Most satisfying deaths of hated TV characters

In real life, few of us would ever root for anyone to die. When watching TV, it's a completely different story. Knowing it's all just pretend allows us to grow deeply invested in characters, no matter how crazy their adventures get. If the stories are told skillfully enough, sometimes it can feel good to watch a bad guy get what's coming to him. These are moments we cheered at the screen while seeing despicable TV characters bite the dust.

Steve Newlin - True Blood

Steve Newlin may have been a vampire, but he acted like a weasel. Initially part of an anti-vampire crusade, Newlin changed his tune after becoming one himself. He pulled a number of dirty tricks over the show's first six seasons. Newlin finally got his just desserts in the season six episode "Life Matters," roasting to death in the sun while screaming professions of love for the man who spurned his advances—all in front of his ex-wife and former partner in anti-vampire activism.

Viserys Targaryen - Game of Thrones

If you've ever held a Song of Ice and Fire book, you know there's a lot going on in each chapter of George R.R. Martin's bestselling series, and it would take far too much space to detail the royal intrigue leading up to Viserys Targaryen's death in Game of Thrones. Suffice it to say that aside from being the exiled son of an assassinated king, Viserys was also a pretty magnificent jerk. Even though it was still only the first season of the show when he drunkenly challenged his only real ally, he'd already earned more than enough bad-guy points to deserve death by molten metal crown.

Robert Romano - ER

Unlike a lot of the characters on this list, ER's Robert Romano wasn't a killer, or even a criminal—he was just that smug doctor every hospital show has to have in order to give the more likable characters someone to spar with. It's to actor Paul McCrane's credit that Romano ended up being such a satisfying, love-to-hate-'em thorn in the staff's side. After being introduced in the show's fourth season, he managed to offend, alienate, and insult just about everyone he knew, all while adding to the top-rated show's consistently riveting drama. Romano went out with a bang in Season 10, paying for his TV sins by being crushed under a helicopter that fell off the hospital roof.

Arthur Mitchell - Dexter

John Lithgow went from playing 3rd Rock from the Sun's doofy sitcom dad to giving us the creeps as Arthur Mitchell, the spine-tingling serial murderer known as the "Trinity Killer" who drove the main story in the fourth season of Dexter. Lithgow's soft-spoken demeanor made him the perfect choice to play a guy whose near-perfect suburban existence masks a terrifying urge to kill. This helped drench the entire season with a steadily mounting sense of dread that still lingered even after Dexter managed to finally put an end to Mitchell's murderous ways. In a sickening twist, the show undercut the viewer's relief over the Trinity Killer's death by revealing that Dexter caught Mitchell too late to prevent him from committing one last murder: Dexter's own wife, Rita.

Philip Blake - The Walking Dead

Like any good sociopath, The Walking Dead's Governor—a.k.a. Philip Blake—is enough of a smooth talker to keep his true nature hidden from his friends and allies, for a short time. During the show's third and fourth seasons, Blake's bloodlust and thirst for power are revealed in small increments. By the time we figure out he's a murderous lunatic who keeps his own zombified daughter restrained in his apartment, we're pretty much counting down the days until his death. Even for The Walking Dead, the Governor's demise was pretty gruesome, but if viewers ever wanted to see anyone get stabbed in the back, shot in the head, and left in a field to be dismembered, it was this guy.

George Foyet - Criminal Minds

Criminal Minds plumbed into some pretty dark depths with its story of George Foyet, a.k.a. the Boston Reaper. This psychotic character cut a bloody swath of destruction for years, all while tormenting the cops on his trail, until the case came to a tragic conclusion in the show's fifth season. During Criminal Minds' 100th episode, FBI agent Aaron "Hotch" Hotchner finally catches Foyet—but only after he murdered Hotch's wife, with plans to do the same to his son. In a blind rage and determined to put an end to the killing once and for all, Hotch beat Foyet to death with his bare hands, leaving millions of viewers wishing they tuned into a rerun of Everybody Loves Raymond instead.

Gustavo Fring - Breaking Bad

If you start selling meth for a living, then you're bound to run into some pretty unsavory characters. Case in point: Gus Fring, the powerful (and powerfully lethal) dealer who starts tightening a noose around Breaking Bad protagonist Walter White almost immediately after Heisenberg reaches out to him about distributing his product en masse. Throughout the show's third and fourth seasons, Gus and Walter fight each other for the upper hand in their relationship, with enough twists, turns, and double-crosses for an entire series. Viewers knew they were watching a battle between two drug dealers, but they couldn't help getting invested. We felt a powerful rush of satisfaction when Walter finally got rid of Gus by booby-trapping an enemy's wheelchair with a bomb that took off half of his face.

Joffrey Baratheon - Game of Thrones

In a way, it's hard to blame Joffrey Baratheon for being such a sniveling little creep. After all, he was the product of incestuous inbreeding, and growing up in a royal court meant he was never anything less than spoiled. Still, that doesn't excuse his bloodthirsty rule as king—or his violence against women. Constantly committed to getting his own way at all costs, Joffrey proved a consistent irritant during Game of Thrones' first four seasons. It came as a delightful relief when he was poisoned by (presumably) his own wife's grandmother at their wedding. Of all the many, many deaths Game of Thrones has given viewers, Joffrey's has to be the most satisfying.

Ralph Cifaretto - The Sopranos

A show like The Sopranos couldn't exist without characters who make you uncomfortable, and this HBO hit rewrote the rules for antiheroes during its six seasons on the air. For every lovably repugnant thug like Tony Soprano or Christopher Moltisanti, the series gave us a truly despicable character who sent viewers' pulses racing in fear whenever he showed up onscreen—and Ralph Cifaretto might have been the most despicable of all.

A career criminal whose tendency toward violent outbursts was overlooked because of his ability to get things done, Ralphie was a longtime burr in the saddle for Tony, who couldn't get rid of a made man even if he did murder a stripper in the parking lot of the gang's favorite club. If Sopranos fans hated Cifaretto after that incident, they really couldn't stand him after he started a stable fire that killed a horse he owned with Tony—and it was the last straw for Tony, who offed Ralphie with his own bare hands and disposed of the body in pieces.

June Stahl - Sons of Anarchy

You'd think that a federal agent investigating a motorcycle crew selling guns to the gangs of California would be a hero. Instead, Agent Stahl was a hateful and conniving character whose despicable and ruthless attempts to implicate the Sons of Anarchy motorcycle club in the gun trade resulted in many unnecessary deaths. She purposely made it look like Opie Winston ratted out his gang, resulting in club president Clay Morrow ordering his death. Instead, Opie's wife Donna was mistakenly assassinated in his place, shot in the head with an uzi from behind while starting his car.

Stahl's trickery also got an SoA prospect killed, Gemma imprisoned, and Jax's infant son kidnapped. She even placed the blame of those mishaps on her lover (another ATF agent), later killing her in secret and blaming the death on a gang member, in order to keep her record clean. In one of the show's greatest scenes, Opie finally gets to kill Stahl in the same way his innocent wife was murdered, by seating her at the steering wheel and shooting her from behind with an uzi. Good riddance.