It’s hard to say goodbye to a favorite TV character — and in some cases, it’s a relief to say goodbye to a villain — but it has even more impact when you don’t see it coming. 2017 saw some of the most out-of-the-ordinary deaths, including a show’s main character meeting his demise. Here’s a look at the 13 most shocking deaths from TV in 2017, along with the reasons why they were just so surprising.
#13. Littlefinger from Game of Thrones
Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish (Aiden Gillen) was one of those characters many fans saw lasting until the end. He was going to die, but not until that last moment. Instead his demise came at the end of Game of Thrones Season 7 and it was definitely in style. After years of manipulating events and people for his own gain, his marks turned his tricks against him. Sansa, Arya and Bran Stark worked together to take down their biggest foe in Winterfell.
Game of Thrones returns in 2019 on HBO.
#12. Jasper from The 100
Jasper (Devon Bostick) just couldn’t get over Maya’s death, continually blaming Clarke for her actions. As he spiraled into depression, fans watched him get close to killing himself only to be stopped. Then he learned the world was ending anyway and people would die. He decided to start living life to the fullest, accepting death was going to happen. The fact that he eventually died wasn’t shocking. It was the way his death occurred. In the end, he overdosed on drugs and died in Monty’s arms, creating one of the most heartbreaking scenes in the series.
The 100 returns in 2018 on The CW.
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#11. Michael from Jane the Virgin
The end of a season is always difficult for fans. Sometimes stars aren’t upfront that they’re leaving a show, leaving fans on the edges of their seats. That was the case with Michael (Brett Dier), after he was shot. Jane made the decision to allow doctors to perform a risky surgery and it seemed like he was off death’s list. Michael’s death came after he’d accepted a career change and taken the L-SATs. The heart attack was sudden and impossible to stop, leaving fans in tears.
Jane the Virgin returns Jan. 26 at 9/8c on The CW.
#10. Frank from Outlander
Everyone knew Frank (Tobias Menzies) was going to die, so it wasn’t meant to be shocking. Those who had read the books already had an idea, but those who hadn’t didn’t know if Frank died of a medical condition, a broken heart or if Claire killed him for his cheating, scandalous ways. In the end, his death came as a shock to viewers and to Claire, as Joe had to deliver the news about the car accident in the ice after one of their bigger arguments. Cue plenty of tears, as Claire finally told him that she really did love him after all.
Outlander returns in 2018 on Starz.
#9. Martin Stein from Legends of Tomorrow
There are still questions about whether this is really true. Have we really said goodbye to Dr. Stein on Legends of Tomorrow? Sadly, this shocking death is true and permanent (at least for the time being) since actor Victor Garber has landed a full-time job on Broadway. There was hope that Stein would leave to be with his family, but the show opted for the emotional move at the end of the four-way DC crossover. After weeks of trying to find a way to detach himself from Jax, he was gravely injured. To top things off, the show made it clear there would be no use of time travel to bring him back by having his younger self accept his fate.
Legends of Tomorrow returns in Feb. 2018 on The CW.
#8. Castiel from Supernatural
While the Winchester brothers are the heart and soul of Supernatural, Castiel (Misha Collins) is the glue that keeps everything together. When fans watched Lucifer stab him in the back at the end of the season 12 finale, fans rightfully screamed at their televisions. This would have been an even more shocking death had Crowley not already been killed off earlier in the episode and if the show didn’t have a habit of bringing characters back from the dead.
Supernatural returns on Jan. 18 at 8/7c on The CW.
#7. H.R. Wells from The Flash
The Flash was gearing up for a character death in the Season 3 finale, but nobody expected the one we got. Iris was in the firing line after H.R. Wells (Tom Cavanaugh) accidentally gave her location up. There was only one thing for it. He took on Iris’ look with his transmogrifier and stood in for her. His sacrifice meant Barry and Iris would get their happy ending and Savitar could be defeated. It just wasn’t the way fans saw the finale playing out.
The Flash returns on Jan. 16 at 8/7c on The CW.
#6. Belle from Once Upon a Time
When fans learned that six main characters weren’t returning to Once Upon a Time Season 7 they feared the worst. Were six years of stories just going to be forgotten about? Were all those happy endings going to be ruined? Belle and Rumple’s love story was one of the most questionable, but in the end they found they really did make each other happy. While we had plenty of ideas as to how or why Rumple would leave Belle, very few expected her to die of old age. It was a shock, but a happy shock.
Once Upon a Time returns in 2018 on ABC.
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#5. Dreamer from The Gifted
When Dr. Campbell got his hands on the Strucker kids, it was clear there was danger in The Gifted. They were never going to give him what he wanted, unless he raised the stakes. That’s just what he did by threatening Blink and Dreamer’s lives. Dreamer (Elena Satine) had become an integral part of the mutant underground and had a romantic relationship with Thunderbird. There was even the set up of a love triangle (a typical show device.) Killing Dreamer with a bullet to the chest just to get the Strucker kids to use their powers was definitely not expected.
The Gifted returns on Jan 1. at 9/8c on FOX.
#4. Lewis from The Last Man on Earth
Most of the time, there’s a feeling that a character is going to die. While the timing and manner can be shocking, there’s this sense that it’s going to happen. That wasn’t the case when it came to Lewis’ death on The Last Man on Earth. It blindsided everyone, including the showrunners. It turns out Lewis was meant to die earlier but the showrunners loved Kenny Choi so much that they kept the character for longer. Eventually they had to find a way to take him out and what better way than a surprise plane crash?
The Last Man on Earth returns Jan. 7 at 9:30/8:30c on FOX.
#3. Crowley from Supernatural
Supernatural season finales always raise the bar and season 12 was just the same. After already killing a number of British Men of Letters, it was time to focus on Lucifer and his unborn child, Jack. The first casualty in the Apocalypse World was Crowley, as the writers shockingly opted for a redeeming arc and had him sacrifice himself to close the rift. A death on Supernatural wouldn’t be as shocking if it wasn’t for learning Mark Shepherd was definitely not returning. It left us wondering where we’d be without Crowley.
Supernatural returns Jan. 18 at 8/7c on The CW.
#2. Ragnar from Vikings
The number one rule for shows is not to kill off your main character. When you do that, you start to struggle with the momentum. Many shows have attempted it and seen failure afterwards. Vikings still opted for it to keep up with history. Ragnar (Travis Fimmel) sacrificed himself to the Saxons, knowing that it would rally his sons to avenge his death and start a war with only one outcome. Throughout the episodes, people watched and wondered whether history would be adapted slightly. It wasn’t until Ragnar’s body was thrown into the pit of snakes that viewers believed Michael Hirst really would stick to the bones of the story.
Vikings airs Wednesdays at 9/8c on The History Channel.
#1. Rayna from Nashville
Nashville was another show that opted to kill off its main character. Rayna was the heart of the show and those who hadn’t realized Connie Britton was leaving the show wouldn’t have expected her death at all. Those who did know were sure she’d stick around until the end of the season. The death made sense to write the character out, but there was still the expectation to find a way to save her and keep her until the very end.
Nashville returns for its final season on Jan 4. at 9/8c on CMT.
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Do you agree with this list? Which deaths were the most shocking for you in 2017? Share in the comments below.
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(Images courtesy of The CW, Starz, HBO, FOX, ABC, and The History Channel)