Do you get as attached as I do to fictional characters? Well, if so, maybe these are some shows you should avoid because they definitely tug at the heart strings.
1: Beth (The Walking Dead)
I suppose when it comes to shocking TV deaths, TWD could make an entire list on its own. This show pushed boundaries on how many beloved characters it could brutally murder before our eyes while still keeping viewers. In later seasons, I think people are used to being bullied by the writers and saying goodbye to characters, so the show has stepped it up on the shock scale. The reason I specifically chose Beth was the way the writers built up the love for her in such a short time and then tore it away so quickly and so well, the photo above went absolutely viral at the time.
In earlier seasons, Beth wasn't anything special. She was the sister of Maggie Green, who basically stole the show as a strong, independent, protective character that viewers can easily get attached to. Beth was young, naive, and bland for the most part. That's not saying she wasn't a good person to have around, but she was overshadowed by others in the show quite easily.
Following an attack on the survivors' home in season 5, the group is separated and characters who never really interacted before are now paired off and able to get more screen time than ever before. In this case, Beth and Daryl are traveling together for some time, wondering if the others are alive just as the others are wondering if everyone else is alive. At this point, everyone is on their own journey and unsure if they'll ever see each other again. It's these episodes that finally connect the audience with Beth and see her for who she is. And when she gets further separated from Daryl and is forced to figure out
a situation on her own, we get to see how strong and brave she really is. In previous seasons, we almost lose hope for her since she wanted to commit suicide during her introduction, unable to face what was happening in the world. Then she all but shuts herself off from emotion for a while claiming that "everyone dies." When she's on her own, we get to see how Beth has truly grown and it was the first time I, as a viewer, actually got attached to her.
And then...they ripped it all away. After dedicating multiple episodes to Beth, who we had never seen much of before, they delete her. When the group slowly begins to reunite with each other, we find out where Beth is and many of our favorite characters go to retrieve her from a hospital that isn't so nice. The operation goes sour as the leader of this group of survivors goes back on a deal to trade two of her people for Beth and Carol. The trade should have been simple and smooth. Viewers were holding their breath at this point, because nothing in TWD is so easy.
Upon confronting the leader, we see a look in Beth's eyes that says it all. She takes it upon herself to show the leader what she really thinks of her corrupt dealings and stabs her in the shoulder with a small pair of scissors and in the blink of an eye, Beth is shot through the head. And I mean BLINK of an eye. The moment was fast and shocking, even for the other characters.
Now, as shocking as this death was, I think what made it particularly memorable is that Maggie is told just beforehand that her sister is alive and they'd located where she is after she'd previously suspected she had died (this is after the two sisters had to witness their father being beheaded, so finding out her sister was alive was quite meaningful as she was her only surviving family). When she and the others arrive at the hospital to meet up with the other part of their group, Maggie's smile turns to tears of loss as Daryl walks out with the deceased Beth hanging in his arms. And let's not forget the Daryl tears. No death in TWD means much until Daryl cries.
2: Lexa (The 100)
If you haven't seen The 100, then you're missing out on some great character development. In this world, nuclear disaster made Earth into an unlivable wasteland, but after 100 years in space waiting for Earth to heal itself, humans send 100 people down from their prison. See, in space, humans are running out of oxygen, which means every crime is punishable by death as a way of culling populations while also promoting punishment for breaking rules. But since the prison is filled with people under 18 and law says they get a trial when they become adults, humans come up with a plan. Send the expendable, underage delinquents to Earth to test whether or not humans can survive on the surface.
Well, there wouldn't be a show if they all died. And not only did they not die, but they found grounders, humans who never left Earth at all and who built their own tribes, societies, and
ways of living. In comes Lexa com Trikru. The leader of the Trikru people. She's young, ruthless, and only has her people on her mind at all times, which sometimes comes off as violent to our foreigners from space. She doesn't understand them and as she claims, debris from their drop ship coming into the atmosphere destroyed one of her people's villages. So you can imagine how that first impression played out.
Our main girl, Clark, who took up the mantel of being the leader of her own people (the 100) does her best to prevent killing between the two populations and in doing so, begins to change Lexa's mind on matters of war. See, the Trikru people have a saying. "Blood must have blood." In other words, if you hurt us, we hurt you back. Clark explained that this is an endless circle that will never create peace and Lexa begins to soften to this idea (and Clark).
The two fall in love eventually and Lexa allows Clark to advise her into a new future for her people that doesn't involve war and their new slogan becomes "blood must not have blood." She shows incredible strength of will when telling her people not to attack Clark's camps after a small private group of vengeful idiots murders a good number of her soldiers in the night. it was uncalled for and brutal, but Clark pleads for her not to take out her anger on all those who had no part in it and Lexa agrees. This, however, creates unrest among her own people, who have been living with their previous values far longer than they have been the new ones. People question if Lexa is betraying her people by not seeking vengeance and this all leads to her advisor trying to eliminate Clark or, as he sees it, the root of the problem.
Once more, the scene was fast paced and unexpected as Clark wrestles Lexa's advisor, who only thinks he is doing good for his people. And in the moment the man pulls the trigger to shoot her, Lexa has followed the noise into the room and catches the bullet with her abdomen. I had to include this for a lot of reasons, but I think the biggest one was that my fiance cried at this point. I've never seen him so attached to a character! It was sad and adorable because he loved Lexa and she was on the path to doing important things for her people and for Clark's before she was taken from the show. Her death was drawn out and she was able to impart some words of wisdom to her advisor and to Clark, which in turn kept the wheels turning on the story and created an alliance between the two rather than a rivalry, which they relied on in the conflicts following.
3: Rob Stark (Game of Thrones)
Not many people can stomach the violent emotional roller coaster that is Game of Thrones. When it comes to this show, it's hard to choose a death that shocked us more than every other death. Ned Stark was the first and the one that told viewers "no one is safe" in this show. But I think as a viewer, it was easy to tell that something was amiss when it came to Ned. He was honor-bound and it got him in trouble and we all knew a breaking point was on its way. I think when it came to his son, Rob, we were reminded again and in a different way that no one was safe and there were no heroes. No matter how good a character is, he is not immune to the brutality of this story.
Rob was the best of men in this show. He is the oldest of Ned Stark's (the late king of
Winterfell) sons and so it fell upon him to defend his people when things went south. He took up the roll with grace, proving to everyone that he was worthy of inheriting his father's legacy. He excelled in battle tactics and for a long time, he was winning the war after the Lannisters executed his father and declared it in the first place. And not only that, but while a majority of the big players in GoT were ultimately after the Iron Throne, Rob was not. In fact, he wasn't even out for revenge after his father's name was smeared and he was beheaded. Instead, he only wanted continued independence for Winterfell as well as his two sisters, Sansa and Arya, who were in the custody of the Lannisters.
Rob's downfall, unfortunately, was his heart. In order to gain numbers and make alliances, he allowed himself to become betrothed to the daughter of Lord Frey who controlled the Riverlands, an important piece of land during the war. But while at war, Rob met and fell in love with a commoner who was aiding the wounded on the battlefield. So, he went back on his word to Walder Frey, promising his cousin, Edmure, to one of his daughters instead. This enraged Walder Frey and eventually led us to The Red Wedding.
If you've never even heard of this iconic television event, you must have been under a rock because it shook the world. On a trip to wed Edmure to Lord Frey's daughter, I think viewers were already a little scared for the young wolf. His new wife was pregnant and he was still winning the war, giving us hope that something good was going to last in the show. It gave us a hero to root for that wasn't compromised by shoddy morals. A giant banquet was held where bread and salt was exchanged. (In the old days, this was a symbol of peace and breaking this promise while someone was in your house was incredibly dishonorable) Things seemed to be going smoothly. Edmure seemed pleased with his bride, Rob still had the alliance with the Riverlands AND a wife he loved, and things were looking up. Until The banquette hall doors closed and the slaughter began.
And in case this doesn't already sound bad enough, Rob's young sister, Arya, had somehow escaped King's Landing after their father was executed and after 4 seasons (a few years) she'd found her way to her brother and was outside the building trying to sneak in when the attack that killed her brother began. Imagine seeing two siblings being so close to a reunion only to see it end in heartache.
The Red Wedding opened with cheerful music and celebration and ended with a massacre
that left Rob's pregnant wife dying to multiple stab wounds to her stomach. All of Rob's army present was killed as they had no weapons. Even his wolf was butchered. And lastly, as Rob's mother held one of Walder Frey's wives under a knife begging for her son to be let go, Rob was finished off with a knife to the gut after already enduring a few arrows to his body in the fight. Catelyn Stark wailed in sorrow at the sight of her son's murder and slit the throat of Walder's wife before surrendering to numbness and getting her own throat cut by a guard.
There was no music in the last few minutes of the episode. Only the shock, violence, and quiet where viewers were forced to suffer the shock and terror of losing multiple beloved characters who, unlike most of the GoT characters, were truly good. And to add insult to injury, Rob's body was paraded around with his dire wolf's head wired to his decapitated corpse.
Many people stopped watching the show after this, my fiance being one of them, who took the attack quite personally and found little hope of attaching themselves to other characters. GoT had a way of doing this multiple times, but if you ever choose to stick it out to the end, you won't regret it. Just have tissues and a pillow to punch present at all times!
4: Max (Stranger Things)
If you haven't watched Stranger Things, you're missing out. And I know I say that a lot, but this show really knows how to get you pumped up and emotional at the same time. It gives you a sense of nostalgia while shoving tons of scifi action into your face. And not to mention how attached you get to the characters.
In this world, this small group is really all who know the dangers that threaten the world and every season, they clean it up and still have each other. Max began as an outcast from a broken family who more-or-less forced herself into this group of friends and ended up being an important part of it. In season 3, she spends a good amount of time trying to deal with her older step-brother being the villain. Whole their relationship is strained, seeing him descend into this mind-possessed spiral makes her regret the strains on their past relationship. In the end, Billy sacrifices himself for her after she'd gone most of her life thinking he hated her and in season 4, that weighs on Max a great deal.
In season 4, the main villain is someone who feeds on guilt and insecurities and in killing people, he is opening rifts to combine parallel worlds. He needs four kills and he zeroes in on Max after putting a couple murders under his belt. She's consumed by her emotional troubles. Before Max, anyone targeted by Vecna has not been able to survive a violent death after psychic torment ensues for days prior. When Max starts seeing the signs, she notifies her friends and they try to find a way to free her of Vecna's hold, but Max isn't so hopeful.
When Max sees no hope of surviving Vecna, she writes letters to all those important in her life, including her dead brother. During a trip to the cemetery where Max reads a letter to her brother's grave, Vecna moves in to finish her. Her friends notices she is not herself and rush to pull her back from the strange dreamworld where Vecna is holding her prisoner. They succeed, using music to lead Max back from the alternate world and back to her friends. And this scene did NOT disappoint. It was perhaps one of the greatest scenes in television of this era. While max is in this terrifying world, she hears the music and a door is
opened to run back to her physical body. And Max RUNS...to the amazing remix of "Running of that Hill." Even if you don't watch the show, I'm sure you've seen photos of the scene circulating the internet. It shook viewers and made most cry with happiness to see Max return to herself and survive Vecna. I mean... she's a main protagonist. She's supposed to survive, right?
Well, the show didn't think we were tortured enough because later in the season, Max presents a plan to "offer" herself to Vecna in an attempt to lure him to place where the others can finish him off. The plan was working and we even got a surprise visit from the show's superhero, Eleven, who engaged in an epic telekinetic battle with the villain to save Max from certain doom. Everything was going the way we wanted... until it didn't. Eleven failed to overpower Vecna in time and in the physical world, Max's limbs were violently broken and shattered.
There was a good moment there when viewers suspected, "eh, so her arms and legs are
broken. People can survive that, right? There's no way we can lose her after all of that." Well, we all got a big slap to the face when Max is shown in Lucas's arms claiming she can't see or feel anything and that she's not ready to die. The tears started here for most poeple...
Simultaneously, Eleven is psychically present, obviously feeling guilty for not having saved Max before she was past the point of no return. Then we see Max slowly fade away as Lucas cries and screams for help and the MOST EMOTIONAL MUSIC is just tearing our souls apart. And, to confirm we've lost Max, the fourth and final rift breaks open, creating a giant merging of the Upsidedown with our world.
Now, Eleven is able to use her telekinetic abilities to jump start Max's heart, so I suppose this only counts as a TV series death about 95%, but in the end, she's in a coma and Eleven is unable to find Max in her mind, which leads us all to believe she's a vegetable, so we have no idea where things will go from here. But it felt like a loss, I'll tell you that.
5: Joyce (Buffy The Vampire Slayer)
Even if you've never seen Buffy The Vampire Slayer, you've heard of it. It was a 1990s TV phenomenon. Buffy, a highschooler with the ability to slay supernatural beings. She doesn't get hurt easily, she's physically strong, and has a team of people behind her every time she's hunting the biggest baddest monsters in the world.
If you remember watching Buffy, you'd remember that every time she was around, there was a sense of comfort. You always kind of knew she was going to save the day and that things we going to end with an epic bang... likely with the monster dead. The show was also tremendously good at making the realities of young adulthood believable because Buffy and her friends never stopped having to deal with real life hardships on top of their supernatural problems. But those real life hardships came crashing down around us in a shocking episode with no build-up or warning.
Joyce, Buffy's mother, was an understanding, nurturing figure in the show from the beginning. With all the insanity surrounding Buffy's alternate life, she always had a very normal family
household to return to. But on this occasion, Buffy walks in on her mother on the sofa, very much dead. At this point, Buffy was that person who could save everyone somehow from anything. But she couldn't save her mother from the least supernatural thing in the world. A brain aneurysm.
To make this scene even more impactful, much like the scene of Rob's demise in Game of Thrones, this moment was not accompanied by the typical sad music we are used to as viewers. Nope! Instead, this entire scene was silent and lonely and I think that made the shock ten time more powerful.
Buffy attempts to rouse her mother, but it's the innocence that got us. She's a badass slayer, but in this moment, she reverted back to a small, helpless little girl with no power to saver the most important woman in her life. We get to see the mighty Buffy needing to call 911 and appear completely powerless as she is instructed on what to do to try and revive her. But it's clear to viewers at this point that her mother has been dead a while and there is no bringing her back with CPR. Buffy is horrified when she hears her mother's chest crack and I can't say whether it was because rigor mortis had set in or if it was because of her enhanced strength. Either way, it was awful to watch.
When Buffy finally accepts that her mother is dead, the terror and shock on her face came to haunt viewers forever. It shook us to the bones and I think it was because it hit home so accurately. The denial followed by the she shock of something so devastating was perhaps the most real part of the show. And to follow this moment with Buffy being forced to be the older sister and having to go to her younger sister's school to break the news just amplified everything and I think as a watcher, up to the very end, I thought there would be some solution to Joyce's passing.
Yeah... there wasn't.
And we're then forced to endure what it's like to see a loved one as a dead body rather than a person when they visit their mother's body at the morgue.
All in all, I included this because it hit differently. It was a shock that punched us in the gut a little differently and has stuck with us for 20 years.
What are the most shocking TV show deaths for you!? Comment which ones affected you the most! And subscribe for more blog posts and info on my books!