23 most shocking and devastating character deaths in 2023

As 2023 waves us a fond farewell, it's that time again to cozy up with a cup of your beverage of choice and reminisce about the year's cinematic and televisual rollercoasters.
The Last of Us. Photograph by Shane Harvey/HBO.
The Last of Us. Photograph by Shane Harvey/HBO. /
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Characters from The Last of Us

HBO's The Last of Us, the best video game adaptation in history, truly broke our hearts this year. So much so that there are seven deaths on my list that are from this show alone.

Let that sink in for a minute as we celebrate some incredible characters we had to say goodbye to in the first season of this incredible journey.

Sarah in The Last of Us /

1) Sarah

Sarah's death in The Last of Us really sucker-punches you right in the feels. It's like, one moment she's there, this bright and lively kid in a world that's about to be pretty much falling apart and full of weird fungi people running around, and then bam — everything changes. You can't help but feel for her dad, Joel, because losing Sarah isn't just about saying goodbye to his daughter — it's like a big, painful sign that nothing's ever going to be normal again for him or anyone.

Watching this scene, I sobbed like a baby while thinking of my own children. You're right there in the thick of it when it happens, feeling every bit of that gut-wrenching sadness. It's super intense and real, and even after the episode ends, you're left thinking about it. Sarah's goodbye is more than just a twist in the story — it's a raw, honest look at how rough things can get, and it sticks with you.

The Last of Us Episode 2 /

2) Tess

Tess's death was yet another moment that hit us right in the feels, like a ton of bricks wrapped in sadness. Tess, the tough-as-nails survivor, who's been through more than her fair share of rough patches, finds herself in a real tight spot. She gets bitten by one of those creepy infected, and time starts to tick down for her.

What personally got me is how she handles it — with such bravery and self-sacrifice. She decides to stay behind, holding off a swarm of infected so Joel and Ellie can make their escape. It's this combination of heroism and heartbreak that makes the whole scene so powerful. She lights that fuse, ready to take down as many of those monsters with her as she can, and you can't help but feel a lump in your throat. It's not just the end for Tess — it's the loss of a beacon of strength in a world that's already so dark and desperate.