The people behind our favorite shows on television are puppet masters who write scripts to make you feel things. They want you to get attached to their characters, because they ultimately have plans for them, that only they’re aware of. They write the characters so that the viewer finds something to they identify with, whether it’s the object of their affection, the bane of their existence, or the bitter self-loathing you feel inside. Either way, you’re not crazy. You’re supposed to get attached. You’re supposed to fall in love with these characters and become emotionally invested.
Only the best TV shows can create the aforementioned relationship, as the writing must be spectacular. You must feel a kinship with the people you’re tuning in to watch every week. If a television writer does their job correctly, you’ll feel their characters’ pain, their joy, and everything in between. If they have written the character effectively, you’ll be incredibly invested in their lives when all is said and done. Essentially, when they decide to kill them off on-screen, you’ll be heartbroken and potentially vow to never watch the show again.
The Worst of the Worst (Spoiler Alert)
- Derek “McDreamy” Shepherd – For over ten years, people watched this man save lives with his neurosurgeon hands. We all fell in love with how sweet he was and when he got shot by a lone gunman in the hospital, we all prayed Christina would be able to save him. When he pulled through that horrific experience, viewers thought his safety on the show was permanent, but then he and the show’s creator had a disagreement and we had to watch as his character narrated his own death after saving a life during a traffic accident. Grey’s Anatomy is famous for killing off main characters, but this one was felt harder than any of the others.
- Glenn Yee – We all knew one of the main characters was going to bite it on The Walking Dead as soon as we heard Negan’s name for the first time. Fans of the graphic novel predicted it would be Glenn, but after his near scrape with death during the regular season, we thought he was safe. So, we hoped against hope and then we were disappointed as the episode dragged on before letting us know who had been offed by Negan and Lucille. Then they showed it, Glenn’s battered face, and a millions of fans felt the loss.
- William Hill – The biological father of buttoned up Randall on This is Us, William was a free spirit who spent his last hours, days, and weeks trying to show Randall how to truly enjoy his life and live it right. While he was dying when we met him and he didn’t even live throughout the season, fans got attached to his way of life and how he treated his grandchildren when he came to live with Randall and his family. Fans fell in love and their heartbreak was real when he passed.
- Poussey Washington – For a show about a bunch of female prisoners, the writers sure know how to get you attached to the characters. The death of this soft-hearted and intelligent prisoner was absolutely heart-wrenching to watch as she was not inciting a right when she was dramatically struck down by a prison guard. The impact her death has on her fellow prisoners is, perhaps, the most devastating part of her death. Whether we’re supposed to be attached to the criminal element or not, the writers on Orange is the New Black do a great job of making it happen.
- Jackson “Jax” Teller – We knew what was coming. Every fan of Sons of Anarchy knew the day when Jax was going to die was going to be right around the corner, but no one expected him to go out the way he did. Like his father before him, Jax allowed a truck to overtake him on his bike. He died doing what he loved and ostensibly ended the business of the club in the process. From the first season, we knew of his discontentment with the actions of the Sons of Anarchy motorcycle club, but no one knew how it would all fall down.
Shows these days do an incredible job of wrapping your life into the lives of their characters, thus making you feel invested in whether they live or die. It’s a sign of great writing and well portrayed characters, but no one can argue that they felt the slightest twinge of grief during the aforementioned losses.