The end of the year is always the time to reflect back on the highs, lows, and heartbreaks of the past twelve months of TV, and 2022 packed a whole lot of tragedy into the small screen. While some deaths were a long time coming and fans could count on seeing them, others came from so far out of the blue that they needed a rewind to be believed. Shows across genres and platforms said some painful and surprising goodbyes to characters. So, as the 2023 TV premiere season quickly approaches, let’s look back at the most shocking TV deaths of 2022!
Warning: MAJOR SPOILERS are ahead for the 2022 TV season. If you want to avoid learning about some of the most unforgettable endings of the past year, check out some less deadly article options!
Vaemond Velaryon - House Of The Dragon
House of the Dragon debuted in 2022 with enough blood, battles, and incest to live up to the Game of Thrones legacy. Vaemond Velaryon (Wil Johnson) made the very poor decision to call Princess Rhaenyra a whore and her children bastards in front of her father and her uncle/husband. (Remember what I said about the incest?) While King Viserys was ready to remove Vaemond’s tongue, Daemon decapitated him in open court to remove a rival claimant to Driftmark and send a strong message to Rhaenyra’s enemies, in the very same episode as a kind gesture to his brother! Ah, the Targaryens.
You can stream House of the Dragon on HBO Max.
Jess LaCroix - FBI: Most Wanted
FBI: Most Wanted fans knew they were losing Jess LaCroix due to actor Julian McMahon’s decision to leave, but the CBS drama seemed to be building up to say goodbye to the top-billed star in a bittersweet way with Jess alive but walking away. In an emotional twist, Most Wanted instead went hard on the “bitter” by killing Jess off just when the team was on the verge of closing a case. Showrunner David Hudgins explained why the show killed Jess off as the way to write out McMahon, which was shocking to fans but true to the premise.
You can streaming FBI: Most Wanted on Paramount+.
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Zeke Landon - Manifest
Manifest fans had a lot to celebrate with the Netflix debut after the NBC cancellation, even with the foreboding BTS photo of a funeral and warning from creator Jeff Rake to “Brace yourselves.” The first ten episodes of Season 4 proved that was good advice, when the return of Cal’s cancer led to Zeke’s death. Zeke realized that he survived his death date all those years ago for a second chance, then decided to absorb Cal’s cancer with his empath abilities, saving Cal’s life at the cost of his own. All after it seemed like Matt Long could be back for the long run!
You can stream Manifest on Netflix.
Rosita Espinosa - The Walking Dead
It seemed like The Walking Dead couldn’t end its eleven-season run (and high body count) without one last emotional death, but Rosita (Christian Serratos) being the one to go was rough. She evolved and adapted so much from her Season 4 debut to her death due to zombie bite in the series finale, and made it so far for so long… only to die at the very end and leave her daughter without a mother. Sure, she wasn’t guaranteed to survive since she wasn’t one of the TWD characters with a spinoff, but it was almost surreal to lose her.
You can stream The Walking Dead on AMC+.
Hemmer - Star Trek: Strange New Worlds
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds features some characters who are safe from being killed off due to their future destinies in the franchise, but sadly, Bruce Horak’s Hemmer was not one of them. After realizing that he was becoming a host to Gorn hatchlings, Hemmer chose to end his own life by exiting the ship and sparing the others. It was a devastating twist that few could have seen coming, and Bruce Horak nailed the character’s final speech. The chief engineer saying “Do not weep for me” is exactly the moment that I teared up, and the crew certainly felt his loss.
You can stream Star Trek: Strange New Worlds on Paramount+.
Tanya McQuoid - The White Lotus
The White Lotus fans knew there would a death toll by the end of Season 2, and fan-favorite Tanya (Jennifer Coolidge) ultimately met her doom. After a season of fan theorizing about if Quentin truly had murderous designs on Tanya, the truth came out. Before Quentin could kill her, Tanya took a gun and killed him and some others. The kicker came when she tried to jump from the yacht to a much smaller boat, ultimately hitting her head and dying. There are still questions about what happened in Season 2, including that plan to kill her.
You can stream The White Lotus on HBO Max.
Black Noir - The Boys
Black Noir (Nathan Mitchell) was a member of The Seven, and deeply shrouded in mystery compared to Homelander and The Deep. It wasn’t until the third season that The Boys really dug into his backstory, but it was sadly also his final season alive. Noir had known that Soldier Boy was Homelander’s biological father; when Homelander found out that Noir had known without telling him, he snapped, and it was gruesome even by Homelander standards. He punched Black Noir through the stomach, killing him and ending the show’s most mysterious Supe when there could have been so much more story.
You can stream The Boys on Amazon Prime Video.
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Judy - Dead To Me
Netflix’s Dead to Me dropped a bombshell early in Season 3 with the reveal that Judy (Linda Cardellini) was suffering from Stage 4 cervical cancer, and she was diagnosed as terminal after treatment failed. So, it wasn’t surprising that she died by the end, as Dead to Me isn’t the kind of show to expect a miraculous finale save like what Judy would have needed to survive. What was surprising was that not only did the character die off screen, but the show never actually revealed what exactly happened. She did seem to find peace in Mexico with Jen, however.
You can stream Dead to Me on Netflix.
Eddie Munson - Stranger Things
Stranger Things returned to Netflix for Season 4 after nearly two full years of hiatus, and it didn’t take long for Eddie Munson (Joseph Quinn) to become a fan-favorite. Sadly, the Hellfire Club leader and musician (who was wrongfully accused of murder) was killed in the Season 4 finale, after staying behind in the Upside Down to try and save Dustin. Eddie dying wasn’t a huge surprise, but being gruesomely killed after shredding Metallica’s “Master of Puppets” on electric guitar in the Upside Down, so soon after it seemed like he’d escape? The shock of how it happened hurt.
You can stream Stranger Things on Netflix.
Howard Hamlin - Better Call Saul
Howard Hamlin (Patrick Fabian) was a character on Better Call Saul from the very first season, but like all the others who didn’t appear in Breaking Bad, his fate was very much uncertain… until the midseason finale of Season 6, which ended on the gasp-worthy cliffhanger of Lalo shooting Howard point-black in the head. He didn’t even make it to the second half of the final season, and it set up Jimmy and Kim to possibly cross even more lines. It was arguably a death that had to happen for their arcs, and definitely unforgettable.
You can find Better Call Saul streaming on Netflix.
Clay Spenser - SEAL Team
Clay’s future on SEAL Team was looking grim ever since February 2022 when news broke that actor Max Thieriot had landed a new role as star of CBS’ Fire Country, which has proceeded to become a huge hit to keep him busy away from Bravo. Ultimately, Clay didn’t die in battle or in the middle of a mission, but due to a misunderstanding after he talked a man down from shooting himself. A security guard saw Clay with the gun and responded with lethal force. While the showrunner hasn’t ruled out bringing Thieriot back, Clay died in a very unexpected way in Season 6.
You can find SEAL Team streaming on Paramount+.
Tala Durith - Obi-Wan Kenobi
In a show full of characters who couldn’t die at this point in the Star Wars timeline (which caused no small amount of confusion early on with the Grand Inquisitor), Obi-Wan Kenobi still gave a shocking and powerful death to Tala (Indira Varma). Even though she was expendable compared to the likes of Obi-Wan and Darth Vader, who could have foreseen the former Imperial officer taking a blaster wound, watching her beloved droid die protecting her, and sacrificing herself via thermal detonator to take stormtroopers down before Obi-Wan could get himself killed trying to save her? R.I.P. Tala!
You can find Obi-Wan Kenobi streaming on Disney+.
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Lex Luthor - Titans
Lex Luthor is undeniably one of the most well-known villains of DC Comics history, so the casting of Titus Welliver in the role for Titans Season 4 suggested that viewers would see a lot of Lex. The showrunner had nothing but praise for the actor’s portrayal…which didn’t last long. Lex debuted and was then killed off within the span of the Season 4 premiere, with Mother Mayhem responsible. He may not be gone forever since Titans is a show where characters are rarely 100% dead for good, but any fans who expected a lot of Lex were quickly proved wrong!
You can find Titans streaming on HBO Max.
Jackie Taylor - Yellowjackets
Yellowjackets premiered back in November as the story of a group of teens involved in a plane crash as well as adult versions of the characters years later. Showtime already renewed it for Season 3 before Season 2 even airs in 2023, but Season 2 will sadly debut without Ella Purnell as Jackie Taylor. The character stepped up as leader after the crash, but made the fateful (and fatal) decision to sleep outside after a fight with the other survivors. She froze to death in her sleep, which was a game-changer for the group then and raises more questions.
You can find Yellowjackets streaming on Showtime.
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Chief Evan Hawkins - Chicago Fire
Chicago Fire has killed off plenty of characters over the years, but big deaths are usually reserved for premieres and finales. That wasn’t the case for paramedic chief Evan Hawkins, however, who died in the third episode of Season 11. The course of true love was finally running smooth for him and Violet after the Emma fiasco in Season 10, but trying to save a man’s life went sideways and Hawkins himself was crushed by debris and killed, with Violet looking on. I can’t emphasize enough how unexpected it was to lose a key character in Episode 3, and Violet continues to struggle with the loss.
You can find Chicago Fire streaming with Peacock Premium.
Elsa Dutton - 1883
The death of Elsa Dutton (played by Isabel May) was both a shocker and a payoff that was a long time coming. Viewers first saw her shot with an arrow in the very first episode, but it wasn’t until the penultimate episode that it really seemed like Elsa could die despite serving as narrator. She did ultimately die of infection in the finale, with the reveal that the location for the ranch that is still in the hands of the Dutton family in Yellowstone was chosen because it was the site of Elsa’s grave.
You can find 1883 streaming on Paramount+.
Lucerys Velaryon - House Of The Dragon
The death of Lucerys Velaryon (Elliot Grihault) in House of the Dragon managed to surprise viewers and Fire & Blood readers alike with how it happened. With civil war between the Targaryens brewing, Aemond on the back of his massive dragon Vhagar chased his nephew on the much, much, much smaller Arrax in the stormy skies above Storm’s End. When both lost control of their mounts, Vhagar chomped Arrax, killing Lucerys. Aemond accidentally drew first blood, and has almost certainly started civil war in a way that made the Greens look less despicable than how it happened in the book.
You can find House of the Dragon streaming on HBO Max.
Max Mayfield - Stranger Things
For all that Stranger Things spent Season 4 making the point over and over again that Vecna needed Max to die, Max actually dying in the finale was a shocker, made worse for the fact that it was avoidable if her Walkman hadn’t been smashed. Eleven using her powers to bring her body back to life doesn’t negate the fact that Max died, and her death allowed Vecna to open the gates to the Upside Down. Between the performances of Sadie Sink, Caleb McLaughlin, and Millie Bobby Brown, I’m pretty sure I’d cry all over again if I rewatched.
You can find Stranger Things streaming on Netflix.
While television was full of tragedy in 2022, the small screen can start over with a fresh slate in 2023. That’s not to say that more characters aren’t going to die in the new year, but we can all look forward to some of our favorite shows returning to continue the stories.
Your Daily Blend of Entertainment News
Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. CinemaBlend's resident expert and interviewer for One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and a variety of other primetime television. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).