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Top 10 Stupidest Ways TV Shows Killed Off Characters

VO: Phoebe de Jeu WRITTEN BY: Nicholas Miller
They couldn’t think of anything better than that? Welcome to WatchMojo, and today, we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Stupidest Ways TV Shows Killed Off Characters. For this list, we’ll be looking at the most frustrating, cheap or downright dumb ways that shows decided to get rid of their characters.

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They couldn’t think of anything better than that? Welcome to WatchMojo, and today, we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Stupidest Ways TV Shows Killed Off Characters.

For this list, we’ll be looking at the most frustrating, cheap or downright dumb ways that shows decided to get rid of their characters.

#10: Andrea Harrison “The Walking Dead” (2010-)

When you’re trying to survive in the apocalypse, you have to constantly be aware of how you’re spending your time. Case in point: Andrea from “The Walking Dead.” Instead of spending her valuable time trying to use her pliers to escape, she decides to have a leisurely conversation with the dying man across from her, Milton. Andrea continues taking her sweet time until it’s too late: Milton dies and soon re-animates, and she now has no time to escape, causing her to get bit on the throat, left to die until Rick and the gang find her and... well, yeah.

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

Stannis made it clear that the only two things he cared about were the Iron Throne, and his daughter. Eventually, he was forced to choose between the two. He chose wrong, and paid for it, though not in a way most viewers found satisfying. Stannis was beheaded off-screen by Brienne of Tarth for his role in the murder of his brother Renly. In a show that had never shied away from showing violence when necessary, it made no sense for them to kill this major character off-screen after finding out his entire plotline would be largely inconsequential. This was a rare but giant misstep.

#8: Tara Thornton “True Blood” (2008-14)

“True Blood” was never famous for satisfying plot hooks or character development, but when Tara Thornton was killed off-screen in the opening moments of season seven, it gave reason to reevaluate the show as a whole. This entirely frustrating development was taken in stride by the show’s characters, to the confusion of most of the audience. “True Blood” found itself limping to the finish line in its final seasons, and Tara’s death was a sign of the end. Tara continued to appear in visions throughout the rest of the season, leaving viewers to wonder why they killed her off in the first place.

#7: Charlie Harper “Two and a Half Men” (2003-15)

Though there was reasoning behind writing off the then erratic Charlie Sheen, the execution was definitely not excusable. When Sheen left the show in the lead-up to season nine, Charlie Harper was supposedly killed on his honeymoon with his new wife Rose, but it would later be revealed she only kidnapped him. In the series finale, Charlie escapes and comes after the rest of the characters of the show before his own piano is dropped on his head. The cameo was shown only from behind, and not played by Charlie Sheen, begging the question: why resurrect him in the first place?

#6: Cordelia Chase “Angel” (1999-2004)

Joss Whedon has a habit of employing controversial character deaths throughout his TV history. One of his characters who was really put through the ringer was Cordelia Chase, who debuted and died on “Buffy,” only to be resurrected as a love interest on “Angel,” only to fall into a coma on that show. If that wasn’t bad enough, Cordelia seemed to wake up and fight alongside Angel for a short time before it was revealed that she had in fact died once again, and this had been a final farewell. Because somehow that makes sense?

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

When it became clear that actor Dan Stevens was ready to move on to larger roles, it was inevitable that “Downton Abbey” would be forced to write off Matthew Crawley from the series. It’s just a shame that the way they did it was so disappointing. Just after the healthy birth of his son, Captain Crawley drives towards the Abbey to share the good news. Due to a random accident with no real inciting incident, Matthew’s car is flipped and he is killed in the crash. And that was that. Crawley’s death felt cheap, out-of-nowhere, and with no narrative point.

#4: Derek Shepherd [aka Dr. McDreamy] “Grey's Anatomy” (2005-)

Shonda Rhimes is known for melodramatic plot developments, and nowhere is that on display more than “Grey’s Anatomy.” When Patrick Dempsey’s Doctor McDreamy gets into a serious car accident, he’s brought to a hospital that’s not his own, and at first, it seems he’s going to make it out okay. Until a faceless doctor at this other hospital orders the wrong treatment, and it quickly becomes clear Shepherd is not long for this world. His death felt out of thin air, and the fact that it could have been preventable felt like a slap to the face to a lot of fans.

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

Another character Joss Whedon clumsily ripped from existence, Tara Maclay was the love interest for fan-favorite Willow. The two developed a close relationship over time, but it was quickly ended when Tara’s death was used as a plot point to push Willow into an edgier role as a villain. Fans had become enamored with the relationship between the two, partially because it was one of the first major lesbian relationships on TV, only for the show to reveal that it was all an attempt to get Willow over as a convincing enemy to the Scooby Gang.

#2: Robert Romano “ER” (1994-2009)

This death in the latter half of “ER”’s long run of dominance served as one of the major signs that the show was losing its touch. A freak accident involving a helicopter causes Dr. Robert Romano to be crushed, but the scene itself is comically terrible. Not only is Romano crushed, but a nurse is hit with a large piece of shrapnel and an entire floor of the hospital explodes, all rendered with gloriously lackluster CGI. The moment is so absolutely over-the-top that it’s impossible to take seriously. Last time we checked, we weren’t supposed to be laughing when a character dies in “ER.”

Before we reveal our top pick, here are a few dishonorable mentions.

Rosalind Shays
“L.A. Law” (1986-94)

“The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” (1990-96)

Tasha Yar
“Star Trek: The Next Generation” (1987-94)

#1: Jack Pearson “This Is Us” (2016-)

Since nearly the beginning of “This Is Us,” the show’s big mystery was how Jack passed away. By the beginning of season two, it’s revealed that Jack died in a house fire. But only later that season was it finally revealed that Jack died in a fire caused by… an old slow cooker. Sure, it might be plausible, but this is a TV show, and killing off one of the main characters due to a broken crock pot feels a little bit absurd. Ever since this was revealed, it’s been a little harder to take the drama of “This Is Us” as seriously.

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