The 13 Most Devastating Deaths in Science Fiction

Sunday, 24 April 2016 - 1:11PM
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Sunday, 24 April 2016 - 1:11PM
The 13 Most Devastating Deaths in Science Fiction
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Science fiction may have more deaths than any other genre (aside from horror, of course), and with the growing popularity of the "no one is safe" attitude in genre TV and movie series, creators are more willing to kill their darlings than ever before, to the point that it was impossible to pick only ten. Here are the thirteen saddest deaths in sci-fi history, from the decades-old ones that still hurt to the recent ones that will make us hold grudges for years to come:

13. The Iron Giant

The Iron Giant is a kid's movie, so the giant does come back to life in the end, but his death scene is still one of the saddest we've ever seen. Who didn't get misty-eyed when the Iron Giant flew into space after deciding to be a hero like Superman?

12. Laurel Lance - Arrow

Laurel was an annoying character at first, but over four seasons she had finally been given meaty storylines to work with (not to mention the Black Canary suit!) only to be chosen as the character to put in the grave the writers teased earlier this season. It was sad enough to lose this great character who was so significant to the comics, but it added insult to injury that the writers turned her death into fodder for the Olicity pairing rather than letting it stand on its own.

11. Ten - Doctor Who

Death is part of the deal when a new Doctor is introduced, as fans know that he will eventually regenerate and be played by another actor, but that didn't make Ten's departure hurt any less. David Tennant's face when he says, "I don't want to go" is completely heartbreaking, and although we loved Matt Smith as Eleven, this makes us cry every time.

>10. Mr. Eko - Lost

Most Lost fans would probably put Charlie on this list, but while the death scene itself was very sad and well-done, I never particularly cared about Charlie as a character. Mr. Eko, on the other hand, was a complex, fascinating character anchored by a great performance by Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, and I was heartbroken to see him killed by the Smoke Monster after only one season (back when the Smoke Monster was actually scary, remember that?). And after rooting for this immensely likable character to defeat his inner demons, the death was made all the more tragic by the appearance of his brother and his stoicism in the face of his own demise.

9. Carson Beckett - Stargate: Atlantis

While most of the characters in the Stargate universe are generally decent people, and much less antiheroic than the characters in modern sci-fi shows, no one was kinder than Dr. Beckett. His self-sacrificial death was heroic, tragic, and a genuine surprise from a somewhat lighthearted show, and although the actor got to re-appear a couple of times as Beckett's clone, the show was never the same after that. 

8. Beth - The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead has so many tragic deaths to choose from, but Beth was an especially hard punch in the gut. After the character was finally developed into a recognizable and likable individual, teased as a love interest for Daryl, and given her own strength and agency, she died of a brutally sudden accidental gunshot wound to the head while trying to save her friend (who died shortly thereafter, incidentally). It was somewhat manipulative, and probably heralded Walking Dead's decline into the cheap trickery it regularly employs now, but at the time it broke the fandom's collective heart. When Daryl cries, the world cries with him.

7. Qui-Gon Jinn - Star Wars: The Phantom Menace

Very few things touched our hearts in the Star Wars prequels, but Qui-Gon's death was one of them. Although several other Star Wars deaths, such as Yoda and Obi-Wan, were also heartbreaking, Ewan McGregor's devastation as young Obi-Wan watched his mentor murdered by Darth Maul (who was also taken from us too soon, but for different reasons) sealed the deal.

6. Lexa - The 100

The 100 has had so many tragic deaths—Finn, Lincoln, and the inhabitants of Mount Weather all stick out in my mind—but no other death rocked the fandom like Lexa. We agreed with the decision to kill her overall, since she was set up as a tragic character, but the unfortunate decision to kill her right after she had sex with Clarke for the first time invoked the Bury Your Gays trope and caused a widespread uproar. At least the controversy has led to over $80,000 being raised for The Trevor Project, so some good will come out of it, but this one still stings. 

5. Spock - Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

The perfect ending to arguably the greatest Star Trek movie of all time, our favorite emotionally-challenged Vulcan tragically succumbed to radiation poisoning while telling his friend Kirk not to grieve for him. This powerfully written death set the stage for the action of subsequent films, particularly the acclaimed sequel Star Trek III: The Search for Spock.

4. Terminator - T2: Judgment Day

After spending an entire movie discovering his almost-humanity, John Connor's protector and buddy killed himself in a selfless sacrifice. Who could forget that iconic thumbs-up as he descends into the lava to his own demise?

3. Wash - Serenity

"I'm a leaf on the wind..." TEARS.

2. Lizzie and Mika - The Walking Dead

Lizzie and Mika weren't as beloved characters as some (Dale, Hershel, and probably whoever died in the season finale, for starters), but their death was by far the most shocking on a show that prides itself on shock value. In "The Grove," The Walking Dead demonstrated that they (and Carol) were not messing around, and that any character at any time could "look at the flowers" in the most gut-wrenching way possible.

1. Han Solo - Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Months after The Force Awakens came out, we're still crying over this one. Han Solo was arguably the most beloved character in sci-fi history, and although the lack of development of the relationship between Han and Ben Solo undercut the actual death scene a bit, Han's death was going to break our hearts no matter what.
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