SPOILER ALERT: If you haven't caught up on this week's Grey's Anatomy, you've been warned! But – unless you've been fast asleep since Thursday's episode – you've probably already heard the news.
McDreamy is no more (say it ain't so!). Derek Shepherd rescued victims of a fiery car accident only to die from injuries sustained in a car accident himself. He was taken to a hospital where the only people available to help him were apparently neurosurgeons still in training. Too bad they couldn't hear his inner dialogue in order to treat him properly. Oh, and Meredith's gut-wrenching stroll down McDreamy Memory Lane was too much to take. Shonda, why?!
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Leslie Shay (Lauren German)
Chicago Fire tore fans apart by killing off original cast member Lauren German, whose character, Leslie Shay, died in the line of duty when the roof of a burning building collapsed during a rescue mission.
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Will Gardner (Josh Charles), The Good Wife
How He Died: Shot by his client in court
Why His Death Is Heartbreaking: Because absolutely no one saw it coming (well, except for Charles, who wanted to leave after his contract was up). The CBS drama is never short on twists and turns but killing it's lead male character was a sudden and devastating blow to fans. Even more soul-crushing than seeing a lifeless Will in the hospital with dry blood on his head was that Will had called his friend-turned-lover-turned-rival Alicia hours before he died, but she was never able to find out why. In the chilling final moments of the next episode, Alicia closed her tear-soaked eyes and imagined Will telling her, "I'm sorry. I want what we had. I want to be with you and only you forever. Call me back please."
Joyce Summers (Kristine Sutherland), Buffy the Vampire Slayer
How She Died: Suddenly, from a brain tumor
Why Her Death Is Heartbreaking: Inspired by the death of his own mother, creator Joss Whedon was able to capture the numbing grief of a son or daughter faced with becoming the adult and having a sustaining parental influence yanked away. Although the series dealt with all manner of supernatural death, Joyce's sudden transition from Buffy's vibrant mom to a mere, lifeless body drove home the fact that "normal" life also had its troubles and that Buffy's superhuman powers could not always save the day.
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Mrs. Landingham (Kathryn Joosten), The West Wing
How She Died: Killed in a car accident by a drunk driver
Why Her Death Is Heartbreaking: As his father's former secretary, Mrs. Landingham was a loyal supporter of President Jed Bartlet from the time he was a child, and her dry humor and generally unimpressed attitude towards the trappings of politics kept him in check even when he held the highest office in the country. A loyal, hardworking woman until the very end, Mrs. Landingham's simple way of life and unassuming nature were endearing right up until her shocking death in Season 2, when she was on her way to the White House to show the President her new car.
Lori Grimes (Sarah Wayne Callies), The Walking Dead
How She Died: Due to complications during labor, Maggie performs a C-section to save Lori's baby, but Lori doesn’t survive.
Why Her Death Is Heartbreaking: Lori's death not only proved that no one was safe on The Walking Dead, but it also tested her son Carl, who had to find the courage to shoot his own mother in the head so she wouldn't turn into a zombie. Her husband Rick was so distraught, he began to lose his sanity.
How She Died: Lucy is stabbed four times in vital places by schizophrenic law student Paul Sobricki (David Krumholtz), who also stabs Carter. She stabilizes in surgery, but eventually develops a pulmonary embolism and dies.
Why Her Death Is Heartbreaking: Taking place on Valentine's Day, the two-parter captured the tight-knit bond of the staff, as the whole hospital banded together to try to save two of their own. The fact that Lucy, a studious, determined med student full of promise, saw her future unfulfilled only magnified the sorrow. Her death also marked one of the rare times that the boorish Romano broke down, and kick-started a lengthy narcotics addiction for Carter, who was ridden with survivor's guilt and never really forgave himself.
How She Died: The Trinity Killer murdered Rita by slitting her femoral artery in a bathtub, leaving her to bleed out.
Why Her Death Is Heartbreaking: Dexter has offed plenty of people over the years, but Rita's death was the first that actually affected him personally, partially because the horrifying murder scene echoed his own mother's death. It was only after Rita's death that Dexter, who had never really shown any sort of emotion, realized he truly was capable of love. It also marked a turning point in the series for Dexter, who went on to open up about his secret to new love interests.
Denny Duquette (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), Grey's Anatomy
How He Died: After Izzie cut his LVAD wire so he'd move up on the heart transplant list, Denny died from a blood clot shortly after the transplant.
Why His Death Is Heartbreaking: Denny's death was particularly heart-wrenching because it was the first major death that affected the original group of Seattle Grace interns — particularly Izzie, who Denny proposed to hours befoe dying. His death left such a mark, both Meredith and Izzie saw visions of him at critical life-and-death moments during subsequent seasons.
How He Died: Decapitated by the order of King Joffrey
Why His Death Is Heartbreaking: We've gotten used to seeing Sean Bean die over the years, but we never saw this death coming. Not only was Ned Stark Game of Thrones's central hero, but he was also one our favorite characters! After uncovering the illegitimacy of the bastard king Joffrey, Ned was betrayed by his "friends" and publically beheaded. To make matters worse, the entire ordeal was witnessed by his daughter Sansa, whose fiance Joffrey later forced to view Ned's head on a spike.
Marvin Eriksen Sr. (Bill Fagerbakke), How I Met Your Mother
How He Died: Racing to tell his dad some good news, Marshall bumps into Lily, who tells him that his dad has died of a heart attack.
Why His Death Is Heartbreaking: The abrupt reveal was a shocking gut-punch, exacerbated by Segel's pitch-perfect crestfallen heartache and his ad-libbed line, "I'm not ready for this" (he had no idea what Hannigan was going to say to him). While the death was surprising, the signs where there, in a form of a 50 to 1 countdown throughout the episode that made us take stock in our own mortality: We go about our lives unaware of a countdown ticking in the background.
How He Died: A chain-reaction car accident
Why His Death Is Heartbreaking: Gary was one of the series' central group of friends and he had just gotten married, become a father and celebrated that his good friend Nancy (Patricia Wettig) had beaten cancer. He was a free-spirited guy who preferred riding his bike to driving in cars, which is why the manner of his death was so unexpected and poignant.
How He Died: After finally getting discharged from the Army, Blake's transport plane was shot down over the Sea of Japan.
Why His Death Is Heartbreaking: Although Stevenson's departure from the show had been announced, no one expected it to be so permanent. The show always had a knack for balancing laughs with serious reflections on war, but Col. Blake's death marked a serious turning point. Rarely on TV had a major character been killed off in such tragic fashion. In fact, producers kept Blake's death secret from the cast and crew until the final scene, during which Radar comes into the O.R. to tell everyone the sad news. The actors' shocked and sad reactions were all genuine.
How She Died: Shot in the woods by Silvio
Why Her Death Is Heartbreaking: While other wives and girlfriends of Tony Soprano's crew members were interchangeable pasta servers, Adriana went from a minor character in Season 1 to one of the true hearts of the show by the time her journey abruptly came to a close. After she unknowingly befriended an undercover FBI agent and got herself in deep with the Feds, everyone knew there was only way her story could end since her love, Christopher, would never ever leave Tony's side. The Sopranos boasted an extremely high body count during its run, but Adriana's compassion and strength made her death one of the hardest blows.
Sun-Hwa and Jin-Soo Kwon (Yunjin Kim and Daniel Dae Kim), Lost
How They Died: While the castaways are on a submarine, a bomb explodes underwater, trapping Sun in the wreckage. Refusing to leave his wife's side, Jin drowns alongside her.
Why Their Deaths Are Heartbreaking: Their untimely ends came as their incredibly rocky marriage had finally been fixed, but they didn't have the opportunity to reap the benefits. And let's not forget the fact that Jin never even got to meet their little girl. Sniff. We'll always miss the Kwons.
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Jen Lindley (Michelle Williams), Dawson's Creek
How She Died: She suffered from a fatal heart condition.
Why Her Death Is Heartbreaking: For the final hour of the show, Jen laid in the hospital as the gang reminisced, giving the series an excuse to show an unaired version of the opening theme song and also play up the "Who will Joey choose?" question. Ultimately, Jen passed away at age 25 with her Grams by her side, leaving her legacy via video for her daughter that would grow up in the care of Jen's best friend Jack.
How He Died: A drive-by shooting at the hands of a loan shark
Why His Death Is Heartbreaking: Yes, we'll admit that among the many misfires made on Wisteria Lane following its fantastic first season was the writers' complete lack of good material for Mike. However, it didn't make his cold-blooded murder any less devastating for fans who had spent eight years rooting for Mike and Susan's happy ending. But at least Mike's murder, which occurred several episodes before the series finale, gave Susan something to do other than pratfalls.
How He Died: Gunshot to the head. Later, he "died" a second time after his spirit voluntarily left the living world permanently.
Why His Death Is Heartbreaking: "Uncle" Bobby was the only family Sam and Dean had left after they lost their parents. Knowing how much the brothers depended on him, Bobby refused to pass to the other side when he was shot and remained on Earth as a spirit, which only made his second death more painful as he slowly became a Vengeful Spirit. When Sam and Dean had to say their final goodbyes, he passed on one last piece of advice to his beloved idjits: When their time comes, move on.
How She Died: Killed in a car crash by a drunken driver
Why Her Death Is Heartbreaking: Law & Order so rarely delved into the personal lives of its characters that when it offered even the smallest glimpse behind the curtain, viewers knew to pay close attention. So when acerbic detective and recovering alcoholic Lennie Briscoe fell off the wagon and called beloved ADA Claire for a lift, viewers thought it was simply to highlight his downfall. Unfortunately, it was to show Claire's, who picked Lennie up only to be hit and killed by a drunk driver while a drunken Lennie walked away from the scene unscathed.
How She Died: She was fatally shot in the stomach by her kidnapper.
Why Her Death Is Heartbreaking: Teri's death proved that good guy can't always win. When you're in a high-profile national security job like Jack Bauer's, the wife and kids are usually among the first to be targeted for leverage. Even so, Teri snuck and killed and survived her way through Day 1 almost better than Jack. Until CTU mole Nina kidnapped her and shot her fatally in the stomach. Can we get a Jack Bauer "Damn it!" on that one?
How He Died: After he acted as a police informant, Wallace was shot by fellow drug dealers Bodie and Poot .
Why His Death Is Heartbreaking: Wallace acted as a big brother to some of the younger drug dealers, packing them lunches and helping them with their homework. Sadly, it was his desire to leave the drug life behind that prompted him to talk to the police, which resulted in his death being ordered by Stringer Bell. Wallace died begging for his life while his two childhood friends gunned him down. With Wallace's death, it was clear that nothing was off-limits for creator David Simon in his telling of gang life in Baltimore.
How He Died: He was shot and killed by sniper Jacob Broadsky.
Why His Death Is Heartbreaking: The quirky, factoid-spouting squintern was beloved by the fans (and it was revealed during his death that he was also Brennan's favorite). Although losing loved ones is always tough, Mr. Nigel-Murray's pleas as he was bleeding out were particularly sad. "Please don't. Just don't make me go. I don't want to go," he said. His death weighed heavily on the entire team, particularly Brennan, who turned to Booth's bed for comfort. (Yes, the death finally drove them together. Silver lining?)
How They Died: Various means, including murder, heart attacks and old age
Why Their Deaths Are Heartbreaking: After five seasons of experiencing love, loss and heartbreak with the Fisher family of undertakers, the Six Feet Under series finale ended in the most appropriate (yet still emotionally shattering) way the series could: by flashing forward to show how each of the living central characters died. We're not sure which of the future deaths left us sobbing the most — ex-cop Keith being gunned down by robbers, Brenda dying in a nursing home with her brother, or Claire outliving everyone and passing away quietly at age 102 as she reflected on her life.
How She Died: Multiple organ failure caused by amantadine poisoning
Why Her Death Is Heartbreaking: Because of a combination of guilty conscience, drugs and a concussion, Dr. House fails to diagnose Amber in time to be treated. It's a particularly tragic death because House felt like he let down his best friend Dr. Wilson, who was dating Amber and had to pull the plug on her bypass and watch her die.