In our world, there are so many things to keep us busy. Not including those things called jobs that we need to, ya know, survive, but also things like: hanging out with our friends, going to the movies, taking a pottery or cooking class, doing the laundry and folding the clothes, cleaning the house, or watching our favorite television shows after our nightly ritual before bedtime.
In the entertainment world, television shows have become not only popular and exciting entertainment but also incredible platforms to discuss global, political, and social issues in our world today. Sometimes we laugh and we take a break from the daily grind with a show like The Middle or Friends. Sometimes we cry when we watch an engagement on The Bachelor or when someone gets killed on The Walking Dead. But a lot of our lives revolve around those exciting storylines and plot twists that we all are intrigued by.
Below, we highlight television shows that were bold enough to kill off a significant character, and whether or not it stood the test of time. Some shows suffered incredibly, while others began to blossom into new and exciting things. Read on and try not to shed a tear (we know we are going to).
20 Better: Grey's Anatomy & George O'Malley's Heroism
007, as his nickname came to be, died in the season five finale. I'm going to warn you now: Grey's Anatomy is on this list more than one time because they know how to give their fans emotional breakdowns over fictional characters. True. Story.
In season one, we were introduced to George O'Malley as one of the new surgical interns, including Christina Yang, Alex Karev, Izzie Stevens, and our beloved main character, Meredith Grey. Over the course of his time on the show, O'Malley had many riveting plotlines. At the end of season five, his best friends discovered that the John Doe that jumped in front of a bus to save a stranger was in fact their 007!
We loved George, but his death did make the show better, as we were able to be introduced to new and exciting characters, plus spend more time developing the current characters.
19 Worse: Dexter, RIP Rita
Dexter was a show that challenged many viewers, shocked several fans, and created a new platform for gruesomeness on television. Furthermore, it challenged the idea of the typical protagonist and antagonist of a show because, even though Dexter was the protagonist, he was also doing a pretty bad thing. Is murdering criminals a bad thing? Because it is still illegal no matter who you are killing. Either way, when Rita was killed by the Trinity Killer; she was his last kill before Dexter murdered him. Dexter finds her corpse in the bathtub and is shocked to feel complete devastation over her death-- we guess he really loved her! However, this death did make the show worse because, well, we missed Rita and also Dexter wasn't the same loving and somewhat good person without her.
18 Better: The Vampire Diaries, Elena Becomes Immortal
It's still painful for us to accept that The Vampire Diaries is off the air. They always gave us exciting plot twists, incredible season finales, and great character development over the course of eight seasons.
Elena Gilbert was a simple high school junior when she met Stefan and Damon Salvatore, two brothers that we soon find out are vampires. It is her biggest fear throughout four seasons to become one, as she wants to live a full human life with children and growing old with someone. However, at the end of season four, she sacrifices her life for human ex-boyfriend Matt and becomes a vampire due to vampire blood in her system.
So, she doesn't technically die. Regardless, she becomes immortal and the show gets bigger and badder and SO MUCH BETTER. Elena is stronger and can finally admit her true feelings for her soulmate, Damon.
17 Worse: 8 Simple Rules For Ending A Show When It Is Meant To Be Ended
This one hits close to home, as John Ritter's unexpected death shocked the world. In late 2003, he was rehearsing for his show 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter when he began to complain of chest pains and started vomiting. The doctors misdiagnosed his condition as a heart attack, but he got worse and later died in complications from surgery.
To explain his absence on the show, the writers decided to treat it as an unexpected death of his character, Paul Hennessy. The show presented a funeral, another family member moving in, and how everyone dealt with his death in the aftermath. But this made the show much worse, as they fought for story and plotlines that weren't really that impressive or that great. The show should have properly ended with Ritter's death, as he made the show exactly what it was intended to be.
16 Better: Grey's Anatomy, Derek's Untimely Death
No one saw this coming, as Meredith and Derek's relationship was the forefront of the show, and we couldn't imagine it surviving without both of them. In season eleven, Derek was just driving home when he saw an accident on the side of the road. He stopped to save a few lives (no big deal) and suddenly got hit by an oncoming tractor trailer. The hospital he was rushed to did not have decent equipment to save his life. The irony was that he died of a brain injury and he was a neurosurgeon! Life is so poetic.
Despite our hearts being ripped out, this made the show better. We saw powerful character development in Meredith. We were given fresh new faces to get to know, too. Lastly, in Hollywood, it proved that a show could be successful by a female lead without any male lead being necessary for survival.
15 Worse: Charmed, Big Sister Prue Gets Killed
This show ran for eight seasons, only three of which were at the helm of Shannen Doherty as big sister, Prue. But after her death, the show pulled for straws when it came to plotlines and character development after season four ended.
Charmed followed three sister witches and their trials and tribulations with demons. It was a popular show, however, the actresses were rumored not to be getting along. The season three finale was written with the intention that any of the three actresses (Doherty along with Holly Marie Combs and Alyssa Milano) could not return and their deaths could be explained. Doherty was the one that left (killed by a demon), with Rose McGowan taking her place as little sister, Paige.
The show, however, suffered. Even though Combs rocked her lines as now-eldest sister Piper, Alyssa Milano's character, Phoebe, became flaky and self-absorbed. Furthermore, McGowan's acting was only subpar.
14 Better: Eddard Stark's Beheading on Game of Thrones
Game of Thrones has been a phenomenon that few people thought it would be. Season one premiered in 2011 and we were introduced to Westeros, dragons, and Jon Snow. It put incredibly talented actors and actresses on our map, including Sophie Turner, Kit Harrington, and Emilia Clarke.
Ned, short for Eddard, Stark found out a pretty big secret about the Lannister family (no spoilers here) and tried to confront the two people mainly involved within this secret. When he attempts to tell the secret to all of Westeros, he finds that important people have already been bribed-- and so becomes his famous beheading scene, ordered by that King we all love to hate, Joffrey.
This wrecked many fans and was the first great shock of the show (until that Red Wedding). However, it did make the show better as it developed his daughter's characters and catapulted this show to fame.
13 Worse: The O.C. & Popular Starlet Marissa Cooper
The O.C. broke several records and riveted fans of all ages. Marissa Cooper was virtually the main character of the show, even though it followed four high school students. Over the course of three seasons, she overdosed, did many illegal things, dated a girl, and sadly, she died in the season three finale. This was due to the writers feeling that they did everything they could with her character. Actress Mischa Barton agreed that it was time to go.
The final scene of the season showed her one true love, Ryan, carrying her dead body across the road as terribly sad music played in the background. It was one of the most gut-wrenching finales and scenes ever created! The last season without her proved to be terrible, as many fans assumed it would be.
12 Better: One Tree Hill, RIP Uncle Keith
One Tree Hill is another show that gave us more than a few deaths, dramatic season finales, and incredible storylines that shocked us. It followed a group of high school students, their parents, and the drama that ensues in a small town. Two of them were half-brothers Lucas and Nathan, who grew up separately and in opposite worlds (rich and not so rich). Eventually, they came together. However, the irony was not lost when, in a gut-wrenching school shooting episode in season three, Uncle Keith was killed by his younger brother, Dan (the father of Lucas and Nathan). The worst part was that the fans knew, but it took months for the rest of the characters to figure it out. The show grew several plotlines that challenged its' actors after Keith's death, taking the show to another level.
11 Worse: This Is Us' Father & Son Bonding
Okay, don't misunderstand us. We LOVE This Is Us, but we're still so emotional over William's death that we can't say we love the show as much without him around to help Randall and give his wisdom to the entire family.
This Is Us premiered in September of 2016 and has taken the world by storm with its' incredible storylines, those plots that make us rethink our own lives and our own choices. In season one, we saw Randall find his biological father, William. Surprisingly, the two began a relationship. William was very sick and moved in with Randall and his family. What we saw next was a great few episodes of father and son bonding, before William's death toward the end of the season.
10 Better: Lost Without Charlie
Let's call a spade a spade: Lost was a pretty weird show that challenged the boundaries of drama and suspense on television. It premiered in 2004 and ran for six years. In those six years we met some great characters, including sexy Sawyer, soulmates Sun and Jin, magic-obsessed John Locke, funny man Hurley, and guitar-playing Charlie.
I'll be the one to say it: Charlie was not our favorite. His death was incredibly heroic, however, and his character truly developed into someone that you wanted to root for. The show did get better after his death, though. We were led to Naomi's deception and a major plot twist within the series. When the series ended, we saw Charlie and Claire coming together in the church, remembering their time on the island.
9 Worse: Dr. Sweets Ends His Bones Journey
Bones was a great crime show introduced to us in 2005 that gave us Temperance Brennan and Seeley Booth, partners in Washington D.C. at the fictional Smithsonian Institute. Brennan is a Bones doctor (forensic anthropologist) and Booth is an FBI agent-- together, they solve murder cases. We were also introduced to Dr. Sweets, a psychologist played by John Francis Daley.
In the premiere of season ten, Sweets is shot and killed by a mystery perpetrator. He dies in the ambulance with Booth and Brennan by his side. This death didn't shake up the series as much as you'd expect; however, the show was already pulling at straws to stay alive at this point, so this just gave us more reason to say goodbye to Bones. The show ended in 2017.
8 Better: Gilmore Girls' Patriarchal Death
Okay, so our beloved Richard Gilmore did not die in the original Gilmore Girls, which ran from 2000-2007. But, actor Edward Herrmann did die before they decided to do a revival show on Netflix. They addressed his death as the Gilmore patriarch in one of four mini-movie episodes that were released in 2016. As a series, it was titled Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life. Despite how incredibly heartbreaking it was for his wife, Emily, his daughter, Lorelai, and his granddaughter, Rory, the show actually improved after his death. This is because it highlighted how Emily could actually go on to live without him after fifty years of marriage-- and it brought her closer to her daughter Lorelai, despite the two having a strained relationship for many years.
7 Worse: House of Cards Kate Mara Gets Pushed Too Far
Pretty girl Kate Mara plays Zoe Barnes in the suspenseful Netflix show House of Cards alongside Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright. The show premiered in 2013 and is a political and suspenseful thriller. Barnes was a journalist that lived in Washington D.C. and a main character until her untimely death in the premiere episode of season two. Essentially, Barnes uncovered Francis "Frank" Underwood's (played by Kevin Spacey) involvement in the death of Peter Russo. She agrees to let it go, but after they agree to a "fresh start", Underwood realizes she knows too much and he pushes her in front of a subway train. The death looks like an accident; however, fans know the real truth! This made the show worse-- because we love Kate Mara!
6 Better: Gossip Girl's Billionaire Bart Bass
The shocking death of Bart Bass in season two rocked many Gossip Girl fans because it was so unexpected as he died in a car crash. His death, however, made the show even better because of the incredible plotline that was created out of it. Come to find out, Bart Bass didn't really die. He had to fake his death so that his family did not end up murdered by one of his business competitors. After his name is cleared and the correct men are in jail (thanks to his son, Chuck!), Bass comes out of hiding and rejoins his loved ones. He then continues to cause just as much drama and havoc as he used to before his faked death. We missed him, really, and his pretend death just made his return that much more sweet.
5 Worse: Lots Of Rain For Rayna In Nashville
Nashville was a hit ABC show that premiered in 2012. It followed Connie Britton as Rayna Jaymes, a successful country star (the "queen of country" as many have said), as well as the rise of Juliette Barnes, her "competition" played by Hayden Panitierre. When ABC dropped the show after several seasons, CMT picked it up for the summer of 2016. Rumors swirled that Britton would be leaving the show. Before season five ended, Jaymes was in a car crash and she dies in the hospital next to her husband, Deacon, and her two daughters.
This made the show worse, obviously, because you can't have a show without its' main character! Rayna Jaymes was the heart of the show. Not long after her death, the series ended in 2018.
4 Better: Kenny's Invincibility On South Park
South Park started its' run in 1997 and seemingly has yet to slow down! It follows four elementary school kids-- fat and funny Cartman, mumbling Kenny, more mature Stan, and conservative Kyle-- and their journeys, quirky times, and misadventures while living in South Park, Colorado. The show is very NSFW, complete with swearing, violence, and dirty jokes. It is certainly not a cartoon for everyone! For example, one thing the youngsters do is freeze themselves into the deep snow in the mountains of Colorado for 300 years and wake up in the future (ha!).
One thing that makes this show great is the hilarious plotline of Kenny repeatedly dying in some unfortunate way. Not only is it funny, but it makes the show that much more well-rounded, developing its' characters and simply making people laugh!
3 Worse: Grey's Anatomy, Lexi & Mark Forever
Yes, we loved honest George O'Malley and we LOVED heroic Derek Shepherd, but nothing slayed us more than the deaths of soulmates Lexi Grey and Mark Sloan. Grey was Meredith's little sister, whom we met in season three. She falls in love with hunky Dr. Sloan despite their huge age difference. They don't end up together due to some stubborn avoidance of important feelings.
Then, in season nine, a plane crash kills Grey about twenty minutes into the episode. We cried as Mark told her how much he loved her. A few episodes later, Mark succumbed to his plane crash injuries and died with Callie and Derek by his side. So, essentially, two soulmates could not live on boring old planet Earth without each other so they left us to go have a fairy tale ending in heaven. This made the show worse because we missed them. Plain and simple.
2 Better: Stranger Things Have Happened...
The new show on Netflix that has an alternate world, crazy monsters running amuck, and bad but really great '80s hair has become widely popular over the last year or so. Stranger Things follows a group of young boys, high schoolers, and their parents as one boy is taken by a mysterious monster and brought to The Upside Down. In the second episode of season one, Barb, high school BFF of Nancy, is eaten by the crazy monster. She goes missing, unbeknownst to anyone that she is actually dead, and a few of the characters set out to find her. We hate to break it to you, Barb, but your death didn't really affect the series that much, save for making Nancy more of a badass chick and less of a prude Patty, you know what we mean?
1 Worse: Finn's Heartbreaking Death On Glee
This one pulls at the heartstrings for sure, as the reason for Finn Hudson's death on Glee was due to Cory Monteith's death in real life. In July of 2013, he was found dead in his hotel room due to an accidental overdose. Because Glee was still filming, an explanation had to be made as to why he was gone from the show. Without actually giving one, an entire episode was dedicated to Monteith and Hudson, respectfully, showing that Hudson did die. His girlfriend in real life, Lea Michelle, also played his on-screen girlfriend, Rachel, on the show. This one made the show worse, as Hudson was a central part of the show and virtually one of the two main characters. Without him, it just wasn't the same.
Sources: people.com, refinery29.com, ibtimes.com, IMDb.com, google.com