After the Super Bowl, NBC’s breakout drama This Is Us finally revealed how beloved father Jack Pearson lost his life, taking the mystery out of a heart-wrenching death that viewers have been waiting for a year and a half to solve.
It’s still pretty recent, so we won’t get into the details of Jack’s death to avoid spoiling it for those of you still catching up – but even if you’re not watching the NBC megahit, it’s pretty likely that you have seen countless photos mourning the lost character on social media. It would be hard to ignore the shared grief even if you wanted to, and Milo Ventimiglia’s much too handsome to miss while scrolling down your feed, anyway.
The despair may seem a bit blown out of proportion, but it’s probably because audiences are no stranger to TV series-induced heartbreak via TV character deaths. Avid television watchers are exposed to a lot of pain throughout their series fandom. You’ve probably experienced some of it yourself at one time or another: the dreaded “show hole” you fall into once you’re done binge-watching a new series you fell in love with, the very real tears you cry when your favorite couple shares a heart-wrenching breakup on screen, and – of course – the emptiness you feel when Game of Thrones kills off another one of your favorite characters. (Remind me: Why do we do this to ourselves again?!)
Still, it’s better to have loved and lost than never loved at all. Here are five of the most unexpected, heartbreaking and earth-shattering TV character deaths to grace our television screens (and, yes, spoilers are included):
5. Marissa Cooper, ‘The O.C.’
Similar to Jack Pearson’s very publicly mourned death, chances are you’ve heard of Marissa Cooper’s fateful end on The O.C. even if you’ve never seen it.
Fox’s hit teen drama decided to tear out our hearts with absolutely no warning during its third season finale in 2006. After graduating from Harbor High School earlier in the day, Marissa’s on-again-off-again boyfriend Ryan Atwood was driving her to the airport for a yearlong stay with her father in the Greek isles when Marissa’s bad news ex-boyfriend Kevin Volchok shows up and starts ramming into Atwood’s car. He ran them off the road in a fit of rage, and a furious Marissa refused to talk to him him before leaving.
It’s not enough that Marissa was fresh off of graduating high school and being carried from a burning car by her equally gorgeous lover – no, one of the countless covers of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah cued up to twist the knife in your gut at all of the saddest parts, too. As you can imagine, people went crazy with grief. Not to mention the creator of the show is apparently still haunted by her ghost.