TV characters often feel like friends, especially if we spend time with them week after week.
Saying goodbye is always tough. But it’s worse when the characters don’t even get the send-off they deserve.
There have been many awful send-offs, ranging from characters just disappearing, never to be heard from again, to being killed off in ridiculous ways.
Many characters seem to suffer from Chuckie Cunningham Syndrome — here one week, gone the next, never to be heard from again.
Every classic series does this.
Golden Girls’ pilot featured Coco, a gay servant who quietly disappeared before the show’s official first episode.
All in the Family had a decent send-off for Henry Jefferson, but after his going-away party, he disappeared from the characters’ memories as well as from the Jeffersons’ home.
And of course, there’s Chuckie Cunningham himself, who went upstairs one day and never came down.
There are lots of TV characters who didn’t get the send-off they deserved both on classic and modern series. We chose 13 of TV’s worst send-offs; please scroll down to check out our picks!
Paige Larson – Days of Our Lives
Days of Our Lives has had some ridiculous exits over the years (Don Craig going to the mailbox, completely disappearing, and not even being mentioned again until 30+ years later comes to mind!). But one of the most egregious was Paige Larson’s death in 2015.
JJ and Paige had a promising love story until the writers destroyed it.
Twisting JJ out of character to turn him into a drunk who slept with Paige’s evil mother was bad enough, but Paige’s unnecessary death at the hands of the Necktie Killer just as the two were finding their way back to each other was unforgivable.
And to add insult to injury, Paige is barely mentioned in the years since, unless it’s part of a revenge plot against Ben for killing her. The character deserved better than this!
Mateo Rendón Osma – The Good Doctor
The Good Doctor went to all the trouble of bringing Mateo back from Guatemala to be Lim’s love interest and controversial addition to the staff at St. Bonaventure.
But then he disappeared.
Did anyone buy the after-the-fact explanation from his ex-girlfriend that Mateo compulsively travels to save the world? He and Lim didn’t even get a goodbye scene, making his short inclusion in the series seem pointless.
Stevie Hammer – Chicago Med
Similarly, Stevie was supposed to be yet another of Will Halstead’s love interests. She showed up at the beginning of Chicago Med Season 5 with an arrogant attitude and a history with Will.
While she wasn’t a particularly likable character, the way she was written out made no sense. After spending half her time at Med dealing with her mentally ill mother’s homelessness, Stevie suddenly left town to finalize her divorce… and reconciled with her ex-husband offscreen.
This was a silly and abrupt exit, and she was quickly replaced with another blond that Will had history with. Was there a point to her being there in the first place?
Dana Lewis – Law & Order: SVU
We weren’t happy with Stabler’s sudden disappearance in 2012, but Law & Order: SVU rectified that when he returned to the franchise. His foil, Dana Lewis, is another story.
Dana was a relatively minor character, but still. Her primary purpose was to accidentally make life difficult for Stabler while pursuing justice.
So why bring her back after Stabler left, especially if the only reason was to reveal that she’d been covering up a murder for years? They could have left her character alone.
Richard Wheatley – Law & Order: Organized Crime
Wheatley was the Moriarity to Stabler’s Sherlock. After being unfairly exonerated in Kathy’s death, he and Stabler began a dangerous competition of one-upmanship. They pushed each other’s buttons while Wheatley wreaked havoc throughout New York City.
Since he was such an important character, he deserved a better send-off than a missing body after a theoretically unsurvivable auto accident.
The writers wanted to keep the door open in case Dylan McDermott is available to return (he’s migrated over to the other side of the law on FBI: Most Wanted now). But come on! What kind of ending was that?
Linda Reagan – Blue Bloods
The decision to kill off Linda Reagan was one of the long-running cop family drama’s most controversial.
Amy Carlson chose not to return for Blue Bloods Season 8, so the writers killed her off. But fans found out after the fact; her death was offscreen.
When actors aren’t available, writing out their characters becomes tricky. Still, Linda was the closest thing to a Reagan family matriarch and allowing her to die offscreen felt disrespectful.
Mon-El – Supergirl
Mon-El had a life in the present that included a romantic relationship, yet he randomly had to return to the future.
Supposedly, this was the only way to save it, but his exit made no sense.
He and Kara had been through a lot, yet neither of them had a problem with him needing to disappear into another timeline. This decision was clearly not character-driven.
Mulan – Once Upon a Time
Once Upon a Time has a bad habit of writing poor character exits, but Mulan’s was among the worst.
Her heartbreak over Philip and Aurora was understandable, but her disappearance without explanation right after she joined the Merry Men was not.
Her sudden disappearance was a blow to both the LGBTQ+ community and viewers of color. And to make matters worse, when she finally came back on Once Upon a Time Season 5, we STILL weren’t given any explanation, nor was she given anything more to do than be a sounding board for Ruby’s love life.
Prue Halliwell – Charmed
This is another case of a character dying between seasons. At least there was some indication this one might be coming, but still.
Prue’s life hung in the balance at the end of Charmed Season 3, only for the new season to open with her already dead.
While the actress’ unavailability played a part in this, just as Amy Carlson’s did on Blue Bloods Season 8 Episode 1, it still felt too abrupt. Fans needed closure that they never got, and the series never seemed the same afterward.
Molly – Burden of Truth
Molly and Luna’s breakup was understandable. Luna was stuck in jail for a crime she didn’t commit, and there was no telling when she might get out.
But did that mean Molly had to disappear into thin air?
She was still Billy’s niece, and they didn’t have a falling out, as far as we know. Yet she was never mentioned again as if she never existed.
Jimmy/Henry James Olsen – Smallville
This exit wasn’t just senseless. It was confusing, too.
Jimmy died just after learning the truth about Clark. But wait! He wasn’t Jimmy.
Henry James Olsen went by his middle name even though his younger brother had the same first name. Seriously?
Dave Rygalski – Gilmore Girls
It’s okay to break up because one person moves away. It’s even acceptable to do it after trying to do long-distance and finding it’s not working.
But it’s not okay that Dave simply disappeared. All of a sudden, Lane was single again.
After investing emotionally in this couple, the least we deserved is a scene where they agreed to go their separate ways.
Cordelia Chase – Angel/Buffy the Vampire Slayer
This one is a bit different from the rest of our list. Cordelia did get a touching, beautiful swan song, after all.
But we have a problem with the way it was handled behind the scenes. Charisma Carpenter had been promised that her character wouldn’t be killed off if she returned for a final episode.
The writers broke that promise, and that’s not cool.
Your turn, TV Fanatics! Was your least favorite send-off on this list? Or is there one we missed that you’d love to rant about?
Hit the big, blue SHOW COMMENTS button and let us know!
Jack Ori is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. His debut young adult novel, Reinventing Hannah, is available on Amazon. Follow him on Twitter.