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Character Departures on TV: The Saddest Goodbyes From Our Favorite Shows

Very Good TV Podcast: The recent "It's Always Sunny" character farewell reminds us of emotional sendoffs from other great series.

Rob McElhenney, Danny DeVito, Glenn Howerton, Kaitlin Olson and Charlie Day in "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia."

Patrick McElhenney/FX

Following the recent potential departure of a certain “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” character during the Season 12 finale, it’s worth looking at other character departures from some of the best TV series. Looking at comedies, sci-fi, and dramas, its not hard to find a heart-wrenching goodbye

READ MORE: ‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’ Review: A Monumental Season Finale Says Goodbye to One of the Gang

While not a traditional character departure like that of one from a sitcom, one recent goodbye that dealt an emotional blow to its fan base was that of Stefon from “SNL.” The character was a staple on the show for many years, propelling Bill Hader into comedic stardom. It’s great to see Hader in films like “Trainwreck” and providing hilarious voice acting for animated projects such as “Inside Out,” as well as some pretty hilarious phone commercials (the man can seriously make anything funny), but nothing can quite top his iconic Weekend Update City Correspondent. Hader’s final skit on SNL saw his signature character nearly betrothed to Anderson Cooper, until Seth Meyers swooped in to interrupt the ceremony “Graduate”-style. The pair ran off into the sunset to give Hader an emotional, yet still hilarious, send off.

Perhaps even a harder goodbye than saying farewell to an actor with an arsenal of lovable characters is saying goodbye to one who then continues to pop up after their story appeared to be over, such as the case with David Duchovny in “The X-Files.” It seemed as if Duchovny’s Fox Mulder would no longer be a part of the show following its seventh season, though the character made infrequent appearances in the eighth and ninth seasons. (There’s a reason why some fans of the show may have trust issues.)

READ MORE: Time Travel TV: How the Abundance of Time-Bending Shows Could Be Good For TV

A more painful goodbye contrasting Fox Mulder’s teasing departure is one that left no doubt in the minds of the fans regarding whether or not the character would return, and that is Damian Lewis‘s character from “Homeland,” Nicholas Brody. The popular character from Showtime’s hit series had an absolutely brutal exit, a send-off which was originally planned for the show’s first season. Some contest that the series may have been better off with Brody’s original departure, but either way you look at it, the farewell hit fans incredibly hard.

Quite possibly the toughest TV goodbye any comedy show has to offer (or any show for that matter) came in the form of Michael Scott leaving “The Office.” Steve Carell’s iconic Regional Manager was a beloved comedic figure on TV for 7 seasons, and unfortunately his departure marked the beginning of a steady decline for the show, which only lasted for two seasons afterwards. (Carell did make an appearance in the series finale, delivering perhaps the greatest “That’s What She Said” joke of all time.)

Listen to IndieWire TV Editor Liz Shannon Miller and TV Critic Ben Travers debate the issue in this week’s Very Good TV Podcast (above). Don’t forget to subscribe via Soundcloud or iTunes, and follow IndieWire on Twitter and Facebook for all your pertinent TV news. Check out Liz and Ben’s Twitter feeds for more, more, more. Plus, don’t forget to listen to IndieWire’s other podcastsScreen Talk with Eric Kohn and Anne Thompson, as well as Michael Schneider’s new podcast, Turn It On, which spotlights the most important TV of each week.

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