Devastating TV Deaths: How ‘The 100’ Cut Open Old Wounds

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Warning – Major The 100 Spoilers Ahead!

Last week, The CW’s post-apocalyptic teen show, The 100, delivered a pretty shocking death. That’s really saying something, as fans of the show are used to characters dying in horrific ways. But when Lexa, fan-favorite and badass Grounder Commander, took a stray bullet and died in Clarke’s arms, I gasped out loud and then cried a bucket of tears.


Look, I get it, The 100 doesn’t pull any punches. Based on a series of YA novels by Kass Morgan, the show has veered wildly from the original source material, The_100_trilogy_(boxset)killing characters with abandon. No one is safe, including main characters (like when Clarke stabbed her lover Finn in the heart to prevent his torture at the hands of the Grounders). Lexa’s death was out of necessity more than anything else: Alycia Debnam-Carey, the actress who plays Lexa, also stars on Fear the Walking Dead and wasn’t available to film past seven episodes. But that doesn’t soften the blow of her death, particularly as it’s so rare to get such an awesome female character on a teen show. Not only was Lexa a thoughtful (and sometimes ruthless) leader, she was also Clarke’s lover and one of the few lesbians on television right now.

So her death hurts. A lot. But hers is not the first television death to rock us, especially when it feels like the loss was more for shock value than because the storyline really needed it. In honor of Lexa’s untimely demise, here are eight other TV deaths that probably never should have happened in the first place:

Derek Shepherd, Grey’s Anatomy


Grey’s jumped the shark for me a while ago (I mean, how many plane/ferry/car crashes can one show have?!), but I held on because of the epic love between Derek and Meredith. But then Patrick Dempsey decided to leave the show and Derek was killed off for good. In –wait for it– another car accident. Behind-the-scenes rumblings suggest that there was feuding going on between Shepherd and the cast, but who knows/cares? The result is that I lost one of my favorite characters (11 YEARS, PEOPLE) on TV in a death that seemed far from fair or logical.

Tara Maclay, Buffy the Vampire Slayer



I sort of understand this death more than the others. Killing Tara pushed Willow over the edge and made her the unexpected Big Bad for season 6. A great narrative idea, a terrible way to break my heart. I loved Tara and her romance with Willow and I’m still not over that random, stupid bullet that killed her instantly.

Matthew Crawley, Downton Abbey


I LOVED Downton Abbey, at least until the show killed off Matthew in an unexpected, unnecessary car accident. He and Mary had finally gotten together, had a baby and were ready for their happy ending. This was another case of the actor wanting off the show, but the death was a huge letdown for everyone, and ultimately convinced me to stop watching the soapy historical.

Opie Winston and Tara Knowles-Teller, Sons of Anarchy


Like The 100, no one on Sons was ever really safe. But if anyone had a chance, I was sure it was Jax’s best friend and his lady love. Unfortunately, both died in pretty horrific ways (Opie was beaten to death in prison – the word pipe will never mean the same thing for me ever again! – and Tara was forked in the skull by Jax’s mommy dearest, Gemma). The deaths were sensational and upsetting and probably could have been avoided with some good old-fashioned therapy. Editor’s Note: If, like us, you still need a little therapy yourself for that “Laying Pipe” 5×3 episode, here’s a video featuring Ryan Hurst, Charlie Hunnam and Mark Boone Junior as they bid farewell to Opie. Prepare for more tears, you guys.


Allison Argent, Teen Wolf


It takes a certain amount of guts to kill off the main romantic lead on a teen show, so you have to hand it to Teen Wolf. Actress Crystal Reed decided to leave the show in season 3, and instead of shipping her off to Paris or something, the creators had her die in Scott’s arms. I’m still not over it.


Neal Cassidy, Once Upon a Time


Oof, this was a tough one. I was rooting for Neal and Emma as soon as the star-crossed lovers found their way back to each other. But before I could get a tearful reunion, Neal unexpectedly kicked the bucket. The actor recently returned to advise Emma (tear!) on saving current-love Hook (who I’m also definitely shipping her with, because you know, no Neal), but it was still a tough blow to take.

J.T. Yorke
, Degrassi: The Next Generation


Degrassi is not afraid to “go there,” as we’ve seen over and over (gonorrhea of the throat, anyone?). But why-oh-why did they have to kill J.T?!? He was with us from the beginning, and to have him die from a knife fight in season 6 was just cruel. Sure, it brought up a lot of narrative issues to deal with, but I would trade J.T.’s life for a lesson on teen violence any day of the week.

Rachel Carter grew up surrounded by trees and snow and mountains. She graduated from the University of Vermont and Columbia University, where she received her MFA in nonfiction writing. She is the author of the So Close to You series with Harperteen. These days you can find her working on her next novel in the woods of Vermont.

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