Sophia – The Walking Dead
In a post-apocalyptic landscape ravaged by bloodthirsty zombies, it was perhaps foolish to hang onto sentimentality. To set arbitrary rules in your head about who could die and who couldn’t. But there’s always been this taboo against killing children on television that made us think that Carl and Sophia, the two children of the ragtag group of survivors, would make it to the end. Big mistake.
With zombies roaming around, no one is safe, not even the innocent. At the start of the second season, Sophie disappeared after a zombie attack, and her fate remained a mystery until about halfway through the season.
We spent the entire first half in a slow burn, anxiously waiting to find out what happened to her. But nothing could have prepared us for the moment when we discover the stockpile of zombies hidden in the barn. We see a pair of skinny, childish legs wearing all-too-familiar trainers, and we realize that the worst has happened. Sophie is dead, and there’s a zombie wearing her face. It was like being punched in the gut. We probably should have expected it, but The Walking Dead sill gave us the harsh reminder that anyone could die on this show, and that nobody is safe.
Doyle – Angel
Despite the fact that Wesley and Gunn became integral parts of Angel Investigations in later years of the show, it began with the trio of Angel, Cordelia, and Doyle. He was a roguish half-demon coming to terms with his heritage, whose insecurities belied a man who was much smarter and braver than even he gave himself credit for. Doyle was cursed with visions, which allowed him to see flashes of people that Angel was supposed to save. He had an incredibly endearing crush on Cordelia as well, who unfortunately saw him as an alcoholic slob until it was too late.
Halfway through the first season, the gang encountered a group of demonic Nazi Death Eaters who were massacring any half-demons they could find. It forced Doyle to come to terms with his somewhat unconventional heritage, and he sacrificed himself in a truly heroic gesture.
When a fledgling new show establishes a power trio, you generally don’t expect one of them to die in the ninth episode. Thanks a lot, Joss. Every time we think that we can learn to trust someone again, you pull this kind of stunt.