If there’s one thing we can count on in America, it’s that people will band together in order to save a cartoon dog from vanishing from the boob tube forever. Seth MacFarlane’s Family Guy did the unthinkable during its November 24 episode. The Griffin family’s snarky dog, Brian, was hit by a car, killed, and unceremoniously replaced by a new pup named Vinnie. Since the tragic episode aired, over 115,000 people (and counting) have signed a petition to bring the beloved character back. This year was a particularly distressing year for television audiences as many of their favorite characters bade us adieu forever — including several long-running series favorites. Tip your hats for these notable TV characters who are no longer with us. (And hey, consider this a mass spoiler alert.)
Game of Thrones
It might be easier to talk about who didn’t die in the third season of HBO’s Game of Thrones. Those familiar with George R.R. Martin’s book, A Storm of Swords, were waiting with bated breath for the shocking and tragic “Red Wedding” scene — especially to watch the newbies squeal in disbelief. A feast celebrating the union of Edmure Tully and Roslin Frey became a blood bath as Lord Frey ordered the slaughter of Catelyn Stark, Robb Stark, and a very pregnant Talisa Maegyr. What else did you expect from a series unafraid to kill off its hero, Ned Stark, in the first season?
Fan theories about the ending of Breaking Bad abounded, from the ridiculous (Walter was a dream figure of Bryan Cranston’s character Hal from Malcolm in the Middle) to the nail-biting (a shoot-out worthy of the westerns the series harkened back to). Bottom line: audiences knew it wasn’t going to end well. The madness started with DEA agents Hank Schrader (Dean Norris, who played Walter’s brother-in-law. He finds out the truth about Heisenberg) and Gomie (Steven Michael Quezada) falling prey to some of the show’s baddies. It was a move that showed creator Vince Gilligan meant business. From there, everyone got their due. Walt took Lydia out with the ricin that had been a looming question mark over the series since it’s first appearance. Jesse got revenge for the torture he suffered by strangling Todd to death, and Walt dodged the feds by going out his own way — which still satisfied the Walt haters since he was, well, dead.
The Walking Dead
For those of you who had the patience to stick with AMC’s frequently maddening zombie drama, The Walking Dead, the death of two major characters aroused mixed feelings. Michael Rooker’s Merle Dixon was a nutcase (and a ghost, based on the amount of time he wasn’t on the show), but he was the series’ human villain who livened things up. The fan Merle worship was pretty intense, so his death was a bummer for many. Andrea (Laurie Holden), on the other hand, often felt like a character who was written simply to make dumb decisions. She had terrible taste in men (all turned out to be lunatics), she was selfish, grating, and her suicide emphasized one of her greatest stumbling blocks: her pride.
People are bound to die when a show about a serial killer comes to a close. The strained relationships on Dexter were constantly put to the test — especially the bond between brother (and secret murderer) Dexter Morgan (played by Michael C. Hall) and his tough-talking detective sister, Deb (Jennifer Carpenter). When a fellow serial psychopath puts Deb in a coma, Dexter does the most humane thing he can think of: he disconnects her life support, throws her into the ocean, and leaves town… to become a lumberjack.
What’s the world coming to when three of Boardwalk Empire’s beloved characters — butler Eddie Kessler (Anthony Laciura), disfigured marksman Richard Harrow (Jack Huston), and badass henchman Dunn Purnsley (Erik LaRay Harvey) — are wiped out? When the series started in 2010, audiences quickly learned that they should never get too attached to a character. Even if you do make it out alive on Boardwalk Empire, survival in Atlantic City’s criminal underworld comes with a price.
True Blood fans waved a tearful goodbye to everyone’s favorite PTSD-riddled war vet/short order cook, Terry Bellefleur (Todd Lowe). It was an incredibly sad moment as audiences watched Carrie Preston’s Arlene sing to her dying husband in her arms. Terry was a character from the old guard, the Alan Ball days of the vampire drama, and provided some necessary comic relief — something that has seemingly diminished since the early seasons. Will he return as a ghost resurrected by Lafayette?
“Audiences across the world have been captivated by the ups and downs of Mary and Matthew’s relationship, culminating in their wedding,” Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes recently said of the British period drama’s tragic season three finale. “Fans have enjoyed what has become a solid and loving marriage. It is for this reason that the producers decided Matthew and Mary could not simply be estranged or parted, resulting in his untimely and tragic death at the end of the [Season 3] finale.” Gee, thanks.
The Revenge finale proved that sometimes a shocking confession can overshadow a character’s death. Fans got whiplash after watching Declan, who was seriously injured in a bombing at Grayson Global, die on the operating table and Emily telling Jack, who was poised to kill Conrad, that she’s the real Amanda Clarke. “Deep down inside, you’ve always known the truth,” she tells him — but that didn’t make it any less WTF for everyone.
You’re amongst friends, here. It’s ok to admit you cried like a baby when Loretta Devine’s Adele, the wife of Seattle Grace doctor Richard Webber, died from a post-op heart attack. It was bad enough that the fan favorite character had to go through some heart-wrenching stuff related to her progressive Alzheimer’s, but then to die right after a life-saving surgery? Crushing.
Sons of Anarchy
Filthy Phil, Clay, and Big Otto are all riding the great highway in the sky. We’ll have to wait until December 3 to find out what happens when the dust settles on Sons of Anarchy — and until December 10 for the actual finale. Kurt Sutter has been teasing that this season will be the bloodiest and craziest — so is there more death in store after these late-episode twists?