10 Saddest Moments In Television History

By Rick Gonzales | Published

Saddest Moments in Television History

Good television shows have the propensity to keep you entertained. Great television shows, however, will have you feeling emotions you never thought possible. The great television shows have a way of pulling you in, making you feel for each character, good or bad. It is because of this (and kudos to both the writers and actors who pull off these emotional acrobats) that we have found the 10 saddest moments in television history.

For those of you who have invested in these TV shows, you know what we are talking about. Some of these moments were shocking while others you knew were coming. Still, even knowing the moment was on its way, never prepared you for when it actually happened. Grab your box of Kleenex, just reading about these may cause some tears.

10. The death of Rita Morgan – Dexter

Fans of vigilante serial killer Dexter understand the phrase, “born in blood.” This phrase came into play when Dexter’s rivalry with the Trinity serial killer came to a head in the season four finale. In it, Dexter comes home to find his wife Rita, a victim of Trinity, as she lies in a bathtub filled with her blood. If that wasn’t the saddest moment, how about Dexter’s son Harrison, who is found sitting in the bloody water having watched the life pour out of his mother.

9. The "Jurassic Bark" Episode – Futurama

Not all sad moments are live-action fare, and the animated series Futurama is proof positive. In the Jurassic Bark episode, heartstrings tugged tremendously when Fry discovers that Seymour, his dog from the past, was actually loyal to the very end. Although Fry was spirited off to the future, Seymour waited for him for years until Seymour finally passed of old age. That final scene showing Seymour’s life is a complete tear-jerker.

8. The Death of Will Gardner - The Good Wife

Josh Charles’ Will Gardner was a very important piece of The Good Wife puzzle. At first, he has feelings for Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies), starting an affair with her, until they break up. He becomes a ladies’ man, all while being a major part of the series. He is someone audiences were invested in.

So, when episode 15 of season five rolled around, fans were not prepared when Will’s client stood up in the courtroom and shot and killed him. Tragic, heartbreaking, and one of the saddest moments on television.

7. Opie’s Ultimate Sacrifice – The Sons of Anarchy

Throughout the first four seasons of The Sons of Anarchy, Jax and Opie were the epitome of true brotherhood. So, when season 5 rolled around and we saw Jax, Opie, and the other Sons in jail, we had a feeling that things weren’t going to end well for one of them.

Sons’ nemesis Damon Pope gave Jax an ultimatum – give up the life of one of the Sons to let the others go free unharmed. Jax wasn’t giving up anyone and planned on sacrificing his own life, that is, until Opie stepped in. After telling Jax, “I got this,” Jax was forced to watch as Opie was bludgeoned to death with a lead pipe. A brutal and sad moment.

6. The Six Feet Under Finale

After five seasons and 62 episodes, episode 63 was the emotionally charged finale, and boy did it hit home. As the episode comes to its conclusion, it accomplishes the rare feat of showing just how life ends for each main character. In a flash-forward, we get a montage of goodbyes to each beloved character, being witness to how life comes to completion. It is harrowing, sad, and ultimately heartbreaking.

5. When Charlie Drowns - Lost

The writing was on the wall for a long time for Charlie (Dominic Monaghan), our favorite heroin-addicted former rock star, who defied death a few times on the island. But it was his ultimate sacrifice that became one of the saddest moments on television. In order for his friends to get to safety, Charlie had to lock himself in a room filled with water. As he slowly (painfully slow) succumbed to the watery death, he was able to write an important message on his hand to pass along. From zero to hero in one final swoop.

4. The Death Of Dr. Mark Greene – ER

This was one death we all knew was coming, but still, being prepared and actually watching it happen are two different things. Anthony Edwards portrayed Dr. Mark Greene on ER and was the moral compass for the show. So, when his character was diagnosed with brain cancer, we knew the ultimate end. It was a heart-wrenching end to a fan favorite and one of the saddest moments on TV.

3. The Red Wedding - Game of Thrones

It didn’t take Game of Thrones long to let viewers know and understand not to get emotionally connected to any of the main characters. The culmination of this happened in the Season 3 episodes, “The Rains of Castemere,” aka “The Red Wedding.”

In it, much of the Stark clan (Robb, Talisa, Catelyn, and the Stark Army) were massacred. If you hadn’t already read the George R.R. Martin novel, you were not prepared for what you saw on the small screen.

2. The Death of Derek Shepherd - Grey's Anatomy

In Grey’s Anatomy, death was a weekly happenstance. It was a show about doctors, after all. It was rare, though, when one of the series’ main characters left the show and even more rare when they were killed off. So, when Derek Sheppard (Patrick Dempsey) was involved in a tragic car accident, it first appeared that he might actually survive. The episode followed Derek subconsciously as his mind sides with the resident to get a CT scan. But she was overruled, leading to one of the saddest moments in television history – the death of Dr. McDreamy.

1. The MASH Finale

It aired 40 years ago and to this day is still the most-watched television series finale in the history of television. That tells you all you need to know about the importance of this show. The heartbreak in the finale, “Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen,” was deep as fans were not just saying goodbye to a remarkable cast of characters, but to the revelations that were brought out in the emotional farewell.

Take, for instance, Hawkeye Pierce (Alan Alda) recalling a time when his unit picked up some refugees as the enemy patrol was coming. The bus they were traveling on carried a woman who was holding a chicken that would not stop clucking, threatening to give their position away. The woman ended up killing the chicken to silence it.

But in the reveal of his repressed memory, it is shown that it wasn’t a chicken but instead, a baby that the woman smothered to death at Pierce’s insistence. Brutal and just one part of the saddest moments in television history.