Skip To Content

    25 Fictional Characters Who You'll Be Very Upset To Learn Were Originally Meant To Die

    How dare the Duffer Brothers even consider killing Steve Harrington.

    Warning: Spoilers ahead! 

    1. When Oscar Isaac learned that his character, Poe Dameron, got killed in the opening sequence of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, he asked director JJ Abrams to spare Poe's life for a very simple reason: Isaac kept making movies where he died early on, and he was sick of it.

    Poe in flight gear in the Force Awakens
    Walt Disney Co. / Courtesy Everett Collection

    Abrams said that Isaac had made "like four movies in which he died early," and he and screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan ultimately changed the script to keep Poe around. Said Isaac, "Obviously for me [it] was incredibly exciting and fantastic — I get to live!"

    2. Harrison Ford pushed for the death of Han Solo in the original Star Wars trilogy, and screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan agreed, since the death of a main character in Return of the Jedi would "give some stakes to this thing." But George Lucas didn't want to kill Han, so he survived...the first three movies.

    Luke, Han, and Chewbacca in the Return of the Jedi
    20th Century Fox / Courtesy Everett Collection

    During a 2016 fan Q&A on Entertainment Weekly's Tumblr, Harrison Ford said that contrary to popular belief, he'd been arguing for Han's death for 30 years "not because I was tired of him or because he’s boring, but his sacrifice for the other characters would lend gravitas and emotional weight." 

    3. Vince Gilligan planned on Aaron Paul's character, Jesse Pinkman, getting murdered by a drug dealer during the first season of Breaking Bad. As disturbing as that would have been, his plan for Walt's reaction to his partner's death was...more so.

    Jesse in a car with Walter White
    AMC / Courtesy Everett Collection

    On the Breaking Bad Insider podcast, Gilligan said that in this iteration of the story, Walt would kidnap the drug dealer and subject him to daily torture sessions while he was trapped in the White family home's basement. All the while, Walt would offer a way out: "a trip-wire connected to a shotgun pointed at [the drug dealer, which] would finally give him relief from the pain." Walt Jr. would eventually discover the torture chamber, and while he attempted to help, the drug dealer would trigger the gun, killing them both. Studio executives thought this was way, way, way too "fucked up," so the sequence never happened. 

    4. In the same podcast, Gilligan revealed that he and his writing staff also considered killing off Walt's wife, Skyler (portrayed by Anna Gunn). They debated whether she should die by suicide around the Season 5 episode "Granite State."

    In the season finale, Skyler smokes at her kitchen table
    AMC / Courtesy Everett Collection

    The sequence would've gone something like this: While Walt and Skyler hid at a crappy motel, Walt would talk to Skyler through the bathroom door, reassuring her that everything would be fine and that he had a plan. And then, "he finally forces the door open and she’s in a bloody tub or something like that." They ended up dropping the idea. 

    5. When the Duffer Brothers thought that Stranger Things would only last a single season, they planned on killing off Eleven, who would "sacrifice herself to save the day." But she was granted a reprieve when they realized that there could be more episodes.

    Joyce Byers and Hopper help Eleven into the saltwater pool in season 1
    Netflix / Courtesy Everett Collection

    In the book Stranger Things: Worlds Turned Upside Down, Ross Duffer wrote about the change, "we needed to leave it more up in the air, because deep down we knew the show just wouldn’t really work without Eleven." Additionally, they knew at that point "how special [Eleven actor] Millie was," which further motivated them to keep the character around. 

    6. The jock with a heart of gold, Steve Harrington, was also supposed to perish in the first season of Stranger Things, because he was originally intended to be "this giant douchebag" without the redemptive qualities that ultimately made him a fan favorite.

    Steve stands at the center of his group of friends in S1
    Netflix / Courtesy Everett Collection

    In the same book, the Duffer Brothers said that Joe Keery's performance saved Steve from the chopping block. 

    7. In an episode of the Office Ladies podcast, Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey revealed that creator Greg Daniels and writer Justin Spitzer pitched the idea that Michael would accidentally hit Meredith Palmer (Kate Flannery) with his car and kill her. The idea was ultimately rejected for being too grim.

    Meredith sitting at her desk
    NBC / Courtesy Everett Collection

    In the Season 4 episode "Fun Run," Michael does hit Meredith and break her hip, but the character survives. The alternate pitch was that Michael would hit her and then back over her because he "didn't want to leave any witnesses," or alternatively, he'd kill her with an anti-theft device called "the club" and then hide the body. Flannery was nervous when she received the script, since she'd read rumors that the writers wanted to kill a character, but Meredith pulled through. 

    8. When Roald Dahl's personal papers were sorted through following his death, it was discovered that in the early drafts of Matilda, the book-loving heroine was "a terribly unruly girl" who died at the end.

    Matilda in the film adaptation
    TriStar Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

    At first, the book was a "cautionary tale" about an "extremely naughty girl who plays pranks on everyone around her." A couple of the pranks can be found in the final version, but Matilda's story ends happily. 

    9. Misha Collins was hired to play Castiel for a few episodes on Season 4 of Supernatural before the character was killed off. Another angel, Anna, was supposed to be Dean's companion "through the oncoming apocalypse," but Cas's popularity ensured both his survival and more prominent role in the series.

    Misha Collins as Castiel
    CW Network / Courtesy Everett Collection

    Castiel was supposed to die in the episode "Heaven and Hell," and in a 2008 interview with BuddyTV, Collins said he'd shot four of his initial seven episodes so far and didn't "know what the future holds." (Spoiler: It was a lot more Castiel.) 

    10. Bill Hader revealed in a Vulture interview that NoHo Hank, the Chechen gangster played by Anthony Carrigan, was supposed to die in the first episode of Barry, but Carrigan's performance was so great that they couldn't go through with it.

    Carrigan as NoHo Hank on the phone by a pool
    HBO / Via youtube.com

    Hader said that one of the first things he discussed with co-creator Alec Berg after the show was picked up was the fact that they needed to find a way to keep Carrigan in the cast, since he was "so funny." 

    11. While writing Misery, Stephen King thought he was working toward an ending where Paul Sheldon would finish the book Annie Wilkes forced him to write, only for her to kill him, feed his body to a pig, and bind the manuscript in his skin. But the character surprised King by being "a good deal more resourceful than I initially thought," and so he was spared this gruesome fate.

    Paul Sheldon tied to a bed by Annie Wilkes
    Columbia Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

    In his memoir On Writing, King mused that while the twist ending would've been good for a short story, it wouldn't have worked in a novel, since "no one likes to root for a guy over the course of 300 pages only to discover that between chapters 16 and 17 the pig ate him." In addition, Sheldon gave King the opportunity to "say some things about the redemptive power of writing that I had long felt but never articulated." 

    12. The writers of Lost wanted to "pull the rug out from under the audience" by killing protagonist Jack Shephard (Matthew Fox) midway through the first episode, but studio head Steve McPherson convinced them to keep Jack alive by arguing that the death would "teach viewers not to trust the show."

    Jack in season 2 of Lost
    ABC / Courtesy Everett Collection

    Had the writers gone through with Jack's death, Kate Austen (Evangeline Lilly) would have become the leader of the group. 

    13. Jin-Soo Kwon (Daniel Dae Kim) was another Lost character who almost didn't make it past the first season, since he was "not...very sympathetic" in the beginning. But he ultimately lasted all six seasons, in part because of a writer named Monica Macer, who pushed for the character's survival.

    Jin walks on the beach carrying a fish and fishing supplies
    ABC / Courtesy Everett Collection

    In an interview with Insider, Kim said of Macer, "She is African American and Korean American. She lobbied for me." He noted that job security was a constant source of anxiety among members of the cast, and that in addition to wanting to stay on the show, he had concerns about his character's arc. Early on, Kim sat down with the show's creators to tell them that Jin's characterization propagated offensive stereotypes, and said that by the end of the show, Jin "grew to a place where I don't think you'd call him a stereotype." 

    14. Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis) was supposed to die at the end of Homeland's first season. But Lewis's compelling performance resulted in his storyline "arc[ing] out over three seasons instead of just one."

    Brody with his wife in the pilot of the series
    Showtime Networks Inc. / Courtesy Everett Collection

    In an interview with Deadline, show creator Alex Gansa said that the second season following his death was envisioned as "a more conventional show about an intelligence officer," but because "Damian was so amazing, and because the chemistry between Claire was so amazing," they couldn't bear to part with Brody so soon. 

    15. Audiences loved Lafayette Reynolds (Nelsan Ellis) on True Blood, leading creator Alan Ball to save the character from the early death he suffers in the books.

    HBO / Via youtube.com

    Reynolds is tragically murdered in Living Dead in Dallas, the second book in Charlaine Harris's The Southern Vampire Mysteries. But Ball noted the character's popularity and altered the role to make him more prominent, and Reynolds ended up surviving all seven seasons of True Blood

    16. Midway through writing the Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling wasn't in a "very happy place," and as a result she considered killing off Ron Weasley "out of sheer spite."

    Ron in the 3rd movie
    Warner Bros / Courtesy Everett Collection

    While being interviewed by Daniel Radcliffe for the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 DVD, Rowling confessed that while she seriously thought about killing Ron, she had always wanted the main trio to survive the series. She ultimately stuck to that plan, and everyone's favorite ginger wizard lived to fight another day. 

    17. Rowling told Today that she also planned to kill Arthur Weasley up until she wrote the fifth book in the series, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. But she couldn't, because "if there's one character I couldn't bear to part with, it's Arthur Weasley." She explained his survival by noting that he was one of the only (if not the only) good father in the series.

    Arthur Weasley protecting Ginny at the Battle of Hogwarts
    Warner Bros / Courtesy Everett Collection

    However, the fact that Mr. Weasley made it resulted in another character's doom. In a tweet apologizing for killing off Remus Lupin, Rowling wrote that, "Arthur lived, so Lupin had to die." 

    18. Had Sex and the City 3 been made, the movie would've kicked off with the death of Mr. Big, who was going to have a heart attack in the shower.

    Mr Big reading a newspaper on the couch
    Warner Bros / Courtesy Everett Collection

    The sequel was going to be "more about how Carrie recovers from Big's death than about the relationship between the four women," but since it got canceled, the pair got to keep their fairy-tale ending.

    19. Some early storyboards for Iron Man 3 revealed a death scene for Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau), who would've died in a massive explosion at the Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles.

    Happy Hogan holding the Iron Man suitcase
    Paramount / Courtesy Everett Collection

    In the final version of the movie, Happy is injured but survives the blast, while in the storyboards, he closes his eyes and dies.  

    20. The original ending of Rambo: First Blood had Sylvester Stallone's character dying by suicide, but after they shot the scene, Stallone pulled director Ted Kotcheff aside and pointed out that after all the suffering they put him through, killing Rambo wouldn't make for a satisfying ending. Kotcheff agreed, and they shot the alternative ending right then and there.

    Rambo sitting in the dark
    Orion Pictures / youtube.com

    The producers were none too pleased that Kotcheff wanted a completely new ending when they were supposed to be wrapping the shoot, but he told them, "Listen, you assholes, I don’t take any shit from producers." He said that American distributors would hate the downer ending, and he was saving them money they would've had to spend on reshoots later. As it turned out, he was right: Test audiences hated the ending where Rambo died, but luckily, they had an alternative option ready. 

    21. In Season 2 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angelus murders Jenny Calendar, a "technopagan" and Giles' love interest. But another character very nearly ended up at the center of the brutally upsetting sequence: Daniel "Oz" Osbourne, Willow's deadpan werewolf boyfriend.

    Oz in Season 4
    20th Century Fox / Courtesy Everett Collection

    Calendar's actress, Robia LaMorte, converted to Christianity following her time on the show, and therefore declined to make any further (posthumous) appearances. Oz remained on the show until Season 4 (and his tenure ended with him getting dumped, not murdered by a vampire). 

    22. In an interview with TooFab for Buffy's 20th anniversary, James Marsters said that his character, Spike, was only supposed to stick around for five episodes before being murdered by — who else? — Angelus.

    Spike fights Nikki Wood in the subway
    20th Century Fox / Courtesy Everett Collection

    Marsters explained that in the original plot, "Angel turns evil and he was gonna kill me off and take up with Drusilla so Buffy could get shattered." Believing that he wouldn't be on the show for long meant that Marsters got to take more risks with the role than he otherwise would have. Spike ultimately lasted through the end of Buffy's run. 

    23. South Park's Kenny McCormick is an expert in dying (he's done it 126 times, apparently), but his death in the Season 5 episode "Kenny Dies" was, for once, intended to be permanent. However, Trey Parker and Matt Stone missed having him around, so Kenny "just reappeared like nothing happened in the last scene of Season 6."

    Kenny dying in Kenny Dies
    Comedy Central / youtube.com

    Kenny was going to be replaced with "a revolving door of characters to fill the fourth friend void," since Matt and Trey were tired of having to come up with a new "Oh my god, you killed Kenny!" joke for every episode. But they missed him, so Kenny was, as he so often has been, resurrected. 

    24. The opening of Halloween (2018) almost killed off a character who had survived Halloween (1978). In this version of the script, the final scene of Halloween (1978) was re-created at the beginning of the film, with one key difference: Dr. Loomis (played by Donald Pleasence in the original film) got killed by Michael Myers.

    Loomis points his gun at the killer
    Compass International Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

    When John Carpenter, the director of the first Halloween, read the script, he asked why they would want to change his ending. David Gordon Green "took that to heart" and decided not to retroactively kill off Loomis. 

    25. And finally, John Green considered killing off Hazel Lancaster and Peter van Houten at the end of The Fault in Our Stars, which isn't too surprising. What is unexpected, however, is the manner in which he planned to do it: "a hail of bullets" fired by a drug lord's security team.

    Hazel and Peter van Houten in the movie adaptation
    20th Century Fox / youtube.com

    Green said in an interview with CBS-19 that Hazel and Peter would want to honor Augustus following his death by "finding a way to die in a sacrificial way," resulting in a suicide mission to kill a drug lord. He sent this draft to an editor, who responded by saying, "The last 40 pages, I can't tell if you're kidding." Needless to say, the sequence didn't stick. 

    TV and Movies

    Get all the best moments in pop culture & entertainment delivered to your inbox.

    Newsletter signup form