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With the premiere of HBO's The Leftovers this Sunday, television gets an acclaimed series that might also make you want to kill yourself. But it's not alone in being a show that might leave you shivering in the corner of a dimly lit room while contemplating your existence. 

Below you'll find five shows that we find to be incredibly depressing (and to be fair, incredibly good except for maybe one) in some capacity. Take a look, bring some Kleenex, and then hit us up with some shows you find depressing in the comments section below. 

The Killing

Depression diagnosis: Sad and empty with nothing left to live for

The series is called The Killing! That right there should have been enough of a clue that this series was going to be hella depressing. The search for Rosie Larsen's murderer in Season 1 and Season 2 wasn't really about Rosie Larsen, but about the people she left behind, because death happens to you, but also the people around you. Watching the Larsen family's heartbreak as they struggled in the aftermath of her death was depressing to the point we wondered if we'd ever be happy again. Linden was permanently unhappy, the show was bleak and darkly lit, and to make matters worse, it was set in Seattle where it did nothing but rain on Linden and Holder, as if God himself was weeping about how sad this show was. This is hands down one of the most depressing shows to date. – Kaitlin


Rectify

Depression diagnosis: Helplessness in a world that doesn't want you

I'm addicted to the tears the spill out of me at some point during each episode of Rectify, whether they be from the SundanceTV show's beautiful sense of wonder or from the crippling feeling of injustice and helplessness. But since we're here to talk depression, I'll focus on the latter. Daniel Holden's late release from prison after a crime he (maybe) didn't commit opens up frustrating dialogue about our flawed justice system, but the real pain comes from watching Daniel's personal experience from losing so much of his life and trying, mostly in vain, to find himself in an ugly world that wants him put on trial and hung up all over again. And with a cast of supporting characters who act as surrogates for us—Amantha's efforts to make her brother feel better, Tawney's weeping over Daniel's unfair treatment—there's always a token of how awful things are for Daniel. His real-time struggle can be empowering to watch, but his existence in the free world is always there to beat him down, sometimes literally. There's a splendid mix of emotions in Rectify, and overwhelming sadness it definitely one of them. Sometimes it all just... *sniff* a bit too much to handle. Aww geez, here I go again. – Tim 


Friday Night Lights

Depression diagnosis: Overwhelming sadness, but hopeful it'll get better

I know you're looking at the inclusion of Friday Night Lights on this list and thinking I must have had one too many down at the Landing Strip, and but hear me out. Friday Night Lights was an inspiring, uplifting, and heartwarming series about the power of community, football, and positive thinking. It reminded viewers of life's greatest and most simple pleasures while also reminding us that it's okay to weep openly in public when Tim Riggins says "Texas forever," or when someone uses the phrase "clear eyes, full hearts" in every day speech. 

But it also tackled several depressing storylines like Jason Street's accident—which happened in the pilot—and his subsequent struggles to rejoin a society who came to look at him with pity as if football was all he was ever good for. Or Matt Saracen, whose mother abandoned him at a young age and who struggled to care for his ailing grandmother after his father chose to return to war because he couldn't deal with the responsibilities of being a father and a son. And don't even get me started on Vince Howard's life prior to finding Coach Taylor and the East Dillon Lions. FNL was no stranger to the harsh, depressing realities of American life, it was just clever enough to also showcase how we can overcome the hurdles placed in our paths and how it's our troubles that give us character and force us to be better people. – Kaitlin


Six Feet Under

Depression diagnosis: Creeping sense of death

Well for starters, Six Feet Under began each episode with SOMEONE DYING. Yeah, maybe we didn't know the person too well, but to watch a life snuffed out before the credits even rolled was a constant reminder that we're all here just marking seconds before we are food for worms and/or radioactive cannibals. But the storylines were even more brutal. The Fisher family had more than your usual share of troubles: Papa Fisher's ghost hovered around the kitchen while the family struggled for idendity, Nate's girlfriend walked into the ocean to a watery death, David was abducted, tortured, and wore the scars for the rest of the season, Nate got brain cancer and died, Brenda's brother Billy was bipolar and had episodes that dragged Brenda along, and Brenda spiraled out of control like she was the entire cast of Diff'rent Strokes. Oh yeah, and that title (which is shared by a death metal band). Yes, one of the best dramas ever also had its share of uplifting moments, but most of the time it was like this show was trying to tell us we're basically already dead. Thanks, show! – Tim


The Wire

Depression diagnosis: Life's a b*tch and then you die

It might be one of the greatest and most powerful television dramas of all time, but The Wire was also one of the more depressing shows we've ever watched. The series tackled crime and corruption throughout the city of Baltimore, opening our eyes to all areas of life, and do you know what we found? Everyone was f*cking miserable. Maybe it's because they lived in Baltimore, but something tells us that's not the (only) reason the men and women of The Wire were so unhappy. It didn't matter what side you were on, whether you identified with the gang leaders, drug dealers, and murderers, or the men and women working to rid the city of these threats, because even the good guys were struggling with their issues. Nothing ever came easy, not in work and not in their personal lives. We can bestow all the accolades on it that we want, just as long as "most depressing" also makes the list. – Kaitlin


Not sad enough yet? Try this story from the vault – TV Tearjerkers: Episode That Make Us Cry or Those Moments in Television That Made You Cry

What television shows do you find to be the most depressing?


Previously Aired Episode

AIRED ON 8/1/2014

Season 4 : Episode 6

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Leftovers is a very depressing tv show. Confuse and lost mixing up ideas that remenber Lost-
I could not stand True Dectetives.
The reality shows are embarrassing and some bring up ideas to put the mankind down .

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For the first: SIX FEET UNDER was not depressing! On the contrary, it was a positive show about exerting the inevitable end: death. One of the best shows on TV, Michael C. Hall before Dexter. Great stories, amazing acting.
Second: one of the most depressing shows on TV is Under The Dome. Period.
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'Dark' and 'Depressing' are not interchangable terms.
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The most depressing of my current series:

The Walking Dead
Les Revenants
True Detective
Rectify
Broadchurch
The Leftovers
Tyrant
The Americans
I have a feeling The Lottery is going to make this list.

The most depressing of my old series:

Lost
Battlestar Galactica
Carnivale



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Low Winter Sun!
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The moment I saw the title of this post, I knew Rectify would be on the list, so I just HAD to come and voice my objection.

Rectify is a very serious and sometimes heavy show, but "depressing" doesn't feel like an accurate description. It is a show that celebrates the beauty and fragility of life, often simultaneously. The two most recent episodes both caused me to laugh and cry almost simultaneously in their ending scenes. To me, that is a mark of a masterfully produced show that goes far beyond just "depressing".
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I agree 100%. I wasn't surprised that they put it on the list, but "depressing" isn't the right characterization of this show. It is richly emotional and reflective.
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The Fall
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For me, the most depressing show award goes to Wallander, an UK series starring Kenneth Branagh. I really tried to like the show but every time I watched an episode, I felt bored and depressed. The characters were bleak, acting as if they'd rather be somewhere else, as well. Heck, even Wallander's ringtone annoyed the crud out of me! I, eventually, gave up on the series. Ugh, even thinking about the series, now, is making me depressed. o_O
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I agree although I'd say the British Wallander series was more boring than depressing. I had to make a huge effort to finish it.
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Incredibly boring but then again, most of the actual British shows are to my American sense of tv viewing.
PS. The one show that I haven't seen listed anywhere on here was Millennium. Even the opening music was a downer effect on you, like all hope is gone.
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I can't say that I now watch a lot of British shows but I did enjoy Misfits enormously (very wacky and very funny), Sherlock of course, Being Human (the british one was good for 2 or 3 seasons). On TV re-runs years ago I caught some fun things like Blackadder, The Young Ones, 'Allo 'Allo, and Some Mother Do 'Ave 'Em
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You're right, it was an incredibly boring show. I think that helped make the series more depressing, to me. Being bored out of my gourd, then seeing the extremely dreary life Wallander led... well, it didn't make for happy TV viewing.
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Here Come Honey Boo Boo?
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The Walking Dead just gets more and more depressing. Don't get me wrong, great writing....but just no hope for anyone in that show. They just get more and more deranged and more desperate.
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Not seen all of these but I wouldn't say The Wire or Six Feet Under were depressing. Yes they could be bleak on occasions but they both also had a sense of humour that kept things from being to dark. Friday Night Lights was also more uplifting than depressing.

If you want to see a truly depressing TV show watch Eastenders. Everyone is just so miserable all the time and there is not even any humour to lighten things up.
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The Shield.....that was a show that just went from bad to worse. By the finale ...I felt like I had done something bad.
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Rectify is really sad... Six feet under was awesome for me, I can't call it depressing
One litre of tears, Japanese drama, is the most depressing thing I've ever watched in my whole life.
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I don't know if I'd really call any of those "depressing"...

If we can vote for old-ish stuff, I'd go with either Carnival or Basilisk
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Reality TV = the most depressing thing on television. I'd rather stab myself in the face than watch that shit.
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In general, for the most part, I agree although I thoroughly enjoy Mountain Men
...and I'm no "fucking moron" thank you very much.
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Didn't mean to sound like it was you calling names - that was a reply to the post below.
Sorry for the miscommunication.
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No worries, and I understand, sometimes it's difficult if not impossible to reply exactly to the post you want to reply to, maybe some kind of bug on here?

I refer more to the contrived "personality" types being those I take issue with, the big brother/dancing with stars/American Idol etc. etc. The ones where people audition and are supposed to representative of Joe Public but in actuality they're sad, pathetic people desperate to do anything to become "famous".

Some shows which technically are "reality tv" in a sense are different and should be considered more Documentaries than anything, personally my wife and I just discovered Survivorman and working our way through that from start to finish, technically that's reality tv but I applaud anyone who watches it! :)
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Hah......give Placebo a cigar. He/she is SO right. Anyone who watches reality television is a fucking moron.
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Indeed! And it makes it worse for the rest of us to see really great shows struggle for viewers and get cancelled and then see that "Celebrity shopping with obese dancing stars" gets 18 squillion viewers :(
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Game of thrones should be on this list if your including shows like 'The Wire' The harsh realities that every character faces in GOT can only be described as depressing. Not a single character escapes the brutality and cruelty of this world so I'd say this takes the prize for the most depressing... Although it does make you wonder, why do we love seeing this depressing world so much?
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Most depressing shows... How about all the ones that got cancelled that definitely shouldn't have been. I can name a bunch but I am sure everyone has their own list.
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Yea, the only thing depressing is when a wonderful series is wrongfully cancelled early. I'll forever be depressed at not having the proper Season 3 of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. Anyone that could cancel that series is indicative of pure evil. The intelligence, honesty, truth, love, poetry, and imagination in that creation was the closest thing to godliness. Even the ending is perfect despite it having more to tell. It destroys me that it was forced to die.
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I dont know how In the Flesh never made it to this list. That show was downright depressing for m
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I wouldn't call sober realism depressing. I actually like these shows that show that's life for most people isn't sunshine, rainbows and unicorns.

Personally I find it depressing that people find these shows depressing, which points to a deeper problem in todays society.

Actually the most depressing things on tv are watching politicians say the most outrageous things, people unable to point out the country they live in on a world map, people believing Godzilla is based on true events, people still judging and treating each other like shit based on gender, race and sexuality, and the fact that billions of people still blindly follow a religion....It's 2014 people WAKE THE FUCK UP!.... Now that's depressing.
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I fully agree with that.

The series that most would call "depressing" are usually the most honest and thus gives me hope when writers are intelligent enough to mirror humanity/reality and show the many faces of it. We can learn from these stores/experiences.

Take The Shield for example. (SUGGESTIVE SPOILERS, BUT NOT SPECIFIC) I was gloomy and depressed after watching the finale for a few weeks because it felt like I just watched the story of some friends getting together, doing big things, and then breaking up to the point of trying to kill each other and it all ends very badly (for the situation/characters. The finale was one of the best ever). I never saw suicide as a viable option until I finished The Shield. Felt like Requiem For A Dream a bit.

But it was a very important life lesson. The road to your own hell is paved with the best of intentions.
You could point out in the narrative where the characters went wrong and what the points of no return were. Whether they got away with what they were doing, it was about living with themselves and the choices they made.

Through reality and honesty, we can learn so much about ourselves and the world we live in.
Even fantastical narratives can mean something as long as they are symbolistic and representative of truths (subtext).
More +
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Yep, I needed a strong drink after Requiem for a Dream. Geez those people.
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Try to remember that most everything on TV is not real, even if they call themselves news stations, everything is made to skew in their own direction. Go out into the real world a bit, have fun with your friends, find a hobby, and most of all, live and let live... you will find the world a friendlier place.
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Don't worry about me, I'm having a blast. It was just a reaction to what we perceive to be depressing vs what we find entertaining and acceptable. I'm perfectly aware that tv is not real, the things I find depressing unfortunately you do find in abundance in real life. It is possible to acknowledge that and still enjoy yourself.
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I can't say that Stargate: Universe was the most uplifting series ever, but if you want depressing there is Black Mirror, which has already been mentioned plenty of times, and The Last Train is pretty depressing too, although the ending is quite hopeful.
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I don't know about the shows themselves, but I am depressed everytime I remember that Beauty and the Beast is still on the air.
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Kinda sad nobody thus far mentioned Being Human (US or UK). That show was one long and painstaking reminder that there's no happiness for monsters, and that any time there's a chance for their lives to get worse or more complicated, they will. Sure the US series got one final happy ending, but at the cost of being cancelled by a network that has almost nothing left to offer its viewers worth watching.

Also, honorable mentions for Black Mirror, which wasn't depressing much until the end of each episode when the final twist would punch you repeatedly below the belt then giggle at you like a wicked little girl.
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Never watched the US version, but yeah the UK version (at least up until the last season, which I didnt watch) made me cry like a baby. SPOILERS Despite the comedy, the series makes you fall in love with characters and then watch them struggle helplessly on their way to an unstoppable, painful death. Moral: you can't fight fate, you can't save yourself or anyone you love (even if they're supposed to be at peace at the end. They still had super tragic deaths). I loved it but it depressed the hell outta me.
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I didn't watch the last season of the UK version either. Did you ever try the US version? I thought I'd absolutely hate it going, but found myself very much enjoying it.
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Really? I guess I should give it another try then. I watched the first couple episodes and gave up on it, but then I have to admit I went in already convinced I was going to hate it. Maybe I'll give it a go this summer.
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Because the last episode of Being Human was insanely happy?
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I mentioned that, but it came at the price of the series being cancelled, made even worse by Syfy offering nothing to replace it with. Although it was a very happy ending, it was incredibly bittersweet.
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Definitely The Killing and Rectify, and Six Feet Under had its moments. Believe it or not I have not watched The Wire yet.
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Luther

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How about twin peaks (The show killing copied from)
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The Killing was not "copied from", nor derived from, Twin Peaks:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1637727/faq#.2.1.3
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I find this season of Louie very morose and depressing, I may have grinned 1 time but thats it!
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Hmm most depressing tv shows... or more depressing ending of a tv show?! The final scene in FRIENDS. Everyone handing in their keys of Monica's flat. Very subtle but very sad for any big fan of the show!
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True enough, a show's ending can be sad, but that does not make the overall content of the show sad or depressing.... not like the shows mentioned in the article, but you touch on that in your opening.
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The Evening News, hands down, on pretty much any night, any channel.
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I think Lost of course wad very depressing, specially that damn ending where everything that happened had really happened and that limbo/purgatory state wad the longest I have ever seen -lasted a whole season.
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Gosh, anything with George Lopez in it.
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Les Revenants - yes.
Six Feet Under - yes.
In the Flesh is pretty depressing.
I've never watched Breaking Bad, but it sounds depressing as f*ck.
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In the Flesh is a good shout and the fact it got cancelled after one great season was depressing too!
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It was only going to be a mini series but it was so good they made a six episode season two. Enjoy.
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Season 2 just ended on BBC Three two/three weeks ago. Get on that, now!!
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Oops! I was thinking of The Fades for some reason - that was very depressing and cancelled after one great season!
Yeah, I watched In the Flesh, it was great, I can't believe I got them mixed up!
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I'm still sad about The Fades... It was original, scary, had a great cast (Natalie Dormer for f*ck's sake) and everything to be a great show. Sigh.
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Staff
2 Broke Girls
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Depressing because it's still on the air? Yeah, I can see that.
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No show is depressing. Real life at times can be depressing. What is going on in the world can be depressing. TV and movies are escapes and sometimes they can make us think.

The closest thing to 'depressing' is a very high quality show lessening in quality or having a terrible series finale. For example, Battlestar Galatica.
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...or being cancelled.
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For those who mentioned Breaking Bad I have to agree. I'm in the middle of binge watching the show on Netflix. I'm early in season 5 and even though this is off topic the show jumped the shark with the draining of the train episode. That would take months of planning and practicing. Anyway, back to the show in general. I've always said that Rusty in Major Crimes was the worst character on tv. Boy was I wrong! Skyler takes that title hands down! If I were married to her I sure wouldn't be making crystal meth I'd be smoking it!!!!
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All decent shows, but Rectify and maybe The Killing (at times) top the list.
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I'm so glad Six Feet Under was in this list it was what first came to mind. The David episodes in Season 4... god. Just so depressing. Lovely and poignant but yeah so much sads...
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I don't know if it qualifies cause it's fantasy but Game of Thrones is pretty depressing sometimes.
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I know it was short lived and a while ago, but Brimstone was a real downer. John Glover as the devil; poor Peter Horton didn't have a chance .
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Black Mirror by far.
No happy endings at all.
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I had forgotten about Black Mirror. Watching that show feels you with so much sadness, especially the last few episodes.
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BBC Line of Duty
Depressing diagnosis. everything get stuck in a swamp of bureaucracy and when the plug hole finally gets cleared everything gets flushed away the good the bad and the ugly.
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Six Feet Under began each episode with SOMEONE DYING.

Yes, but some of them were so funny. At least I think they were, it was a long time ago.

Great show.

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Dead Like Me. Cold Case - aaaargh, those goodbyes at the end!

Enlightened - because it was so badly written.

Dexter - because it ended so stupidly.
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Oh Cold Case I forgot about that! I cried during so many episodes of that!
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The Wire too powerful, the ending of Dukies story left me in tears. He was a good kid.
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Two of my top three are already mentioned: Oz & The Walking Dead. Both shows are specifically made to depress & the light moments are so few & far between, that even the smallest victory or the slightest smile in an episode seems like a huge release.

My third is Survivors (that's Survivors with an "s"...not that asinine reality show)
For those that never saw it, In the most basic nutshell, Survivors was a British show about the collapse of society & the attempt to rebuild it after a global pandemic.

What can I say? I'm a sucker for dystopia
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I didn't watch it myself, but I'm told that St. Elsewhere was pretty depressing.
E.R. during the season that Dr. Greene left.
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How could you miss Community? At the end, all of civilization is wiped out by a meteor. And that's canon.
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House, MD... overall a great show, but it was one giant study of misery, especially for the last couple of seasons.
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I second whoever mentioned Joan of Arcadia. While uplifting, the show dealt with issues like death and how to cope, suicide (Joan suspected Adam of being), and grief on a regular basis. It's generally kind of a sad show.


Also, Rescue Me deals with a lot of gloomy issues on a regular basis, which puts it in that category.


Certain episodes of Scrubs and Futurama put them in that category as well, especially the ones where Dr. Cox loses a patient, J.D and Turk comfort a dying patient, and Elliot talks of her suicide attempt. Futurama had sad moments like dealing with Fry's frozen dog, and Luck of the Fryrish.


Another sad show, or should I say anime, is Neon Genesis Evangelion.
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The one where Dr. Cox lost his best friend, and you don't realize that until the end, when J.D. asks "do you know where you are?" and it's the guy's funeral... and you realize that although the guy's been on camera the whole episode, nobody but Cox every interacted with him.

Or the gut punch of the countdown on HIMYM. "Marshall. It's your dad..."

Futurama 's Jurassic Bark, and also the finale when Fry died... all those times.

Or the episode of Grey's Anatomy when "bus guy" turns out to be George.

Radar reporting Col. Blake's plane being shot down on MASH.

The second season of 8 Simple Rules.
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The ending to Dinosaurs (not including the lost episodes) was so depressing I couldn't watch the show again afterwards.

Quantum Leap also had a depressing ending. He never returned home.

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For me, definitely The Walking Dead.
The show is nothing but death, struggle, despair, and more death.
And no matter what mild reprieve you might find, death is always lurking nearby.
Death is inside you.
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