Can TV Shows Survive After Losing a Main Character?

  • Marissa Cooper, The OC

  • Ned Stark Game of Thrones

  • Jimmy Darmody

  • Shelley Long Ted Danson Cheers

  • Eric Foreman That 70s Show

  • Izzie Stevens Greys Anatomy

  • Two and a Half Men Charlie Sheen

  • Zach Braff Scrubs

  • Mike Flaherty Spin City

  • Stringer Bell The Wire

  • Kate Mara

  • Steve Carrell The Office

  • 13 George Clooney ER

  • Richie Cunningham Happy Days

  • Mulder The X Files

Shocking an audience is a difficult thing to do these days, so constantly titillated are our imaginations. But with so many series reinventing the traditional format, losing a main character is often a surefire way to leave audiences with mouths agape. Most recently, The Good Wife saw leading character Will Gardner (Josh Charles) die, and Homeland lost one of its main driving forces, maybe-terrorist Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis). While these unexpected character deaths rattled audiences, it’s yet to be seen how their respective shows will carry on without them.

In anticipation of the return of fall TV, we’re taking a look back at iconic shows that lost a main character and soldiered on (for better or for worse). Whether an unexpected death, like Ned Stark on Game of Thrones, or an actor simply leaving a show before it was over, like Steve Carell leaving The Office, all of these series saw a dearly beloved character disappear too soon. Some thrived under the circumstances, while others fell flat. Click through our gallery to see how some of your favorite TV shows did after losing a main character, and tell us your thoughts in the comments section. Spoilers ahead.

Game of Thrones has said goodbye to numerous characters over its four seasons. Watch Pedro Pascal (aka the Red Viper) describe how the cast deals with all that death.

[Photo Credit: NBC]