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6 Saddest Deaths in TV History

Warning: Spoilers and Sadness Ahead

Killing off a character isn't exactly uncommon for a TV show, but some deaths have more of an impact than others. With a combination of shock and great acting, the deaths of the characters on this list left us an emotional mess. 

#6 Anna - 'Chicago Fire'

Courtesy of NBC

Death isn't really a surprise in a show about firefighters, especially one created by Dick Wolf. In fact before Anna died, Chicago Fire had already killed off four characters (Shay, Hallie, Jones, and Andy.) What made Anna's death so powerful was the fact that she wasn't a first responder. When Severide and Anna met they had an immediate connection. Severide donated the bone marrow that saved Anna's life. They quickly formed a relationship and it looked like Anna would be the woman who could finally get Severide to settle down. Then we were hit with the heartbreaking news that her cancer had come back. Severide never gave up and tried to help her through it. She then took a turn for the worse and decided to sign a DNR. Severide goes to the hospital to say his final goodbye to Anna in this heartbreaking scene.  

We watch a man who faces death everyday realize he is powerless to stop it yet again. He goes through the five stages of grief in minutes and the scene ends with him hugging Anna's father as we see the pure sorrow on both of their faces.

#5 Seymour - 'Futurama'

Courtesy of Viacom

Those who haven't seen this episode of Futurama might not understand how a cartoon could be on this list. But anyone who has seen this episode knows there is no way to make a "saddest death list" without including Seymour. Seymour was Fry's dog in 1999, and when Fry wakes up in the year 3000 he assumes everyone he knew a thousand years ago is now dead. However, Fry discovers Seymour's petrified remains at a museum, and the Professor says he can clone Seymour and Fry can have his dog back. Right before they are set to begin cloning, Fry destroys the machine when he realizes that Seymour lived a full 12 years after Fry was frozen. Fry assumes that Seymour lived a full and happy life and probably forgot all about him. Right?

WRONG! In one of the saddest reveals of the show, we find out that Seymour waited 12 years for Fry to come home. Right before Fry left he told Seymour to wait there for him to return, so that's what Seymour did. He waited there until the day he died.

#4 Marvin Eriksen Sr - 'How I Met Your Mother'

Courtesy of CBS

This is an example of how acting can make a good reveal into a great reveal. The way Marshall reacts to his father's death is haunting. You see the shock on his face when he hears his father has passed, and that's because the producers set it up that way. Jason Segel and Alyson Hannigan themselves didn't know about the final scene. The original ending was that Lily would say she was pregnant, but the producers had other plans. Right before they filmed the scene they told Jason Segel they were making a change to the script. He was not told what would happen, only that his cue to react would be when Lily finished her line with the word "it." The scene was done in only one take and it worked to perfection.

The contrast of the relief Marshall feels when he finds out he can have children mixed with the pain he feels when he discovers that he lost his father further illustrates what his character is feeling. That shock, coupled with the haunting countdown is why this death earns a spot on this list.

#3 Lt. Colonel Henry Blake - 'M*A*S*H'

While How I Met Your Mother did a great job of surprising the cast with a shocking death, they weren't the first to do it. M*A*S*H famously kept the cast in the dark about the fate of Henry Blake. The episode began with Radar telling Henry that he's being discharged and is going home. The episode progresses with all the characters saying goodbye and eventually Henry getting on the helicopter and leaving. The cast assumed the final scene would be Radar coming into the operating room and telling everyone that Henry got home safe, but the producers had other ideas. A few minutes before the final scene they were told what would really happen.  

The shock from everyone is obvious, but the heartbreaking part comes when someone (accidentally) drops something that makes a large clanking noise. It snapped everyone back into place and in that moment they realized that they still had to save the lives of these soldiers, even though their friend was just killed.

#2 Everyone - 'Six Feet Under'

Courtesy of HBO

I know this might be cheating but it's too good not to include. Six Feet Under is a show about a family and the funeral home they run. Naturally in a show about a funeral home there is going to be a lot of death. In fact, each episode began with someone dying. That's why the series finale is so perfect. The final scene in Six Feet Under has Claire leaving her family for New York to pursue her art career. We then see the flashes of everyone's lives turn out and most importantly, how they die. In a show surrounded by death, the finale finds a way to make the most important deaths stand out. 

This scene is a gut punch. It comes on the heels of the shocking death of the main character Nate who died just two episodes earlier. While that death was unexpected, the emotional roller coaster of watching all of our favorite characters eventually meet the end is almost too much to handle. 

#1 Paul Hennessy - '8 Simple Rules'

Courtesy of ABC

This death was the most devastating simply because of how real it was. After filming the first three episodes of the 2nd season, John Ritter collapsed on set and later died. After putting the show on hiatus for two months the producers decided to honor his memory by continuing the show. The first episode without John was simply titled, "Goodbye." It showed the family finding out about their father's death and how they each deal with it in their own way. Everyone on set looked up to John and while the episode showed characters reacting to Paul's death, it was really the actors reacting to John's death. It's hard to pinpoint one particular moment because every scene has so much raw emotion.

Seeing a character react to a death is one thing, but watching actors mourn someone they clearly loved is truly heartbreaking. 

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