Every year, television shows find new ways to shock viewers, and those shocks usually involve a character death. In 2018, viewers witnessed several shocking deaths of beloved characters.
Notably this year, there were quite a few off-screen deaths due to off-the-set controversies, like Roseanne Barr's firing and the cancellation of Roseanne led ABC to kill the once-beloved Roseanne Conner. Netflix ended up killing off characters played by controversial actors Danny Masterson (The Ranch) and Kevin Spacey (House of Cards).
Here is a look at 10 of the biggest television deaths audiences saw in 2018. Beware, because spoilers follow!
Photo credit: NBC
After Roseanne Barr sent a racist tweet in May, ABC cancelled Roseanne, then the most-watched sitcom of the 2017-2018 TV season. ABC had to come up with some kind of replacement, so they hatched The Conners, a spin-off series about how the Conner family adjusts to life without Roseanne Conner. The new series revealed early on that Roseanne died of an opioid overdose, an issue millions of Americans have faced in real life.
Like Roseanne, The Ranch was another sitcom forced to take a dark turn to cover a major star's exit. Danny Masterson was fired last fall after allegations of rape and sexual assault, which Masterson has denied, resurfaced. The Ranch Part 6 began with addressing the death of Masterson's Jameson "Rooster" Bennett. Police found Rooster's motorcycle at the bottom of a ravine. Rooster drove off the cliff and died.
During the Super Bowl episode of NBC's This Is Us, we finally saw how Jack Peason died. The Pearson family home went up in flames and Jack helped his family escape. While it looked like he might have survived the fire, he inhaled too much smoke and died at the hospital after suffering a cardiac arrest. Jack continues to be a major player on the show, which moves back and forth through the past, present and future, but seeing his death changed the show forever.
There were plenty of ghosts and deaths in The Haunting of Hill House, but the most shocking and sad death was Nell Crain's. Nell, the youngest sister of the Crain siblings, had been haunted by the "Bent-Neck Lady" ever since the family arrived at Hill House. As an adult, she was driven to revisit the haunted mansion, where she hung herself and become the "Bent-Neck Lady" who haunted her in the past.
While Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) got to survive his exit from AMC's The Walking Dead, his son was not so lucky. Chandler Riggs' Carl Grimes was killed off during the Season 8 mid-season premiere. He was bit by a walker and had to take his own life. The focus on Carl's death and Riggs' departure soon took a backseat to news that Lincoln would be leaving in Season 9, but the death was still a shocker to fans.
At the end of NCIS: Los Angeles Season 9, Harley Hidoko (Andrea Bordeaux) went to Mexico for an off-the-books mission to save Mosley's (Nia Long) son. When Cullen (Chris O'Donnell) and the rest of the team followed her, they found a pile of bones, leading them to think Hidoko was killed. In the Season 10 premiere, we learned that she was. Although Hidoko was only on the show for a season, the character quickly became a fan-favorite and many were disappointed by the off-screen death.
Kevin Spacey's sexual misconduct scandal forced Netflix to quickly fire the face of House of Cards. However, the streamer forged ahead with a sixth and final season to wrap up the story, and put Robin Wright's Claire Underwood front and center. Spacey's Frank Underwood died off-screen and set the tone for the final season. In the series finale, we learned how Frank really died and his murderer also met the same end.
At the end of Lethal Weapon season two, the last shot showed Martin Riggs getting shot. Since Crawford was fired in May for allegedly creating a hostile work environment, it was obvious that the show would return with his character dead. The third season opened six months after the second season ended, with Damon Wayans' Robert Murtaugh hoping to catch Riggs' killer. Seann William Scott's Wesley Cole was brought in to help.
In the series finale of Scandal, Josh Malina's Attorney General David Rosen was filled by Jeff Perry's vice president, Cyrus Beene. He managed to keep his "white hat" on during the show's entire run, only to be killed just before everything ended. The finale also showed Jake Ballard (Scott Foley) going to jail.
Before Modern Family's 10th season debuted, the show's producers teased a "major death" on what is typically a very happy show. However, the "major death" did not involve any member of the main cast. DeDe Pritchett, a character played by Cheers' Shelley Long, was killed offscreen. While Long only made a handful of appearances on the show, DeDe's death has been a major part of the show's storyline this season.