All the TV Deaths That Shook Us to Our Core

The emotional death of Rebecca on the second-to-last episode of This Is Us still has us in our feelings. To help you cope, check out other recent TV deaths that we didn't see coming.

By Daniel Trainor May 18, 2022 8:41 PMTags
Watch: This Is Us Stars Share CHEEKY Responses to Each Other

Misery loves company—even when it comes to our favorite TV shows.

We're still trying to pick ourselves up off the floor following the death of Rebecca (Mandy Moore) on the penultimate May 17 episode of This Is Us

After a long battle with Alzheimer's, Rebecca passed away and was finally reunited with first husband Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) in some version of the afterlife. The episode featured emotional goodbyes from Randall (Sterling K. Brown), Kevin (Justin Hartley), Kate (Chrissy Metz) and Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson), plus appearances from beloved cast members like Dr. K (Gerald McRaney) and William (Ron Cephas Jones). 

Rebecca was also visited by second husband Miguel (Jon Huertas), who himself had an incredibly emotional death earlier in the sixth season of This Is Us. This show made us buy stock in Kleenex.

In happier news, Mandy recently teased that the series finale of the show won't be quite as sad—which seems impossible, but still...we'll take it.

All of Mandy Moore's This Is Us Ages

"People waiting for things to be tied up perfectly in a bow with every single character and every single story need to abandon that idea," she told Entertainment Weekly, "because that's not the reality of life anyway."

This Is Us creator Dan Fogelman told EW that the finale would "feel like a warm hug for people."

That's exactly what we need right now.

Ron Batzdorff/NBC

Watch the series finale of This Is Us—if you dare—May 24 at 9 p.m. on NBC.

For more of the most shocking deaths in recent TV history, keep reading:

Judy Hale, Dead to Me

Even though Judy (Linda Cardellini) received her cancer diagnosis early on in season three of Dead to Me, we still held out hope that some miracle cure would keep the optimistic painter alive. Yet, as Judy's BFF Jen (Christina Applegate) prepared to bring a new life into the world, daughter Joey, she was forced to say goodbye to the other important lady in her life.

Rather than have Jen watch as she suffered from cancer, Judy took off in a boat, leaving Jen behind in Mexico. While we didn't see Judy's death on screen, Jen's vision of her bestie implied that Judy succumbed to her sickness.

Eddie Munson, Stranger Things

The minute Eddie Munson (Joseph Quinn) declared that he wasn't the hero type, we had an inkling that he'd do something noble and perish in season four of Stranger Things. And episode nine, titled "The Piggyback," proved our hunch to be right.

Eddie, who had led the deadly Demobats away from Creel House thanks to some amazing guitar skills, fought off the Upside Down's flying creatures—only to die in the process. This gesture made up for Eddie's actions in volume one, where he ran away while classmate Chrissy (Grace Van Dien) died at the hands of Vecna.

Though this ending could've been predicted, we still felt devastated when a dying Eddie told his mentee Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo) that he loved him. Cue the tears!

Max Mayfield, Stranger Things

After narrowly escaping her first face-off with season four villain Vecna (Jamie Campbell Bower), Max Mayfield (Sadie Sink) offered herself up as bait, in the hope that her friends could kill the humanoid killer. Unfortunately, not even an assist from Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) could stop Vecna from doing his worst to Max.

For exactly one minute, Max, who had gone blind and had several broken bones, died. While Eleven couldn't stop the initial torture, she did swoop in and get Max's heart beating again. But, alas, only enough to put her in a coma.

Will Max survive into season five? Only time will tell.

Dr. Martin Brenner, Stranger Things

Dr. Martin Brenner (Matthew Modine) could only evade death for so long. The controversial scientist, who Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) referred to as Papa, remerged in season four after being presumed dead in season one.

Working against the government to reinstate Eleven's powers, Dr. Brenner had a target on his back—literally. He was shot down by a sniper in a helicopter. Still, it was a bummer to get the character back only to lose him again.

Rebecca Pearson, This Is Us

After a lengthy battle with Alzheimer's, Rebecca Pearson (Mandy Moore) passed away with her three children by her bedside on the May 17 episode of This Is Us

The episode featured Rebecca on a train, being greeted by deceased friends and family members from throughout her life, before eventually being reunited with first husband Jack (Milo Ventimiglia). 

We have not stopped crying.

Colin Zabel, Mare of Easttown

Ummm, WTF just happened?!

That was the reaction when Detective Colin Zabel (Evan Peters) was brutally shot and killed by Mr. Potts in the HBO limited series' fifth episode when he and partner Mare (Kate Winslet) were following up on a lead in their investigation into multiple missing women. After Colin was shot, Mare was able to take down Potts, who was also trying to kill her, and save the two girls he had kidnapped and locked away in his attic. 

Just hours before his death, Colin ominously told his concerned mother, "My whole life's been about being careful...look how far that's gotten me," and then he unexpectedly kissed Mare after they shared their respective secrets. Oh, what could've been for two of Pennsylvania's most f--ked up investigators.

Michael, Jane the Virgin

Surprise! Jane the Virgin killed Michael (Brett Dier) in season three. Just when you thought he was out of the woods from a shooting, twist! And then the show jumped three years into the future, avoiding Jane's (Gina Rodriguez) grieving period.

Michael ended up to not actually be dead (he was given amnesia and sent to a ranch), but it took so long for that reveal that we're leaving him in here. That season and a half when we thought he was dead was enough to make it count! 

Walter White, Breaking Bad

Going into the series finale, there was a 50/50 chance he would have died, but how he went, and the entire series finale was spectacular. Our favorite anti-hero (sorry, Dexter Morgan), managed to take out Jack's neo-nazi gang, save Jesse (Aaron Paul) and get the money to his family. You did good, Walt (Bryan Cranston). Unfortunately, the machine gun contraption that killed the White Supremacist group also managed to hit him with a bullet, leading to his slow death. But Walt got to pay a visit to his lab equipment one last time, and he looked almost peaceful as he died.

Rayna Jaymes, Nashville

Rayna Jaymes took her final bow on Nashville and died following injuries sustained in a car accident. CMT revived the ABC series after cancellation and rumors swirled Connie Britton wasn't going to be with the show for long, but she downplayed those rumblings...until her character died. Britton said it was her decision to leave.

Joyce Summers, Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) could save the world from demons, vampires and everything in between, but she couldn't save her mom from the least-supernatural death ever: a brain aneurysm. Joyce Summers died out of the blue, leading to one of the best episodes of television of all time. The fact that Joss Whedon played this scene without the usual music in the background made it all the more devastating.

Vivien Harmon, American Horror Story: Murder House

Remember when no one knew that AHS would be an anthology series and we couldn't figure out what the bloody hell Ryan Murphy was doing killing off his leading lady in season one? Good times. When it was revealed that Vivien (Connie Britton) basically had a demon baby inside her, you knew the birth wasn't going to end well. After delivering the twins (one stillborn and one demon baby), Vivien was bleeding out too much to survive. What, the 1920's ghost doctor couldn't save her?!

Denny, Grey's Anatomy

All. The. Tears. One of the saddest death scenes on Grey's Anatomy, no? And TV of all time. A patient of Izzy's (Katherine Heigl), Denny (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) waited a long time to get his heart transplant, and you thought his happily ever after was on its way! But the cruel Shonda Rhimes had other plans: Denny died after a clot from his stiches went to his brain. Izzy, all dressed up in her prom attire, found her fiancé lying dead in his hospital bed. She promptly crawled in with him to cuddle one last time. Ugh, our hearts are broken all over again and now we need a transplant.

Caitlin Todd, NCIS

NCIS played us like a fool in the season-two finale! Agent Todd (Sasha Alexander) and the gang had a big shootout with terrorists, and she dove in front of Gibbs (Mark Harmon) to take a bullet. We feared the worst, but Todd was fine because she was wearing a vest. Just when we all exhaled and relaxed while Gibbs thanked her, bang! Ari (Rudolf Martin) the sniper shot her right between the eyes.

Ned Stark, Game of Thrones

The first time we knew this epic HBO series was not messing around. Game of Thrones arrived on our small screens with a shocking death in the first season: the main character! Readers of the books knew this was coming, but it was still shocking to see our great king get beheaded, especially since the order came from the worst person ever: Joffrey.

Adrianna La Cerva, The Sopranos

Is there any way out of the mob besides death? After discovering that Adriana (Drea de Matteo) had been working as an informant for the FBI, Tony (James Gandolfini) ordered her execution. Silvio (Steven Van Zandt) took her for a drive (we all know what that means), making Adriana think he was taking her to see Christopher (Michael Imperioli). Instead, he shot her twice and killed her. At least the camera panned up so we didn't have to see her take the bullets. Still, since we don't really know what happened to Tony (cut to black!), this goes down as the most shocking Sopranos death of all time in our book.

Detective Carter, Person of Interest

File under: Did not see this coming! Carter (Taraji P. Henson) just got her detective title back, but then Simmons (Robert John Burke) had to ruin everything! He pops up out of an alley and shoots both Carter and Reese (Jim Caviezel). Unfortunately, it's Carter who succumbs to her wounds, and she dies in Reese's arms.

Clay, Sons of Anarchy

Remember that time they killed off the show's second male lead?! Holy crazy bananas twists! After Jax (Charlie Hunnam) and the gang breaks Clay (Ron Perlman) out of his prison transport, SAMCRO kills the Irishmen and pins it all on Clay. How? Jax shoots him in the neck (and in the chest after he falls to the ground), and makes it look like Clay was involved in a gun fight with the Irish. R.I.P., Mr. President.

Lexie Grey, Grey's Anatomy

Damnit, Shonda! Stop doing this to us. After the plane carrying Lexie (Chyler Leigh) and six other doctors goes down, she gets crushed under debris and there is nothing that can be done to save her. Sloan (Eric Dane) finds her and holds her hand while she dies, telling her he will always love her. She passes away just as her sister Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) appears on the scene. Back in Seattle, Sloan also dies from the wounds sustained in the crash, and Seattle Grace is renamed Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital.

Lost Deaths

Where do we begin with this show? John Locke (Terry O'Quinn) was strangled by Ben (Michael Emerson), Sayid (Naveen Andrews) sacrificed himself on Widmore's submarine, and don't even get us started on Jin (Daniel Dae Kim) and Sun (Yunjin Kim) drowning together. The fact that Jin refused to leave his love after she got trapped in the flooded compartment...still gets us even today.

Lucy Knight, ER

How can we ever forget that shot of Carter falling to the floor, only to see someone already lying there, dying? Lucy (Kellie Martin) is stabbed by the schizophrenic patient Paul (David Krumholtz), who was in a delusional state. What makes this death much, much worse is Carter (Noah Wyle) getting stabbed as well after discovering a Valentine's Day card from Lucy to him. As he falls to the floor bleeding, he sees Lucy also on the ground, slowly dying from her wounds. Despite the heroic efforts by the docs at Chicago General, Lucy eventually dies. 

Teri Bauer, 24

Jack's (Kiefer Sutherlandwife Teri (Leslie Hope) dying in the season-one finale made us reallly sit up and say, 'Oh, snap! 24 is not fooling around." It was heartbreaking to watch Jack finally get to his wife, only to find her slumped over in a chair, dead from a gunshot wound to the stomach. The image of Jack holding Teri's lifeless body and telling her he's sorry will haunt us forever.


Tara Knowles, Sons of Anarchy

We knew it would never be a happy ending for Tara (Maggie Siff) and Jax (Charlie Hunnam), but holy hell, did it have to end so horrifically? After giving us an inkling of false hope that everything might turn out OK, Tara's mother-in-law Gemma (Katey Sagal), the grandmother of Tara's child, went full-on crazytown on Tara, brutally killing her. Cut to: Tara dying in the arms of a sobbing Jax. All. The. Tears. We don't know whether to high five showrunner Kurt Sutter or shake an angry fist in rage—but we guess that's why we have two hands.

Lori Grimes, The Walking Dead

Uggggghhhhh...This was hard to watch. After delivering her baby, Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies) is bleeding out from her emergency C-section. Carl (Chandler Riggs), knowing her mother will reanimate after death, decides to prevent that from happening by shooting her in the head. 

Allison, Teen Wolf

In its six-season run, the MTV hit series has killed off some minor characters (only to resurrect them later), which is why we were so completely shocked when it went and killed off its lead female character in the penultimate episode of season three. Our girl died in Scott's arms after being stabbed by an Oni spirit during a massive fight. "I'm in the arms of my first love. The first person I've ever loved. The person I've always loved. I love you...Scott McCall," she said, as we dissolved into a puddle of tears.

Brody, Homeland

OK, so we knew this day would eventually have to come, as the executive producers always said their original plan was to off the conflicted war vet-turned prisoner of war-turned terrorist-turned-maybe a good guy. But then you take into account that Damien Lewis is Damien Lewis. He won a Golden Globe and an Emmy for his performance and he's the male freakin' lead, so yes, we were completely thrown off-guard when Brody was hanged in public in the season three finale as as devastated (and pregnant!) Carrie (Claire Danes) watched. 

The Red Wedding, Game of Thrones

Remember that time that show killed off an entire family of lead characters? The ones you thought would surely make it to the very end? Fans of the Game of Thrones book series knew this was coming, but even they got a surprise when Robb's (Richard Madden) wife Talisa (Oona Chaplin) got stabbed in the stomach at the feast (she wasn't supposed to be there!), killing both her and their unborn baby. Rob tried to avenge her, but took too many arrows to the chest, and Roose (Michael McElhatto) finished him off with a sword. Catelyn (Michelle Fairley), overcome with grief, slits Walder Frey's (David Bradley) wife's throat moments before Black Walder Frey (Tim Plester) cuts her throat. Thanks for killing everyone we love, GoT writers!

Rita Morgan, Dexter

We are still in therapy over this one, which goes down as the most horrific thing that has ever happened on a TV show, in our book. Even though Dexter (Michael C. Hall) has killed Trinity (John Lithgow), there is one last murder he had yet to discover: his wife. Dexter walks in on Rita (Julie Benz) in a bathtub full of blood and their son Harrison crying on the ground, coverd in his mother's blood. Rita's head and lifeless eyes are turned toward the baby she cannot help. The memory of that awful scene is stuck in our brains forever. And let's be real. It wasn't just the death of Rita, but the death of a show we couldn't ever feel the same about afterward. RIP, Rita Morgan and Showtime's Dexter.

Jon Snow, Game of Thrones

Noooooooo! The season five finale of the HBO hit series' delivered one of its most devastating deaths: Jon Snow (Kit Harington). Yep, they actually freakin' did it, with Jon being stabbed to death by his fellow Night's Watch brothers who didn't approve of Jon's mercy towards the Wildlings. And having young Olly, Jon's protégé, deliver the final stab? Too. Freakin'. Much.

Thankfully, our heartbreak didn't last for long, as Jon was brought back to life the next season. But, at the time, we knew nothing. So, it still hurt.

Derek Shepherd, Grey's Anatomy

When Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) discovered that her hubby hadn't made it to his last DC meeting, right after they had reconciled and he was moving back home, we couldn't have dreamed that Derek (Patrick Dempsey) would actually be dead. He had already survived death so many times that he almost seemed invincible. Then, he spent half an episode saving the lives of some car crash victims, only to be t-boned by an 18-wheeler right after he got back into his own car. He could have lived, if the ambulance hadn't taken him to some dinky hospital with incompetent doctors who didn't think he was stable enough for a brain scan. A hallucination made us think for a second that he survived, but then the truth was revealed: he was brain dead. Meredith then had to pull the plug, both on Derek and on our hearts, while "Chasing Cars" played in the background. The death may have been spoiled a couple hours before the episode aired, but it was still a total shock a serious bummer to basically the entire world. We may never get over it. 

Will Gardner, The Good Wife

Talk about a death no one saw coming. The CBS hit, well into its critically acclaimed fifth season, pulled a fast one on fans, killing off the show's male lead Will Gardner, played by Golden Globe nominated fan favorite Josh Charles. The worst part? He was gunned down in court while representing one of his deranged clients (guest star, and a former favorite of ours, Hunter Parrish). 

"Every moment has been a pleasure. We'll more than miss you. With all our gratitude, Michelle & Robert." The Good Wife co-creators Robert King and Michelle King tweeted at Charles after the shocker went down. All the tears...and Will and Alicia feels!

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