The horror genre is a battlefield, and the Final Girls, killers, and victims who find themselves participating in this brutal game of cat-and-mouse are usually guaranteed one thing: Death. Only the luckiest and the strongest survive. Sometimes it doesn’t matter how lucky or strong you are. If the bloodthirsty writers of a particular horror movie or television show have slated a character for death, there’s not much hope for that character. It makes it especially hard when these characters are likable or funny, or win the audience over with their charms, and still, the grim reaper, or in this case, a masked killer, comes knocking. The horror genre is full of heartbreaking deaths.
This got me thinking about all the saddest deaths in horror movies and television shows. There are a lot of them, so this list is condensed down to five entries, otherwise, it would turn into a several-hundred-page novel. Without out of the way, here’s the saddest deaths from the horror genre.
The Child’s Play franchise is full of sad deaths, but perhaps the saddest death goes to Nadine.
The first spot in this list goes to the likable, quirky, kleptomaniac Nadine (Bella Higginbotham), a student at a Catholic reformatory school, Incarnate Lord. Nadine forms a close relationship with the trio of Jake, Devon, and Lexy, three children who have survived the bloody machinations of Chucky the Killer Doll. Nadine brings a lot of warmth and comedy to the group, but her backstory, of witnessing her addict mother die right in front of her, was heartbreaking. Nadine uses the experience of losing her mother to help Lexy combat her own addiction issues.
Of course, no one is safe when Chucky is around, even a seemingly reformed Chucky. Just as Nadine lets her guard down, Chucky tosses her out a window, killing the little girl as she falls onto a statue of Mary. A lot of seasoned horror veterans expected Nadine’s death, especially since the show has no qualms about killing off children, but Nadine’s demise was still a hard pill to swallow. She was so kind and sweet, and her presence was helpful to Lexy as she struggled with trauma and addiction. Rest in peace, Nadine.
Chloe and Cal- Harper’s Island
Harper’s Island is a fun little slasher television series that doesn’t get enough love and is full of creative kills and shocking deaths. It follows a wedding party as they arrive on the titular island only to discover a killer is among the guests, killing off anyone he encounters one by one. Chloe and Cal are a couple among the wedding guests. Cal is getting ready to propose to Chloe, but he’s very serious and she’s more laid back with an obsession with true crime. Chloe and Cal didn’t start off as likable characters, but through the chaos of surviving several run-ins with a deadly killer and the deaths of their families and friends, Chloe and Cal gain a better appreciation for one another and become more endearing for the audience.
The young couple makes it pretty far in the one-season show, but in the final stretch of episodes, the killer confronts Chloe and Cal over a bridge with a several-hundred-foot drop. Realizing the end is here, Cal proposes to Chloe before attacking the killer, who stabs him through the neck. Rather than let herself be one of the killer’s victims, Chloe tells him: “you’ll never have me,” before letting herself fall off the bridge to her death. Chloe and Cal’s death scenes were heartbreaking given how much the couple had grown in the show. Their deaths were expected, but no less tragic.
Allison Kerry- Saw III
While she was never a central character in the first three Saw movies, Allison Kerry was still the resident Jigsaw expert. She was present at most of Jigsaw’s early crime scenes and she found herself participating in his games, although there was some separation because she never directly was tested until the third film. Kerry gets a chance to shine in the second film when she and Eric Matthews finally confront the Jigsaw Killer in his hideout, discovering his identity as John Kramer. Unfortunately, in the third film, Kerry is taken hostage by Kramer’s apprentice, Amanda, who forces the detective into a trap with no way of surviving. The kicker: Kerry would have survived the trap after snatching a key from a vial of acid, but Amanda rigged the trap and Kerry dies when it rips out her ribcage.
I was always disappointed by Kerry’s death. I wanted to see more from the character and I wish the franchise had positioned her to be Jigsaw’s main nemesis.
Dewey Riley- Scream (2022)
For four films, Dewey Riley battled various Ghostface killers alongside Sidney Prescott and Gale Weathers. He defied death on several occasions, emerging from each film weary and wounded but alive. Dewey always seemed to be the heart of the trio of the three Ghostface survivors, and his relationship with Gale was one of the high points of the series. By 2022’s Scream, much of Dewey’s fighting days were behind him. He was tired, traumatized, walked with a limp, and was separated from Gale. I think Dewey always knew that he wouldn’t survive another run-in with a Ghostface Killer, which makes his decision to help Sam and her sister even more heart-wrenching.
After rescuing Sam and Tara from the hospital, Dewey returns for one last confrontation with Ghostface, only to be brutally murdered. Dewey should have remembered to make sure Ghostface was dead before leaving the hospital, but this one mistake proved to be fatal. Many fans were expecting Dewey’s death at some point in the franchise (he was supposed to die in the first film) but his loss felt truly tragic, especially for Gale and Sidney.
Abbie Mills- Sleepy Hollow
The less said about Sleepy Hollow, a television series from Fox, the better. The series started strong and brought the legend of Ichabod Crane to the modern day, with Abbie Mills (Nicole Beharie) set up as his counterpart. Abbie, a police officer, witnesses the death of the town sheriff when he is decapitated by the Headless Horseman, setting Abbie on a supernatural and conspiracy-filled path to uncover all the deadly secrets hidden within Sleepy Hollow. Abbie and Ichabod worked together to fend off the apocalypse and battle the forces of Hell. Their chemistry was undeniable, which makes Abbie’s fate even more frustrating.
Season 2 started shifting Abbie to the background in favor of Ichabod’s (white) wife Katrina, despite Abbie being the co-lead of the show. Season 3 further insulted the character by killing her off to stop the world-ending threat of Pandora. Abbie’s death was sad because she was such a welcome presence on the show and she was an interesting and strong-willed character. Her demise had a lot to do with the behind-the-scenes racist treatment Beharie was receiving. I’m glad that Beharie has gone on to have such an amazing career despite the treatment she received on the set of Sleepy Hollow. Abbie’s death was so poorly handled and as the co-lead of the show, she (and Beharie) deserved so much better.
Who do you think has the saddest death in horror? Let us know in the comments!