Character departures are inevitable for most shows.
That doesn’t mean we have to like them. Sometimes, a character has to go because it’s necessary for the story.
Other times, the actor moves on to a new role, and the character can’t continue without them. (That is, unless the actor just gets recast, like when Nathan Parsons took over the role of Kent on True Blood.)
Now and then, a character’s time on a show comes to an end in a way that leaves us brokenhearted and feeling betrayed by the writers.
These exits took us by surprise, and not in a good way.
Alex Karev’s Dear John Letters on Grey’s Anatomy
If you ask us, Alex Karev had one of the best character glow-ups of all time, with the kind of character development we can normally only dream about. His transformation from snarky, too-cool-for-school jock to the mature, brilliant man he became was one for the ages.
But sixteen years of hard work to become the peds surgeon we learned to love was all tossed aside when he left behind his entire life — including his beloved wife, Jo — to go live with Izzie and the children he never knew he had.
Maybe somewhere out there, some fans were still shipping Izzie and Alex. But most of us were hardcore fans of Jo and Alex, and the way he left her behind with nothing more than a letter and divorce papers was outrageous.
Alex’s departure was out of character and painful to witness, and there’s not much that could be done to redeem him now that he’s gone.
Lexie Grey’s Crushing Death on Grey’s Anatomy
You can’t have a list like this with only one Grey’s Anatomy mention. Lexie Grey’s death was one of the hardest for fans of Grey’s Anatomy, and that’s saying something — we’ve seen some things.
Watching Lexie die horribly crushed under part of an airplane was awful enough, but we had to watch Mark lose the love of his life while he fought his own injuries, and that was just unbearable.
Not even a replacement half-sister in the form of Maggie Pierce could make up for Lexie’s gruesome death.
Castiel’s Big Confession on Supernatural
Supernatural messed with our heads for many years, and Castiel’s big goodbye was no exception.
What the writers were thinking when they threw Castiel into oblivion mere seconds after his bombshell love confession to Dean is beyond us.
Supernatural lacked any real LGBTQ+ representation, and it was hard to see a brief tease of something queer to have it ripped away and never acknowledged again.
Jack Pearson Goes Up In Smoke on This Is Us
Jack Pearson’s death on This Is Us was a major plot point, so we’re not saying it was unnecessary, but it was still incredibly painful.
We get that he had to die, but did he have to die like that?
Thankfully, we didn’t have to say goodbye to Jack for good because of the show’s flashback setup. But watching Rebecca and the Big Three grieve him after his horrible death was harder than we could’ve imagined, especially since we knew it was coming.
Troy Barnes Sails Away on Community
Troy Barnes was a phenomenal character in his own right, but his friendship with Abed Nadir was the stuff of legends.
It’s years later, and we still recall how much this one character meant to the ensemble show.
Losing Troy meant losing Troy and Abed’s shenanigans, and the show really lacked something special after that.
Poussey Washington’s Devastating Death on Orange Is The New Black
This one was especially brutal because of the manner in which Poussey was killed. Watching her become a victim of police brutality was extremely difficult for devoted fans.
Poussey was a bright spot on Orange Is The New Black, and after she was gone, there was a tonal shift that the show never recovered from.
Sometimes, character deaths are necessary, but this one wasn’t.
Vision Gives a Speech on WandaVision
Vision’s final speech to Wanda will go down in history as one of the most heartbreaking goodbyes in TV history.
In a heart-wrenching monologue, Vision posits that he and Wanda will be reunited at some point, and our hearts shattered as he disappeared along with the world Wanda created.
It’s not often that a superhero show has the emotional intelligence to devastate us like this, but WandaVision pulled it off, for better or worse.
Dean Miller’s Explosive Exit on Station 19
Having already survived a near-death experience earlier on Station 19, Dean Miller’s untimely death caught fans by surprise. His character left behind a young daughter and a grieving firehouse family.
It’s true that Shondaland deaths shouldn’t be terribly shocking after all these years, but somehow, the hits keep coming and knocking us off our feet.
Dean’s death was violent and sad, and we could have done without it.
Coach Takes On the Big Apple on New Girl
Coach was a fan favorite until he left the show for good to follow his girlfriend, Mae, to New York City for her job.
Fans had already said goodbye to him once, but he returned and joined the cast full-time until he was eventually written out.
Don’t mind us; we’ll just be drying up our tears at the memories of these horrible goodbyes.
Losing characters is always a gamble. Sometimes, they pay off, and sometimes, they don’t, but the show is changed forever regardless.
Let us know in the comments if these got to you, too!
Haley Whitmire White is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. You can follow her on X.