10+ Character Deaths That Actually Saved Shows

Not every character can have a happy ending. The unfortunate truth about great television writing is that some must die in order for others to live.

These 10+ character deaths actually saved their respective shows (we're sure some will disagree, but that's part of the fun).

Without their noble sacrifice, it goes without saying that some would have never reached their true potential.

Spoiler alert.

Peter Russo in *House Of Cards*.


The death of Peter Russo is what sparks Frank Underwood's descent. From here on in, everything became a means to his end.

This was the first main character death, a trend that would become common as the show progressed.

Ned Stark in *Game Of Thrones*.

This one won't require much explanation for any Game of Thrones fans. It's essentially the single event that sets the whole story into motion.

If Ned never lost his head on the Sept of Baelor, there'd be no story.

Christopher Moltisanti in *The Sopranos*.


The death of Christopher was symbolic in many different ways. It serves as the moment where Tony physically and figuratively "kills his past."

From this point onward, Tony is never plagued by emotions, and he never once second guesses himself.

Carl Grimes in *The Walking Dead*.

Carl slowly became one of the most annoying characters on The Walking Dead. Mainly because there was never any real sense of urgency. No matter what, you always knew that somehow Carl would make it out OK.

His death sent a statement to the world that no one is safe.

Laurel Lance in *Arrow*.

Speaking of annoying characters, I for one was so happy to see Laurel leave. Finally, Oliver was free from his guilt and devotion to a haphazard and incomplete character.

By the end, Laurel was a muddled shell of what she once was.

Piney Winston in *Sons Of Anarchy*.


There are so many important deaths that take place over the course of Sons of Anarchy. Without a doubt, the most vital sacrifice was made by Piney.

Clay murdering the aged biker is what sets events in motion that allow Jax to become president.

Gustavo Fring in *Breaking Bad*.


Was the murder of Gustavo Fring the salvation of Walter White, or did it cause his inevitable demise?

Regardless of where you stand, with Fring out of the picture, the board was open for Heisenberg to become the biggest player on the western seaboard.

Rita Morgan in *Dexter*.


This one cuts right down the middle (pun intended). On the one hand, the death of Rita was a symbolic "baptism in blood" that seemed to suggest Dexter's son Harrison would one day come full-circle and be a killer.

On the other, Dexter started dating his sister almost immediately after this...

Kenny McCormick in *South Park*.

Comedy Central

"Oh my god, they killed Kenny!"

That classic line was said on every episode of South Park for the first four seasons. But in season five, they decided to kill Kenny off for real.

The show began relying more on its pop culture commentaries and less on gimmicks.

Terri Bauer in *24*.


Everybody knows that Terri had to die. If she hadn't, what would have become of Jack Bauer?! Where would he be without his quiet, subdued rage and unrelenting guilt?

I'll tell you where: nowhere. Your sacrifice will never be forgotten, Terri!

Jimmy Darmody in *Boardwalk Empire*.


The death of Jimmy Darmody was the point when Nucky Thompson crossed the line from a corrupt politician, to a power-hungry gangster. From there on in, both Nucky and the show itself stopped dealing in half-measures.

If you messed around, then you got a bullet in the head.

Charlie Harper in *Two And A Half Men*.

Once again, this death is somewhat bittersweet. Yes, Charlie Sheen was out of control and his antics would have likely led to the show being taken off the air completely.

That said, maybe sometimes it is better to burn out than to fade away?

Batiatus in *Spartacus: Blood And Sand*.


The entire Spartacus canon is fantastically underrated. The death of Batiatus is without a doubt the most important and necessary death of the entire series.

Batiatus needed to die in order for Spartacus to revolt and lead his slave army.

Lori Grimes in *The Walking Dead*.


Almost as quickly as it took for Rick to find Lori on The Walking Dead, fans were clamoring for her to meet her end.

It seemed inevitable looking back: A zombie apocalypse is no place for a love affair.

Joffrey Baratheon in *Game Of Thrones*.


If Ned Stark's death united the North, then Joffrey Baratheon did the same for the southerners and the armies of King's Landing.

Joffrey's death is the sole purpose of Cersei's vengeance. Without it, there'd be no reason behind any of it.

Prue Halliwell in *Charmed*.


The death of Prue Halliwell single-handedly saved Charmed from being canceled. At the time, rumors were swirling of a feud between actress Shannon Doherty and co-star Alyssa Milano.

With Prue out of the picture, Rose McGowan was introduced and the show was saved!

Andrea Harrison in *The Walking Dead*.

For a moment, I'd almost completely forgotten about Andrea. She began as one of the strongest, most prominent characters on The Walking Dead.

It didn't take long before it became clear that the writers had absolutely no idea what direction to take her in.

Tracy McConnell in *How I Met Your Mother*.


Tracy's death is essentially the reason for the entire show.

Without it, Ted would have never begun re-telling the story of how he and Tracy met. By extension, he might never have ended up with Robin at all!

Susan Ross in *Seinfeld*.


It became clear to both the writers of Seinfeld, as well as the viewing audience, that George needed to find a way out of his engagement to Susan.

Having her succumb to glue poisoning after licking the envelopes that contained the couple's wedding invitations was a hilariously inventive way of doing just that.

Tuco Salamanca in *Breaking Bad*.


Tuco was the first "big bad" that Walt and Jesse had to overcome in Breaking Bad. Tuco out of the picture allowed the story to grow and progress.

It also laid the groundwork for Walt and Jesse's eventual run-in with the Cartel.

Brian Griffin in *Family Guy*.

Yes, I understand that Brian didn't necessarily stay dead, but that's not the point.

What Family Guy was trying to convey to their audience was that, even after all this time, they were still capable of shaking things up.

Maude Flanders in *The Simpsons*.

This was the first time that a recurring character died on The SImpsons.

Tackling a topic like a death in the family was out of character for the beloved sitcom. It showed to the world just what kind of stories The Simpsons was truly capable of telling.

Pierce Hawthrone in *Community*.


For a long time on Community, Pierce Hawthrone was a necessary evil. Unfortunately, actor Chevy Chase supposedly shared quite a number of Pierce's less than admirable qualities.

It was sad to see Pierce go, but the show would have been dead in the water had he stayed.

George O'Malley in *Grey's Anatomy*

Have you ever been told by someone "Well, if you hate it so much, why don't you quit?" T.R. Knight sure has and that's exactly what he did.

With George out of the picture, tensions subsided and the cast of Grey's Anatomy was able to get back to work, distraction-free.

James Doakes in *Dexter*.


For the first season of Dexter, James Doakes was a great foil. But as the character grew and matured, audiences knew that it was only a matter of time before he and Dexter would eventually come to a head.

His sacrifice will never be forgotten.

Robb Stark in *Game Of Thrones*.

"The Young Wolf" made too many mistakes to be allowed to live. If, in the Game of Thrones ,"You either win or you die," Robb's fate was sealed as soon as he consented to marry a southerner.

His death cleared the path for both Jon and Sansa to take the reigns.

Bobby Singer in *Supernatural*.


I'm not saying that I don't miss Bobby, but he needed to go.

He was the last remnant of Sam and Dean's childhood and, with him gone, the Winchester Brothers were fully in the driver's seat for the first time in seven seasons.

Zoe Barnes in *House Of Cards*.

In the first season, Zoe was necessary. She was an integral part of Frank's gambit. However, it didn't take long before audiences and writers realized she'd overstayed her welcome.

Zoe's death showed the lengths of Frank's power lust and how he'd stop at nothing to achieve his goal.

Jack Pearson in *This Is Us*.

Once again, Jack's death is what makes the bus go in This Is Us. Without it, there's no story at all - in fact there's no show! Otherwise, it would just be a meaningless 45 minutes of emotional manipulation.

Which, of course, it is not...

Steve Wood in *Dead To Me*.


So here I am happily watching Dead to Me, thinking to myself "What in the heck are they going to do for season 2?" Then - WHAM! Steve goes down face-first in Jen's pool.

His death reignited the show's element of suspense and cranked the excitement up to eleven!

Pablo Escobar in *Narcos*.


The tough thing about making a show about a true story is that everyone knows how it ends. Halfway through the second season of Narcos, everyone knew what was coming.

With Pablo dead, Narcos was free to explore new storylines with even deadlier characters.