10 Times TV (From Buffy to Grey's to SVU) Showed Us That All Was Not Lost

Maybe you’re stunned by the results of the 2016 presidential election. Maybe you’ve got something else troubling going on in your life. Maybe you’re feeling a little bereft, a little bleak, a little worried about the future and a lot powerless about the present.

It’s OK, TVLiners. We’ve got you.

As it turns out, characters in television dramas hit emotional nadirs with stunning regularity. And the beautiful thing about watching our small-screen favorites reach rock bottom — be it emotionally, physically, dramatically or any other way — is that we can share in the joy when they ultimately come the other side of a tough situation. Sure, their troubles are no fun whatsoever, but the characters come out stronger, smarter and better equipped to handle the next tough time that life dishes out.

So in that spirit, here are 10 times that TV shows took their characters to a dark place. Every time, it got better. Every time, the characters were able to soldier on even after suffering setbacks, loss, disappointment, defeat and — in at least two cases — transportation to an otherworldly dimension. Faith in humanity restored!

Click through the gallery above on the right to see how characters from AliasMarvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.The X-FilesCastleBones and more of your favorite series survived some of the worst moments of their lives. At the bottom of each slide, we’ve included links to streaming sites so you can cue up the happier episodes ASAP.

And remember: Tough times don’t last, but tough TVLiners do.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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18 Comments
  1. Kevin says:

    The season 3 finale of FNL made me cry.

  2. Tori Cooper says:

    SVU??? That’s one of the worst episodes in the history of the show. Ugly crying from Mariska at its worst.

    • Gratitude Gal says:

      Majorly disagree!
      Heartbreaking.
      I LOVE the honesty of this brief scene…such vulnerability, aloneness, and her great sense of loss.
      Remember at that point in the show’s overall arc, Olivia’s life was her work, her job, and her partner.
      Beautiful, touching, heart wrenching yet very brief scene that stays with you beyond the entire episode. Kudos to the writers, director, editor, and Mariska Hargitay for packing so much into a mere 20 seconds. 👏🏻 🙌🏻 👏🏻 🙌🏻

  3. Thanks. Although I’m still pretty scarred from the Buffy episode I appreciate the sentiment.

  4. kmw says:

    Right on with Bones. The Parts of the Sum of the Whole is one of their best episodes despite ending sadly and despite the presence of she who wont be named by me, season 6 of Bones was pretty good and The Doctor in the Photo is to me their best episode hands down and Emily Deschanel’s performance was heartbreaking. The Change in the Game not only was that but a pretty funny episode as well and Booth’s reaction was so sweet. Luckily there aren’t too many Bones episodes I don’t like( most of them are in season 10) and Christine’s birth and Booth and Brennan’s wedding were well earned and great episodes as well. Thanks TV LINE, you actually cheered me up with this

  5. makparis says:

    If I ever start to think my life sucks, all I have to do is watch a few episodes of Supernatural and the lives of those Winchester brothers and crew show me how good I have it. They have been to literal hell, heaven, purgatory and back multiple times. We don’t have an exact count to the number of times Dean has died, but it’s probably triple digits (Mystery Spot we love you!). Still, they are trudging along and fighting the good fight and we can all sleep better knowing that they are saving people, hunting things…you know, the family business.

    • Jamie says:

      Ain’t that the truth. At least we can still revel in the fact that we aren’t in the Winchester clan. Literally every single member of that family has died an awful, violent death *at least* once, and Sam, Dean, and Papa Winchester all spent extensive time in actual hell and have been tortured by demons (or Lucifer himself) in hell and back on earth. If the Winchesters can get through, so can we.

  6. Jamie says:

    I would like to add Grissom and Sara of CSI to this. Finally getting together after 6 seasons; surviving Sara in peril, then leaving x 2; then Grissom leaving; then Sara returning without Grissom; then the divorce (out of nowhere). Then FINALLY their happy-ever-after after 15 seasons. #lovewins, at least in fiction.

  7. Mandy says:

    Really? You have to bring up the season that we don’t talk about in Gilmore Girls?!?

  8. steven says:

    Smallville- In the second half of season 5, Clark loses his father, breaks up with Lana, and as he and Lex start to become enemies, Lana moves on with Lex. After saving Lex from Zod’s control in the beginning of season 6, Clark doesn’t know where to go from where he is now. Plus, Lana married Lex, but left him in the finale. Then Clark finally told Lana his secret, but she then faked her death. Then things really got better when she returned to Smallville and got back together with Clark.

  9. Ella says:

    “Spike? Really?”
    – Um, rude. Spuffy were amazing and Angel was much happier (not to mention much more likable) with Cordelia anyway.

    • Cas says:

      I agree with the fact that I love Buffy and Spike. But I also loved Buffy and Angel. Cordelia and Angel never felt right. And I don’t know what about them would make him more likable as I always liked him i always thought it was dumb anyway because he couldn’t do the deed with her if he loved her.

  10. grazelled says:

    I miss THIS Castle so much! Maybe if they’d kept in more of those types of scenes there wouldn’t have been so much complaining about lack of chemistry. Still can’t believe they decided to fire Beckett and Lanie.

  11. Kia says:

    Thanks for the bones mention!!

  12. Wow you can tell that who ever wrote this does not watch Agents of Shield because no one ever says Leo they call him Fitz.

  13. Axelle says:

    I loved Coach Taylor and Beckett so much, two amazing characters ❤

  14. …. lt will ALWAYS be CASTLE for me …. the only TV show I watched! And now that’s its
    Over, it’s beyond forgetting and missing it . Their Chemistry is so epic! The series ending NOT!!!

  15. Barbara says:

    Charmed should be on your list. After Prue dies, the “Power of 3” is no more — until Paige surfaces as a Charmed one. The series would go on for another 5 Seasons — a credit to the cast and writers.