Top 10 Saddest TV Deaths

by WatchMojo 10 months ago in tv

The saddest TV deaths had us reaching for our tissue boxes.

They never got their happily ever afters. Welcome to, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 saddest deaths in television history.

Seriously, and we can’t stress this enough: SPOILER ALERT. This entire list is one giant spoiler.

He endured a lot to get to his happily ever after—and we’re still not sure he’s actually resting in peace. An important father-figure to the Winchester Brothers, Bobby gets possessed, paralyzed, bets his life to a witch, dies, is resurrected, ends up in a coma, dies again—only to come back as a ghost that turns evil and has to be dispatched. Phew, this guy deserves a break.

#9: Delores Landingham “The West Wing” (1999-2006)

Mrs. Landingham was the sassy secretary of President Josiah Bartlet, who dedicated her life to public service after losing two sons in Vietnam. In an already-busy episode, she’s buying her first-ever new car, which she’s proudly going to show off to the President. Until… We’re still mad at Aaron Sorkin about this one, but it did get him to write that great “yelling-at-God-in-Latin” speech—so we’ll call it even.

#8: Dr. Mark Greene “E.R.” (1994-2009)

Long before Grey’s Anatomy took on the mantle of “medical-show-that-kills-off-everybody,” E.R. made the gutsy decision to give main character and hospital heart Dr. Mark Greene brain cancer. He spends the better part of his final season steadily deteriorating; allowing fans a painful bedside view of his final days. The worst part was that he left a note to all his colleagues, telling them what they meant to him.

On the streets, everyone is fair game—even kids. And especially if they’re a snitch. That’s what happened to Wallace when he got on the wrong side of Stringer Bell. Though he tries to quit the thug life, he gets bored and ends up back on the wrong side of Baltimore. That’s when the people he trusts most turn on him. It’s the last mistake he ever makes.

Even secondary characters’ demises pack a punch. Marshall gets his lovable goofball tendencies from his dad, and this father-son duo tells each other everything. So when Marshall gets good news from the fertility clinic, his dad is the first one he wants to call. However, throughout this episode, a subtle countdown has been making its way to zero: when it gets there, that’s when Marshall gets the bad news. But at the very least, he had some last words to remember him by.

It’s a show about a plane crash; people die. But do the deaths have to be so sad? Which is worse: Charlie, who sacrificed himself to save everyone by delivering an important message with his final ounce of strength; or Jin and Sun, who spent ages apart only to be reunited for what seems like five-minutes, then abruptly drowned, orphaning their baby? Let’s call it a tie—poor Hurley.

#4: Rita Morgan “Dexter” (2006-13)

After four seasons balancing work, life and serial killing, Dexter’s worlds collided in one bloody bathtub. Rita represented Dexter’s humanity, so her death was significant and devastating. Once he finally murdered his season four foe, the Trinity Killer, Dex was ready to join his fam on vacay. But this is what he comes home to. The cherry on the sundae? The crying baby, covered in his mother’s blood.

This is one show where you can’t get too attached to the main character. The Doctor regenerates every few seasons, bringing in a new actor for the lead role. But when the fan-favorite tenth Doctor meets his maker, it left fans a blubbering mess. After he selflessly sacrifices himself, he gets the chance to say goodbye to his companions. But it’s his final words that make it a tear-jerker.

Which infamous Episode 9 do we discuss first: the one where the loving father desperately searches for one last look at his daughter before he’s beheaded by the spoiled boy-king, or the one where an entire family is slaughtered, including a vengeful son, his loving wife, their unborn child AND the newly-widowed Lady Stark? There isn’t enough Kleenex in the world for this sobfest. Screw you, George R.R. Martin.

Before we unveil our number one pick, here are a few honorable mentions:

  • Joyce Summers: Buffy the Vampire Slayer
  • Michael Scofield: Prison Break
  • Hank: Breaking Bad
  • Teri Bauer: 24
  • Lt. Col. Henry Blake: M*A*S*H
  • Lane Price: Mad Men

When you’re cryogenically frozen and end up a millennium in the future, you’re going to leave some loved ones behind. Fry left his beloved pooch Seymour, whom he discovers as a fossil in the future. While Fry doesn’t know how his friend died, we do: after waiting patiently for his master to return, Seymour lay down and never woke up. Gives new meaning to the term man’s best friend.

Do you agree with our list? Which TV deaths left you reaching for the tissues? For more top 10s published every day, be sure to subscribe to

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