When a story takes place in a fictional world that is as harsh and unforgiving as Gilead, it comes as no surprise that very few people actually manage to survive it. Many characters have come and gone from The Handmaid’s Tale throughout the show’s four seasons, and some of those deaths were more heartbreaking than others.
Whether they died at the hands of Gilead’s government, in an accident, or as a direct result of June Osborne, each one of these character’s deaths had a huge impact on the audience.
8 Fred Waterford
If ever there were a character’s death who was the polar opposite of sad, it would be Fred Waterford’s perfectly appropriate end. Watching him smugly leave the Canadian detention center believing that he has once again gotten away with everything, only for him to immediately get the full experience of anyone who has ever been on the wrong side of Gilead’s laws, was perfection.
June put him on the wall and then some, and the fact that so many handmaids got to kill the man who created handmaids in the first place was brilliant.
7 Commander Winslow
Watching any commander get their due is an incredibly satisfying moment in The Handmaid’s Tale, but the brutal death of Commander George Winslow was especially cathartic.
The series gave Winslow just enough screen time to establish that he really did have it coming, and watching June finally unleash her rage was extremely gratifying. June stabbing him with a pen made it even better, and the fact that the Marthas at Boston’s Jezebels who June had saved earlier wound up covering up the murder was just the cherry on top.
6 Commander Pryce
Obviously not every person in every class of Gilead is the same. And, while there are truly no morally good commanders in this authoritarian regime, Commander Pryce does deserve a shred of credit in that he truly believed in his ideals and wasn’t a complete hypocrite.
However, it wasn’t too much of a tragedy that he was killed in the Red Center bombing either. The only real downside is that he was one of the few people that Nick could trust and who could have possibly helped him in making June’s life and the entire situation in Gilead a bit better.
5 Oflgen (Lillie Fuller)
Most women who are forced to become handmaids couldn’t be more miserable with their assignments, but the second Ofglen was one of the few who actually claimed that Gilead improved her life. Her perspective didn’t stay that way for long though.
When Aunt Lydia commanded the handmaids to kill Janine, Lillie Fuller was the first one to speak up in her defense. And she lost her tongue for that insolence. Her mistreatment radicalized her, and she died in the hopes that she could take dozens of commanders down with her.
4 Beth & Sienna
Sometimes the bravest and most heroic people get the most brutal and unfair ends, and that certainly applies to Commander Lawrence’s former Marthas, Beth and Sienna.
June knew that she was going to raise the ire of Gilead when she decided to liberate all of those children, and Beth and Sienna did know what they were getting into when they agreed to help her. However, the fact that they were both carelessly thrown off the side of a building in the hopes of getting June to talk was an especially sad and undeserving death for both of them.
3 Eden Blaine
Eden Blaine was one of the cruelest insights into the hypocrisy of Gilead, as well as an object lesson in the fact that they don’t care about children nearly as much as they claim to. Yes, in the eyes of the state Eden may have been considered old enough to marry, but she was still a confused and lonely teenage girl who did what teenage girls do.
Her willingness to die for puppy love was as heartbreaking as it was childish, and her death set off a chain of events that is still affecting the storyline to this day.
2 Eleanor Lawrence
A recurring theme of The Handmaid’s Tale is that the tyranny of Gilead hurts everyone who lives within its system, even those who are at the top of the food chain. And few characters exemplify that universally punishing structure more than Eleanor Lawrence.
While her husband Joseph Lawrence can be morally dubious at times, she was a genuinely good person who wanted to help others. The fact that she was trapped in a country that offered no mental healthcare left Eleanor in a difficult position, and when she realized that her lack of treatment was putting the safety and lives of children at risk, she chose to kill herself rather than endanger others.
1 Alma & Brianna
Every death in The Handmaid’s Tale feels senseless and unjustified, but arguably the worst and most heartbreaking deaths of the entire series thus far were the abrupt, shocking ends of Alma and Brianna.
They have been mainstays of the series for nearly its entire run, so for the two of them to die getting hit by a train just felt like brutality for the sake of shock value. And, considering that all of the other characters suffering for June has already become a frustrating theme of the series, it was even more infuriating that they had to become just two more casualties in June Osborne’s wake.
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