Our favorite characters: They don't really live and breathe, but they can die. And when that happens, we really do mourn them ... especially when their deaths come seemingly out of nowhere.
"Game of Thrones," more than just about any other show, has become known for this sort of thing; fans learning early on that no character is too central to the plot to be killed off with a sudden stroke of a sword. Somehow, though, that knowledge doesn't serve to dampen the shock, each and every time it happens.
Spoilers ahead. Venture on at your own risk...
By CBS News staff writer Christina Capatides
Hodor, "Game of Thrones"
Season 6 of "Game of Thrones" had possibly the highest death toll for main characters yet, with the finale seeing the demise of the High Sparrow, most of the Tyrell family and Tommen Baratheon. And that's after Ramsay Bolton had finally gotten his comeuppance after offing Rickon Stark in the second-to-last episode.
But no death last season had as shocking an impact as that of Hodor (Kristian Nairn), who tragically revealed the time-bending origin of his name and one-word vocabulary.
Jon Snow, "Game of Thrones"
In "Mother's Mercy," the Season 5 finale episode, George R. R. Martin struck again... and this time, it stung.
Jon Snow, the lovable "bastard of the North"... the last remaining Stark hunk... the first Commander of the Knight's Watch in history to care about the lives of the Wildlings... was stabbed to death by his own men, for the very do-good actions that made viewers love him.
If you're one of the many viewers still in shell shock from his death, you didn't have to mourn long, as Snow was resurrected by Mellisandre, the Red Lady, early on in Season 6.
Stannis Baratheon, "GOT"
Jon Snow wasn't the only leader to bite it in Season 5, as Stannis Baratheon was killed as well. We may not have actually seen Brienne of Tarth's sword pierce into his body, but we saw how defenseless he was -- wounded from battle, leaning up against a tree. And we've long known the ferocity with which Brienne vowed to avenge her beloved Renly.
It's a pretty safe assumption that, much like Jon Snow, Stannis is now dead. But unlike Jon Snow, there's no Red Lady nearby. So, Stannis stayed that way.
The Red Wedding, "Game of Thrones"
Just when you thought "Game of Thrones" couldn't shock you with deaths anymore, they aired the episode containing the Red Wedding.
Not only was fan favorite Rob Stark brutally murdered, his unborn fetus was quite literally murdered in his wife's belly. No, we don't just mean that they killed his wife. We mean, they stabbed her pregnant belly... repeatedly. HORRIFYING.
Ned Stark, "Game of Thrones"
Before there was a Red Wedding ... before Joffrey was poisoned, or Prince Oberyn's skull was crushed like a melon ... there was Ned Stark.
Back in Season 1 of "Game of Thrones," we were more innocent television watchers. We understood that Ned Stark was the show's protagonist. And we understand that, based on our past experience, that meant he was safe.
Then, Joffrey had him executed publicly and everything changed. We learned that, in the world of Westeros, no one is safe.
Of course, "Game of Thrones" doesn't have a monopoly on surprising character deaths. Keep clicking to see some other shocking TV farewells.
McDreamy, "Grey's Anatomy"
"Grey's Anatomy" fans know what this sort of grief feels like now, after McDreamy was killed off -- to their horror -- in a car accident.
We know Patrick Dempsey has been on the show for what seems like a million years, but did they really have to kill him? He's an award-winning doctor. Couldn't he have just gone on a humanitarian aid mission or something?
Zoe Barnes, "House of Cards"
OK, admittedly it's a bad idea to get into bed with Frank Underwood. And it's an even worse idea to turn on him.
So, we knew that "House of Cards" political reporter Zoe Barnes wasn't exactly safe. But we didn't expect her to get pushed in front of a speeding D.C. metro train, either.
Rita Morgan, "Dexter"
Rita's death felt like a smack in the face to many "Dexter" fans, who believed the agita of the fourth season was over and that Dexter could finally be happy, after doing away with the Trinity Killer once and for all.
Dexter had sent his wife and baby son away earlier in the episode. He had done this to keep them safe, while he dealt with Trinity. So, we all believed that they were, in fact, safe. But we were wrong.
When Dexter returned home at the end of the Season 4 finale to gather his things and meet Rita on their honeymoon, he called her cellphone and heard it ringing from within the house. Then, he heard his son crying. It turns out Trinity had managed to kill Rita before Dexter could kill him. And the episode ended with Dexter cradling his screaming baby, both of them drenched in Rita's blood. Some of us are still recovering.
Brian, "Family Guy"
Fans were outraged -- and we mean, outraged -- when "Family Guy" dog Brian Griffin was struck and killed by a car in the show's 12th season.
They immediately petitioned for Brian's return and, three weeks later, their wish was granted.
In an episode, called "Christmas Guy," it was revealed that Stewie had travelled back in his time machine and managed to push Brian out of the way, saving his life.
Matthew Crawley, "Downton Abbey"
One of the most common reasons for beloved characters meeting their untimely TV ends is when the actor who plays that character asks to be written off of the show to pursue other opportunities.
Matthew Crawley is a good example of this.
Why would the writers kill off a character who the fans loved ... that just had a baby ... and was young ... and happy ... and drove this awesome vintage convertible? The answer is simple: Because they had to.
And don't get us started on Lady Sybil.
Omar, "The Wire"
"The Wire," an HBO show with an almost cult-like following, was chock-full of drugs and violence.
So, deaths on the show weren't always shocking. When fan favorite Omar died in Season 5, though, it absolutely was.
He was checking out at a convenience story, and he just got shot. Just. Like. That.
Henry Blake, "M*A*S*H"
In perhaps one of the most famous character kill-offs of all time, Lt. Colonel Henry Blake's death was announced in the Season 3 finale of "M*A*S*H," in emotional fashion.
The term "announced" is used intentionally here because viewers did not actually have to watch Blake die -- a luxury modern shows rarely give their fans. Rather, news of his death was read to the hospital staff by Radar: "Lt. Colonel Henry Blake's plane was shot down over the Sea of Japan. It spun in. There were no survivors."
Now, that's the tasteful way to break viewers' hearts.
Dumbledore, "Harry Potter"
To the horror of "Harry Potter" fans across the globe, beloved Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore was murdered by Severus Snape in the sixth book from the series, while Harry watched speechless from below.
Dumbledore's death not only rocked Harry's world, it was the spoiler that rocked the literary world. Don't worry, though, it was all for the greater good.
J.R. Ewing, "Dallas"
When main character J.R. Ewing was shot by an unknown assailant in the third season of the nighttime soap "Dallas," fans went wild.
The murder mystery even spawned the popular catchphrase, "Who shot J.R.?"
Too bad social media wasn't around back then. That would have made a "killer" hashtag.
Will, "The Good Wife"
It's always shocking when one of your favorite characters is killed off; but at the very least, big character deaths usually occur in season finales, so you can sort of see them coming.
Well, lovable lawyer Will Gardner was killed off "The Good Wife" midway through its fifth season. Midway!
Come on, writers. That's just cruel.
Dan Conner, "Roseanne"
In a shocking twist, the series finale of the popular sitcom "Roseanne" revealed that Roseanne's husband had actually died of a heart attack years ago.
While it initially appeared that Dan survived that health scare, this final episode revealed that the show's plot was actually a story Roseanne had written (and altered in places, as the case may be).
Fred Weasley, "Harry Potter"
Fred and George Weasley were a constant source of levity in the "Harry Potter" series.
They opened a joke shop. They played Quidditch for Gryffindor. And they constantly played pranks on their fellow classmates. Harry Potter fans grew to love them because of it.
Then, in "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," even they couldn't escape the darkness. George lost an ear at the start of this final installment, and Fred was killed in its final battle at Hogwarts.
Nate, "Six Feet Under"
Every episode of "Six Feet Under" begins with someone dying. But fans were still completely unprepared for the death of Nate Fisher in "All Alone," the series' third-to-last episode.
Nate was diagnosed with a serious brain condition, which cropped up more than once throughout the series, forcing fans to prepare for his death.
When Nate actually died, though, he was recovering in the hospital and we truly believed he was in the clear. That's how they get us, these TV folks.
Samantha, "I Am Legend"
The 2007 film "I Am Legend" is a post-apocalyptic story in which Will Smith's character tries to fight off -- and simultaneously heal -- the zombies that have taken over the United States.
He lives in a boarded-up brownstone and his only companion is a German Shepherd, named Samantha.
Well, Sam is bit on a reconnoissance mission late in the film and transforms into a zombie dog in Will Smith's arms, forcing him to kill her himself.
Jimmy Darmody, "Boardwalk Empire"
Fan favorite Jimmy Darmody was murdered by his mentor in the finale of "Boardwalk Empire" Season 2, leaving disbelieving fans wondering how Nucky Thompson -- of all people -- could have turned on him.
Marissa Cooper, "The O.C."
The beautiful but chronically damaged "O.C." leading lady Marissa Cooper died in a car crash in the Season 3 finale.
She had been dating bad boy Kevin Volchok and it just wasn't going to end well. So, after distancing her from her friends and framing her ex-boyfriend for robbery, he ran her car off the road.
Because that's just what you do when you're the bad boy in a tumultuous teen drama.
In a 1992 comic, called "The Death of Superman," the Man of Steel went to battle with a seemingly unstoppable villain, named Doomsday, in the streets of Metropolis.
At the fight's end, both combatants end up dying from their wounds, and Clark Kent fans are left with the image of a broken hero lying in Lois Lane's arms.
After eluding death for three seasons, Nicholas Brody -- the war hero, turned terrorist, turned good guy again -- finally met his end at the hands of the Iranian military.
The thing is, we actually thought he and Carrie could live happily ever after. She was pregnant. His wife was finally out of the picture. And it all seemed within reach.
That's how these shocking TV deaths always go, though, don't they?
Spock, "Star Trek"
Spock, the beloved Captain of the USS Enterprise, dies in the 1982 Trek film "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan."
Not, however, before delivering an inspirational speech about the "needs of the many" and performing his famous "live long and prosper" hand gesture to Admiral Kirk through a pane of glass.
The 2009 animated film "Up" started with a beautiful sequence, in which we watch Carl and Ellie fall in love.
There are no words ... just twenty minutes of sparse piano music. In those twenty minutes, we see the couple fall in love, get married and attempt to have children. Then, Ellie dies.
Wait, what? We thought we bought tickets for an animated Pixar movie. Those are supposed to be happy. Instead, this one left us pondering life.