One of the main reasons we watch television is to escape from our dull, ordinary lives. TV allows us to travel to magical lands where spectacular events occur to groups of attractive people. Twists and turns in the show’s story keep us engaged as viewers. With that fast-paced narrative, however, comes a hefty price. Television actors are some of the most vulnerable people in Hollywood; constantly facing the prospect of their character being killed off.
Television characters are killed off for a variety of reasons. Maybe the show isn’t doing well, and a shocking death will generate a lot of publicity. Maybe an actor is becoming too big for their boots (Nicollette Sheridan) and nobody wants to work with them any more. Either way, there have been some television deaths that have come out of the blue, and rocked the Earth itself. Allow me to walk you through some of these untimely passings now:
SPOILERS AHEAD – ONLY SEASONED TELEVISION VIEWERS BEYOND THIS POINT
Marissa Cooper, The OC
You could always rely on The OC for a good, dramatic death scene. For a show about glamorous high school students, the residents of The OC had their fair share of character croak-age. From billionaire Caleb Cohen’s second season heart attack, to the death of Marissa’s annoying friend Johnny, the show wasn’t a stranger to tragic events. However, all other deaths were eclipsed by Marissa Cooper’s demise on the third season’s final episode.
Everyone knew that Mischa Barton was leaving the show. She had outgrown her role on a teen show and was ready for world domination (It’s 2012 and I’m still waiting for her to appear in anything else). However, the nature of her character’s death was kept shrouded in mystery. All was revealed, however, when her character decided to leave Newport Beach forever; only to be killed in a car crash on her way to the airport. Her death did allow the series to play that ‘Hallelujah’ song yet again, so I suppose it’s not all bad.
Lucy Knight, ER
Ah, Lucy. She was so innocent, so cute. I’m still not quite over her passing.
She appeared at the beginning of the show’s fifth season, as a medical student under the tutelage of John Carter. The two shared a flirtatious, Mulder & Scully relationship. That only made it more painful when both characters were stabbed by a mental patient. Despite my hopes to the contrary, Lucy did not survive the attack. Carter ‘Junkie Face’ did though, and blamed himself for his death. So you should, John! She was a beautiful creature!
Eddard Stark, Game of Thrones
Those of you who read the book series already knew this was coming. I’m not addressing you though. I’m addressing those of us who are geeky enough to watch Game of Thrones, but not quite geeky enough to live in our mom’s basement for the rest of our adult lives. Anyway, the first season of GoT very much framed Sean Bean’s Ned Stark as the main character of the series. That’s why I was so shocked when he lost his head at the command of bastard-faced Joffrey in the ninth episode.
The death was even more surprising as it removed Sean Bean, arguably the biggest star on the show, from the cast. My mother still hasn’t recovered from it.
Tara Maclay, Buffy the Vampire Slayer
“Your shirt?” The immortal last words of Tara Maclay, one of the best-loved characters on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Joss Whedon, in his divine/sick intelligence, shocked everyone by having Amber Benson listed in the series’ opening credits for the first time, only to have her killed by psychotic geek Warren half an hour later. Tara’s death is the third most emotional in Buffy’s history – behind the deaths of Joyce and Buffy (the second time) respectively.
The only good thing to come out of Tara’s death was the introduction of Dark Willow. Her black hair and veiny face made her one of the show’s most awesome villains; especially as we were used to seeing Alyson Hannigan in a variety of frilly sweaters.
Rita Morgan, Dexter
Dexter’s fourth season is the best of the series by far. Chock-full of twists and turns, the season saw Dexter hunting the elusive ‘Trinity Killer’. After finally disposing of the killer for good, Dexter comes home to find that the killer had already gotten to his wife, Rita. Dexter arrived home to find her dead in the bathtub, with his son in the corner; soaked in his mother’s blood.
To be honest, Rita is probably better off dead. Having her out of the show opened Dexter up to a whole load of new experiences. Plus, she wasn’t the brightest star in the sky. How didn’t she realise that her husband was a serial killer? Stupid bitch …