There is nothing more satisfying on television than the death of a character we either loathe or love to loathe. How fantastic was it to see, for instance, Agent Stahl get her comeuppance in “Sons of Anarchy,” or The Trinity Killer in “Dexter” or even Mags Bennett in “Justified” (RIP). Those characters were designed specifically to make us hate them, thus making their deaths so much more crowd-pleasing. Then again, there are several other television characters who are hated not by design, but by virtue of bad writing or bad acting, who we hate because they’ve outstayed their welcome, or exhausted their character’s function. They, too, would bring standing ovations in living rooms all across America if they were to meet an untimely demise.
Here are 11 characters I’d like to see die within the next year, starting tonight on the season finale of “Justified.” For different reasons, each death would be met with cheers.
Tracy Jordan — A year ago, I’d have probably put Kenneth Parcell on this list — he’d been going through the motions for several seasons. But they managed to break him out of the funk in “30 Rock’s’ sixth season, pulling him out of the page department and putting him through a series of other positions (most recently, janitor). It’s Tracy Jordan that’s the true dead weight to “30 Rock.” The writers extracted a lot of comedy out of his character for a few seasons, but at this point, another Tracy subplot in which he does something moronic only to be saved (again) by Liz Lemon or Kenneth is the last thing I want to see. He’s already expendable to “30 Rock,” but thanks Tracy Morgan’s personal life, his character death would be karmic retribution.
Method of Death: Suffocating in a GLAAD bag.
Sarah Linden — Mireille Enos is a great actress (and I only just discovered that she was married to Alan Ruck), but her “The Killing” character has quickly become one of the most exhausting on television. Not only is she a bad mother — nearly moving her son away from Seattle in every third episode, only to change her mind and stay for the investigation — but it’s clear now that she’s also a bad detective, failing to pick up on several leads in time to save several characters, who have been killed or injured because of her incompetence. Her perpetually glum disposition doesn’t help her case, either.
Method of Death: Being drenched to death by the Seattle rain.
Debra Morgan: “Dexter’s” sister began the series run as the weakest character in the series, a damsel-in-distress disguised as a foul-mouthed detective. She was constantly getting involved with the very men who would end up dead at the end of the season. However, the last couple of seasons saw her character maturing, rising the ranks of the Miami Police Department and actually gaining a modicum of independence, even if she was dating the show’s most obnoxious character. But then, the “Dexter” writers ruined all the progress they made with Debra with the last two episodes of the most recent season, in which Debra develops a bang-worthy crush on her brother. The fact that she knows her brother is now a serial killer only makes her character that much more expendable.
Method of Death: At Dexter’s hand, of course. One plunge of the knife into her chest would turn “Dexter” into the horrifically dark show it needs to be.
Señor Chang — A great recurring character in the first season of “Community,” Señor Chang quickly lost his place as fan favorite once he was elevated to a series regular. Always on the outside of the study group looking in, Chang has more than outstayed his welcome, and the few episodes that have revolved around him tend to be the weakest. Dan Harmon doesn’t really know what to do with him anymore, and turning a power-tripping Greendale professor into a community college security guard with no real power has completely defanged the character.
Method of Death: Death by paintball, preferably in the upcoming “Law & Order” episode.
Ted Mosby — There’s little reason to rehash all the reason in which Ted Mosby has become the single-most useless character on “How I Met Your Mother.” Because of the show’s premise, Ted’s character is not allowed to advance. He’s stuck in neutral while the other characters evolve around him. How many more dead-end relationships can we suffer through? It certainly doesn’t help, either, that Ted is also the least amusing character in the show.
Method of Death: Wouldn’t it be great if the mother of Ted’s children is also his murderer, and the entire show was narrated by a Bob Saget in the afterlife?
Winona Hawkins — The writers have caught on to the fact that Winona is a fairly useless character in the “Justified” universe, doubly so now that she’s pregnant. If Raylan gives in to Winona’s demands that he leave his position as a US Marshall, the show will end. If she stays, she becomes a never-ending nag, pestering Raylan to leave. That goddamn baby won’t help.
Method of Death: Collateral damage in the ultimate Boyd Crowder/Dickie Bennet hair-off, preferably before giving birth (giving tonight’s season finale a particularly dark and grisly ending).
Thomas Barrow — The “Downton Abbey” footman is actually one of the show’s best characters, but only because he’s such a reliably good, insufferable little sh*t. He’s one of the most loathsome, crap-stirring characters on television, and while that’s kind of the reason we love him, it’s also the very reason we’d get so much joy in seeing him die.
Method of Death: At the pummeling fist of Bates.
Betty Francis — Matthew Weiner attempted to humanize her to some degree as Fat Betty, thinking we’d be able to sympathize with her because she feels sorry for herself. That did not, however, make her character any less annoying or pointless to the show. She’s the only character that really exists outside of the Sterling Draper Price universe, and there’s not really much reason for her to be on “Mad Men,” unless Weiner’s end game is to eventually reunite her and Draper. Coming up with different excuses to involve her in the main plotline is a drag on the show, particularly when we’re far more interested in the inner machinations of an advertising agency and less in her self-esteem issues.
Method of Death: Death by chocolate cake.
Tara Knowles — She should die for the same reason that Winona Hawkins should die, because she is a pestering nag on the main protagonist, Jax. It doesn’t help that Kurt Sutter teased us all season long by holding out that carrot and pulling it at the last minute, after we’d already pre-celebrated her demise. She has served no function to “Sons of Anarchy” for the last two seasons; the fact that she’s poised to be the next Gemma now doesn’t really salvage that character. Her death would be a blessing to the show, allowing Jax some narrative freedom and bringing immeasurable joy to the “SoA” fanbase that has been sick of her whining for two years.
Method of Death — Bitch-slapped to death by Gemma Teller.
Lori Grimes — As Josh has already noted, Lori has been a drag on “The Walking Dead” since the beginning. She’s also an awful person, sleeping with Shane, going back to Rick, turning Rick on Shane, then turning on Rick when he did EXACTLY WHAT SHE WANTED HIM TO DO. GOD WON’T SHE JUST DIED ALREADY? There’s absolutely no consistency to her character, she’s irritating as hell, SHE’S A TERRIBLE F STAR STAR BITCH OF A PARENT and she’s a dead weight to “The Walking Dead.”
Method of Death — Death by ass-eating zombies.
King Joffrey — You got to hand it to the sniveling little pissant who plays King Joffrey (Jack Gleeson); with a lip-curled bitchface and a terrible attitude, he’s created the most reviled character on television. Unlike every other character on this list, save for Thomas Barrow (and arguably Betty Francis), Joffrey is actually fun to hate, to stir up all manner of macabre death for him in our minds. He’s an egocentric little snot drunk on his own power and basically begging to be murdered by any other character on “Game of Thrones,” including his own mother. I can’t wait to see it happen.
Method of Death: Crucified in the public square, beaten to a bloody pulp, and finally scorched to death by Daenerys’ dragon.