On Sunday’s The Strain, “Creatures of the Night,” we saw a major character killed off after a failed attempt to rid of him of the worms that cause vampirism failed and he was gunned down, with permission, by a new member of his group.
This was a shocking turn of events since we’re in the middle of the first season and while this character is by no means the lead of the show, he was one of the co-leads. He, however, is not alone in being a major character to die early–and by early, we mean in the first season of what are multiple-season shows.
The Strain Recap: One Friend is Lost, Another is Gained>>>
Despite his friends’ best efforts, this Sunday’s The Strain was the last episode for turncoat turned good guy again Jim Kent. He was infected by the virus and while Eph thought he was able to remove the infecting worm, more had already multiplied in his former friend’s body. Eph pleaded for more time to figure out a cure, but Vasiliy Fet, a new friend to the group, put him out of his upcoming misery and shot him.
It was a shocking turn of events, especially for anyone expecting Kent to be a valuable resource on identifying those behind the virus threat. (Or for those who didn’t think portrayer Sean Astin would be killed off on the first season of a show!)
Here’s a list of some of the other major TV characters that have been killed off in the first season in their show. They’re listed by how long they lasted.
Spoilers ahead for The Shield, Once Upon a Time, The Vampire Diaries, Game of Thrones, Angel, Spartacus: Blood and Sand, Revolution, Lost, Arrow, 24
Terry Crowley, The Shield (1 episode)
Just in case you thought Vic Mackey was just a morally grey character, the end of The Shield pilot made you think otherwise when he murdered the cop sent to infiltrate his corrupt group, the Strike Team. Mackey’s shot to Terry’s face is a horrific, completely shocking moment that resonates throughout the rest of the show, as it tells you upfront this the plotline going forward won’t actually be a show about a good cop investigating a bad one. And more brilliantly, producers never forget that moment and never let other characters forget it either as it continues to get prominent mentions all the way through the series finale.
Sheriff Graham Humbert, The Huntsman, Once Upon a Time (7 episodes)
Even though the death of Sheriff Graham Humbert, The Huntsman, was planned from the day the pilot of Once Upon a Time was picked up, his death was shocking to fans, especially as he died just as he became the only person in Storybrooke besides Regina and Rumpelstiltskin to know about the curse that made them forget who they really were. That knowledge, however, died with him after he kissed Emma and Regina, the Evil Queen, crushed his heart, killing him.
Vicki Donovan, The Vampire Diaries (7 episodes)
If you thought Damon was just the typical bad boy, episode seven of The Vampire Diaries made sure you understand, that at least in the first season, Damon was the villain. After feeding Vicki Donovan his vampire blood, he decided on a whim to snap her neck and turn her into a vampire to help with her self-esteem issues. Vicki struggled to control the hunger and eventually had to be put down by Stefan, Damon’s brother. Vicki has appeared as a ghost many times over the last few seasons of the show — especially throughout season three — but her death in the first season was proof the show wasn’t afraid to kill off main characters or have them do awful, terrible things.
Ned Stark, Game of Thrones (9 episodes)
Even though it wasn’t a shock to fans of the book, most TV watchers were floored when poor, noble and honorable Ned Stark lost his head. HBO had wisely fooled non-book readers by marketing actor Sean Bean as the lead of the show, staring down at everyone from every single poster. But no, Ned was too good for the world of Westeros to continue living.
Doyle, Angel (9 episodes)
There was a good reason for fans to be surprised Doyle was killed off so early on Angel–it wasn’t done for story-sake, as Joss Whedon has done so many other times, but because of the personal problems of Doyle’s portrayer, Glenn Quinn. In the new book, Joss Whedon: The Biography, Joss Whedon (the creator) and the rest of the team thought firing Quinn would force him to confront his issues with drug abuse. The reason aside, Doyle’s exit is incredibly moving, finally showing the kind of episode Angel could deliver. And, it lead to the arrival of Wesley, who became one of the series’ most beloved characters of all times.
Varro, Spartacus: Blood and Sand (10 episodes)
If you caught on to the awesomeness that is Spartacus: Blood and Sand late in its run, you might have found yourself bored and quite confused during the first season as to why people thought this series was so great. And then you got to episode ten. Spartacus and his best friend, Varro, are dueling in front of high ranking citizens. Varro is bested by Spartacus and falls to his knees, jokingly. Spartacus looks to Numerius, the young boy who they are dueling for, to pass judgment on Varro. To everyone’s surprise, Numerius orders Varro to be killed by Spartacus, who refuses. Varro, who worries for the safety of his friend, leans into his sword to kill himself. Spartacus then murders his friend to spare him any more pain. The death was not only shocking, but was easily one of the catalysts that led to the slave uprising.
Danny Matheson, Revolution (11 episodes)
When it first premiered, Revolution was easily one of the most popular new shows of the season. But as the first ten episodes aired, fans started to turn away in droves, thanks in no small part to the universally hated character, Danny, the brother of the main character, Charlie. The fans that stuck with the show through the months long hiatus were in for a surprise when, in the mid-season premiere, after Charlie is finally reunited with his family (he was kidnapped in the pilot), he is gunned down by a working helicopter an episode after the reunion and dies. Perhaps it was an acknowledgement by producers that the character wasn’t working or perhaps it was destined all along to turn Charlie into the bad-ass that she would remain for the rest of the series.
Boone Carlyle, Lost (20 episodes)
Lost was a show that wasn’t afraid to kill off characters and many barely made it through the pilot. Boone was the first major character to die, however, even though it was almost Charlie a few episodes earlier. Boone’s death brought the simmering tension and anger between Locke and Jack to a head, as well as gave us one of the most tantalizing hints about what happened to those in the tail section of the plane. Boone would return to the show, via flashbacks, many times over the remaining five seasons but his death was the first memorable one.
Tommy Merlyn, Arrow (23 episodes)
Episodes earlier, Oliver’s former best friend, Tommy, only just learned that his friend was the Vigilante–a revelation that he did not take well. (He called Oliver a murderer.) Tommy’s death, at the hands of falling rubble caused by the earthquake machine, is what re-molds Oliver and convinces him to no longer be a murdering vigilante, but a true hero, come the following season.
Teri Bauer, 24 (24 episodes)
While there was an alternative ending shot that showed Jack Bauer’s wife, Teri, still alive, it was never intended to air and was intended to throw off people who might find the leaked real version: a scene in which Teri is dead at the hands of the traitorous Nina. Teri’s death remains one of the most shocking moments in television history — the pregnant wife of a main character is murdered in the final moments of a season — and her death marked the first time 24 used a silent clock to “honor” those that died, a tradition which continued even through the new 24: Live Another Day.
What character death left you the most shocked?
(Image courtesy of FX)