The Fictional Characters, TV Shows, and Movies We Lost in 2020

Illustration for article titled The Fictional Characters, TV Shows, and Movies We Lost in 2020
Image: Lucasfilm, NBC, The CW, Netflix, and Syfy
Year In ReviewYear In ReviewWe look back at the best, worst, and most significant moments of the year, and look forward to next year.

It was a rough year for all of us in the real world, but those fictional universes we spend so much time in didn’t get off scot-free. A lot of television shows ended their runs this year, and a lot of our favorite characters from sci-fi, fantasy, and horror took their final bows as well. Here are most of who and what we lost in 2020.

It should be noted, of course, this particular year in review will include a lot of spoilers we can’t easily prepare you for, so proceed with caution (we start with the shows that ended then move onto the characters, if that helps). However, the delightful video presentation we’ve put together below is spoiler-free. You’ll get the gist pretty quickly...


Illustration for article titled The Fictional Characters, TV Shows, and Movies We Lost in 2020
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TV Shows

Supernatural (for real this time)

Whatever you thought about the series finale (or the plot choices the show made in the lead-up to its swan song), it’s still undeniably impressive that Supernatural, the CW’s juggernaut of a series about a pair of monster-hunting brothers, lasted as long as it did. The show premiered on a network that doesn’t even exist anymore—remember the WB?—before shifting to the CW and releasing 15 seasons over 15 years. Almost as impressively, the legions of Supernatural fans managed to keep their passion for the show alive for its entire duration. What does a world without ol’ reliable Supernatural look like? It’s hard to even imagine, isn’t it? —Cheryl Eddy

Star Wars: The Clone Wars (for real this time)

It’s almost unfair to include The Clone Wars here—it had a long, good life, and even if its first cancellation felt like something cut short, its final moments still hit hard enough to offer a strong farewell to the animated series. So imagine our delight at its return for a proper ending, one that beautifully saw out the final moments of the Star Wars prequel era through the lens of Ahsoka Tano and Captain Rex. Clone Wars’ final arc was about the power in letting things go, so it’s only fair that we, with our hearts full, let it go now as well. —James Whitbrook

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Steven Universe Future

Steven Universe already received two excellent climaxes in the stunning “Change Your Mind” arc and then in its all-singing, all-dancing musical movie follow up. But as an epilogue series, Future managed to provide an emotional backbone to look back on everything the show did, and on its titular hero himself, in some touching and nuanced ways. Steven Universe Future’s tender, bittersweet final moments, as Steven and Connie leave Beach City behind to start the next chapter of their lives together, doesn’t really feel like a true goodbye. We know these characters will go on to lives that we may not see unfold in new episodes, but if we don’t get to see that new chapter, then this was a fittingly fond farewell. —James Whitbrook

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She-Ra and the Princesses of Power

Usually, these lists are filled with shows that got cut short, potential left unfulfilled. But even if we’ve only really had Dreamworks’ excellent She-Ra reboot for a few years, 2020 saw it race into its final battles and wrap up Adora, Catra, and the rest of the gang’s stories in heartfelt fashion. Balancing the raised stakes of its final battle with the emotional heart of Adora and Catra’s reconciliation, She-Ra’s final outing nicely wrapped the bow on its world, giving us a complete, satisfying slice of sci-fantasy animated goodness along the way. —James Whitbrook

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Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts

Netflix and Dreamworks made the apocalypse look fun in Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts. Taking place years after a catastrophic event that gave animals speech and human-like intelligence, the show centers around a young woman named Kipo who suddenly finds herself stranded on the surface world after a life spent underground. After seeing the strife between humans and animals, Kipo was always determined to make the world a better place—even as everyone around her tells her it can’t be done. As we’ve previously said, the ending wasn’t perfect, but it was perfectly Kipo. —Beth Elderkin

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BoJack contemplating a parade balloon styled in his image.
BoJack contemplating a parade balloon styled in his image.
Screenshot: Netflix

BoJack Horseman

BoJack Horseman’s final episode—which dropped very early in the year—saw the equine misanthrope finally face some meaningful consequences for his decades of destructive behavior. He came away from the experience a different, but not necessarily “better” man than before. Much as BoJack Horseman was about its central character dealing with his addictions and tendency to ruin things, in its final moments after BoJack’s been through the gauntlet and still managed to survive, the series doesn’t try to let him off the hook or believe that he’s overcome his demons in a final sense. As BoJack sets out on his latest path of recovery, he does so understanding that it’s going to be an active, lifelong process that he has to participate in to sustain, which is one of the heaviest, most important lessons the show could have ended on.—Charles Pulliam-Moore

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Dark

The extraordinarily complicated journey of a small town in Germany, and the many, many dark secrets Winden’s families held, ended this year with some pretty incredible storytelling. I often recommend this show to people with the caveat that they should keep notes for themselves as they go along—it gets deeply confusing, especially if you wind up waiting a while between seasons. It focuses on three different moments in time but all involving the same characters and the twists and turns their lives take thanks to actual time travel. One day I hope to see what must be a board the size of Manhatten that the writers kept track of everyone’s timelines on and just stare at it in quiet awe.—Jill Pantozzi

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The Rain

Netflix has granted us access to a lot of fantastic international series over the last few years and Danish export The Rain was certainly among them. A surprise downfall of virus-carrying rain caused the apocalypse scenario in this one—no zombies are to be found but it did mean a lot of people died early on. The premise kept things on a smaller scale to start, following Simone and her brother Rasmus’ isolated survival, but as time went on their little world got a lot bigger—and more complicated. As with most big disaster stories, humans quickly became just as dangerous as the rain itself, and the rag-tag group of teens struggled to stay alive. In the end, a lot of them didn’t! Sadly, the rain and its special properties went a little too far out there for my tastes in the final season—and Rasmus sure could use some therapybut it certainly was an unexpected journey. —Jill Pantozzi

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The Good Place

The Good Place was the kind of show that left you feeling hopeful, even though it was about four dead people desperately trying to avoid an eternity in Hell. The series starred Kristen Bell as Eleanor, a fun-loving but selfish young woman who finds herself in an afterlife she doesn’t think she deserves. Lo and behold: she’s not the only one. Alongside her new friends and a demon named Michael (Ted Danson), Eleanor tries to become a better person and earn her spot in the Good Place—learning some valuable lessons about moral philosophy along the way. We were so, so sad to see it go but damn if its send-off wasn’t spectacular. —Beth Elderkin

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Chilling Adventures of Sabrina

Netflix’s horror series is coming to an end after two seasons—split into four “parts”—at the very tail end of 2020. Based on showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa’s graphic novel series, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina tells the story of a half-mortal teenager named Sabrina Spellman (Kiernan Shipka) who has to decide whether she’ll sign the Devil’s Book and become a full-fledged witch on her 16th birthday. She struggles with the human and magical sides of her world, with problems ranging from whether to become Queen of Hell or join the cheerleading team. While there’s a chance the characters could find new life in comic form, the final episodes arrive on December 31, just in time to close out this hellish year. —Beth Elderkin

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The Magicians

While the finale let us down a bit thanks to some rude timing on Syfy’s part (what’s new?!), The Magicians is still one of the best fantasy shows of all time. Based on Lev Grossman’s novels, this adaptation wound up going its own way to great effect—it kept a lot of what fans loved from the books while forging some truly outstanding paths. The actual magic was always fun to watch (I’ll never be able to tut, no matter how hard I try), the clothes were to die for, the musical episodes instantly iconic, and the actors threw everything they had and more into these roles. I will miss them. At least we’ll always have Fillory.—Jill Pantozzi

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Characters

Illustration for article titled The Fictional Characters, TV Shows, and Movies We Lost in 2020
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Dracula (BBC)

Dracula has died countless times in fiction so it shouldn’t have been much of a surprise he bit the dust this time too. However, this latest Dracula adaptation—from dastardly duo Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss—felt like just the thing to kick off 2020. Oh my, you can say that again! Claes Bang’s turn as the famous vampire promised to be extra juicy (it sure was!) but what we weren’t...counting on...was him going out in a sunlight sex-romp with Dolly Wells’ leading lady after she discovered that Dracula’s biggest fear was death. It was incredibly bad! Especially considering we could have gone for another bite had the story not gone off the rails so dramatically. —Jill Pantozzi

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Roman Sionis, Black Canary, and Victor Zsasz in a bar.
Roman Sionis, Black Canary, and Victor Zsasz in a bar.
Image: Warner Bros.

Birds of Prey

What Bird of Prey’s take on Black Mask lacked in proper villainous scare factor, he more than made up for in the kind of flair and style fitting a Gotham-based criminal whose only real quirks were being a filthy rich and a clean freak. Despite being surrounded by the kinds of gory filth that comes part and parcel with being a fixture in Gotham’s crime world, Birds of Prey’s Roman Sionis never failed to step into frame looking outlandishly fresh and every bit the gentleman dandy.

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Looking back on Birds of Prey now, it’s difficult to recall just what exactly made Sionis such a significant threat to Harley in the grand scheme of things, as she was able to dispose of him rather easily by blowing him up. But with his death presumably came the demise of his wardrobe as it was, an extravagant collection of looks meant to exist together, tucked away in waiting for Sionis to be struck by inspiration as he put together his latest look. —Charles Pulliam-Moore

The Good Place

It’s weird to talk about the death of characters who were already dead to begin with, but the end of The Good Place was all about what happens “after” Happily Ever After. The Soul Squad managed to save the Good Place from total atrophy, giving souls a chance to leave after they’d spent enough time in the afterlife. After centuries upon centuries of bliss, love, and chicken wings, Jason, Chidi, and Eleanor walk through the door into the unknown—only Tahani stays, choosing to become a Good Place Architect. It’s unclear where they ended up, but that’s kind of the point. —Beth Elderkin

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Star Wars: The Clone Wars 

The Clone Wars often put a spotlight on Dee Bradley Baker’s legions of same-faced footsoldiers in the Grand Army of the Republic, as it did the legendary Jedi that leads them. So it would have been weird if one of Clone Wars’ final acts was to get us to feel relief at the survival of Ahsoka and Captain Rex as they escape Order 66...at the hands of an entire Republic cruiser’s worth of Clone Troopers who had, hours before hand, been close, loyal friends. What makes it especially heartwrenching is that the 332nd was specifically gifted to Ahsoka, joining her mission to Mandalore out of loyalty and respect. At least she gave them a touching burial. —James Whitbrook

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Raised by Wolves

If you’ve been paying attention you know I wasn’t a fan of HBO Max, Aaron Guzikowski, and Ridley Scott’s Raised by Wolves, but what I found particularly jarring was its treatment of Abubakar Salim’s Father. He’s killed...I lost count...three times (?) over the course of the series and each more upsetting than the last. Yes, he’s an android, but as the story was constantly trying to show us, he cares a great deal about Mother and the children. Here’s hoping Father gets better treatment in season two. —Jill Pantozzi

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Legends of Tomorrow

After spending years living with regret over the loss of her brother, Zari Tomaz was finally able to get the family she always wanted—only one problem, it wasn’t with the Zari we knew. The season four finale “Hey, World!” changed the past, turning Zari from a tough hacker who loved doughnuts into a famous social media influencer. But Zari’s soul was still out there, and she was even able to come back to our world this past season, thanks to the Loom. Unfortunately, she realized that staying meant her brother Behrad would die...so she chose to return to the Air Totem, giving Zari B and Behrad a chance to live the life she’d always dreamed of for her family. We’ll miss her presence. —Beth Elderkin

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Westworld

Dolores was Westworld’s version of Prometheus—she made the ultimate sacrifice so humans and hosts alike could gain the knowledge they’d long been denied. After Serac tried (and failed) to torture her for information about the Sublime, she managed to transfer control of Rehoboam to Caleb so he could destroy it for good. This freed everyone from the power of its predictive algorithms, but it wasn’t enough to keep Dolores on the mortal plane. Of course, death isn’t necessarily the end for hosts (especially since there’s a “Halores” clone still out there), so there’s always a chance she could come back in the future. —Beth Elderkin

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Supernatural

Nailed it. Sorry, Dean!! —Jill Pantozzi

Yahima confronting Atticus, Leti, and Montrose.
Yahima confronting Atticus, Leti, and Montrose.
Image: HBO
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Lovecraft Country

When an ouija board matter-of-factly told a young Emmet Till that he was going to have a bad summer in Lovecraft Country’s third episode, alarm bells should have gone off that the series might not have had the most deft approach to using fictionalized depictions of suffering to delve into the painful truths about America’s legacy of racism. But as the season progressed, Lovecraft Country stumbled more than a few times as it attempted to use horror to push audiences to think about what actual monstrosity looks like.

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When Yahima, a seemingly immortal Two-Spirit character who was not present in the original novel, is murdered in the same episode they’re introduced, their death amounts to little more than a random moment of unexpected violence meant to make you feel an unease the show hadn’t earned. When you witness the dozens of men that Ji-Ah murdered using one of her demonic tails, they become mostly nameless, faceless prey for a woman being presented as something of a stereotypical succubus whose sex drive you’re meant to fear. By the season’s end, almost all of the people who end up dead cast a shadow on Lovecraft Country as a whole that does the series no favors in terms of making it seem like the thoughtful show it wanted to be. —Charles Pulliam-Moore

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The Haunting of Bly Manor

The Haunting of Bly Manor was a series filled with ghosts, so there are any number of characters we could’ve memorialized on this list. (Except Peter Quint...good riddance to you, jackass.) While Viola, who died of a grim illness then launched a revenge campaign that lasted generations, and Hannah, who spent most of the series in Sixth Sense-style denial that she’d passed on, were characters we wish could have lived longer, it’s Dani (Victoria Pedretti), the doomed nanny, that we’ll miss the most. After overcoming tremendous amounts of guilt over the death of her ex-fiancé, Dani finds true love that keeps her safe from the evils of Bly Manor—but alas, it turns out to be only a temporary reprieve. Oh, how we wish Dani and Jamie could’ve been together to see Flora’s wedding at the end.—Cheryl Eddy

She-Ra and the Princesses of Power

Shadow Weaver may have been one of the greatest forces of evil in She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, but underneath her magic and mask was a woman who wanted to do right by the two girls she considered family. The series ended with Shadow Weaver unleashing her dark powers in full force to destroy a monster that was standing in the way of Adora and Catra saving the world from Horde Prime, killing her in the process. What was touching about this scene was that Shadow Weaver took off her mask as she said goodbye, letting the two women she loved the most see her face at last before she was gone. —Beth Elderkin

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Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts

Scarlemagne may have started out as the villain on Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts, but as time went on it became clear that there was so much more to his story. He was a victim of circumstance, traumatized by the unethical experiments performed on him for years. It wasn’t until his adoptive sister, Kipo, showed him true kindness that he realized you didn’t have to control people in order to get them to treat you well. In the final episode, he chose to sacrifice himself to save Kipo from Dr. Emilia, becoming the hero Kipo knew he was...and reuniting with the family who’d never stopped loving him. —Beth Elderkin

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Bill & Ted Face the Music

George Carlin’s passing in 2008 made any significant appearance by his character, Rufus, in 2020's Bill and Ted Face the Music fairly difficult. Plus, Rufus had already made sure Bill and Ted passed history so, basically, his work was done. However, in the long-awaited sequel, Bill and Ted meet Rufus’ family when they arrive in the future and are greeted with a fitting tribute to the late, great time traveler: a hologram of him in a beautiful courtyard. It’s a nice moment to mark not just the passing of the character, but of the actor, who helped make the franchise possible in the first place. —Germain Lussier

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The Last of Us Part II

Let’s be clear here. Joel is not a great person. In the first Last of Us game, he’s a murderer and a liar, but he did those things to help his would-be daughter, Ellie, survive. By the time The Last of Us Part II begins, he’s a simpler man, helping a community survive and thrive. All that changes though when his murderous ways catch up with him and he himself is killed in an act of revenge—in front of Ellie no less. Joel probably had it coming, but he’ll be missed. —Germain Lussier

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Spider-Man: Miles Morales

Like its video game predecessor, Spider-Man: Miles Morales took a new spin on a classic comics villain and made them have personal stakes with our hero. But Phin Mason’s Tinkerer was so much more messily intertwined into the private life of Miles than Otto Octavius was to Peter Parker in the first game, a lost friend Miles wasn’t there for at her lowest, and now finding himself opposed to her ethically as she leads a campaign of vengeance against the Roxxon Corporation. Miles and Phin’s story was much more complex and fraught, culminating in a bittersweet reconciliation and sacrifice that made for one of the most satisfying superhero stories this year. - James Whitbrook

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The 100

Bellamy Blake, you deserved so much more. I mean...I guess? As much as anyone on the CW’s The 100 did after all the horrible choices they made during the six seasons. You certainly didn’t deserve to die after a messy theological journey led to a disagreement with your longtime pals that culminated in one of the most ridiculous standoffs in TV history. None of it made a lick of sense. We’ll pretend your “end” was the season five finale instead.—Jill Pantozzi

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The Boys

You shined bright, Lucy. RIP.—Jill Pantozzi

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The Mandalorian

Bib Fortuna has been around for a long time. The Twi’lek right-hand man of Jabba the Hutt watched a young Anakin Skywalker win the Boonta Eve Classic. Later he was Jedi mind tricked by Anakin’s son, Luke, into letting the hero see Jabba. Though some may have assumed Bib perished alongside his master, at the hands of Luke, he did not. He survived and took over Jabba’s palace. Alas, in the final scene of The Mandalorian, this Star Wars icon met his demise at the hands of a frequent Jabba visitor, Boba Fett. Oh the stories that went with him. —Germain Lussier

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The Expanse (extra warning here, this episode aired TODAY)

Illustration for article titled The Fictional Characters, TV Shows, and Movies We Lost in 2020
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Illustration for article titled The Fictional Characters, TV Shows, and Movies We Lost in 2020

He had a complicated history, an Earther military hero who felt such remorse over his actions that he changed sides and dedicated himself to serving the Belt. He was politically shrewd, forming surprising alliances that helped further his dream of a prosperous future for Belters and for all his maneuvering, he was a straight shooter at heart. If Fred Johnson (played by the formidable Chad L. Coleman) had something to say, he would not be shy about it. Over five seasons on The Expanse, any time he popped up you could be certain that the plot was about to take a significant turn—including, unfortunately, with his assassination in this week’s episode. We’ll miss his intensity immensely.

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