It’s been trendy for television shows to kill off characters for the last several years, especially since programs like Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead have found great success with shaking up their casts. Each year there are thoughtful deaths, tragic deaths, shocking deaths, disease-ridden deaths and more. However, shows have started killing off characters in rapid fashion, to the point where some of the deaths of characters are not as affecting as they should be. For every great death on TV—here’s looking at you, Homeland--there’s another that is eye roll-inducing or fails to satisfy. So this year, instead of putting together the list of the best deaths on TV, we’ve put together a list of the worst.
As always, by clicking through you agree that there are a ton of spoilers related to a slew of different cable, network and streaming TV shows. Read through at your own risk. And, of course, let us know whether or not you agree with our picks.
Dr. Derek Shepherd, Grey’s Anatomy
We’ll go ahead and start with this big one, because if you don’t know McDreamy’s dead at this point, you're probably not a big TV fan and won't be too spoiled. Actor Patrick Dempsey was reportedly having problems on set for months before Shonda Rhimes killed him off and his potential for demise on the series was spaced out over the course of two episodes, as he saved people in an accident only to get into an accident himself only to make it to a hospital to be saved only to have a doctor make a major mistake. I’ve never seen something so melodramatic, and this is from a series that killed off characters in a freaking plane crash. The will he or won’t he die plotline was the worst, and not only that, it angered the fans of the series.
Rosalind Price, Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Rosalind Price was Agent Coulson’s nemesis-turned-love interest. Her role as a nemesis was pretty cool, but when the show had her relationship with Coulson start to change only to have her killed off, it felt really contrived. Yes, we know it was a small death compared to a lot of big moments the show has seen, but it’s one of the only times I’ve actively felt that a death in the Marvel universe happened simply to propel the journey of another character—in this case Coulson—forward. You can do better, S.H.I.E.L.D.
Jeff Fordham, Nashville
Alright, we do know that ABC’s Nashville is a bit of a nighttime soap, but the series had teased Juliette’s downfall for weeks before the character found herself on the roof with alcohol and more in her system. Thanks to the previews, we all thought she was a goner, and then Jeff popped up to bring her down from the roof. Thanks to her sloppiness, he slipped—slipped—and fell to his death on the series. I dunno if I groaned out loud when I saw this, but I definitely groaned in my heart. It was a strange twist, for sure, but I’m not sure it was compelling in the way the Nashville writing team hoped it would be.
Eddie Thawne, The Flash
I get that baddies come back from the dead on comic book shows. I also get that The Flash’s time travel and Earth 2 timeline is going to have a lot of ramifications on the series, including apparently allowing the impossible to happen. Yes, that’s right, Eobard Thawne is going to return to Central City. Thus that whole plotline involving Eddie Thawne sacrificing himself to erase Eobard from existence is basically moot. Eddie sacrificed himself and yet we're still going to have to see Eobard Thawne mess with Barry moving forward on the series. Bleh. I'm losing the goodwill I had for the series at the end of Season 1.
Shireen, Game of Thrones
While Game of Thrones Season 5 had its moments, the series was particularly preoccupied with building up characters until we liked them and then making sure they made extremely suspect decisions. Both Sansa and Stannis were built up to be more likable to viewers, and then our hopes were crushed when Melisandre convinced the latter to burn his daughter to death. It was a shocking death, for sure, but also so completely fucked up and mean-spirited toward viewers that I’m still trying to wrap my head around it.
Paul Woodrugh, True Detective
True Detective had a lot of viewers during Season 2, but the show certainly wasn’t as big of a hit with the critics. While essays have been written about why Season 2 wasn’t quite up to snuff, our big beef was with the death of Taylor Kitsch’s Paul Woodrugh, which came in the penultimate episode. I’m not even going to talk about exactly what happened, because it was a dull side note in an episode where the big thing that happened was a hook-up between Ani and Ray. That’s when you know your death has happened in vain.
Victoria Grayson, Revenge
I guess we should give ABC’s Revenge some kudos for actually killing off Victoria Grayson in the series finale, but it came after Victoria had faked her death numerous times. She was actually alive at the beginning of Season 2 and she was actually alive again after pretending to blow herself up. Then, after all of that, Amanda didn’t even get the revenge she had literally been seeking on the series for four seasons. Instead, her father, David Clarke, shot Victoria to protect his daughter. Oh, the twists of fate. Or, the twists of crappy TV writing. (Again, we get that this is a soap, but puh-leaze).
Gotham hired Cameron Monaghan back in Season 1 to play Jerome, a character widely expected to be the Joker. Then, in Season 2, they teamed up Jerome with Theo Galavan. That team up looked epic, until the show promptly killed him off on the series to set up the “greater concept” of the real Joker. I guess we have to give the Fox series props for not actually introducing the Joker character this early in the game, but Jerome was one of the most exciting things about Gotham. And Monaghan was perfect in the role. Perfect. What a disappointment.
Stannis Baratheon, Game of Thrones
Since Shireen’s death also made this list, I think it’s important to point out that Stannis’ arc this season was the absolute worst. However, Stannis clearly needed to die and once it was clear that Brienne was on his tail, the ending seemed fitting. The reason Stannis’ death makes this list is the wishy-washy manner in which it was filmed. The Game of Thrones director opted not to show the death, leading to rampant speculation that Stannis might not actually be dead. We already had that going with Jon Snow. We really, really didn’t need that going with a second character.
Nicholas, The Walking Dead
The Walking Dead had fans on the hook when they faked Glenn’s death earlier this fall. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy Glenn is still kicking, but how they accomplished the feat was the worst, mostly because of Nicholas’ death. Don’t introduce a character who sucks and then give him a brief stint of redemption before having him freak out and kill himself. If it wasn’t for all of the Glenn teases, I think more people would have been on the Nicholas complain train. Because seriously, the nature of his death was the worst.
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