Bookstr Team Reflects: Saddest Fictional Character Deaths

Crying over a fictional character? We’ve all been there. This week, the team divulged 12 characters deaths that stuck with us for the long haul.

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We all have that fictional character death (or deaths) that haunt us. It may stem from a childhood-defining story or a show we become deeply connected to as adults. Indeed, some authors are particularly ruthless in killing off characters in their stories (yes, I’m talking about you, George R.R. Martin).

Regardless of how predictable or unexpected a character’s death is, the universal truth stands that great storytelling can break our hearts!

In the mind of some collective fan mourning, here are the Bookstr team’s reflections on 12 traumatizing fictional deaths that we’re still recovering from.

Eddie Kaspbrak, IT

Image via Amazon

Erin Shea, Editorial:

I’m forever upset about my favorite little hypochondriac biting the dust upon the final showdown with Pennywise. After mustering all his courage to heroically spear Pennywise and save Richie from the deadlights, having his back turned for a moment to tend to his friend quickly spells his end. Richie’s final moments beside him make the scene particularly devastating. He doesn’t want to admit that Eddie’s gone or even let go of his body. It gutted me that they had to leave his body behind to escape the crumbling framework of Neibolt house.

Finnick Odair, The Hunger Games

Image via Amazon

Veronica Vintilla, Graphics:

This was the first fictional character death that I remember being upset over for days after. Finnick was the youngest victor to ever win the Hunger Games at 14 years old, which is sad enough in itself. At first, he appears to be a flirtatious playboy who is worshipped by everyone in the Capitol. The more Katniss gets to know him she comes to realize he was heavily manipulated by President Snow and sexualized from a young age. He is a great ally to Katniss, as well as other tributes who are not as advantageous to him in the arena in Catching Fire, like Mags. After being abused by the Capitol for most of his life by getting forced into prostitution, he finally gets to marry his long-time true love, Annie, in Mockingjay. This marriage does not last long, though, because he dies shortly after by sacrificing himself in order to save Katniss and the rest of the team from mutts on the way to President Snow’s mansion. Finnick’s death really stuck with me because he was used as a pawn of the Capitol his whole life but was unable to get his happy ending.

Lincoln Campbell, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Image via IMDb

Emily, Editorial:

I will never get over Lincoln’s death in Season 3 of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. He sacrificed himself to save the love of his life, Daisy, and the world at the same time, and they had the most heartbreaking farewell over the coms. His last words to Daisy are, “It’s the first time I said ‘I love yo-’” and the coms cut out before he can finish. Two seasons later, Daisy reveals that she was and still is in love with Lincoln, even though it’s been over a year since he died. One of the saddest things about his death is that she loved him, but she never got to tell him that. It’s also really tragic that, seeing as it’s Marvel, most characters can return from the dead, but Lincoln never got to return to Daisy despite her having been in love with him for arguably 5/7ths of the whole show. The actors who portray Daisy and Lincoln – Chloe Bennet and Luke Mitchell – seriously nailed the heartbreaking portrayal of their characters’ final goodbye, particularly when Daisy is begging another character, Coulson, to bring Lincoln back.

Gavriel, Kingdom of Ash

Image via Amazon

Hannah Bilton, Editorial:

Gavriel was quite literally the golden boy of this series. Meeting him for the first time in Heir of Fire, I had some mixed emotions, but looking back, I kind of get it. But it soon turned into adoration. I mean, he was saving his brother (not really brother, but you know what I mean). Rowan was trying to save Aelin and was pretty much frenzied, but it turned out okay. And then Gavriel was always the first to be supportive; he was always the first to care for his friends–he was the dad friend of the group. And just the final interaction between him and Aedion had me sobbing. But I respect his choice–he picked the dead lover over the alive son (even though I’m still holding a grudge–I wanted dad and son content between them), and I mean, at least Aedion’s mother and Gavriel are together again.

Matthias, Six of Crows

Image via Amazon

Joana, Social:

It was near the end of the second book of Crooked Kingdom when he died at the hands of his own people. Some child pretty much shot him, and Matthias was dead. I will never forgive Bardugo for killing him off. Reading about Nina sobbing over his dead body…traumatizing. She has the power to bring back the dead but realizes that no matter what, it won’t bring HIM back. Saddest day of my life, cried all night over a fictional character…

Newt, The Maze Runner

Image via Amazon

Lindsey, Graphics:

Newt was such a selfless leader and an amazing friend to Thomas. It felt unfair that he had to have such a slow and painful death, slowly slipping into insanity and spending his last days distancing himself from his friends so that they don’t have to see him like that, all while being fully aware of what was yet to come. The part where he was desperately begging Thomas to kill him was so hard to read. His death became even more heartbreaking when it was revealed in the prequel that, prior to his memory wipe, he knew that he wasn’t immune to the Flare and that he was eventually going to die because of it.

Tris, Divergent Series

Image via Amazon

Allie Richmond, Editorial:

When I was in middle school, the Divergent series was the first big book series that I was really excited about. Whenever I read Allegiant, the third and final book of Veronica Roth’s dystopian young adult debut series, I was absolutely devastated when Tris died. To me, her death felt so unnecessary. Tris was somehow able to survive the lethal death serum and successfully disseminate the memory-erasing serum amongst the immoral leaders of the Bureau of Genetic Welfare, but she dies shortly after because she is shot by David, the head of the Bureau. Reading about Tobias’ reaction to Tris’ death was absolutely heartbreaking to me. I think I cried non-stop for three days after finishing the book.

Enjolras and Grantaire, Les Miserables

Image via Amazon

Kylie Eng, Video:

The way these two died is so miserable that I will never get over it. In a rebellion against the French monarchy and National Guard, a group of radical university students fight for those who are less fortunate than them. Enjolras is their angelic leader, while Grantaire is the cynic that follows him purely to see how it’ll end. When Enjolras realizes the uprising will fail, he says there is no reason for everyone to die and tries to send his friends away. Grantaire, who secretly worships Enjolras, asks him for permission to die with him. Enjolras, who has previously despised Grantaire for his skepticism, takes his hand just before the soldiers close in. Both the leader and the cynic die hand-in-hand in this martyr-like death. What makes it worse is their sacrifice had no effect in the grand scheme of the revolution.

Kyojuro Rengoku, Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba

Image via Amazon

Joyce John Aliche, Video:

Rengoku was the flame Hashira who made use of flame breathing. Unlike most members of the Demon slayer crops, who were driven by the loss they suffered by demons, Rengoku was driven by his sense of duty to serve humanity in the fight against demons. He was often cheerfully eccentric, charismatic, and generous for someone who controlled flame and whose father (a former Hashira) never acknowledged his ability as an Hashira (the highest rank in the Demon slayer Corps).

Rengoku was killed in the battle against Akaza (an upper three rank demon within the twelve Kizuki) to save Kamado, a junior in the Corps. His death left me heartbroken and in denial for days.

Leslie Burke, Bridge to Terabithea

Image via Amazon

Gracie Lambright, Editorial:

Ya want to talk sad? I went into this book with no knowledge as an unsuspecting seventeen-year-old. I couldn’t tell you why I waited so long to read this book (and watch the movie), but good lord, I was unprepared. Nothing about this movie makes you think Leslie is going to die. I just wanted a wholesome read, and instead, I was bombarded with unwelcome emotions that led to me crying in my room at like two o’clock in the morning. Yet I would still recommend this book to anyone who asks because it’s so good, even though Leslie’s death crushed me completely.

Hedwig and Dobby, Harry Potter

Image via Amazon

Kaitlynn Gusey, Outreach

These were the two deaths in the Harry Potter series that were the most upsetting to me. Especially Dobby. The poor house-elf was so selfless and didn’t deserve everything that happened! Loyal Hedwig had been there for Harry the whole time, keeping him company when he was stuck with his aunt and uncle. The one constant since he started going to Hogwarts…

Talisa, Robb, and Catelyn Stark, Game of Thrones

saddest character deaths
Image via Amazon

Savannah Swanson, Editorial:

The Red Wedding CRUSHED me. Both the book and TV show scenes were heartbreaking, but the show was especially sad for me because hearing Catelyn’s anguished scream right before she’s killed was absolutely chilling (and brutal). The entire sequence is all the more upsetting when you realize just how close Arya was to finally being reunited with them. I still wish the show would have included Lady Stoneheart from the books after the Wedding; I think it would have been so cool. If these deaths have taught me anything, it’s that if I’m ever eating dinner and The Rains of Castamere start playing, it’s every man for themselves.

Leaving off on that traumatizing note, we think Game of Thrones deserves its own compiled list of character deaths. You can check that out here.

Finally, looking for a more lighthearted list with input from the Bookstr team? Click here.