Death is a part of life. It’s one of those mysteries that will never be answered. People can speculate and wonder but may never know the truth. Death is also an important part of TV. It might sound strange but it’s true. A character’s death can be so heartbreaking that it makes viewers cry. Sometimes, viewers become so attached to a character that they feel like family. Obviously, a real life death is much more devastating then a fictional character’s death. However, in real life, when someone dies they can never be brought back. In TV land, if the creators of the series want to change their mind and keep a character alive, they absolutely can.
Television shows are very well known for killing off beloved characters. They do this for many reasons, such as, shock value, an actor leaving or a real life death. Shock value is the most common reason for a TV death. However, sometimes a character becomes so popular and loved that the writers will keep the character alive. Some of the greatest characters on TV were originally going to be killed off. In some cases, they would have been killed off as early as the first season. Here is a look at 12 characters that were nearly killed off.
12) Lafayette Reynolds – Nelsan Ellis True Blood
True Blood revolved around a young woman, Sookie Stackhouse, who is a telepathic waitress. Soon, she finds herself battling vampires, demons and falls madly in love with a vampire, Bill Compton. The show was based on a series of books, The Southern Vampire Mysteries. The series aired on HBO and was successful for the network. Nelson Ellis played Lafayette Reynolds and received universal praise for his role. He was one of the most popular characters in the series. However, in the novel series, his character is killed off at the start of the second book. The character was so popular on the TV series, that the writers chose not to kill him off. His character remained for the entire series.
11) Boyed Crowder – Walton Goggins Justified
Justified revolves around a tough, no nonsense Deputy U.S Marshal Raylan Givens, played by Timothy Olyphant, who dishes out his own brand of justice. The series has received positive reviews with the acting being highly praised. Walton Goggins plays the role of Boyd Crowder, a sick and sadistic villain that struggles with his life of crime. He goes from villain to anti-hero. He was the childhood best friend of Raylan. Originally, Boyd was supposed to die in the pilot episode, after being shot by Raylan and Ava. Watlon Goggins had actually only agreed to appear in the first episode as a favor to his good friend Timothy Olyphant. In fact, in the short story the series is based on, his character is killed off by the end. However, his character tested so well with audiences that he was kept alive and became one of the central characters.
10) Zachary Smith – Jonathan Harris Lost In Space
Lost In Space revolved around a crew, mainly The Robinson Family, which goes in search of an alternative home for humans. The ship is sabotaged and becomes lost…in space. Jonathan Harris played the role of the evil and bumbling villain, Zachary Smith. His character did not appear in the original un-aired pilot, but does appear in the first official episode. His character is the one who sabotages the ship and is the reason for the crew getting lost in space. However, his character was only supposed to be a temporary villain and was going to be killed off in the first few episodes. Jonathan Harris took a unique approach to the character that the writers had not planned. His performance won over the writers and fans. His character would become one of the central characters and would often feature him in adventures.
9) Klaus Mikaelson – Joseph Morgan The Vampire Diaries
The Vampire Diaries revolves around a teenage girl who lives in a small town surrounded by supernatural beings. She falls madly in love with a vampire, but soon finds herself in a love triangle with two vampire brothers. The series initially received criticism but soon improved and is one of the CW’s highest rated shows. Klaus, played by Joseph Morgan, is considered one of the most sick and sadistic villains. Originally, his character was going to be killed off at the end of season three. However, his performance was so captivating that he won over the writers and viewers. He remains a character in Vampire Diaries and in the spin off series, The Originals.
8) Carol Peletier – Melissa McBride The Walking Dead
The Walking Dead revolves around a group of survivors living in a post-apocalyptic, dystopian world full of flesh-eating zombies. The show is a critical and commercial success. The series is known for the fact that any character can die. This keeps viewers terrified that their favorite character is going to be killed off. Melissa McBride plays the role of Carol Peletier. Initially, she was with her abusive husband and seemed weak. Following his death, she has become independent, a leader and one of the toughest survivors. Her character was supposed die, or in this case become undead, in the season 3 episode, “Killer Within”. However, the creators decided against it and she was kept alive with T-Dog taking her place. She is the only surviving female that was a part of the original group of survivors.
7) Spike – James Marsters Buffy The Vampire Slayer
Buffy the Vampire Slayer revolved around Buffy Summers, Sarah Michelle Gellar, who battles vampires and other supernatural beings in her hometown of Sunnydale. The series is one of the most popular of all time. It is a massive commercial success and was universally praised by critics. James Marsters played the role of one of the most powerful and dangerous vampires, Spike. Spike was known for torturing his victims with railroad spikes. He also killed two slayers that were hunting him. Eventually, Spike finds himself being forced to team up with Buffy. Soon, he falls madly in love with her and she has complicated feelings for him, mainly because he’s a vampire and she’s a slayer of vampires. Initially, Spike was going to be killed off in the season two episode, “What’s my line, Part 2”. However, his character was so popular and had incredible chemistry with the rest of the cast, the writers decided against it. He would become one of the central characters.
6) Omar Little – Michael K. Williams The Wire
The Wire followed the lives of police officers, gangsters, politicians and residents of Baltimore. The series was universally critically acclaimed and is considered one of the greatest cops shows. Michael K. Williams played the role of the anti-hero, Omar Little. His character was comparable to Robin Hood, as he would rob gangsters and drug dealers and give back to his community. He never hurt innocent people and would often refrain from swearing. His character was immensely popular and is considered one of the greatest anti-heroes. David Simon, the creator, had planned on killing off the character after seven episodes in the first season. However, the character was so popular and the writers realized it would be a huge mistake to kill Omar. His character remained till the last season. Michael K. Williams received universal praise for his role.
5) Ben Linus – Michael Emerson LOST
LOST revolved around survivors of a plane crash, which crashed on a mysterious island. Michael Emerson played the role of one of TV’s greatest villains, Ben Linus. He was mysterious, evil and cunning. He was also the leader of the mysterious group already living on the island, The Others. However, Ben Linus was introduced in the second season and was only supposed to last three episodes. Luckily for viewers, Ben’s evil and deceitful ways won over the writers and fans. He became one of the central characters and went from villain to an anti-hero. He quickly became one of the most popular characters of the show. Fans and critics consider Ben Linus as one of the greatest TV villains of all time. He won Outstanding Supporting Actor at the Emmy Awards in 2009, for his role as Ben.
4) Angel – David Boreanaz Buffy The Vampire Slayer
Buffy The Vampire Slayer followed Buffy, played by Sarah Michelle Gellar, who battles vampires, demons and other supernatural forces. The series was a critical and commercial success. David Boreanaz played the role of the tormented Angel, who was cursed with a human soul and plagued with guilt for his once evil ways. He and Buffy fall madly in love with each other. The only problem is, he’s a vampire and she is on a mission to hunt and slay all vampires. The character was tremendously popular with fans. Initially, series creator Joss Whedon had planned on killing Angel off at the end of the second season. However, the character was so loved by that point that he chose to let his character live on or live on undead. Angel would get a spin off series that would last for 5 seasons.
3) Carol Hathaway – Julianna Margulies ER
ER revolved around doctors and nurses working in the emergency room at Hospital in Chicago. The series was tremendously popular and was both a critical and commercial success. Julianna Margulies played the role of ER nurse, Carol Hathaway. Initially, she was the head nurse and often felt that the nurses were unappreciated by the doctors. Her character had a long romance with Dr. Doug Ross, played by George Clooney. In the first episode, her character attempts to commit suicide. The original plan was for the character to be killed off by committing suicide. However, the writers decided to keep her alive. Her suicide attempt failed and she would become one of the central characters till leaving the series.
2) Jack Sheppard – Matthew Fox LOST
LOST followed a group of survivors of a plane crash, which lands on a mysterious island. The series was both critically and commercially acclaimed. The series had an ensemble cast, which included, Matthew Fox, Josh Holloway, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Emerson and Terry O’Quinn. Matthew Fox played the role of de facto leader, Dr. Jack Sheppard. Initially, Jack is a man of science and is often at odds with John Locke, a man of faith. Jack was the series main protagonist and was crucial to the story. However, the writers felt that they needed a big death in the first episode so that viewers would not know what’s going to happen next. They planned to kill off the character of Jack Sheppard in the pilot episode. However, that was changed because the writers feared that viewers would resent the show after becoming attached to the character. Luckily, Jack was not killed in the first episode and instead, the pilot of the plane was killed.
1) Jesse Pinkman – Aaron Paul Breaking Bad
Breaking Bad revolved around a high school chemistry teacher who is diagnosed with cancer and begins to cook and sell meth. Aaron Paul played Jesse Pinkman, on the critically acclaimed AMC series. Aaron Paul received universal praise for his role as Jesse Pinkman. The character was crucial to the story and the right hand man of Walter White, played by Bryan Cranston. However, series creator Vince Gilligan had planned to kill off Jesse in the first season. His death would have been a part of a drug deal gone wrong. The guilt would have plagued Walter and help his decent into evilness. However, Vince Gilligan noted that by the second episode, he realized it would have been a huge mistake to kill the character off. Aaron Paul had won over Vince Gilligan and the writers with his captivating and incredible performance. Aaron Paul was nominated at the Emmy Awards several times for his role as Jesse Pinkman, he won in 2010, 2012 and 2014.
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