TV Trend: Shocking Character Exits Will Likely Continue In 2019
This year, TV didn’t shy away from risky character exits. While some characters have disappeared from the screen at the request of the actor or as a genuine part of the narrative, a few have unfortunately fallen victim to the “shock factor” trend. Like it or not, we fear that will continue in 2019.
In the past, some character losses have allowed shows to thrive, while other series have struggled or ended completely. How to Get Away with Murder has recently suffered a drop in viewership, which could partly be due to the questionable decision to kill off Wes Gibbins (Alfred Enoch) last year. The unexpected death of male lead Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis) in Homeland’s third season put the series in a ratings tailspin.
Instead of waiting to see which of our favorite characters will inevitably bite it next year, maybe we should go back and look over a few of the biggest losses of 2018 and evaluate how they impacted their respective series.
'The Walking Dead'
No show suffered more major character losses than The Walking Dead this year, ultimately drawing ire from fans and critics. Losing Carl Grimes (Chandler Riggs) at the beginning of 2018 was not only unexpected, but it veered heavily away from the comics. A few months later came the announcement that both Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and Maggie Rhee (Lauren Cohan) would be departing as well.
Although Cohan may still return next season, and Lincoln is guaranteed to reprise his iconic role in The Walking Dead movie trilogy, their losses were devastating. The Season 9 mid-season finale doubled-down on the ongoing theme, killing off popular comic character Jesus in a shocking introduction to the Whisperers.
It’s no secret that The Walking Dead has lost viewers in recent seasons, but the series still remains one of AMC’s biggest shows. With the Whisperers in play, more death is inevitable, but can the series survive more major character goodbyes after the show returns in 2019?
'Fear the Walking Dead'
Frank Dillane asked to be written off of The Walking Dead spinoff, lessening some of the pain of Nick Clark’s absence. An even bigger shock was the decision to kill off Madison Clark (Kim Dickens), leaving Alicia Clark (Alycia Debnam-Carey) as the only living member of the family the show was originally built around.
Writing off two major key characters in the same season could have spelled certain doom for The Walking Dead companion series. However, the addition of TWD vet Lennie James, along with a few new faces, saved it. Despite a ratings drop since the first couple of seasons, the series remains strong for AMC. Following a time jump, Fear the Walking Dead has transformed its narrative into a brand-new story.
Shameless said goodbye to one of its original series regulars after Cameron Monaghan parted ways with his long-time character Ian Gallagher in October. Leading lady Emmy Rossum is set to leave the show after it returns from its Season 9 mid-season break next year. Losing two of the Gallaghers has made many fans wonder if Showtime will even move ahead with a Season 10 renewal.
Photo: Showtime Networks
From the beginning, Mike Ross (Patrick J. Adams) and Harvey Specter (Gabriel Macht) were the dynamic duo of USA Network's legal drama. This year, Mike and his onscreen love Rachel Zane (Meghan Markle) took their leave ahead of the show's eighth season and Markle’s royal wedding to Prince Harry. Katherine Heigl came on board to fill the gap quite nicely.
However, the show just isn't the same without the bromance between Mike and Harvey that drove the narrative of the series for the first seven seasons. Suits has always had a strong ensemble, but only time will tell how long the drama can continue without that duo.
Photo: Universal Cable Productions
Grey's Anatomy is no stranger to saying goodbye to old faces and welcoming new ones. Grey's has always seemed to thrive on change, staying strong in the ratings and in the eyes of its audience no matter who is written off. This year saw the major exits of Arizona Robbins (Jessica Capsaw) and April Kepner (Sarah Drew), who have both been on the series since 2009.
No matter how surprising those goodbyes were, as long as the show keeps its central star, Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo) around, chances are it will remain one of ABC’s biggest hits. While the show, currently in its 15th season, feels particularly indestructible, Pompeo has hinted that Season 16 could be her last, which would likely end the story altogether.
Killing off Baz (Scott Speedman) was a risky move for the TNT crime drama. Baz was the glue for the very flawed Cody family. Confirming that Baz was the father of teenager J (Finn Cole) posthumously without allowing any exploration of that relationship was frustrating. However, Animal Kingdom Season 3 managed to maintain the tone and colorful ensemble that drew audiences into the dark family drama in the first place, receiving higher ratings than Season 2 and earning another renewal.
Photo: Warner Horizon Television