Multiple spoilers ahead!
Justin Foley (Brandon Flynn)- 13 Reasons Why (2017-2020)
13 Reasons Why had plenty of controversy during its 4-season run and kept it up with the death of fan-favourite character Justin Foley. Justin had a brilliant arc and endured many trials (including homelessness, child abuse, drug addiction and a drug-addicted mother) only to die in the finale. He transformed from being a rather antagonistic force in season 1 to trying his hardest to atone for his actions by protecting his friends, testifying in court and being a great ally when characters needed it the most. He was even adopted by Clay’s (Dylan Minnette) parents and was looking forward to college. Basically, many viewers believe he had the show’s only successful redemption arc.
He died due to contracting AIDS, yet his HIV wasn’t mentioned until the finale (coughing a few episodes ago doesn’t count!) and, nowadays, people live full lives with AIDS. Plus, it takes HIV roughly 8-10 years to develop into AIDS and the apparent cause of Justin’s infection (sex work and needle use) only happened a couple of years prior. There was awful research, it was a terrible way to end the drama which was often called out for fetishizing trauma, and it received widespread anger at the time. I saw a spoiler and never bothered to finish the final season because of his death.
Castiel (Misha Collins) and Dean (Jensen Ackles)– Supernatural (2005-2020)
I’m a massive fan of Supernatural, but even I’ll say it overstayed its welcome and horrible choices were made in the penultimate episode and the finale itself. For a show that made a habit of killing everybody, including the main characters (although the Winchester brothers would always be revived), ending the show with the death of two of the most beloved characters was simply disappointing and wrong.
Castiel’s death was a huge disservice to the character and it was another example of the show falling into the ‘bury your gays’ trope. Castiel declared his love for Dean and immediately died. Sacrificing himself for Dean is well within Castiel’s character, but it didn’t need to happen. It’s made worse as the way he died prohibits him from accessing Supernatural's Heaven. If that’s not bad enough, we never saw Dean’s response to Castiel’s admission of love, although Jensen Ackles has lent his voices to rumours that his response was cut.
Next, Dean, who was established as an incredibly skilled monster hunter, died from falling into a rusty nail in a fight with vampires. Yes, it shows he isn’t indestructible, but this character had spent seasons depressed and not caring about living. At this point, he wanted to live and own a dog. It reduced the majority of his character development over the past 15 years; he didn’t want to die a hunter anymore. Not only did it make no sense, Jensen Ackles said it took a lot of persuasion for him to accept his character’s ending. Terrible choice.