By EW Staff
June 07, 2021 at 04:00 PM EDT
Advertisement

As I Want My Teen TV continues, we're celebrating the teen TV that made us ... sob uncontrollably? The fact is, as great as teen shows are at telling everyday high school stories about homework and first crushes, they're also really great at tackling heavier drama. Yep, we're talking about deaths.

Teen shows have never shied away from killing characters, so we've rounded up 15 character deaths that will stick with us for the rest of our lives.

Related Items

THE O.C.
Credit: Michael Desmond/FOX

Marissa Cooper (Mischa Barton), The O.C.

Marissa Cooper (Mischa Barton) was drawn to tragedy. But after surviving an overdose in Tijuana, her father's lies, and just generally life as Julie Cooper's (Melinda Clarke) daughter, we'd hoped she'd get the happy ending she deserved, preferably with Ryan (Ben McKenzie) by her side. But after high school graduation, on her way out of town, Volchok (Cam Gigandet) decides he has to talk to her, so much so that he drives Ryan and Marissa off the road. The girl next door then dies in the arms of the man she loved. On the one hand, it was an epic end for a tragic character. On the other hand, it was just too sad. —Samantha Highfill

williams-DC
Credit: Columbia TriStar Television

Jen Lindley (Michelle Williams), Dawson's Creek

When Jen arrives in the Dawson's Creek pilot, she's the new girl in town who immediately catches Dawson's (James Van Der Beek) eye. Six seasons later, she's a beloved friend and a single mother when she discovers that she has a fatal heart condition, which rears its head when she collapses at Gale's (Mary-Margaret Humes) wedding. Dawson's series finale then serves as a goodbye to Jen as she leaves behind her friends, her Grams, and of course, her daughter, whom she leaves to her bestie Jack (Kerr Smith). When it comes to series finales, you'd be hard pressed to find one that will make you cry harder than an hour that means goodbye for both a crucial character and an entire series. —SH

Chris (Joe Dempsie), Skins
Credit: Channel 4

Chris (Joe Dempsie), Skins

The U.K. sensation (and its doomed Stateside remake) were both celebrated and reviled for their deliberately raw takes on teen sexuality and substance use — remember the moral panic around the 2011 MTV premiere? And back when the O.G. generation of the original British series first aired, Chris Miles (Joe Dempsie) seemed to represent everything on the show that kept moms up at night: a heedless party boy who happily admitted he would "smoke/screw/rob/snort anything.” But his sudden death by brain hemorrhage after a party in the penultimate episode of season 2 felt like a bullet to the heart: the show’s most lovable scamp suddenly struggling to remember the name of his own girlfriend as the light fell from his eyes, and his terrified schoolmate Cassie (Hannah Murray) stood by helplessly. Good night, sweet Chris. — Leah Greenblatt

Finn (Cory Monteith), Glee
Credit: Everett Collection

Finn (Cory Monteith), Glee

Production on season 5’s “The Quarterback” began just over a month after Glee star Cory Monteith’s death in July 2013. That means the pain of watching the episode is twofold: the characters in the McKinley/New Directions universe have to say goodbye to Finn, but you also feel palpable grief from the actors — many of whom starred alongside Monteith from the show’s first episode — in every scene. Two particularly wrenching moments include Santana (Naya Rivera) breaking down performing The Band Perry’s “If I Die Young” and a heartbreaking turn from Lea Michele’s Rachel, who brings an already-emotional episode to its apex while singing Adele’s “Make You Feel My Love.” —Jessica Derschowitz

BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER
Credit: Warner Bros. Television

Joyce Summers (Kristine Sutherland), Buffy the Vampire Slayer

In a show rampant with supernatural death and suffering, nothing hit harder than the loss of Buffy’s (Sarah Michelle Gellar) mom, Joyce (Kristine Sutherland), when she suffered a brain aneurysm in the season 5 episode, “The Body.” Buffy, whose superhuman physical strength normally allows her to overcome any obstacles, is left feeling utterly powerless in a very human situation. Hailed by critics as potentially the best installment of the supernatural series, the episode is striking in its starkness. Stripped entirely of music, its stillness drives the home the impact of grief on the Slayer, as she struggles to grasp a new reality that no longer includes her mother. With the loss of her mom, Buffy is forced to leave behind her teenage/college life for good and step into the parent role for her younger sister, while, you know, still saving the world. All in all, it’s a wrenching watch, and a loss with ripple effects for episodes and seasons to come as Buffy descends into a dark downward spiral. —Ruth Kinane

Allison (Crystal Reed), Teen Wolf
Credit: MTV

Allison Argent (Crystal Reed), Teen Wolf

Talk about a shocking death. Three seasons into Teen Wolf — and furthermore, into Scott (Tyler Posey) and Allison's (Crystal Reed) love story — a rescue mission goes terribly wrong when one of the Oni manages to stab Allison with its sword. Allison, who'd evolved from a love interest to an incredible archer, then falls into the arms of her first love. As Lydia (Holland Roden) screams out for her best friend, Allison tells Scott that she loves him one last time, moments before she dies. Although the show would run for three more seasons, Allison's death remained the biggest twist. —SH

ROSWELL, Colin Hanks
Credit: Everett Collection

Alex (Colin Hanks), Roswell

Alex Whitman (Colin Hanks) had the tough job on Roswell of being the last one to find out about the aliens. He felt left out after discovering his friends were deeply entangled in the increasingly dangerous world of aliens and the unknown. Although the evidence originally pointed to death by suicide, it's eventually revealed that Tess (Emilie de Ravin), in forcing him to translate an alien text, warped his mind so much that there was nothing left of him. When Tess uses her powers to calm him down, she kills him, a loss that rocked all of his friends and Roswell viewers.  —Alamin Yohannes

ONE TREE HILL
Credit: Everett Collection

Keith (Craig Scheffer), One Tree Hill

As if season 3, episode 16 of One Tree Hill wasn’t already maxed out on traumatic events after Jimmy (Colin Fickers) brings a gun to school and holds everyone hostage, Dan (Paul Johansson) out-Dans himself and uses the chaos and tragedy to kill his own brother Keith (Craig Sheffer) mere moments after Keith was the ultimate hero in talking Jimmy out of killing anyone. Adding insult to injury: Dan uses Jimmy’s own gun to do it, framing Jimmy for Keith’s death because he knew that the teen took his own life during the school shooting and therefore wouldn’t be able to expose Dan’s murderous actions. This was the most evil thing Dan ever did on One Tree Hill — which is saying something, because he truly was a monster throughout the entire series. Keith had just saved the day and the hurt and betrayal in his eyes as he realizes what his own brother is about to do will forever haunt fans. What made it even worse was a full season of waiting for Lucas (Chad Michael Murray) to learn the truth, and watching Dan get closer to Karen (Moira Kelly) the whole time. Evil, evil, evil. —Sydney Bucksbaum

J.T. Dies | Degrassi: The Next Generation
Credit: CATV

J.T. (Ryan Cooley), Degrassi: The Next Generation

J.T. Yorke (Ryan Cooley) was one of the most beloved students at Degrassi. Viewers watched his wonderful friendship with Toby (Jake Goldsbie) and his romance with Liberty (Sarah Barrable-Tishauer), growing up with and alongside him. One of Degrassi: The Next Generation’s most gutting moments was his murder at the hands of Drake Lempkey (Brendan McMurtry-Howlett), a student from Lakehurst. Degrassi viewers, and J.T.’s classmates, were heartbroken to watch a senseless act of violence cut the young boy’s life short. Hearing Liberty yell “tell me” to Toby before discovering that J.T. didn’t make it, then seeing her unable to speak is an emotional moment fans of the teen drama will never forget. His impact is felt throughout the series, including when his class graduates and his friends put a graduation cap by his picture at the J.T. Yorke Memorial Garden.  —Alamin Yohannes

SMALLVILLE
Credit: Sergei Bachlakov/The CW

Jonathan Kent (John Schneider), Smallville

Knowing all season long that Clark Kent (Tom Welling) was going to lose someone he loved didn’t make it any easier when his father Jonathan Kent (John Schneider) had a heart attack and died in the 100th episode. The entire hour was a roller coaster of emotions as Clark finally decided to tell Lana (Kristin Kruek) the truth about himself, resulting in their blissfully satisfying engagement that was cut short when Lana’s accidental death results in Clark going back in time to “fix” his mistake and save her by not telling her the truth about himself. This effectively killed any chance they had to be a couple moving forward — and drove her right into Lex’s (Michael Rosenbaum) arms. And to make matters worse, saving Lana’s life meant Jonathan died instead to find a balance. Clark learned a hard lesson from this episode: his actions have real consequences. It’s a lesson that stuck with him throughout the second half of Smallville, but this episode in particular kicks off a depressing run in the series that can all be tied back to Jonathan’s death, making it even more frustrating and devastating for fans knowing what we almost had. —Sydney Bucksbaum

Riverdale "Chapter Ten: The Lost Weekend" Pictured: Luke Perry
Credit: Cate Cameron/The CW

Fred (Luke Perry), Riverdale

The world was shocked when, in February 2019, Luke Perry suffered a massive stroke and died. The star had filmed through most of Riverdale's third season, so the creative team took a moment to decide how to handle his death on-screen. The season 4 premiere then served as Fred's farewell — he died in a car accident after stopping to help a woman on the side of the road. It was a heroic and heartbreaking end for the character made all the more heartbreaking by the fact that the world had lost such a kind soul in Perry. —Samantha Highfill

Veronica Mars
Credit: Michael Desmond/Hulu

Logan (Jason Dohring), Veronica Mars

Rob Thomas, how dare you. After three seasons and a movie of high highs and devastatingly low lows, the Veronica Mars showrunner finally gave us Marshmallows the LoVe happy ending we deserved between Veronica (Kristen Bell) and Logan (Jason Dohring) — only to take it back immediately in the cruelest way possible. Season 4 ended with Veronica and Logan getting married and about to literally ride off into the sunset together, but a car bomb planted in Veronica’s car leftover from the case she just finished solving kills Logan right in front of her eyes. A quick time jump shows Veronica a year later leaving Neptune behind before the finale ends, but in our eyes, Veronica Mars ends as soon as the LoVe wedding does. Why couldn’t the credits just roll then? What was all the will-they-won’t-they even for if it was just going to end in disaster? This death was not only gut-wrenching and heartbreaking — it was wholly unnecessary. —Sydney Bucksbaum

The Vampire Diaries -- "It's Been a Hell of a Ride"
Credit: Bob Mahoney/The CW

Stefan Salvatore (Paul Wesley), The Vampire Diaries

The Vampire Diaries understood the power of killing its characters. From Vicki's (Kayla Ewell) death, which started it all, to the devastating loss of Lexi (Arielle Kebbel), Jenna (Sara Canning), Alaric (Matt Davis), and many, many others, the CW drama knew the impact that a shocking death could make. So, when it came time to end the series after eight seasons, it delivered its biggest death to date: In order to save the town of Mystic Falls, Stefan Salvatore (Paul Wesley) once again put on his hero hair and stayed behind to take down Katherine (Nina Dobrev) once and for all. With one final chance to right a wrong, Stefan injected Damon (Ian Somerhalder) with the cure, giving Damon and Elena (Nina Dobrev) a chance at a happy, human life. His death then allowed him to say goodbye to Elena and find peace with Lexi while the rest of us emptied our tear ducts. —Samantha Highfill

Pretty Little Liars
Credit: Randy Holmes/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images

Maya (Bianca Lawson), Pretty Little Liars

Maya St. Germain (Bianca Lawson) brought so much to Pretty Little Liars in a short amount of time. Bianca Lawson’s teen was bold and confident on the twist-filled rollercoaster of a show. She was also crucial to Emily Fields (Shay Mitchell) coming to terms with her sexuality as her first girlfriend. The death rocked Emily and all of the shippers who watched them as they fell in love. Pretty Little Liars is a show full of tragedy, but Emily and the Liars running in gowns to Emily’s house after seeing the police to learn Maya’s body was found is a sequence that fans can never forget. It was a tragic and devastating end for the beloved couple that deeply impacted those who watched the hit series. —Alamin Yohannes

Katherine Langford as Hannah Baker
Credit: Beth Dubber/Netflix

Hannah Baker (Katherine Langfort), 13 Reasons Why

We knew Hannah Baker (Katherine Langford) was going to die. That was the very premise of 13 Reason Why's first season: Hannah explains why she decided to take her own life. And yet, through watching her story, we couldn't help but hope she'd somehow see a light at the end of the tunnel and change her mind. But ultimately, she didn't, and viewers watched as a young girl die by suicide, bringing her story to a truly devastating end. —Samantha Highfill

Related content:

Comments