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Top 10 TV Deaths That Pissed You Off

VO: Phoebe de Jeu WRITTEN BY: Nathan Sharp
Well, that was just stupid. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 TV Deaths That Pissed You Off. For this list, we’ll be looking at small screen deaths that caused controversy and backlash within its own fan circles. We’ll be ranking our picks based on the level of media attention the death received and the sheer level of hatred it garnered from the fan base. And if it wasn’t obvious, there will be spoilers ahead.
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Well, that was just stupid. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 TV Deaths That Pissed You Off.


For this list, we’ll be looking at small screen deaths that caused controversy and backlash within its own fan circles. We’ll be ranking our picks based on the level of media attention the death received and the sheer level of hatred it garnered from the fan base. And if it wasn’t obvious, there will be spoilers ahead.


#10: Lexa “The 100” (2014-)





Lexa was a character unique to the show who showed romantic feelings towards Clarke Griffin. The character of Lexa was praised for being strong, complex, and relatable for the LGBT community. And then they killed her off. Many people saw the death not only as unnecessary, but also cruel, questioning if she was killed simply for being a lesbian. It popularized the “bury your gays” trope, which follows the idea that fictional homosexual couples cannot be happy, while others issued death threats and fought suicidal thoughts. Various producers then signed the Lexa Pledge, an in-itself controversial declaration stating that they would treat future gay characters with more respect and consideration.


#9: Shireen Baratheon “Game of Thrones” (2011-)





Season 5 certainly saw its fair share of death-related controversy. Many people were left upset with the way Jon’s “death” and resurrection predictably played out (did anyone seriously believe he was dead?), while many more condemned the demise of Shireen Baratheon. They took issue with Shireen’s death for numerous reasons. Some thought it was a ridiculous and unnecessary departure from the novels. Others thought it was incredibly out-of-character for Stannis. Yet, even more thought that the scene went too far and that burning a child alive crossed a line, even for a show as violent and bleak as this. Whatever the reason, fans were none too pleased with Shireen’s fiery exit.


#8: Henry Blake “M*A*S*H” (1972-83)


By this point, Henry Blake’s death is TV history. You know how it goes –Radar walks into the O.R. in a fluster and tells everyone that Blake’s plane was shot down over the Sea of Japan. The impact was immediate. And mixed. Some people praised the risk-taking of the producers, others called the scene too depressing for a network comedy, and others called the death itself cheap and emotionally manipulative. And it wasn’t just fans - CBS reportedly hated the decision and cut the scene from a future rerun. Even Blake’s actor, McLean Stevenson, hated the way his departure was handled and filmed, as it soured everyone’s moods and ruined the season-ending cast party.


#7: Jax Teller “Sons of Anarchy” (2008-14)


We don’t mind if a show decides to kill off its main character, as long as it’s done in a relevant and respectable way. But Jax’s death was just nonsense. So many viewers took issue with his death that it seems like no one was happy with the outcome. Some thought Jax deserved a happier departure, while others thought that suicide was too easy a way out for such a despicable person. Even more people hated the obvious and overdone Christ metaphor. But perhaps the biggest detractor was the horrible visual effect – people felt it completely ruined any modicum of respect that the scene could have mustered.




#6: Rita Morgan “Dexter” (2006-13)





Rita’s death seriously pissed, and continues to piss, a lot of people off. Some fans were angry in a good way, as the scene was a shocking send-off for a main character. But others people were angry in an “f this show” kind of way. Some thought it was a cheap move meant solely for shock and media attention. It’s also regarded as the point where the once-brilliant show drastically dipped in quality, and while that is not the fault of the scene itself, it is often made into a scapegoat for the fans’ frustrations. And then they killed off Deb. Son of a...






#5: Tara Maclay “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” (1997-2003)




Tara Maclay shares a lot in common with Lexa from “The 100.” Both were involved in culturally impactful lesbian relationships, and their deaths generated great ire from the respective fan bases. Joss Whedon had planned to kill Tara to further develop Willow and thought that her death would generate the greatest emotional response. He wasn’t wrong. Just, not in a good way. Her death was singled out for adhering to the “bury your gays” trope, and many fans and critics accused the production team of homophobia. Plans were made to bring Tara back as a vision to Willow, but actress Amber Benson turned down the opportunity because she was afraid of how fans would react.





#4: Matthew Crawley “Downton Abbey” (2010-15)



There is a lot that goes on behind the scenes that writers need to consider; sometimes the story is just out of their hands. Such was the case for “Downton Abbey.” Dan Stevens’ Matthew Crawley had long been a fan favorite, but come 2012, Stevens wanted out to pursue other opportunities. This resulted in Matthew being unceremoniously killed in a car accident. His blunt and cliché death (a car crash? Really?) sent the fans into a tizzy, and Stevens told The Guardian that he’s needed to apologize to a lot of people since leaving the show. Some people even stopped watching the series altogether, a testament to just how beloved Matthew Crawley really was.






#3: Dan Conner “Roseanne” (1988-97; 2018)


Roseanne Barr’s racism isn’t the only controversy to have fallen on “Roseanne.” Back in 1997, the original iteration of the show ended with a much-maligned finale that revealed that the entire final season was a fictional concoction written by Roseanne and that Dan had actually died of the heart attack he suffered at Darlene’s wedding. It has since gone down in history as one of the worst series finales, mostly due to the unearned bait-and-switch and the horrible send-off for Dan. Luckily, the revival undid that mess and brought Dan back, complete with some cheeky references to the series finale and his controversial death.






#2: Brian Griffin “Family Guy” (1999-2003; 2005-)


This episode proved that “Family Guy” is still relevant, despite what its haters might think. In the twelfth season episode Life of Brian, Brian is run over by a car and suffers horrific injuries, leading to his death and tearful goodbye to the family. The impact was immediate. #BringBackBrian quickly trended on social media, and a Change.org petition calling for Brian’s revival amassed 100,000 signatures in 72 hours. What made the death even worse is that the producers pretended like it was permanent, calling it “a fun way to shake things up.” Naturally, Brian was brought back just a few episodes later, and Seth MacFarlane admitted that they never expected such outrage.



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



Adriana La Cerva

“The Sopranos” (1999-2007)






Derek Shepherd

“Grey’s Anatomy” (2005-)






John Locke

“Lost” (2004-10)


#1: Glenn Rhee “The Walking Dead” (2010-)


First it was that ridiculous dumpster fake-out that caused many people to turn on the show. Then it was the horrible and manipulative first-person camera position in “Last Day on Earth” that caused various people involved with the show to defend the scene on social media and pretend that it wasn’t just a transparent ratings ploy. And then, the seventh season premiere was a boring, drawn-out affair that ended in a death we all knew was coming anyway. The whole debacle ultimately had viewers thinking that “The Walking Dead was now concerned with silly gimmicks and ploys rather than dramatic storytelling.

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