This much is true: 2016 was the worst. It's the kind of undeniable fact that has made its way into meme territory because of just how widely accepted it is. It's been a rough year with tons of loss and the current state of things has a lot of people despairing. Usually checking out of the stresses of everyday life by tuning in to your favorite show is a surefire way of soothing the sads, but television didn't provide much of an escape this year either. There were almost as many emotionally taxing things to deal with in fiction as in the real world, though of course the stakes weren't nearly as high. However, these 13 heartbreaking TV deaths from 2016 prove that this was a tough year all around.
Losing a beloved character is difficult no matter what. Knowing that it's fictional doesn't mean it doesn't hurt. These characters may not be real, but they spent years endearing themselves to their audiences, taking viewers along on their journeys as they faced their lowest lows and highest highs. When their lives finally came to an end, the tears shed over these characters were indisputably real. So let's say one final goodbye before moving on to the new year.
Warning: This post contains spoilers from a vast array of TV shows. Proceed with caution.
1. Every Evan Peters Character, American Horror Story: Roanoke
Fans of Evan Peters couldn't wait to see who he was going to play on Season 6 of AHS and they were rewarded with two distinct, interesting characters: 18th century dandy Edward Philippe Mott and hyperactive young actor Rory Monahan. However, the fun was short-lived because he died almost immediately after each introduction. It was the definition of disappointing.
2. Barb Holland, Stranger Things
It was a surprise when fans became so deeply endeared to Barb on Stranger Things, but their outrage over the injustice of her death has become part of the lasting legacy of the show. So many people identified with Barb as that slightly awkward friend who couldn't quite fit in with the cool kids (and didn't really want to) that audiences couldn't help but wish she had a different fate.
3. Tyler Lockwood, The Vampire Diaries
After exiting the show seasons earlier, Tyler was brought back to The Vampire Diaries just in time to be killed off. It didn't feel like an appropriate goodbye to a character who had once been a big part of the show, and it only happened to fuel Damon's journey into darkness. It wasn't really about Tyler at all; he was just a symbol for Damon going too far. Character deaths are never fun, but it's especially off-putting when they're just in service to another character's story.
4. Lexa, The 100
Lexa's death on The 100 had a huge impact on the show's fandom, and for good reason: she didn't just die, she died almost immediately after consummating her relationship with Clarke, her female love interest. Her death fed into a trope that's all too common in media referred to as "Bury Your Gays," in which gay characters are repeatedly denied happy endings and often killed. One would think media would've come a lot farther by 2016, but that unfortunately wasn't the case.
5. Chad Radwell, Scream Queens
It has long been accepted that Chad Radwell is one of Scream Queens' best characters thanks to actor Glen Powell's flawless comedic delivery, and having to say goodbye to Chad meant that the show lost a great deal of its fun. R.I.P., bro.
6. Nina Sergeevna Krilova, The Americans
Nina's death on The Americans was shocking, sudden, and devastating. She was one of the show's most fascinating characters and she'd been in a bad place for a long time, but her death was still unexpected and brutal. Deaths like Nina's illustrate how unforgiving the world of The Americans can be, but it was a hard lesson to learn as a fan.
7. Hodor, Game Of Thrones
Deciding which character's death hurt the most is a difficult choice when it comes to Game of Thrones: so many beloved (and decidedly not beloved, looking at you Ramsay) characters died this year, including Margaery, Loras, Tommen, Osha, and Rickon. But there's no denying that Hodor's death hit fans hard, both because of the tragedy of the circumstances and the innocence of the character.
8. Wes Gibbins, How To Get Away With Murder
Though the show hyped up the death of a major character throughout Season 3, it felt like Wes was more than safe because of just how important he was to the story. His relationship with Annalise is central to the show and there was so much left unexplored with him. In part, that's why his death was so effective. It truly upset the audience and changed the game for the show going forward, but that doesn't mean it's any easier to stomach.
9. Jack Pearson, This Is Us
Audiences haven't seen his actual death yet, but the reveal that Jack was gone confirmed suspicions fans had had from the start. Knowing that Jack passed away brought a new poignancy to scenes past and present, as fans learned just how much he meant to the people in his life while knowing that his time with them was going to be limited. The gut punch of Jack's death hasn't played out yet, but everyone knows it's coming.
10. Richard Gilmore, Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life
It's impossible to fully separate Richard Gilmore's death from Edward Herrmann's. Knowing that Herrmann was gone too added another layer to the mourning and grief that saturated the Gilmore Girls revival. It wasn't just about saying goodbye to a character who was so loved, but saying goodbye to a man who was, by all accounts, immeasurably kind and loved by his family and co-stars alike.
11. Poussey Washington, Orange Is The New Black
Poussey's accidental death late in Season 4 of Orange Is The New Black came as a huge shock. Though the event was intended to reference real life, instead of feeling more resonant it just felt deeply unfair. It was like there was no escaping the horrors of the real world, even in fiction. It was even crueler because Poussey was killed just when she was finally feeling hopeful for her future outside of prison. It didn't help that she was yet another lesbian and person of color to die onscreen this year.
12. Abbie Mills, Sleepy Hollow
Many fans were deeply upset when Sleepy Hollow decided to do away with its leading lady, especially because Abbie Mills was the heart of the show. Some TV deaths feel painful but necessary for the story, but that wasn't the case with Abbie; instead, fans felt betrayed by the sudden turn of events. She had meant so much to so many viewers and then she was gone, just like that.
13. Glenn Rhee, The Walking Dead
Though many fans knew Glenn's death was coming, that didn't make it any easier to see it play out. Watching such extreme violence visited on a character who audiences had become so deeply attached to was sickening, and for many viewers it was a turning point in their ability to handle the kind of misery The Walking Dead loves to dish out.
Hopefully television in 2017 goes a little easier on its audiences. I'm not really sure how much more I can take.