Top Five Most Gut-Wrenching Deaths

Writers are a cruel breed. Nothing gives an author more pleasure than making their readers fall in love with a character – and then ripping that character away in the middle of a battle.

These are my Top Five most Gut-Wrenching Deaths in fiction – and fair warning, Spoilers for The Maze Runner, The Hunger Games, Chronicles of Narnia, Harry Potter and Fullmetal Alchemist.

Aslan, The Great Lion

5. Aslan – The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

This might sound like a strange choice, especially considering that the entire theme of Narnia is Biblical, with Aslan serving as a metaphor for Jesus and His Resurrection. Aslan is killed by the Witch but is brought back to life, his death serving as a catalyst for the four children and the kingdom to move more aggressively against the Witch.

But it doesn’t stop Aslan’s death being brutal and completely unexpected, and perhaps a little traumatic, especially for young children. The Great Lion’s death earns the fifth place on my list.

4. Maes Hughes – Fullmetal Alchemist

The perfect family man taken away too soon.
I’ve mentioned Fullmetal Alchemist on my blog before. If you never read another manga in your life, you should definitely read Fullmetal Alchemist – it transcends every  manga cliche to form a powerful (and relatively short, by manga standards) narrative that doesn’t pull any punches.

To FMA fans...I'm sorry.
To FMA fans…I’m sorry.

Lieutenant Colonel Hughes’ death is brutal and gut-wrenching, made worse because of Maes’ overt love for his young daughter. He’s a goofball character with a serious side that you can’t help but fall in love with – so when he’s shot in a telephone booth after seeing an illusion of his late wife, it’s the type of death that takes a long time to come to grips with.

Despite having a relatively short amount of screen-time/book-time, Maes is one of the most beloved characters by fans, and in terms of emotional damage, his death is second only to that infamous scene…

3. Prim Everdeen – The Hunger Games

A Hunger Games winner, a Rebel icon, a teenage girl – Katniss Everdeen is many things, but above all else, she is a sister. She sacrificed everything and volunteered for the Hunger Games just to save her young sister from being forced into the Capitol’s sickening gladiatorial event.

Katniss_Prim_Catching_Fire[1]Throughout the trilogy, Prim is a consistent figure that always brings out Katniss’ caring side, the empathetic side that the war had threatened to destroy. This bond between Katniss and Prime was strong, almost unbreakable – and thus became a powerful weapon for President Coin.

Prim’s death is remarkably quick, especially considering how people like Rue died. A bomb explosion, made all the worse by the knowledge that Coin deliberately killed Prim to spur Katniss on.

Of all the cruel things that Suzanne Collins  forced her characters through, killing a fourteen-year-old girl might be the cruelest of all, and earns the undesirable position of third on my list.

2. Newt – The Maze Runner

The Maze Runner is nothing but three books of twists and

I still can't process his death...
I still can’t process his death…

turns that alternate between elating highs and soul-crushing lows. Even the supposed main characters aren’t immune to  James Dashner’s torments, and the lovable Newt is on the receiving end of one of the most gut-wrenching deaths of all-time.

Newt got the short end of the stick – he never received the Flare Cure from WICKED, and as he slips further into insanity, he begs Thomas for one final favor: to kill him.

Thomas sees the message too late, condemning Newt to a lifetime of misery as he becomes a Crank; but through a twist of fate, the pair end up meeting again.

Newt begs Thomas to kill him, and with a single gunshot, the most lovable character of the entire series is ripped away – a death made far worse because it wasn’t the ‘big bad’ killing Newt, but his own friend. For making a grown man almost cry, Newt posthumously earns the second place on my list.


Where to begin? Harry Potter was known for creating a world that wrapped the reader up and sucked them into a place of magic and friendship. Its characters felt real, so when they are killed, one by one, every death is an emotional punch that feels almost personal. Harry Potter’s body count deserves its own private list, so here’s my sub-list of the most gut-wrenching deaths in the Harry Potter series:

5. Dobby

The lovable house-elf who only ever wanted to please the great Harry Potter – his death came from attempting to rescue Harry and his friends from Malfoy Mannor, fatally wounded by Bellatrix Lestrange’s knife.

4. Fred Weasley

It seems impossible to think of the Weasley twins ever being separated – they were jokers, brothers, business owners and loyal to their family. They were so close to each other, that in Molly Weasley’s encounter with a Boggart, she saw both of them dying – because not even in her worse nightmares did she imagine that the twins would be separated.

3. Sirius Black

Sirius is undoubtedly the cool uncle/godfather/brother that we all wished we had or were. Charming, mischievous, dark, sarcastic but ultimately incredibly fond and protective of his late friend and his godson, Sirius Black was an outcast and always haunted by the dark past of his own family.

With a Death Eater brother and a family corrupted by Dark Magic, Sirius took the brave step of breaking away from the Black legacy and joining Gryffindor, becoming friends with the ‘Marauders’ – Remus Lupin, James Potter and Peter Pettigrew. After discovering that Remus was a werewolf, Sirius and his friends voluntarily became Animagi to support him, with Sirius taking the form of a large dog.

Sirius’ death comes at the hands (again) of Lestrange, after falling through the Veil in the Death Chamber of the Ministry of Magic.

2. Severus Snape

A long time ago, Dumbledore might have made this list, but in the time since The Half-Blood Prince, it has become apparent that Dumbledore’s death was both necessary and pre-planned, and although it was shocking, it didn’t have the associated emotional bombshell that was Severus Snape’s final moments.

A character that people alternately loved and hated, whose true motivations were always unclear, his final moments in The Deathly Hallows revealed a completely different side to the man with the hooked nose. He was the ‘friend’, the man on the outside who greatly loved Lily Evans, but could never hope to compete against the arrogant and smug James Potter.

Despite being rejected, Severus couldn’t abandon Lily, swearing to protect her – and her son – even though the sight of Harry (who looked so much like his father) filled Severus with loathing. Severus was used by both Voldemort and Dumbledore, an influential player in the second Wizarding War – and in the end, he was remembered as a great hero, one with a checkered history but with a powerful bond of love that crossed generations.

1. Hedwig


Of all the characters in Harry Potter, Hedwig was the most reliable and most consistent, a dependable friend for Harry. The snowy owl became a distinctive icon for the entire series, an animal that was not especially magical, but strange enough for most people that it bridged the divide between real and unreal.

Even after Harry was forced to return to his Muggle home, Hedwig remained as a physical reminder that the Wizarding World still existed – and she also provided him with a method of contacting his friends, and receiving mail and information about the growing media storm around him.

Everybody else – including Dobby – was a willing participant in the Wizarding War. They knew they might die, or be seriously hurt, but Hedwig was simply a pet owl – an innocent pet dragged into a conflict she knew nothing about.

Rest in Peace, Hedwig.


So. Have I taken you on a tear-filled trip back through memory lane? Or have I missed some other gut-wrenching deaths? Have a go at creating your own list, or leave a comment below!

Thanks for reading!

12 Comments Add yours

  1. Alyssa says:

    Ahaha, such a spoiler-filled post. BUT I SO AGREE WITH PRIM AND NEWT? Like they were such amazing side characters and poof, look they’re gone! *weeps* And don’t even get started on all of Rowling’s beautifully executed deaths. Seriously, I read this post once about (paraphrasing here) how the HP books are actually her Horcruxes, someone asked who she killed, and someone else replied “Everyone you ever loved in the books, duh”. *cry-laughs*


    1. Brett Michael Orr says:

      POOR NEWT. And yes, lots of spoilers in this post! J.K. was definitely a master of the death, though given how much of Harry Potter was all about Death itself, I guess it makes sense.

      Thanks for reading!


  2. The Writing Badger says:

    ‘Everyone you’ve ever loved’ very accurate! I’ll never get over the deaths in Harry Potter (except Bellatrix, Voldemort, Pettigrew etc of course)


    1. Brett Michael Orr says:

      Thanks so much for reading! ^_^


  3. Briana Morgan says:

    NO. THIS LIST MADE ME SO UPSET. But I totally agree – these deaths were TERRIBLE.

    Also, I feel guilty because I just wrote a death scene for BLOOD AND WATER…


    1. Brett Michael Orr says:


      From what I’ve heard about BLOOD AND WATER, you’ll be making a slot on a list like this one day!

      Thanks for stopping by!


  4. Heather says:

    Aslan, yeah. And I only know the other Harry Potters. But if we’re serious, HEDWIG DIDN’T DESERVE TO DIE SHE HAS GONE FOREVER AND IT MADE ME SAD.

    So I guess you were successful in your own, cruel way.

    Although, if it were my list, I would add Mufasa. Just saying.


    1. Brett Michael Orr says:

      I’m sorry! This list is super sad! Hedwig was just – ugh. Nobody should kill an owl. 😦

      Also: totally right about Mufasa. That was an incredibly brutal death (especially for a kids’ film!)

      Thanks for reading!


  5. Duke Leto, Duncan Idaho (several times). Liet. Tar. And Ulot, at the beginning of book 4.


  6. Ally R. says:

    I’m not crying…what? Okay, okay. But number 5 was a little misleading. That list is about a mile long! And Prim, agh! The best authors are extraordinarily cruel.


    1. Brett Michael Orr says:

      Hahah, sorry about the misleading numbers, but I wanted the joke/cruelness of Harry Potter being five deaths all on its own!

      Thanks for reading – hope you didn’t cry too much! 😉


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