Pajiba Grief Counseling: Reacting to the Most Tragic Television Character Death This Year
film / tv / lists / guides / news / love / celeb / video / think pieces / staff / podcasts / web culture / politics / dc / snl / netflix / marvel / cbr

Pajiba Grief Counseling: Reacting to the Most Tragic Television Character Death This Year

By Courtney Enlow | TV Reviews | November 25, 2013 | Comments ()


Last night’s Boardwalk Empire season four finale ended well enough, doling out justice, laying groundwork for potentially excellent new alliances and deadly new vendettas, all under the sweet voice of Daughter Maitland (seriously, if they don’t release a full album of the songs Margot Bingham performed this season, I’ll be severely disappointed).

But, then, another ending. Quiet. Fade out. A home. Fade out. A happy, loving welcome. A happy ending. Fade out. With this tensely dreamlike series of moments, we lost not only the best character on Boardwalk Empire, but one of the best currently on television.


It was inevitable, really. A tragic character through and through, his fate was sealed the moment he found real happiness. And, after his accidental slaying of Maybelle White, it was clear there would be no going home for Richard Harrow. But even so, it took me by the throat and left me shocked and still.

Goodnight, sweet prince. Our beautiful half-faced weirdo was whole again.


This is a safe space to talk about your feelings. It’s OK. Let it out.

See also: Why Richard Harrow is Excellent Boyfriend Material

Emmy Ranking Last Night's Homeland: See You on the Other Side | 'Masters of Sex' Continues to Be the Rare Show Where Nudity Actually Is Essential to the Plot

Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • Lloyd_The_Bartender

    Incredible. The Eli-Knox fight scene (that weasly bastard finally got what he deserved), the Nucky-Eli showdown ("Eli, this is what you deserve"), the courtroom scene "WHY DO MEN GET TO DO WHATEVER THEY WANT!!!", the tragic scene at the Onyx where we finally see Chalky completely lose his shit (and rightly so),the scene in the jail cell with Narciss and Hoover (quite a pair , those two) and the way Harrow's final moments were depicted.
    I just sat there with my jaw on the floor and all I could think was "Best Show On TV" .

  • I so wanted everything to wrap up neatly like last season with Richard killing everyone but I knew deep down it wasn't going to go that way this time. Especially after he said goodbye at the train station and promised he'd show up.

  • Jen Papin

    No doubt, Boardwalk is one of the most brilliantly written show on TV. Some of the shots on the last few episode were also just amazing, Eli waiting to get picked up by Van Alden, the homage to the Godfather with Torrios shooting. (All I could hear in my tiny little brain was Sollozzo saying, "They shot him five times! And he's still alive!) And I think the two best characters, best acted, best written, on that show are Chalky White & Harrow. I've been a nervous wreck all year, wondering which one would be this seasons Jimmy. And I'm not gonna lie, Harrow was a huge draw for me. The complexities of that character and the inevitable need to root for him were a huge part of that show. I think one of the reasons BE works is because of the strength of the supporting characters. Hell, I even had a twinge of sympathy for Gillian this season! But the truth is I'd rather of seen Nucky, soulless, selfish, greedy, ugly Nucky take one in the gut than Harrow.
    The Knox beat down was as enjoyable a scene as any I have ever watched, and I love the idea of Eli and Van Alden together, but I'm not going to invest any more time in that miserable show. I'll just watch the damn news if I want to be depressed.
    To the lost, Harrow.

  • Pat Sponaugle

    I've been dreading Harrow's death for a long time. Maybe it's not surprising that he just quietly won me over way back when, but I still get misty-eyed thinking about him making scrapbooks of family scenes. I've always been a big Harrow fan, but I've never had any hopes that he'd find happiness. RIP, my man. RIP.

  • John W

    I expect Jack Huston to start getting major roles now considering the fine work he did while wearing half a mask.

  • lowercase_ryan

    Goddamn it all to hell. Richard was my favorite character on television. As cheesy as it would be, I'm holding out hope that we didn't see his last breath and that someone saves him in the nick of time.

    But I know that's not how this show rolls.

    Amazing season of BE. Just fantastic. The scene with Narcisse and Hoover was crazy intense. When he said "Yes...Sir" ooooh myyyy god. That fight, holy shit. God I love this show.


  • Just want to brag on my good friend who put together that In Memoriam piece which is a really fucking stellar piece of work.

  • Sean

    My dad, who is usually silent during Boardwalk, audibly murmured "Oh, that sucks," when we cut to Richard's bloody mask under the boardwalk. I could tell this character--and his tragic demise--got to the old man. THAT's great television.

  • Rocabarra

    Richard dead, Gillian imprisoned, the commodore and Angela long dead. Soon Jimmy will be but a distant memory washed away by the ocean :(

    Yet, I think I cried hardest when Nucky had the gun to Eli's head.
    "Me? I don't have anything. Sooner or later, you wind up taking it all."

  • lowercase_ryan

    Jesus that line!!

  • e jerry powell

    I still suspect that his mask is going to find its way to New Orleans before the end of Coven.

  • Sean

    Sad to see Richard go, but glad to see him exit in such a poetic way. Perhaps my favorite Boardwalk finale to date. THAT ELI-KNOX FIGHT!

  • AngelenoEwok

    Last night had me really questioning MY moral compass, because I was laughing throughout that fight.


  • e jerry powell

    Well, Capone, anyway. I don't think Van Alden is the equal of Elliott Ness.

  • Sean

    Courtney, the comic potential for scenes involving a coked-out Capone, a batshit Van Alden and a stoic Eli...good God when does next season start?

  • AngelenoEwok

    I am so stoked for next season's Eli and Nelson buddy comedy!

  • Danielle Register

    I am still in shock. I understand why they had to kill him but dammit I don't have to like that they did.

  • letsspoon

    I feel like this was lazy, shock writing that in no way benefited the storytelling. AV Club has an interview with Terence Winter and he basically said that letting Richard have a happy ending with his family felt "too nicely wrapped up and neat", while this ending was more "dramatic". Dramatics for the sake of dramatics isn't good writing. FUCK YOU, BOARDWALK.

  • Sean

    letsspoon, while I don't want to take away from your opinion, I disagree. For me, Richard's death would be "lazy, shock writing" if the season did not take the time to paint him as a tragic character. There was plenty of subtle foreshadowing about Richard's demise, particularly with his desire to stop being who he is, a killer. I think killing Richard off was classic Boardwalk--bold storytelling and long term character archs that pay off. I think you are just in the angry phase of grief. R.I.P. Richard Harrow. To the lost.

  • letsspoon

    It still makes me cry thinking about it, may be right. :(

  • Sean

    Meanwhile, other people are upset about Brian the dog. It's like--I know the REAL tragic character death on TV! It's ok, lettspoon, rest your head on a loved one's shoulder.

  • An innocent pregnant lady was stabbed, in her pregnant stomach, to death at her wedding. To me, that was slightly more tragic than the assassin getting got.

  • Al Borland's Beard

    The series finale of 'The Secret Life of an American Teenager' was much darker than expected.

  • Guest

    You Sir Win the Internet today for that comment .

  • DarthCorleone

    Oh, c'mon. Tragic? It wasn't *her* wedding. :- )

  • manting

    Which kind of sucks for book readers because the character she is based on is still alive.

  • JJ
  • DarthCorleone

    And right on about the music this season. I've enjoyed the transporting period soundtracks every year, but Margot Bingham took it to another level.

  • MauraFoley


  • Dumily

    Those goddamn bastards tricked me. I didn't tear up, I didn't just cry. It was full body- wracking sobs. I might die.

  • I was a disaster. I would have dissolved into Veda Sultenfuss levels of "PUT ON HIS GLASSES! HE CAN'T SEE WITHOUT HIS GLASSES!" had he not just this episode explained that they're just used to keep his face on.

  • DarthCorleone

    I thought the way this was constructed was pretty brilliant and poignant. After that bloodbath last season, you begin this season with Richard finishing up with killing completely. You put a gun in his hand, and he can't even bring himself to the humane act of ending it for his sister's dying dog.

    And then you force him to commit one last kill so his new family can be free and clear. He's going to get the job done, but there's still that costly moment of hesitation in taking a life that plagues him. It just felt very true to me. Well done with the tragedy, Boardwalk Empire.

    I will say, though, that our tough guy Richard apparently only got hit once, and he dies, while that tricky old Torrio must have gotten hit three or four times - including a head/neck shot! - and he survives? There is no justice!

  • Repo

    I thought this post was going to be about last night's Family Guy.

  • Guest

    Sure but it's puppy shopping time now for the Griffins.

    Where is B.W.E. going to find another Richard?

  • bubblyduckey

    I did too. I don't even watch the show any more and I'm upset over it...

  • Al Borland's Beard

    Please tell me you're talking about the show itself and not just a single character.

  • manting

    Im still pissed he missed the shot. The guys a crack sniper.

  • Sean

    Didn't he injure his hand earlier in the season? And even if he didn't, this season played up Richard's reluctance to keep murdering people.

  • corbydjk364

    мʏ ɴɛιɢнвօʀ'ѕ мօтнɛʀ-ιɴ-ʟαա мαĸɛѕ $67 нօυʀʟʏ օɴ тнɛ ιɴтɛʀɴɛт. ѕнɛ нαѕ вɛɛɴ օυт օғ α ʝօв ғօʀ ɛιɢнт мօɴтнѕ вυт ʟαѕт мօɴтн нɛʀ ιɴƈօмɛ աαѕ $18114 ʝυѕт աօʀĸιɴɢ օɴ тнɛ ιɴтɛʀɴɛт ғօʀ α ғɛա нօυʀѕ. ʋιѕιт ʏօυʀ υʀʟ

  • Dumily

    Corbydjk364 brings up a good point. Harrow's aim was accurate, but his timing was off. Much in the same way that Corbydjk364's neighbor's mother-in-law might have stumbled onto her new lucrative career anyway, but was helped along by the fortunate timing of being out of work. When you're working in such high stress positions as professionally trained sniper assassin or comment spam bot, both skill and timing are equally important.

  • MauraFoley

    Technically he made the shot, but she walked into the line right as he pulled the trigger. So sad.

blog comments powered by Disqus