Our hearts!

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Breaking Bad

Breaking Bad was a wild ride when it was on television. Several characters met their end, but two of the most surprising were Hank and Gus. Hank was investigating Walt, so he had to get the axe. Then, Gus went out with a bang—literally.

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Scandal

Scandal was by the same person did Grey’s Anatomy, so deaths were going to happen. Columbus Short’s death wasn’t just because it was time for his character to go. It wasn’t a secret that he had been having drug problems, and that wasn’t sitting right with the creator. The character was killed and removed from the show.

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Two and a Half Men

We’re not going to pretend that this death was out of the blue. Two and a Half Men were forced to kill off Charlie Sheen when the actor himself had a full-on breakdown. He was written off the show, supposedly being hit by a train while in Paris. Ashton Kutcher later took his place.

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The West Wing

Out of all the character death’s out there, none hit as hard as Mrs. Landingham’s. She’d gone through so much, but she was still killed by a drunk driver in the second season of the series. This episode will always break our hearts.

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The Good Wife

You wouldn’t think that a courtroom drama would have character deaths, but here we are. In the show, Alicia Florrick’s once-lover and old friend, Will Gardener, is killed off suddenly in season five when an angry client shoots him in court. It was tough and had a huge impact on the show.

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Charmed

Anyone that watched Charmed can tell you that Prue’s death was a blessing and a curse. Prue had conflict with her castmates, and fans could see it in the show. Once she died, the show replaced her with Paige, their half-sister. It was clearly a good decision considering it lasted five seasons after the swap.  

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How to Get Away with Murder

Anyone that watched How to Get Away with Murder could tell you that Wes was loyal, but that loyalty turned out to be his tragic flaw. Audiences knew that someone was going to die, but Wes? Come on. It was devastating, and he didn’t even get to find out that his girlfriend was pregnant.

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Dexter

Honestly, we expected Dexter to get his comeuppance. Out of everyone, his wife didn’t deserve the karma he had coming—not that we wanted Dexter to die. While tracking a killer, Rita was killed as a message to Dex. At first, audiences thought his son had died too, but thankfully he was left untouched (although, covered in blood).  

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Parenthood

Viewers knew Zeek’s death was coming, but that didn’t make it any easier, did it? The show killed him during their final season, but it still hurt us bad. The death cut us to the core, and we were left with nothing else to help in picking up the pieces as the series had ended.

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Archie Bunker’s Place

One of the death’s that is hardest on everyone is Edith Bunker’s sudden stroke in her sleep. It left Archie (and audiences) heartbroken. What made it even more emotional was Archie, who delivered one of the saddest speeches that ever came from a television show. “It wasn’t supposed to be like this. I was supposed to be the first one to go.”  That speech put a lump in our throat that’ll never go away. 

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