As the regular TV season winds to a close, there are a lot of major character deaths to account for, especially in shows that were canceled.
The network spring TV season is just about over. All the major networks and cable channels have revealed most if not all of their lineups for next year, with many hearts heavy over untimely cancellations. We should also take note of the major character deaths in the TV world this year.
Serialized TV has always relied on the emotional impact of a character death to drive a story. In the age of streaming and binge-watching, that is more true than ever, and even traditional network shows are adapting to this brutal realism in some cases.
Many formulaic shows like sitcoms and procedurals tend to keep their characters safe. Fans know that the actor won't be cut unexpectedly, and the fundamental premise of the show won't be disturbed. In some cases, however, writers will subvert that expectation to draw attention to their show, and it works.
This year was no exception. New shows and old, drams and comedies, network and streaming — all saw tragic deaths this year.
Here is a look at the major character deaths of the 2018-2019 TV season.
The original NCIS saw the death of CIA Agent Westley Clark this year. After being introduced as an enigmatic new figure, the special officer was killed by his own protégé in self-defense. The dramatic death caught the team off0guard, as they have already been rocked by some big shake-ups this year.
Meanwhile, on NCIS: Los Angeles, there were two more unexpected deaths: Pavel Volkoff and Nikita Aleksandr Reznikov. Volkoff was a Russian intelligence officer who served as an antagonist on the show back in Seasons 6 and 7. After returning this year, he was finally taken down. The spy choked on chlorine gas while on assignment in Cuba.
Reznikov — better known as Garrison on the show — died of a lung infection this season. He was the father of Agent G. Callen, and made just four appearances on the show. His death carried a bit more baggage than that of Volkoff, leaving Clara with grief to work through.
One of the year's most dramatic twists was the death of Chief Lucas Ripley on Station 19. The beloved firefighter chief died during a two-hour crossover event between Station 19 and Grey's Anatomy — both Shondaland shows.
Making matters even more heartbreaking, Ripley died just after proposing to his secret girlfriend, Victoria. However, he was also hiding a heart condition, which reacted poorly when he was exposed to a strange chemical.
Thankfully, Station 19 was renewed this year, so fans won't be left on a sour note. To see how the station moves on without Ripley, they will have to tune in next season.
The Charmed reboot premiered on The CW this season, and it pulled no punches when it comes to character deaths. There were no less than seven character deaths in the series' first year, perhaps indicating that the writers were laying it all on the line, fearful they wouldn't get another chance.
Fans of the new show have already processed the deaths of Julia, Tessa, Elder Silver, Hunter, Fiona, Charity and Alastair. That's a lot for one season, but the bold storytelling paid off. The CW was quick to renew Charmed for another round, so it will join the lineup with another installment in the fall.
MacGyver fans said goodbye to Charlie this season in a tragic no-win situation. The bomb-squad expert had made a few appearances going all the way back to Season 1. An old friend of MacGyver's, he brought his expertise to bear on some explosive scenarios, and this year was one too man.
MacGyver has been renewed for a fourth season, so we may see the resourceful hero grappling with his grief in the fall.
The writers of The CW's first DC super hero series, Arrow, know that this upcoming season will be their last. The show has not been canceled, but it is coming to an end. Accordingly, the emotional beats — including character deaths — have been designed to hit us right in the gut.
In Season 7, Arrow fans finally lost Roy Harper, Ollie's on-again off-again sidekick. Roy has been with the series since the beginning, and has blurred the lines between hero and villain, much like in the comics.
Arrow also said goodbye to Emiko Adachi this season. The secret half sister of the Oliver had just made her debut this season, and many fans were sad to see her go so soon.
Arrow returns for one last season on The CW this fall.
The drama surrounding Empire this season was mostly off-screen, but fans were more concerned with the surprising death of Kingsley in the season finale. Fans have seen Lucious mourning in flash-forwards all season, and have tried to piece together who died. In the last episode, we finally got confirmation that it was Kingsley.
Empire will be back for one final season next year as well, although it will be held up for a spring premiere. In all likelihood, Jussie Smollett will not be involved.
One of the most tragic stories of this TV season might be that of Whiskey Cavalier, the action comedy that ABC tried so hard to get off the ground. The series was ultimately canceled after just one season, but those who watched saw some impressive storytelling taking place.
Part of that was the impactful death of Emma Davies, the young MI6 agent who was just starting to warm up to Will Chase. To some fans, the heart-wrenching story turn was evidence that the show should get another chance, but with ratings dropping by the week, ABC pulled the plug.
Finally, Fox's emergency responder drama 9-1-1 lost Shannon Diaz this season. Shannon was married to Eddie Diaz, a firefighter who joined the department this season. They shared a son named Christopher, and they made a splash with their three appearances this season. Unfortunately, it ended in tragedy.
Fox did pick the show up for another season, so fans may get a chance to see Eddie and Chris working through their loss. In the meantime, the work goes on.