TV Shows Suffer After Killing Off Beloved Characters

TV shows like "Dexter," "The Walking Dead," and "Grey's Anatomy" faced backlash and ratings declines after killing off fan-favorite characters. Other shows, including "Bones," "Orange is the New Black," and "Game of Thrones," also experienced negative reactions to major character deaths.

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Nitish Verma
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TV Shows Suffer After Killing Off Beloved Characters

TV Shows Suffer After Killing Off Beloved Characters

Killing off a beloved character can be a risky move for TV shows, as it can lead to a significant backlash from fans and a decline in ratings. Many popular series have faced criticism and drops in viewership after writing off fan-favorite characters in shocking or controversial ways.

One notable example is the Showtime series "Dexter," which saw its ratings decline after the death of the Trinity Killer, a popular villain. "The Walking Dead" faced similar backlash after killing off Glenn Rhee, a fan-favorite character, in a brutal and graphic manner.

Other shows that suffered after major character deaths include "Grey's Anatomy," which was criticized after the exit of Derek Shepherd; "Bones," which saw ratings drop after killing off Vincent Nigel-Murray; and "Orange is the New Black," which faced fan outrage over the death of beloved inmate Poussey Washington.

The long-running soap opera "Dallas" is infamous for its "Bobby in the shower" plot twist, which revealed that Bobby Ewing's death was just a dream. The move was widely panned and led to a decline in the show's ratings. "Two and a Half Men" also saw its viewership fall after Charlie Sheen's departure as the main character Charlie Harper.

While shocking deaths were a hallmark of "Game of Thrones," the killing of Ned Stark, played by Sean Bean, in the first season was a major turning point. "Sons of Anarchy" and "Vikings" also faced criticism after the deaths of Opie Winston and Ragnar Lothbrok, respectively. The sitcom "8 Simple Rules" struggled after John Ritter's passing, who played patriarch Paul Hennessy, in 2003.

These examples demonstrate the significant impact that killing off a popular character can have on a TV show's success. While such deaths can be powerful storytelling tools, they also risk alienating viewers and damaging a series' long-term prospects. As television continues to evolve, showrunners must carefully weigh the potential consequences before deciding to write off a beloved character.

Key Takeaways

  • Killing off a beloved character can lead to fan backlash and ratings decline.
  • Shows like "Dexter" and "The Walking Dead" suffered after killing off popular characters.
  • Other shows that faced criticism include "Grey's Anatomy", "Bones", and "Orange is the New Black".
  • Some shows, like "Game of Thrones", successfully used shocking deaths as a storytelling tool.
  • Showrunners must weigh the risks and consequences before killing off a beloved character.