Most Memorable Character Sendoffs in TV History
Whenever a favorite character’s journey comes to an end, fans often struggle to wrap their heads around it. The characters and their storylines come into our homes and touch our hearts. Fans fall for them and become connected.
But whether fans are ready to say goodbye or are still shell-shocked by the characters’ departures, there have been some amazing character sendoffs in TV history — like the examples that follow. As you proceed, be aware that there are some spoilers in the content ahead.
Grey’s Anatomy — Christina Yang
There’s nothing like some diehard Grey’s Anatomy fans. So, when those fans learned of the inevitable departure of a fan favorite, everyone waited with bated breath to see how Shonda Rhimes would write the frontrunner’s best friend, Christina Yang, off the show.
Grey’s Anatomy — Lexie and Mark
Very few diehard Grey’s Anatomy fans can forget the plane crash episodes. They were surprising, shocking and heartbreaking. As the new season started and flashed back to each character, detailing what happened during the crash, we learned early on that Lexie wasn’t making it.
The Walking Dead — Glenn
As we savored the sixth season of The Walking Dead, we were left with a major cliffhanger. Negan had all our favorite characters, and one of them would be dying. There was so much building up to the seventh season’s premiere that fans were blindsided when not just one, but two fan favorites died.
The Vampire Diaries — Stefan
It’s no surprise that the end of The Vampire Diaries series culminated in a death; after all, the show focused on so many dramatic near-death adventures. But, most fans were shocked by Stefan’s death nonetheless.
The Originals — Klaus and Elijah
Fans first met Klaus and Elijah as evil original vampires in The Vampire Diaries. As fans grew to follow their storyline, and as they received their own spinoff, we got to peel back the layers of each of those once-hated characters.
The Originals — Hayley
Shortly before The Originals came to a close, fans had their hearts broken with the loss of Hayley. Her fierce strength and protection over her daughter and the family that she found were some of the many reasons fans fell in love with her.
Lost — Charlie
The goofy, struggling musician lost on an island was forced to go through a major detox. Who would’ve thought this would’ve become one of the fans’ most beloved characters? Charlie won our hearts as he became an integral part of the story.
Lost — All Characters
Fans of the show Lost spent the entirety of the series trying to figure out what happened. They learned early on that it wasn’t a simple plane accident that left the characters stranded.
Breaking Bad — Walter White
The riveting, suspenseful Breaking Bad turned a geeky science teacher and a messed-up kid into drug-dealing partners. It was a combo that no one, other than the show's creator, could have imagined. As tensions and the stakes continued to rise, the show came to a total breaking point (pun intended).
Parenthood — Zeek
The 2010 version of Parenthood featured a loving cast with normal, and at times crazy, family drama. Each character brought fans closer to the family as if they were true friends. And every episode welcomed fans into the Braverman home.
This Is Us — Jack
The tears are sitting just behind our eyes. Fans can still feel the pain of the smoldering Super Bowl fire. This unbelievably good family drama has given us twists and turns in its character development but has also been so very real while rawly presenting American family life. Fans found out early on that the beloved character, Jack, dies.
Orange Is the New Black — Poussey Washington
Following the dramatics of a women’s correctional facility was a new and exciting show for fans to get on board with. It opened up eyes and warmed hearts to populations of people who are often brushed aside. The storyline provided drama and humor to those living on the inside.
Once Upon a Time — Regina
Once Upon a Time managed to make a show for adults using childhood fairytales. It created a renewed spirit in our kidlike imaginations, making us believe that Prince Charming could be real. We learned that good always wins and evil, while hard to overcome, is always defeated.
How I Met Your Mother — Ted and Robin
This ending is up for debate. Fans of the show are very divided when it comes to how the characters signed off. As Ted revealed a little more each episode about how he met his children’s mother, it wasn’t until the last season that we finally put the pieces together.
Game of Thrones — Hodor
Hodor became the face of many, many memes but also a face that stole fans’ hearts. His protection of and dedication to crucial characters in the show made him integral to their success. We never knew how deep his connection and importance would become until his time came to an end.
Game of Thrones — Ned Stark
Another heartbreaking and shocking character departure that came very early on in the series, this death may even have been too early for fans’ liking. At the end of the first season, after Ned Stark won over our hearts, he was beheaded.
Stranger Things — Bob Newby
Tapping into our nostalgia for the 1980s, Stranger Things gave us all things creepy but also all things wonderful about life several decades ago. The eerie storyline kept us wanting more. So, it was no surprise that the second season revealed more about secret experiments and questions about the Upside Down.
Friends — All Characters
Monica and Chandler got their house in the suburbs and their twin babies. Joey got his food and his fame. Phoebe found real love and true happiness. Ross and Rachel remembered they were each other’s lobsters.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer — Buffy
Buffy met her end twice in this dramatic show. Fans thought she died for her friends, closing a portal allowing demons to come to Earth. But, her sister and friends refused to let her stay dead, bringing her back to life.
ER — Mark Greene
Before there was Grey’s Anatomy, there was ER. The medical drama that bordered on your average soap opera kept fans hooked for years. One of its main doctors stole our hearts early on: Mark Greene.
ER — Carol Hathaway
As we saw Carol fight for what she wanted, we fell for her strong will and spirit. She was certainly raw and flawed but strong and smart. She was the average person just trying to find happiness in a world full of craziness.
Homeland — Brody
This riveting, suspenseful show gave fans some dramatic insight into the inner workings of Homeland Security. Fans were unsure how they felt about Brody’s character. His storyline, drawing from a similar real-life one, seemed too crazy not to believe. Carrie always had her doubts until she fell head over heels for him.
Sons of Anarchy — Jax
This new view of the typical biker gang gave fans an insider peek at what life was like for the members of Sons of Anarchy. Jax, the gang leader and protagonist of the show, stole hearts and became a hot love interest for many fans.
The Good Wife — Will Gardner
The Good Wife showed how a strong, determined woman proved she could juggle life’s worst and still manage to keep it all together. Through all her pain and determination, fans wanted to see Alicia find happiness.
Sex and the City — Carrie
The show that brought women back to girls’ nights, bars, brunches and enjoying martinis kept fans wondering what would eventually happen to Carrie Bradshaw. Would she find true love? Would she stay in the city? Who would win her over? Through it all, the girlfriends' bond was strong.
The Office — Michael Scott
The hilarious U.S. version of the British show connected fans all over the world. The satire and realness of the typical and ridiculous life of the American employee built a huge crowd following. It brought laughter, tears and smiles to fans of all backgrounds.
The Golden Girls — All Characters
These lovely, funny ladies were the original girl gang. The soft and kind-hearted group of single women trying to find their way together won over hearts and minds through this beloved show. No matter their ages, fans wanted to be them.
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air — Will
There might not be another show that developed its protagonist as well as The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. The show took a simple inner-city kid in a raw situation and dropped him into one of the richest places in the U.S. Fans not only loved Will’s quick wit, amazing humor and good looks but they also fell for the softer, unexpected moments that caught everyone by surprise.
Pretty Little Liars — All Characters
This was a story in which you never knew who the bad guy was because every character was a bad guy. It was also the show in which the dead never actually stayed dead. People were hidden and deaths were faked. You knew to always expect the unexpected.
Charmed — The Hallowell Sisters
Charmed managed to save itself even after killing off one of the sisters. The storyline continued with the discovery of another sister in her place. It branched off into more demons and adventures but always stayed true to the original characters. The sisters brought strength and female empowerment to their battle against evil, fighting adversity using powers they never asked for.