Movies & TV

The 8 Best Heroic Deaths In TV History

The best TV deaths are when the character dies saving the world or being a hero.

The death of a well-known TV character always packs a punch, whether it is shocking (Rita in Dexter, Brody in Homeland), unexpected (Ned Stark, Zoe in House of Cards) or just plain sad (Charlie in Lost).

The best TV deaths, however, are when the character dies saving the world, or being a hero, or, best of all, while delivering highly quotable last words.

The queen of the bad-ass death has to be Game of Thrones' Lady Olenna Tyrell, who confessed to murdering the odious Joffrey as her final, perfect act of revenge and delivers the best ever last words: "Tell Cersei. I want her to know it was me…"

Here are eight more unforgettable departures, where our favorite characters either seized an ironic victory from the jaws of death, or just, y'know, went out in a cool way.

1| Jimmy (Boardwalk Empire, season 2)
From the moment we met crime boss Nucky's (Steve Buscemi) war-scarred protégé Jimmy (Michael Pitt) in 1920s Atlantic City, we knew it wasn't going to end well, and that was before we discovered Nucky had introduced Jimmy's mother, aged 13, to the creepy Commodore who would become his dad. Ewww.

A few murders and betrayals later and Jimmy is willingly lured to his death by Nucky, but at least he manages to dispense some how-to-be-a-hitman wisdom beforehand. "The first time, I vomited after. Two days straight. The second time I didn't even think about it." Nucky, who usually gets someone else to do his dirty work, fires off a shot in the dark, rainy night and shoots Jimmy in the head.


2| George (Grey's Anatomy, season 5)
While many of their patients survive a trip to the hospital, cancer, plane crashes, fires, and car wrecks have regularly claimed the lives of the unlucky doctors working at Seattle Grace. Forget Derek, Mark, Lexi, or even Denny's demise, however—the most heroic exit goes to George O'Malley (TR Knight).

A man is brought into the hospital, unrecognizable after bravely pushing a woman out of the way of a bus and getting pulverized himself. He can't speak, no one knows who he is, but as Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) treats him, he uses his finger to write '007' on her hand—George's nickname. It's George! Save him! Oh wait, now he's brain dead…

3| Shane (The Walking Dead, season 2)
Rick's former best pal Shane (Jon Bernthal) may have made some dodgy decisions in season one (like having an affair with Rick's wife, for starters—and no, thinking your pal is dead is not an excuse) but he went full psycho in the second season, shooting Otis and leaving him to become walker-munchies, releasing all the walkers from Hershel's barn and killing Randall in the woods.

Luring Rick into those woods proves to be his stupidest mistake, however—but at least Shane gets to die not once, but twice. First, after some yelling ("I'm a better man than you, Rick!") Rick stabs him, and then when Shane reanimates, son Carl shoots him in the head. Not a bad way to go—one of The Walking Dead's most memorable deaths, and the reason Rick starts getting even more dark, beardy and brooding…

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4| Adriana (The Sopranos, season 5)
One of TV's most unforgettable deaths—which is quite surprising when you watch it again and realize you don't actually see FBI informant Adriana (Drea De Matteo) die. It's a classic Mafia moment, though, as she confides in boyfriend Christopher that she has been working with the FBI only for him to reveal her betrayal to Tony Soprano.

Who didn't scream out "Get out of the car!" as Silvio supposedly drove her to see Christopher? And hid their eyes as he pulled off the road into the New Jersey woods? We may not have seen the two shots hit her, but her death changed the way we looked at Tony and Christopher forever.

5| Sweets (Bones, season 10)
For a mainstream TV procedural drama, Bones has had a few shocking twists—intern Vincent Nigel Murray's murder, Zack working for a serial killer—but no one was expecting the death of cuddly FBI psychologist Lance Sweets (John Francis Daley).

In the opening episode of season 10, he's helping to clear Agent Booth's name and carrying vital evidence when he is severely beaten and left to die. Booth and Bones get to hear his last words ("The world is a lot better than you think it is. It's…") but it is his case notes that help them uncover a conspiracy in the next episode that catches the bad guys at last.

6| Ryan Chappelle (24, season 3)
There are heroes, and then there is Ryan Chappelle. The CTU boss is dealing with a bio-terrorist attack by baddie Stephen Saunders when Saunders orders the President David Palmer to have Chappelle executed in exchange for Saunders not releasing a lethal virus. After the capture of Saunders fails, Jack Bauer has no choice but to kill his boss at the train yard Saunders has chosen for the execution.


Chappelle wants to pull the trigger himself but can't, so it is left to Jack ("I'm sorry we let you down. God forgive me."). And the famous 24 clock goes silent. Fans and critics debated whether a U.S. President would order the execution of an American citizen, but everyone agreed watching Ryan sacrifice himself was one of the most memorable deaths in all nine seasons of 24.

7| Mitchell (Being Human, season 3)
Before he was Poldark, Aidan Turner rocked stubble as vampire Mitchell, who shared a Bristol flat with his pal, werewolf George (Russell Tovey) in the BBC comedy drama. By season three, he was filled with remorse after killing 20 people, so Mitchell tested his friendship with George by asking his pal to kill him rather than allow him to live on and kill again.

The best buddies get one final, heartbreaking moment before George does the deed. "I'm doing this because I love you," George says. Mitchell's response: "I know."


8| Angel (Buffy The Vampire Slayer, season 2)
A truly heartbreaking demise for poor vampire Angel. After losing his sensitive soul by having sex with Buffy, he rampages about as sadistic Angelus, attempting to resurrect nasty demon Acathla for fun and to bring about the end of the world. Killing Angelus will stop the apocalypse, but wouldn't you know it, just as Buffy is about to slice Angelus with a sword, a spell from Willow changes him back into lovely Angel.

As fans and Buffy sob, she kisses him and kills him anyway. But, hey, if you're going to be murdered by your one true love, at least it's because you're saving the world by being sucked into some hell vortex. That's cool, right?

(Somewhat undone by his return and spin-off series, but you can't have everything.)

From: Digital Spy

This story originally appeared on

* Minor edits have been made by the editors.

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