TV

The Saddest, Most Brutal, And Most Notable TV Character Deaths Of 2015

A note before we begin:

This is a list of notable character deaths from the world of television in 2015. It contains spoilers. So, if you still have all of this past season of Game of Thrones sitting on your DVR, or, say, intend to sit down and watch Justified from beginning to end one day, and would like to do so without advance knowledge of who dies and how, perhaps you should think twice about scrolling down. But if you’re looking for an occasionally fun, occasionally sad look back at some of the characters we lost throughout the year, please, scroll away. Maybe pull up “One Sweet Day” by Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men in another tab while you read. Just a suggestion.

Away we go.

Noah, The Walking Dead

Noah begged Glenn not to let go of him as he was being dragged away by walkers, but Glenn failed him and he had to sit there a foot away from Noah — separated by only a pane of glass — and watch him be devoured. It was heartbreaking. It was violent. It was brutal. There have been a ton of deaths on The Walking Dead, but that one may have been the hardest to watch. Noah was a good, sweet guy, but like Glenn, we just had to sit quietly and see a good kid slowly ripped apart right in front of our eyes until the lights went out in his. — Dustin Rowles

Shireen, Game of Thrones

At times, season five of Game of Thrones felt like a test to see how much brutality its audience could stomach. Between Sansa’s brutal rape, the judgement of Cersei, and Arya’s time with the Faceless Men, many were left wondering how much was too much. However, the breaking point for many was Stannis Baratheon’s ruthless murder of his own child, Shireen. Ever since he was introduced, he has been under the sway of the Red Woman, but he had previously held a pretty hard line with keeping his daughter out of his dealings. However, when faced with losing his army to the harsh winter in the North, fans knew that sh*t was going to be bad when he sent Davos, who had a special bond with the young princess, away to Castle Black. When Stannis ruthlessly burned his daughter alive, it became clear that he was no longer one to root for to win the Iron Throne. — Alyssa Fikse

Frank Semyon, True Detective

Let’s say, hypothetically, that back before the casting was announced and everyone was excitedly doing the #TrueDetectiveSeason2 thing on Twitter, I pulled you aside and told you the second season would end with a bleeding Vince Vaughn staggering through the desert for four full minutes while having hallucinations about people he knew, including one where a group of unruly black teens cuss at him and derisively call him “Larry Bird.” You’d think I was completely insane, right? Well, guess what. Hypothetical me was not insane! That really happened! I still can’t believe it. — Danger Guerrero

Kilgrave, Jessica Jones

The MCU has always has always had a villain problem, with their film antagonists (outside of the ever-present Loki) coming across a bit, well, lame. However, between Daredevil and Jessica Jones, they proved that translating truly terrifying comic book villains to the screen was definitely possible, especially with Jessica Jones’ Kilgrave. David Tennant, known to so many as the charming Doctor, sent a chill up your spine and made you feel like you had to take a Silkwood shower at the same time. His constant, horrific abuse of Jessica was terrifying enough, but his sociopathic torture of everyone who got in his way was just too much to bear. Kilgrave was the ultimate example of a man who didn’t understand consent and why his powers were so dehumanizing and invasive, which made it all the more satisfying when Jessica finally got the chance to take him out with a swift crack of the neck and the simple command to “smile.” It may not have the epic and climactic death that fans were expecting, but it was the perfect way for Jessica to have her revenge. — Alyssa Fikse

Betty Draper, Mad Men

Death had always cast its dark shadow over Mad Men, from Don’s constant near-death experiences to Bert Cooper’s ascent to a modernist heaven at the conclusion of the final season’s first half in 2014. Entering the series finale, the question on everyone’s mind was whether Don would make it out alive or not. But the most compelling death was not Don’s (though the question of his fate will probably rage on forever, like the JFK flame of narrative ambiguity), or even onscreen; Betty receives a terminal cancer diagnosis in the penultimate hour and spends much of the grand finale preparing for her own demise with eerie focus. The famously cold, distant mother penned her daughter Sally a sincerely touching note and then resolved to go out on her own terms, undaunted by the vicissitudes of fate. In the final shot we get of Betty, she sits at the kitchen table, cigarette in hand, reading the paper while Sally washes dishes in the background. She left us just as she arrived: mistreating Sally. — Charles Bramesco

Kevin Garvey, The Leftovers

Kevin died not once, not twice, but three times in the second season of The Leftovers, and he’s still alive and eligible to die again next year. He’s Kenny from South Park. What’s crazy about it, however, is that it never felt like a cheat. We never questioned the absurdity of his resurrection. We watched Kevin spend an entire episode in a hotel in the afterlife as an international assassin before throwing a girl in a well in order to earn his way back to the living, and we never thought, “This is dumbest thing I’ve ever seen.” We treated it like a cool magic trick, and we clapped, and we hoped Lindelof would do it again. — Dustin Rowles

Derek Shephard, Grey’s Anatomy

See you at the crossroads, McDreamy. — Danger Guerrero

Dewey Crowe, Justified

Dewey Crowe was a simple man (in every way possible). All he and his four kidneys ever wanted to do was live out his dreams. His exact means to getting there weren’t the most legal, and the dream itself probably wasn’t the most moral, but who doesn’t want a swimming pool with two women? And hell, he almost had it when the state of Kentucky awarded him $300,000 for his troubles. Unfortunately, much like his pool, Dewey’s dreams would eventually get shot up by those around him (Raylan, his Florida family, and in the end by Boyd). Poor Dewey was as much a victim of his surroundings as his stupidity, and in the end, his dreaming would be deferred by the fate of many on Justified who try to leave Harlen. — Chet Manley

Clara Oswald, Doctor Who

Fans of the long-running BBC science-fiction series knew this was coming. So, when the Doctor’s (Peter Capaldi) current companion, Clara Oswald (Jenna Coleman), died while sacrificing herself for someone else, nobody was surprised. Nor was anyone taken aback when, despite her most assured, guaranteed, there’s-no-coming-back-from-this death, Clara managed to pop up in the penultimate and final episodes. She was still dead, but hey — this is science-fiction, and the title character is played by a Scottish actor. Nothing makes sense. The search for a new companion is ongoing, but maybe there’s a chance they’ll let the Doctor fly solo in 2016. Probably not, though. — Andrew Husband

Mayor Gunderson, Parks and Recreation

From the moment that Amy Poehler revealed that Bill Murray was her pick for Pawnee’s mysterious Mayor Gunderson on Parks and Recreation, I knew that we would either see the beloved actor in that role or we would never see anyone at all. When the episode “Two Funerals” began with the news that the mayor had passed away, I was temporarily crushed because I thought it meant the unattainable Murray had passed on the role. And then it happened and it was beautiful. Everything from the mayor’s perfectly lazy approach to running the city to Ethel Beaver’s shocking revelation of her torrid swinging affair with the man she truly loved was as bittersweet as it could have been. And sure, it left me wishing that Murray could have appeared in an earlier episode and gone toe-to-toe with Leslie Knope and/or Ron Swanson, but then I realized that Mayor Gunderson’s death was the only way to go. We hardly knew you, Mayor Gunderson, but we love you. — Ashley Burns

Mason Verger, Hannibal

In horror movies, people don’t die for no reason. The writer usually programs some sort of transgression into each character that would mark them as “deserving” of a grisly fate (the most typical example being riled-up teens fornicating, and then getting hacked to pieces for their sin). Hannibal was so many things, but it was also a horror show, and so the writers knew that a character as resolutely evil as Mason Verger would need a proportionately gruesome death. As punishment for the charges of rape, murder, and being generally creepy all of the time, Mason was first knocked out by his sister, anally violated with a cattle prod so she could collect his reproductive material (we’re gonna miss you, Hannibal, you crazy TV show) and then drowned in his aquarium. The coup de grace? As his sister holds his face under the water, an eel delivers the killing stroke by slithering down his throat and exits clean out the other side. Hannibal was the most consistently deranged hour on network TV, and in its absence, the ball is now in the rest of TV’s court. — Charles Bramesco

Mikey and Katherine, Justified

You know, you would not expect to watch a brutal fight in a Winnebago between a musclebound enforcer and a Southern grandmother and come away from it feeling bad for the enforcer. But somehow, there we all were, hearts melting for Wynn Duffy’s partner-in-crime (and partner-in… other things?) Michael “Mikey” Cosmatopolis as he bled out on the floor after slamming Katherine Hale through a table and strangling her to protect his boss. Television is odd like that. Rest in peace, Mikey. Hopefully they’re letting you pick out the music, wherever you are. — Danger Guerrero

Betty, The Americans

“You think doing this to me will make the world a better place?”
“I’m sorry. But it will.”
“That’s what evil people tell themselves… when they do… evil things.”

Elizabeth and Philip Jennings are the main characters of The Americans. We’ve spent so much time with them, and have seen them as loving, caring parents, that it’s easy to forget, oh wait, these people hate our way of life and want to kill our political leaders. Then an episode like “Do Mail Robots Dream of Electric Sheep?” comes along, and the Jennings, mostly Elizabeth, murder a poor old woman who’s only “in the way” because she likes working late at night, when no one’s around. That’s when we’re reminded our heroes are the “evil people.” — Josh Kurp

General Youssef, Homeland

Homeland is at its best when it fakes left and goes right, when it manages to genuinely surprise us and its own characters at the same time. General Youssef’s death illustrates this principle quite well. While our fair and seemingly immortal Quinn has spent several seasons narrowly escaping death via gunshot wound, sarin gas (fingers crossed, at least), and Carrie-induced heartbreak, Youssef, a Syrian military leader being groomed by Saul and Allison to take over as president of Syria, was killed in the very same episode in which he was introduced, and in particularly bombastic fashion: via mid-air plane explosion. The fiery sky, coupled with Saul’s utter shock and the subtle reveal that Youssef’s death came at Allison’s hand, made for one of the best cliffhangers (plane-exploders? too soon?) I’ve yet to see from this show. — Rachel Handler

The Sioux Falls Massacre, Fargo

Back in season one of Fargo, retired cop Lou Solverson told of an event that took place in Sioux Falls in 1979 that resulted in dead bodies stacked as high as the second floor. Season two took us back to 1979 to show us how that massacre came to be, and when they finally paid it off in the season’s penultimate episode, it did not disappoint. It also got really, really weird. It says a lot about a scene when it can depict dozens of cops and criminals murdering each other all over a hotel after being set-up by a double-crossing Native American hitman, and that isn’t even close to the strangest thing that happened. I mean, Lou Solverson would have died had it not been for extraterrestrial intervention. Awful lot to unpack there. — Danger Guerrero

Jon Snow, Game of Thrones

The biggest shocker in a consistently shocking season of Game of Thrones came at the very end, when Jon Snow died at the hands of his men. Game of Thrones has never been sentimental about its characters, as we’ve seen from, well, basically everything that happened on the show to date, but losing Jon Snow was a big surprise because he’s always been the one the audience assumed would survAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Guys, Jon Snow is obviously not dead. Or if he is, he’s only kinda dead, because months of paparazzi hounding has caught him on the show’s set for filming about 1,000 times. Poor Kit Harington. All he wanted to do was make a living as an actor and now he’s got every doofus with a camera chasing him around airports in Ireland to debunk his character’s demise. Long live Jon Snow. — Danger Guerrero

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