The conversation pops back up now and again on Twitter, and the results are always devastating–if you ever need a good cry, just type in the hashtag #fictionaldeathsillnevergetover.
It’s fair to say that your average fan has a lengthy list, but here are a few that seem to crop up over and over… along with a few personal asides. (Some spoilers below, obviously, but nothing recent! There will be no spoiling of season finales!)
Half the Cast of Harry Potter
Dobby comes up the most often in the hashtag, but everyone else comes up now and again–Dumbledore, Remus, Fred, Sirius, Tonks, Hedwig, Cedric, Snape… wow, this could just keep going on forever honestly.
But never forget that Dobby is a free elf. (People like to leave socks for him on the WB Studio Tour. Aahhhhhh–)
Rue (The Hunger Games)
Another tale where the list of the dead could just keep going (Cinna destroyed me), but Rue is the first death we’re close to in Suzanne Collins’s trilogy, and her loss drives home the cruelty of the games in the most shattering way possible. It is because of Rue that acts of rebellion begin cropping up in other districts, leading to the war that overthrows that Capital by the end.
Joss Whedon has a penchant for these sorts of deaths (Joyce, Tara, Phil Coulson for a moment), but Wash earns special points for the extra knife-twist right before his demise. “I am a leaf on the wind,” he tells us, having successfully landed the ship in the middle of an all-out firefight in space. “Watch how I–”
And then he gets speared through the chest while sitting in the pilot’s chair. Instant devastation.
Littlefoot’s Mom (The Land Before Time)
The Land Before Time was another generation’s Bambi, but rather than dying due to a human hunter that she could not escape, Littlefoot’s mother dies defending him from a damned T. Rex. After being wounded in the fight, Littlefoot finds his mother, and she urges him to make his way to the Great Valley without her. Disney parent deaths are their own special kind of trauma to young minds, and they popped frequently in the hashtag, with Mufasa and Nemo’s mother joining the list, too.
Spock (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan)
Fine, he doesn’t stay dead. It doesn’t matter. This is still one of the most horrific death scenes in science fiction history. It is personal and it is quiet and it is dignified. It takes time. He and Kirk are separated, hands raised toward each other but never touching. The fact that Spock gets to come back is pretty much irrelevant to the emotional impact of this moment–just thinking about it gets the tears going.
THIS IS THE WORST THING THAT EVER HAPPENED. Those of you who have never been traumatized by this single episode of television, allow me to explain: in the 30th century, Fry discovers that Seymour, his dog from the 20th century, is a fossil on display in a museum. Thinking to have the dog brought back to life via cloning, Fry changes his mind when he learns that Seymour lived for another 12 years after he was accidentally cryo frozen–figuring that the dog had a full, wonderful life without him. Turns out, Seymour spent those twelve years sitting in front of the pizza place where Fry left him, waiting and waiting for his owner to return, and finally passing away in front of the shop.
The episode was nominated for an Emmy Award, and is perhaps the most painful thing you will ever witness.
Ianto (Torchwood: Children of Earth)
Torchwood was always an unexpected combination of science fiction, absurdity, and unbelievably intense emotion (not always earned emotion, but intense nonetheless). Oh, and death. Lots of death. But Jack Harkness’s romance with Ianto Jones had always seemed an integral part of Torchwood, and after losing so many in the show’s previous finale–and in Children of Earth itself–having to say goodbye to Ianto felt like one step too far. It’s only part of the reason why his memorial in Cardiff still stands.
Shoe (Who Framed Roger Rabbit?)
This one is personal. This movie was one of my favorites as a child, but I could never handle the moment where Judge Doom dissolved a cartoon shoe in Dip. This was partly due to the fact that the darn thing was animated to look terrified about its fate. But the real reason it messed me up? It’s a shoe. It has a match. A mate that would be forever deprived of its pair. For some reason, even as a small child, that thought filled me with a strange, unnameable dread.
There are obviously many characters missing from this brief list–including a dearth of Game of Thrones characters. Boromir. Pa’u Zotoh Zhaan. Whose death will you never be over?