Once Upon A Time and Revenge took some risks recently with each killing off secondary characters who were pretty central to the stories being told. Death of TV characters is usually hard to swallow, no matter who it is. These recent deaths had me thinking about a blog I had written a while back on secondary character deaths that caused major ripples for their series. Here’s a look at the ones that most struck a chord with me.
*Disclaimer: This post will contain spoilers about Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Everwood, 24, Lost, and The Wire*
Tara McLay, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, “Seeing Red”
When you are a show about a town overrun by vampires, you are bound to leave a few casualties along the way. With Tara coming on the scene mid-season four in “Hush”, we really didn’t know what to make of her, and I don’t think anyone expected her to make it to season 6. She didn’t fit in well initially, she came between the much loved Willow/Oz pairing, and she was harboring a secret. But somewhere along the way, this socially awkward witch made her way into our (and the Scoobies) hearts. Much like Joyce’s death was non-demon/vampire/monster related so was Tara’s as a stray shot from Warren’s gun hit her right in the heart, and likely hit many fans, myself included, with a punch in the stomach. Watching Tara and Willow make their way back to each other, only to see their reunion cut so short by her death, was truly painful, but that meant that the show had done an amazing job of creating a character and a couple that fans were really invested in. With her death the ultimately controversial final episodes of the season were set-up and the “Big Bad” revealed. Season 6 will forever be the season of BTVS that polarized fans and Tara’s death was a major part of that.
Colin Hart, Everwood, “The Last of Summer”
I still consider this one of the most shocking deaths ever on television, even though it occurred off screen. I guess with all the factors (beloved town hero, exceptional surgeon, quirky small town) his death just took me off guard. Tricked by the scene in the beginning as we saw what could have been had Colin survived his brain surgery, we were quickly snapped to reality as we were shown the memorial service for him at the high school. As we watched, Colin’s words to Dr. Brown at the end of season 1 echoed in our minds (“When they put me out tomorrow, if I don’t wake up the way I’m supposed to, if I’m not me again, I don’t want to be. Don’t bring me back.”). His death had such a profound effect on the characters, especially Amy who spun out into depression and anger (Emily Van Camp doing some of her best work) and Dr. Brown who held guilt square on his shoulders.
Teri Baur, 24, “Day 1: 11:00 P.M.-12:00 A.M.”
It wasn’t just that on top of everything else that day, Jack had to deal with the death of his wife at the hands of traitor and former mistress Nina Myers, it was that we had actually spent a lot of that day with Teri, becoming invested in her story as well. They spent the entire season apart, so we desperately wanted them to have that happy reunion at the end. But, hey, this is 24. Happy endings for Jack Bauer are hard to come by. Teri’s death spoke volumes to that point. The hole her death left in his life not only by her being gone, but by the estrangement from his daughter that it led to, had a major impact on Jack for the remainder of the series.
Ana Lucia and Libby, Lost, “Two For The Road”
I was so behind on Lost during season 2 that I didn’t watch this episode until about six months after it aired when I knew full well what was coming at the end. Despite this, I sat in shock with my mouth hanging open as I watched Michael shoot first Ana-Lucia and then Libby in his misguided attempt to get Walt back from The Others by freeing Ben (then known as Henry Gale). Not that I was ever the hugest fan of Michael, but I could not look at him the same way after this. Their deaths were all the more controversial because they came not long after Michelle Rodriguez (Ana-Lucia) and Cynthia Watros (Libby) were both charged with DUIs leading to fan speculation that they were killed off of the show because of this.
Wallace, The Wire, “Cleaning Up” and Omar Little, The Wire, “Clarifications”
I couldn’t choose between these two because they were both equally shocking for different reasons. Gunned down in season 1 by his childhood friends, Bodie and Poot, on the orders of Stringer Bell, Wallace, like many of The Wire’s characters, was a complex character who couldn’t see a life for himself beyond the corners. He was our first piece of evidence that the corner boys were just “little bitches on the chessboard”. His death led to the unraveling and eventual death of D’Angelo in season 2. Omar was the stick-up boy we somehow found ourselves rooting for, maybe because he had a code. In some ways, Omar was the center of The Wire popping up when necessary and always being the constant on the street when so many characters came and went either through death or imprisonment. His death was shocking not only because he often seemed like the least vulnerable character but also because he was taken down by the young Kenard. Neither Omar nor any of us could have seen that one coming.
What about it? What character deaths left you in shock?