We know that happy endings can’t last forever in TV land, but if they are going to shatter our dreams, can’t they at least do it on-screen?
Whether it’s a break-up between seasons, off-screen deaths or a miserable life even after a show has ended, these are the moments where writers decided to tear down joyous moments when you weren’t even watching.
1. Heroes: Claire is killed giving birth
This is what happens when one of your biggest stars is busy on another show. When Heroes got revived as Heroes Reborn in 2015, Hayden Panettiere was shooting Nashville and was unable to come back as indestructible Claire. And so what did they do? Killed her off before the show even began.
So, after all that “save the cheerleader, save the world” stuff, it appeared Claire had ended up being killed in an apparent terrorist attack, despite her powers. It was later discovered that she actually died giving birth to twins, after her son inadvertently stole her power. This was meant to serve up baby Nathan’s destiny to save the world from a coming disaster, but all it did was annoy us.
2. Spooks: Zaf is horribly tortured and killed
Spooks isn’t exactly the loveliest drama when it comes to treating its characters well (just ask Lisa Faulkner). But even by these low standards, Zaf’s fate was incredibly mean-spirited.
At the beginning of series 6, Zaf was kidnapped by a mercenary group and his colleagues had no idea what happened to him. It wasn’t until episode 10 that they discovered that he was tortured for a paying client, then sold to terrorists in Pakistan, tortured even more, and then killed. Jesus. What did Raza Jaffrey do to them?
3. Sliders: Wade is forced to live out her life as a sex slave for mutants
This is a sorry tale of what might happen to your character if you cross The Man. In the 1990s sci-fi series Sliders, actress Sabrina Lloyd was reportedly not getting on with new co-star Kari Wuhrer, and she asked for a raise. As then-executive producer David Peckinpah wanted to go back to having just one female cast member, he decided original star Lloyd would get the chop.
The charming Peckinpah then instructed the writers to come up with a plot which involved Wade being captured by the evil Kromagg race and trapped in their “breeding camps”. Essentially, she was going to be Princess Leia in Return of the Jedi, but worse.
Wade did eventually come back a few years later. But after she had the effrontery to ask to be paid the same amount as her co-stars for her appearance, her role was stripped back to just a voice role. And Wade was still having a horrible time. And then she died.
4. Teachers: Three characters die and the rest literally piss on their graves
WTF? In between series 3 and 4, loveable rogues Matt, Kurt and Brian were unceremoniously killed off in a car crash. That’s bad enough, but what happened next astonished us.
The remaining characters (Andrew Lincoln’s Simon had left long before) then showed up to pay their respects at their fallen comrades’ graves. It felt weird enough that none of them seemed that bothered that their best pals had been horribly killed a few weeks before, but then they actually proceeded to point percy at the pine box. As… a laugh, maybe? Totally bizarre.
5. Sherlock: John and Sarah break up
Before John married Mary, he had a rather lovely relationship with doctor Sarah. They remained a cute item for the rest of series 1, and we were looking forward to seeing more of her.
But then came series 2, and Sarah was nowhere to be seen. With no real explanation, John and Sarah had ended their relationship after a trip to New Zealand. Maybe it was Sherlock’s fault. But we (and she) at least deserved a better ending to that fleeting romance.
6. Friends: The Chick and Duck were dead for ages
Did you notice that from season 6 onwards, Chandler and Joey’s pet birds made fewer and fewer appearances? That’s because they had been killed offscreen.
It wasn’t until the show’s finale that Chandler revealed that the birds had actually died long ago, but he couldn’t bring himself to tell Joey, and so made up a story in which they were sent to a farm. Heartbroken.
7. Love Actually: Billy Mack’s manager dies for no reason
Richard Curtis only had ten minutes to tell a story that featured as many characters from Love Actually as possible for the TV follow-up on Comic Relief. But he still found the time to randomly murder one of the supporting cast.
The bizarre reveal began with Bill Nighy’s ageing rocker Billy Mack being interviewed on the radio, having a right laugh as ever. Suddenly, Marcus Brigstocke’s DJ asked him where his manager was (a frankly strange question for a DJ to ask on air), and Billy went all sullen and explained that his manager had died of a heart attack a few years back.
What the hell? Was that really necessary for what was essentially a 10-minute piece of fluff for Red Nose Day? The very-much-alive actor Gregor Fisher must have spat out his tea while watching at home.
8. Scrubs: Ted’s girlfriend ditches him after the show ends
Poor unlucky Ted. The sadsack lawyer had a horrible time of it during Scrubs, but he had a happy ending after meeting cute singer Gooch, and they ended the series by travelling the world together.
But then cut to Scrubs creator Bill Lawrence’s follow-up series Cougar Town. In it, Ted made a cameo appearance in which he revealed that Gooch broke up with him and ran off with “crazy” doctor Hooch instead. When will Teddy catch a break?
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