As “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Lost,” and countless other shows have proven, sometimes a character, often beloved, needs to die to advance the plot. And nothing furthers the story like death, unless you’re “The Killing.” On the following pages are ten characters who need to meet their maker, not because they’re bad characters (I repeat: these are NOT necessarily characters I want dead because I hate them), but because they’ve either served their purpose and need to go away or because their passing would bring on a whole new set of stories their show hasn’t been able to accomplish.
To death! The cause of, and solution to, all of life’s problems.
Vincent Chase, “Entourage”
I’ve voiced my complaints about “Entourage’s” douchiness before, but all (well, most) of those could be redeemed if in the show’s final episode, its star, Vincent Chase, was killed, preferably by choking to death buried in a pile of cocaine. Wishful thinking, I know, but of its many faults, the most bothersome thing about “Entourage” is its lack of real-life consequences. Vincent and his gang of awful cronies can do whatever they want, whenever they want, without any repercussions. If the star of Aquaman were to die in the closing minutes of “Entourage”’s final episode, the entire show would feel less like 2,880 minutes of bros being bros, and more like a tragedy about what happens when fame goes to your head.
[Ed. note: I’d like to see Vince get killed immediately, as the other characters might actually become somewhat interesting if they had to strike out on their own.]
Dexter Morgan, “Dexter”
Dexter Morgan is one of only two good-to-great characters on the show bearing his name. The other: his sister, Debra. Let’s say the producers of “Dexter” decide to go off the air after season seven. In the final episode of the show’s upcoming sixth season, Deb should FINALLY catch Dexter in the act (and see him), but he runs away and skips town out of Miami. It’d be great if the final 12 episodes abandoned all the awful, awful humans at Miami Metro, and spent the entire season in a “Fugitive”-like chase between Deb and Dexter. In the last episode, she finds him, leaving her with a dilemma: she can’t throw him in jail, because that’s a lackluster ending (cough “Seinfeld” cough), and she can’t pretend nothing’s happened, because she’s a good cop. What’s left? Either we find out she too has been a good serial killer all these years, or she puts an end to Dexter’s butchering ways. (I know that Deb knows about her brother’s hobby in Jeff Lindsay’s books, but the show has gone off-text before.)
Betty Draper, “Mad Men”
There are many good potential death options for “Mad Men,” with everyone from Roger Sterling to Greg Harris (anyone but Don and Trudy, really) on the chopping block. But I think the strongest choice would be Betty — not because she’s a bad character, which she isn’t, or because she’s a bad actress, which she’s not (January Jones is icy, but so is Betty). It’s because her passing (car crash!) would further the story of one of the show’s best characters, Sally Draper. My friend has a theory that the reason Sally has been acting so weird of late is because she was molested by Grandpa Gene (as opposed to Baby Gene). If Sally, who’s already in a rough place in life, were to lose her mom, it’d be fascinating to see what the writers did with her—would she run away? Live with Don? Find the original Bobby?
Mr. Burns, “The Simpsons”
Imagine a world where “The Simpsons” was great again. Like, season five great. It’s probably impossible, even for a single episode, but one can dream. What’s one way the show could try to reclaim its past glories? Kill off a beloved character. Fans of the show have seen enough one-time or minor characters kick the bucket over the years, and while the episodes are usually high-quality (“Homer’s Enemy,” “’Round Springfield,” “The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show,” even “Alone Again, Natura-Diddily”), that doesn’t mean “Simpsons” enthusiasts want another hardly-seen Springfield resident to disappear. Go for one of the big guys, someone like Mr. Burns. His tyranny hasn’t been funny for seasons, and not only would this allow another villain to step in, his death could also shut down the power plant, leading Homer, Lenny, and Carl to get different full-time jobs. (While we’re at it, can Homer not have any more single-episode-only jobs? Remember Homer as a Mexican wrestler? Me neither.)
Jason Stackhouse, “True Blood”
I like Jason. A lot. His season one arc—hooking up with Lizzy Caplan and killing Stephen Root—remains one of my favorites on the show. But he hasn’t felt necessary to “True Blood” since season two, when he was dealing with the Fellowship of the Sun. Because he and Sookie share so little time together on-screen, it’s easy to forget that they’re brother and sister. His death would accomplish two things: 1) Bring all of Bon Temps, including Sam, Jessica, and LaFayette, together, which hasn’t happened in forever, and 2) Put an end to the terrible Hotshot plot. I don’t think many viewers are overly invested in whether he becomes a werepanther or not.
Shane Walsh, “The Walking Dead”
If you haven’t read the comics and don’t want to be spoiled, DO NOT READ! SPOILERS! ETC.!
Okay, now that it’s just us Kirkman Kronies, let me say: doesn’t it suck that the TV series isn’t going to feature the Governor this season, maybe never? Anyways. Shane doesn’t last very long in the books, having been gunned down by Rick’s son, Carl, and not killing him was the biggest mistake the TV show made in season one. Shane isn’t a likable character (remember that time he tried to rape Lori? OH, THAT SHANE), and his death should have already occurred before the walking living arrived at the CDC. Shane’s only impact on the plot is that he gets Lori pregnant, which could have been revealed by now (it maybe was, when Dr. Jenner whispered something in Rick’s ear in the finale). Just get rid of Shane as quickly as possible, and be done with his character’s plot-dragging dead weight.
Ava Crowder, “Justified”
In an otherwise all-time excellent season of “Justified,” Ava Crowder felt a little lost in the shuffle. Honestly, even though it’s only been three months since the finale “Bloody Harlan” aired, I had forgotten that Ava had been shot in the gut by Dickie, and we’re not sure whether she’s dead or alive. Ava was a great character in season one, as one-third of a love triangle with Raylan and Winona, but she slogged through most of season two as Boyd’s kind-of girlfriend, knowing as much about what he was up to as we did (which is to say: nothing). Boyd works best when he’s by himself, not getting dragged down by Nazis and love partners, and Raylan has a pregnant Winona and her thieving ways to deal with. Where does that leave Ava? Not in Harlan.
Andy Botwin, “Weeds”
Nancy Botwin needs to pay for her sins. She’s a terrible mom who has consistently put her children in harm’s way because she’s addicted to an unpredictable, dangerous life. Most unforgivably, she has ignored the advances of Andy, who could provide some stability in her life, for years now, and it’s about time that someone kicks her in the ass…by shooting him with a bullet. Andy is far and away the best character on “Weeds,” but if he were planted in the dirt like so much herb before him, that might finally make Nancy stop and wonder what the hell’s she doing not only her to life, but also her sons’. Or they could kill Doug, and Andy and Nancy could finally do It. Whichever.
Marie Schrader, “Breaking Bad”
Because Hank has been such a great character in the past (including being the featured player in two of “Breaking Bad”’s three best episodes, “One Minute” and “Sunset”), it doesn’t bother me that he’s been a whiny, MINERAL-NOT-ROCK-loving bitch so far this season. Still, something needs to snap him out of his funk, and that something would be the death of his wife: Marie, sister of Skyler and lover of all things purple. Why Marie, whose fondness for stealing is second to no one? I get the feeling she’s going to start asking more questions about where Walt and Skyler are getting their money from, and she’ll begin to figure things out. So much so that she’ll get a little too close to the situation and have to be silenced before she spills the meth, so to speak, to her husband. (That being said, it’s probably going to be Jesse who ends up getting whacked, but that feels too obvious.)
Sue Sylvester, “Glee”
Sometimes you just want a character to go away forever because you just want them to go away forever.