First, your second warning: There be spoilers here. If you’re behind on the current season of any of the following television series: Boardwalk Empire, Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, Downton Abbey, Justified, Sherlock or Luther you may not want to read on. Perhaps you have a friend who’s up to date and can scan the list for you. Read on at your own risk…The SPOILERS START NOW:
Death becomes many television characters; there are those whose demise we root for (I’m talking to you, The Walking Dead’s Lori), and others bother us more because of the effect their death has on another character (Sons of Anarchy’s Tara) than the actual person who died. Some characters are so crazy—while they’re fun to watch—we’re not exactly sure we’d want them kept around, like Justified’s Robert Quarles. But there are a few deaths that, necessary or not, we’d love to reverse. We’ll never, ever emotionally recover from a couple of these gut punches; others would simply be fun to have around again.
10. Eli Roosevelt (Rockmond Dunbar), Sons of Anarchy
At the end of “A Mother’s Work,” the horrific kitchen scene left Jax broken, and us with our mouths open. While we all felt Jax’s loss, I think I was more upset by Eli’s death than Tara’s. I didn’t hate Tara, but the things she’d done had turned me off enough that I could suffer the consequences alongside Jax. But Eli? Eli was a decent guy. He had some kind of moral compass, which in a town like Charming, is a big deal. Even beyond that, he was a man who would take great care protecting those he might also be trying to bring down. In the wake of Unser’s decline, Eli is the guy we still need.
9. Richard Harrow (Jack Huston), Boardwalk Empire
One of the most sympathetic cold-blooded killers we ever had the pleasure of meeting, Harrow simultaneously terrified us, and tugged at our heartstrings. Sweet on kids and dogs, our Tin Woodman wanted nothing more than a family of his own…and dammit, he deserved better than that ending.
8. Merle Dixon (Michael Rooker), The Walking Dead
Now here’s a man who was fun to have around…Daryl’s brother might have been polarizing and paralyzingly scary at times, but toward the end, Merle found his place in the pseudo-community. Character redemption rarely leads to longevity, so it would have been nice to see Merle play nice just a little bit longer. And from the look of things lately, Daryl could use some brotherly emotional support.
7. Mags Bennett (Margo Martindale), Justified
Here’s a delightful twist on television norms; a very smart female villain who makes her own moonshine and knows how to take on a town. Mags was frightening at times, but not in the we-have-to-get-rid-of-her Quarles kind of way; heck, even Graham Yost wondered aloud if he was crazy to kill her off. In light of this season’s awful big bad (not a compliment), Michael Rapaport’s cheesy Daryl Crowe, it’s all the more evident a character like Mags is hard to find.
6. Lane Pryce (Jared Harris), Mad Men
Any man who punches out Pete Campbell is all right by me. Lane Pryce was more than who he at first appeared to be, steamrolling in to reshape Sterling Cooper…tightly buttoned and of stiff upper lip. The boy inside the man still fought for respect and his foolish mistake came just as we were starting to love him despite his flaws. Of all the creeps running around the office, Lane is a guy we’d like to have seen succeed in business.
5. Syrio Forel (Miltos Yerolemou), Game of Thrones
There are those who question whether Syrio is dead; the First Sword of Braavos was last seen fighting a group of Lannister guardsmen with only a wooden sword. Would that it were so, for Arya’s wonderful teacher has stayed with her in spirit—and with us too. “There is only one thing we say to Death: Not today.”
4. Matthew Crawley (Dan Stevens), Downton Abbey
After everything Downton put us through to bring Matthew and Lady Mary together, it was indeed the cruelest blow to rip him away. More than good looks and honorable manner, Matthew brought out the best in Mary—made her palatable to us, and herself. Not only has it been unbearable to watch Lord Grantham’s eldest sink into an endless well of self-pity, but her return to a pre-Matthew state leaves us wishing for his miraculous return.
3. Ned Stark (Sean Bean), Game of Thrones
When it came to Lord Stark, being a book reader meant nothing…and nothing could prepare us for Eddard’s untimely death. My eyes are forever burned with the sight of Yoren holding Arya close and those birds scattering across the sky. I still can’t believe it and would give almost anything to have him back.
2. Jim Moriarty, (Andrew Scott), Sherlock
Arguably, one of television’s best villains, Scott’s performance was over-the-top in all the best ways. Moriarty’s expressions, his ability to render Sherlock confused and wordless, and his insane antics are just too good to be gone. It’s possible Gatiss and Moffat agree…
1. Justin Ripley (Warren Brown), Luther
No, no, and no. This is unacceptable. We can take the loss of Luther’s wife…we can take him being investigated, despite the nonsensical drive and lack of evidence to take Luther down. We can take Luther losing almost anyone he’s close to, but not Ripley. Please, not Ripley. Fiercely loyal, yet of his own mind—not unquestioning—Ripley was the little puppy to Luther’s grizzled dog. Ripley balanced him out and became Luther’s best mate. Though series four has been ruled out, Luther’s story is intended to finish via feature film; Ripley should have been there until the end.