As Better Call Saul‘s farewell run once again reminded us, having to unexpectedly say farewell to even a fictional TV character can pull the rug out from under a longtime fan of a series.
Take, for instance, when Henry Blake’s plane was shot down on M*A*S*H. Or when NYPD Blue‘s Bobby Simone succumbed to a post-op infection. Or when L.A. Law‘s Rosalind Shays brought a whole new meaning to the elevator inquiry, “Going down?”
In more recent years, we’ve seen 24‘s President David Palmer taken out by a sniper, The O.C.‘s Marissa Cooper driven off the side of the road, and a Veronica Mars favorite blown up by a car bomb intended for someone else.
There’s also the occasional death that plays out off-screen, but still manages to shake us to our core — like when the original Roseanne finale revealed that Dan Conner died (or “died”) of a heart attack. Or when Blue Bloods casually disclosed mid-episode that Danny Reagan’s beloved wife Linda had died months prior, in a Medevac helicopter crash.
Suffice it to say, the following alphabetical-by-show list is comprised of TV deaths that weren’t just heartbreaking, but that truly took us by surprise — whether it was because we didn’t know a cast member was on their way out or because the cause of death was just that brutal (see: any number of Game of Thrones deaths). And our list does include characters who were eventually revived (hey there, TV magic!), but whose demises nonetheless rattled us.
Scroll down to see which TV deaths from the past five decades made our list, then hit the Comments and tell us which have hit you the hardest.