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Top 10 Most Unexpected Deaths in Animated Shows

Top 10 Most Unexpected Deaths in Animated Shows
VOICE OVER: Callum Janes
Some animated characters live forever, but these ones had unexpected deaths. Our countdown includes "Rick and Morty," "South Park," "Avatar: The Last Airbender," and more!

#10: Birdperson
“Rick and Morty” (2013-)

It feels like we’d only scratched the surface with Rick’s old friend before he was turned into KFC. Bird Person’s dry voice provided plenty of humor, and his history with Rick served to humanize the scientist. So it made us happy to know that he was getting married and causing a positive change in Rick! However, he was then unceremoniously gunned down by the woman he loved, shocking everyone. It was like losing a member of the extended Smith family. Even though he did eventually return as the evil Phoenixperson, his death scarred both Rick and viewers!

#9: Bunny
“The Powerpuff Girls” (1998-2005)

It’s not every day you get a new family member, just for them to die minutes later. When the Powerpuff girls need a helping hand keeping Townsville safe, they decide to add another member to their ranks. After trying to replicate the professor’s recipe, they create Bunny. She has trouble fitting in with the rest of them, but has a little redemption when she saves her sisters! Now, the Powerpuff trio was always known for being just that, a trio. Since that wasn’t going to change, it would’ve made sense if Bunny just went elsewhere in the world! But instead, the unbalanced formula within Bunny caused her to explode before the heroes’ very eyes, leaving everyone, including us, crying.

#8: Chef
“South Park” (1997-)

He’s not gonna “make love” any time soon. Chef had been an important part of the show, providing wisdom and a helping hand to Stan, Kyle, Cartman, and Kenny. In “The Return of Chef”, the cafeteria worker comes back from his journeys with the “Super Adventure Club”, but is creepily different. After the kids try to free him from the club’s brainwashing, he falls to his death from a burning bridge where he’s impaled, mauled, and torn apart. Turns out the character was killed off because voice actor Isaac Hayes had objected to the show’s satire of Scientology, and asked to be released from his contract. Talk about a send off!

#7: Kid Flash
“Young Justice” (2010-)

This speedster had already retired the outfit, they didn’t have to retire him too! After settling down with Artemis for a nice civilian life, Wally West sets out one last time to help The Flash and Impulse stop an energy vortex from destroying Earth. But since he’d been out of the game, he lacked the speed to catch up with his fellow heroes, taking the brunt of some fierce blasts. This causes him to fade from existence, much to the horror of his friends. For such a main character to suddenly be killed off shocked everyone. They may have won, but we all lost something important along the way.

#6: Dan Turpin
“Superman: The Animated Series” (1996-2000)

While not the nicest person in the world, we certainly didn’t want him gone. Terrible Turpin is a Special Crimes Unit officer who didn’t like Superman at first, telling Metropolis that they needed to fend for themselves! But overcoming their differences, the two work together to try to stop Darkseid's invasion. While they prove successful, the Lord of Apokolips vaporizes Dan out of spite just before he retreats, devastating everyone. Dan Turpin was created by comic legend Jack Kirby, and his design in the animated series was inspired by him – which makes it all the sadder when he’s taken from us so suddenly.

#5: Boris
“Captain Planet and the Planeteers” (1990-96)

Despite being an environmentalist kids show, “Captain Planet and the Planeteers” tackles some surprisingly dark topics. The episode “Mind Pollution” warns against substance abuse, as Boris and Linka battle with addiction thanks to Skumm’s designer drug Bliss. The story comes to a climax when the kids take refuge from angry addicts on top of the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington DC, unable to summon Captain Planet as Linka’s mind is polluted. When Skumm supplies them with more Bliss, Boris swallows them down and collapses from an overdose. With the death of her cousin, Linka finally helps the team summon Captain Planet, who is uncharacteristically angry after what’s transpired. For a usually lighthearted show, this death brought a whole new reality to viewers' worlds.

#4: Jet
“Avatar: The Last Airbender” (2005-08)

The Avatar franchise has never shied away from dark topics. In “The Legend of Korra”, we saw the deaths of the Earth Queen, as well as of Noatak and Tarrlok, who blew themselves up! But none of them were as unexpected as the major death that preceded them, that of Jet, leader of the Freedom Fighters. In Ba Sing Se, he was brainwashed by Long Feng. Once brought to his senses, he teamed up with Aang, but was fatally wounded, to the point that even Katara couldn’t heal him. His former followers stayed with him to mourn as the team pushed on – a sad end to an ultimately tragic character.

#3: Brian Griffin
“Family Guy” (1999-)

Losing a pet is always traumatic, even when it’s animated! During the “Life of Brian” episode, Stewie destroys his time machine in an attempt to prevent any future near-death experiences. But then, Brian is gruesomely run over by a car – a death that is NOT played for laughs; it’s genuinely treated as a tragedy. Many speculated that replacing him with Vinny was simply a way to shake up the formula and bring viewers back to the series. Once he returned a few episodes later thanks to some time travel, it’s safe to say that some fans thought it was all for nothing.

#2: Pops
“Regular Show” (2010-17)

For a sitcom about groundskeepers at a local park, “Regular Show” provides a lot more than you might expect - and much of that value is thanks to the characters. One of those characters is Pops, the nicest and most timid one of the group, who we later learned hails from another planet, and has engaged in battle with his brother, Anti-Pops, every 14 billion years. After a regular epic final battle, Pops hugs his brother, holding him tight as they both head towards a star. Pops was such a kind-hearted character, so seeing him sacrifice himself is enough to bring tears. His parting will be remembered by the characters and the fans of the show.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

Big Henry, “Gravity Falls” (2012-16)
During an Innocent Golf Game, a Huge Lilliputtian Takes His Last Breath

99, “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” (2008-20)
The Clone Who Couldn’t Fight Dies Helping His Brothers

Abe the Crossing Guard, “Bobby’s World” (1990-1998)
Young Bobby Learns to Always Try His Best, Even if He Suddenly Loses a Friend

Prowl, “Transformers: Animated” (2007-09)
The Lone Wolf Prowl Sacrifices Himself to Save the City & His Teammates

Guardians of the Globe, “Invincible” (2021-)
Omni-Man Annihilates His Fellow Superheroes

#1: Maude Flanders
“The Simpsons” (1989-)

Despite being a god-fearing, good-natured man, Ned always seems to get the worst of it, and he even started to question his faith after the loss of his wife. During an auto-race, Maude is accidentally thrown off the viewer’s stand, falling to her death. This came out of nowhere for fans of the sitcom. The reason for her death was because of a pay dispute between Fox and actress Maggie Roswell, who later came back to voice Maude in flashbacks. As she had been a mainstay of the cast for 11 seasons, her sudden death was completely unexpected and her absence is felt throughout future episodes.