Shocking deaths are a common trick to surprise viewers, but these 10 TV characters to die in season finales serve the shows of which they were part. Some deaths are tragic, some are necessary for the show to progress, and some make it so the show cannot go on. Out of these TV characters to die in season finales, some were loved, some hated. Some deaths were a surprise, some were not, but all were memorable.
- Detective Shane Vendrell, "The Shield" Season 7. Shane, played by Walton Goggins, was always the dysfunctional mirror image of "The Shield" lead Vic Mackey. In the last episode of the show's final season, the disgraced Shane, on the run from the law and from the criminals he's betrayed, has his own quiet victory, controlling his destiny. The true tragedy is that he takes his family with him, in one of the most affecting examples of TV characters to die in season finales.
- Sal "Big Pussy" Bonpensiero, "The Sopranos" Season 2. Mob boss Tony Soprano eats some bad food, and in his fever dreams he comes to a realization he's been avoiding for a long time. His best friend, Big Pussy, is a rat. Pussy's death haunts the show for its seasons to come. He is truly one of the most memorable TV characters to die in season finales.
- Augustus Hill, "Oz" Season 5. Augustus was this HBO's prison drama's conscience the show's narrator. The show had long set a precedent that any character could die, but Augustus' murder at the end of season 5 is truly shocking and unexpected.
- Gale Boetticher, "Breaking Bad" Season 3. Gale is a minor character, but arguably one of the show's most sympathetic. As the nerdy, lonely scientist brought in to replace Walter White in Giancarlo Esposito's drug operation manufacturing meth, he seems harmless. But he is a threat, and to keep Walt alive, he must go, in one of the series' most cold-blooded murders. It is a truly shocking example of TV characters to die in season finales.
- Detective Curtis "Lemonhead" Lemansky, "The Shield" Season 5. Lem was one of the few "good guys" in "The Shield", which makes his death at the hand of one of his best friends, Shane, even more tragic. Misunderstandings and conspiracies lead to this classic television death that left many "Shield" fans wondering where the show could go from there.
- Julius Caesar, "Rome" Season 1. It was a foregone conclusion that Caesar would join the ranks of TV characters to die in season finales, but that does not make the death scene itself weak. Instead, it is brutal in its violence and betrayal.
- Rita Bennett, "Dexter" Season 4. Serial killer of serial killers Dexter Morgan is punished at the end of season 4 of his adventures, when his adversary, the Trinity Killer (a terrifying John Lithgow) ends his wife's life. Dexter realizes he truly his human when he's crushed by the loss.
- Reverend H.W. Smith, "Deadwood" Season 1. One of the most beautiful death scenes in TV history is the mercy killing of a seizure-addled, suffering reverend at the hands of Al Swearengen, up to that point the show's villain. It is truly memorable among TV characters to die in season finales.
- Tony Blundetto, "The Sopranos" Season 5. Another "Sopranos" season ends, another death. This time, it's Tony's cousin, by his own hand, to stop a war with the New York families. The cold finality of the murder makes it especially, strangely brutal.
- Phil Leotardo, "The Sopranos" Season 6. The final entry on our list 10 TV characters to die in season finales comes from the series finale of "The Sopranos.". New York crime boss Phil Leotardo meets his end in the show's typically unglamorous fashion, shot by an anonymous Soprano-hired thug in a gas station parking lot.
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