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15 TV Shows That Killed the Main Character

The main character of a series can make or break a show for the audience. After all, TV shows are about feeling something — be it empathy, disgust, or somewhere in between — for those up on screen. But in order for a show to continue, there must be progression of story. One way to do that? Kill off a vital player.

Though they don’t always stay in the ground, the death of a central protagonist always has ramifications. How the others on screen react to losing a loved one can vary greatly, as these deaths are often sudden or unexpected, allowing for a dramatic shift in the show’s dynamic. Whether it was done to save a floundering series or for reasons outside of their control, these 15 TV shows took the great risk of killing off a major character.

1. Game of Thrones

Sean Bean as Ned Stark on Game of Thrones looking down sitting on his throne

Sean Bean as Ned Stark on Game of Thrones looking down sitting on his throne Sean Bean as Ned Stark on Game of Thrones | HBO

This series features a lot of violence, as well as a huge ensemble cast. So it’s no surprise that several of the primary characters on Game of Thrones have been killed off, even ones who are considered indispensable. However, the first major death that really shook audiences was that of Ned Stark, played by Sean Bean, an actor who is known for often dying on screen.

Following Ned came the death of most of his immediate family, including his wife and two of his sons (though Jon Snow is famously brought back to life).

In the Lannister family, Tyrion murders his dad, Tywin. And the hated Joffrey Baratheon, a frequent killer in his own right, is poisoned on his wedding day.

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