Death and taxes are two constants in life. However there are times you will find yourself sobbing over the death of someone who technically never really existed. You sit there, with a gaping hole inside your heart, eyes leaking, nose running, trying to not do those huge, shoulder shaking heaving sobs so your parents/housemates/partner don’t think you’ve lost the plot. Because you happen to be sitting in front of a TV/computer, crying at the fact one of your favourite characters has been killed off. It’s okay. We’ve all been there.
Below are 10 of TV’s deaths that affected us the most. Spoilers ahead, obviously.
1. Charlie Pace – Lost
Even at the best of times, Lost is a mess. I won’t try to explain the story around Charlie’s death – mainly because I’m pretty baffled by the story myself – but at the very least, it was a heavy tug on the heartstrings.
Much of the pulling is textbook stuff: A lovable character sacrificing himself to save his friend; his life escorted by a lamenting score. What really moved me was Charlie’s final action, where rather than waiting to drown in his watery prison, he writes a message on his hand and places it across a window.
This message is a revelation and sets up the season to come. Bravo, Lost.
2) Rita Bennett – Dexter
Creating a serial killer for a protagonist was always going to be hurdle – the viewers needed not only to like Dexter, but to be okay with what he does. Like many others, I ended up loving Dexter and was more than tolerant of his questionable pastime during the programme’s early seasons. However when Dexter’s actions led, (however indirectly), to the murder of his wife, my perception changed. Rita was once a single mum picking up her pieces after an abusive relationship and I couldn’t help but always want her to be happy. Knowing that she might still be (fictionally) alive if Dexter wasn’t so selfish, I can’t forgive the friendly neighbourhood killer.
3) Chris Miles – Skins
The first generation of Skins was particularly known for just how relatable and realistic most of the cast were. This couldn’t be more truer than through Chris, the loveable fuck-up who I think we all saw ourselves in at least once.
His second-series romance with Jal seemed to be putting him on track for a happy ending, until an eleventh hour emerging of a hereditary brain condition saw him pass away in one of the most traumatising on-screen deaths this side of the 21st century. One overwhelmingly funeral service and several boxes of tissues later, this editor still finds himself on the verge of tears whenever someone utters the phrase “Fuck It”.
4) Marissa Cooper – The O.C.
Marissa’s death makes this list almost purely for how profoundly shocking it was. The O.C. burst on to the teen drama scene in 2003, breathing new life into the genre. It was fast-paced, well-written and purely addictive – but it didn’t take long until the quality of the show began to slide, and that was largely in part due to the character of Marissa.
Her storylines went from offensive (lesbian kiss ratings stunt) to plain boring (Marissa Versus the evils of the American public school system). By the conclusion of Season 3, the character was simply too far gone to be saved – so the writers made the brave decision to kill off their leading lady in a devastating car crash that sent shockwaves rippling through the entire show – and as Ryan cradled her lifeless form to a haunting rendition of Hallelujah on a lonely highway, there was genuine sadness to be felt. What made this death so memorable wasn’t the loss of Marissa, but in the ways that those closest to her reacted. It set the series on course for a fourth and final season that boasted an impressive return to form, as a poignant examination of life, death, and the importance of moving on with our lifes.
5) Basically everyone – Greys Anatomy
Greys Anatomy is the one single TV show that can leave me with leaking eyes. Seriously Shonda Rhimes, I credit you for making me realise I actually hold emotions. Also I hate you.
Let’s start with Denny Duquette. Regardless of the fact he wasn’t a main character his death still left me blinking rapidly (look I had something in my eye okay?) After many operations and hardship (that freakin’ Lvad wire), Izzy and Denny had finally cemented their relationship, Denny had a new heart, and they had a bright, happy future ahead of them. UNTIL IZZY FINDS DENNY DEAD. ON HOSPITAL PROM NIGHT. She then spends a lot of time crying on the bathroom floor, while I cry into my pillow.
Then there’s George. To be perfectly honest, I thought George’s death wasn’t as sad as it could have been. I cried more watching Denny die, yet I loved George. It lacked the raw emotional acting performances that the Greys cast are famous for. Still George was that one bumbling character that you couldn’t help but love and wish the best for, so it’s slightly unfair just when he figures his life out he gets hit by a bus.
Fast forward a few seasons and we’ve got Lexie Grey and Mark Sloan. I’m still mad about this. Classic Shonda, you finally think one of your favourite couples is going to have a happy ending and BAM, they’re dead. The only thing that made this slightly okay was that they both died; I seriously couldn’t have handled one of them surviving without the other. Call me a closet romantic. But man, how I miss McSteamy in the show. Easily one of the most charismatic and appealing characters of the shows entirety.
6) Patrick Reid – Offspring
Where do I even begin with this? Patrick was Nina Proudman’s saving grace after she lost all emotional hope with her romance with Dr Chris Havel. Patrick was sweet and sensitive, he picked her up when she was down, he endured her family’s uncanny ability to always appear.
Sure, he had his past with morphine addiction, lost a child with his last partner, and his father is a robot, but you always barracked for things between Nina and Patrick to get better. They were the one constant in Offspring, the one thing you could rely on at the end of the day to give you the warm fuzzy feeling in your heart.
Timing was the kicker in Patrick’s death. He and Nina were expecting a child together. He was so over the moon because everything was going okay with the baby’s progress and there was no sign that the baby would miscarry. Patrick had been handcrafting a rocking horse for the baby. They were about to celebrate their baby shower, as a family. Talks of marriage and life together and growing old.
Patrick’s death following the car accident shocked pretty much all of Australia. The show presented his passing and Nina’s grieving in such a beautiful way – tasteful, artistic shots laden with Patrick’s ‘ghostly’ presence with Nina. He’d appear, but never speak. I think it really encapsulated the process of grieving brilliantly – there are points in time, especially immediately following the passing, where you see the person without actually seeing them. You feel their presence for days, months, years. It becomes warming and reassuring. Offspring really captured that.
7) Ben Sullivan – Scrubs
While this was the death of only a minor, cameo character that had appeared a total of two times in the series. His passing was so profoundly confronting and well hidden that no one knew what had hit them when the truth was finally revealed. Ben Sullivan (Brendan Fraser) was the former brother-in-law and best friend of Dr. Cox, was diagnosed with cancer in his first appearance and has returned to celebrate the first birthday of his nephew Jack.
During the course of the episode Ben goes into cardiac arrest and despite J.D’s best efforts, Ben dies and Dr Cox blames J.D outright for screwing up, however the audience is led to believe that he screwed up on a much elderly, living patient. Ben continues to appear in the episode trying to convince ol’ Perry that this wasn’t J.D’s fault.
The episode comes to a head when Dr Cox forgives J.D and himself and gets excited about going to his son’s birthday. This is J.D finally confronts his mentor by asking him “Where do you think we are?” It’s only then that Cox finally realises what has happened and where he is, with the episode closing at Ben’s funeral. FUCKING FEELS!
8) The Tenth Doctor – Doctor Who
We all knew this was coming, we knew it was coming for ages. But no-one, and I repeat, NO-ONE was prepared for how The Tenth Doctor (David Tennant) left our screens.
After thwarting The Master once again and preventing the return of the now murderous Time Lords, The Doctor thinks he has escaped his fate and can live on is his current body, until he hears the faint tap-tap-tap-tap of Wilfred Mott, trapped in a chamber about to be flooded with Nuclear radiation, with the only route of escape being someone else letting him out from the adjoining chamber. Being who he is, The Doctor can’t let Wilfred die that way, so he frees him and in turn absorbs enough radiation to kill a bull elephant instantly. What follows are some emotional good-byes to his old companions often without a word being said, with it culminating inside the T.A.R.D.I.S with The Doctor stuttering the now famous phrase “I don’t wanna go…”.
9) Fry’s Dog – Futurama