Eulogies for our favorite TV animals: Because animal deaths are sad too

Just remember, they're not real! Nobody actually died (except your pride)!

10:00 am EST, November 22, 2017

I cry more when animals die in TV shows than humans. Whether they’re real or fantasy, animal deaths turn me into a sobbing mess.

In the last few years it’s become customary for TV shows to kill off big characters, both fan favorite heroes and villains alike. The shock factor is wearing off, so some series have taken to trying a different tactic to keep fans on their toes. No, we don’t mean fake-out dumpster deaths. Shows are now killing off beloved animal characters, and no species is safe.

Killing animals may be an easy way to make us emotional wrecks, but it’s nonetheless effective. We’ve done our mourning for human characters, let’s take a moment to remember some of our favorite animal characters who left us for too soon.

Tabitha – ‘The Walking Dead’

It’s rare to see animals other than dead squirrels in The Walking Dead, but in season 6 we were treated to the delightful Tabitha the goat. At a time when we were cripplingly stressed about the fate of Glenn, Tabitha provided the much-needed serenity only a cute animal can bring. She was also a great stress reliever for Morgan during his existential crisis, grounding him and helping him remember what it felt like to take care of the helpless and innocent.

If only there were more people like Tabitha who survived the apocalypse. Georgia would certainly be a much calmer, kinder place. It would also probably be a very helpless place and everyone would die from the inability to do anything independently, but at least everyone would die together. Thank you, Tabitha, for teaching us what it meant to be pure, and reminding us how to love an unproblematic character.

Related: Goats on film (and television): They’re more than an animal

Li’l Sebastian – ‘Parks and Recreation’

He wasn’t a pony, he was a miniature horse. Not only was Li’l Sebastian highly educated, having an honorary degree from Notre Dame, he was also a philanthropist, his favorite charity being the Afghan Institute of Learning. He was an idol of the highest caliber, having also been involved in sports (a champion climber), and providing entertainment for kids and adults of all ages.

Being in Li’l Sebastian’s presence was like seeing an angel and being punched in the gut at the same time. Sebastian may have been li’l, but his impact on Pawnee was anything but li’l. We miss you, Li’l Sebastian, but we know you’re in heaven, looking down on us, doing your two favorite things: eating carrots and urinating freely. Gallop on, Li’l Sebastian!

Viserion – ‘Game of Thrones’

As heartbreaking as it is to lose a dragon, it’s only natural that Viserion be the first dragon to fall. His namesake did not set him up for success after all, seeing as Viserys was abusive and hated by all.

Unfortunately, Viserion was not Dany’s favorite, so we didn’t get much quality time with him. Memories and anecdotes are scarce, and our bond feeble. But when he and brother Rhaegal were chained in the dungeons, punished for their brother’s crimes, we wept along with them. So too did we weep when he died fighting for his mother.

Dear Viserion, though our time together was minimal, you are missed, if just because the war is harder to fight without you.

Related: Game of Thrones: The most traumatic creature deaths

Window cat – ‘Mindhunter’

The Mindhunter cat may have been mysterious, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t connect and fall for him/her. A cat that’s clearly hungry but too scared to approach someone is easily a cat to be endeared to.

What is there to say about the nameless window cat? He/she loved tuna. Window cat probably prefers chicken though, because what cat would pick tuna over chicken? Though we never saw what happened to Window cat, our thoughts and love are with him/her at this tragic time. He/she likely died a gruesome death, a death unbefitting this innocently hungry cat.

Shiva – ‘The Walking Dead’

The latest victim to this lineup of death, the majestic Shiva also fell in battle.

Caged for many years in an Atlanta zoo, the apocalypse provided the freedom Shiva needed to live in the wild the way she was meant to. Well, she was still chained sometimes, but not enclosed all of the time. Ezekiel couldn’t exactly let a wild tiger loose.

Tied to her master both literally and figuratively, Shiva and Ezekiel shared a bond like no other. After saving her life, Shiva never stopped returning the favor. She remained loyal to her savior and King, right up until her demise.

Shiva died a warrior’s death, sacrificing herself for Ezekiel. We will forever miss her mighty roar even if it made us pee our pants a little bit.

The direwolves – ‘Game of Thrones’

Lady: Time was short with Lady, thus our words for her are short. Dubbed Lady because of her prim and proper demeanor, Lady lived as she died: Well-behaved, unantagonistic, and docile. RIP Lady, you may have been the first casualty of your siblings, but at least you didn’t have to suffer through the deaths of the rest.

Grey Wind: Our heads rolled during the Red Wedding when many of the good guys were brutally murdered, including Grey Wind. His death is much potential lost. As the one who grew quickest and largest of his siblings (until his death), Grey Wind was fierce and intimidating, befitting the boy-man who claimed him. We’d give our fingers to get Grey Wind back if we could.

Summer: Bran kind of screwed his direwolf over by giving him the name Summer when ‘Winter is Coming’ are his family’s words. The arrival of winter means the ending of summer, so Summer was destined to die before winter. Nonetheless, Summer proved to be a useful ally, friend, and vessel for Bran. Brave until the end, Summer sacrificed himself for Bran and went out like the hero he is.

Shaggydog: The liveliest direwolf, we will forever miss Shaggydog’s “I do what I want” mentality, even though we never really got to see it onscreen. Indeed, even his death was offscreen, but we bet he didn’t go down without a fight. Just like his siblings, Shaggydog tried to keep his human safe, but no one is any match for Ramsay Snow and his minions, not even the wildest of direwolves.

Dog without a prayer – ‘House of Cards’

Our time with nameless, goner dog was under 60 seconds, and we never even saw him/her. Nevertheless, his death was one of the most impactful animal deaths, if just because of what it meant.

It first showed us very quickly what kind of person Frank Underwood is, but it also served as a striking lecture to us, the viewers, on how we’re responsible for an animal’s well-being. Who among us would have been able to do what Frank did? Could you have put the dog out of its misery with your bare hands, if at all?

Nameless, unseen yet heard dog’s death was sad and shocking, and we’re sorry you had to go that way, dog, but thank you for helping us realize what kind of people we are in such a quick moment.

Mews – ‘Stranger Things’

Poor Mews didn’t stand a chance. He died neither a warrior’s death nor a necessary one. He never got to fulfill his full potential of becoming overweight, spoiled, and destroying the Henderson sofa.

Brutally murdered at the hands of Dustin’s ill-advised choice of demogorgon pet, D’artagnan ripped Mews open as if he was a biology assignment. Few even know the fate Mews suffered. His spirit will thusly live on in the Henderson house, until justice is enacted and Dart dies.

In the meantime, it would seem he’s actually kind of replaceable. Goodbye Mews. May your cat-ness live on in Tews.

What TV show animal deaths were the hardest for you to cope with?

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