'The 100': The 13 Most Brutal Deaths, Ranked

The 100 - Wanheda Part One - H 2016
Cate Cameron/The CW

There are times when The 100 feels less like a television show and more like an exercise in agony. In its three seasons on the air, The CW science fiction series has unleashed untold amounts of death and despair upon its eclectic cast of characters, with one deeply bleak plot twist following the other at every turn. It's the life-and-death stakes, and the willingness to adhere to those stakes no matter the size of the star, that's created such a passionate fan base around The 100, one that's never shy to express its feelings on the show's highs and lows.

Set nearly a century after nuclear Armageddon ravaged the planet and cast humanity's fate into the stars, The 100 focuses on Clarke Griffin (Eliza Taylor) and her compatriots as they try to survive an irradiated Earth that's trying to kill them at every turn. The term "irradiated Earth" takes on new meaning in the upcoming fourth season, premiering Feb. 1, as Clarke and her allies contend with the discovery that they have no more than six months before the arrival of another world-ending nuclear catastrophe.

With season four all but guaranteed to increase the show's already vast body count, let's first take stock of the carnage waged across the first three seasons. And because it's the magic number within the context of The 100, here are the 13 most brutal deaths from the series.

13. Wells (Eli Goree)

The first main character death in the series, though perhaps not as shocking or earned as Jasper receiving a spear to the chest at the end of the pilot. Murdered by a young girl for the simple crime of being the wrong man's son, Wells' death signaled that viewers should never get too comfortable when it comes to The 100 and long life spans.

12. Charlotte (Izabela Vidovic)

Wells' killer doesn't last any longer than one more episode, which is only slightly less surprising than how she dies: Charlotte, one of the youngest and most fearful of the 100 stranded kids, commits suicide over her guilt from killing Wells, and also to prevent further bloodshed. In four episodes, The 100 makes it very clear that no man, woman or even child is safe from a violent ending.

11. Anya (Dichen Lachman)

Before there was Lexa (Alycia Debnam-Carey), there was Anya, the fierce Groundling warrior played across the first season and a half by the Dollhouse and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. veteran. After several riveting episodes butting heads against and ultimately working with Clarke, Anya was ultimately shot down by a soldier from the Ark, killed only moments after reaching a tentative truce with Skaikru. Another fine example of how The 100 always pulls the rug away from its viewers just as they find their footing.

10. The Dropship Barbecue 

At the end of season one, the Grounders make their move against Clarke and her companions. In a moment of barbaric genius, Clarke uses the drop ship she and her people traveled to Earth on as a massive flamethrower of sorts, blasting it off the ground ever so slightly but just enough to torch all the coming enemies. It's a horrible and brutal way to go, and not even close to the most harrowing decision Clarke's ever had to make.

9. Finn's Victims 

Season two takes an already dark show into new depths, initially through an arc involving Finn (Thomas McDonell), Clarke's closest confidant and occasional lover. Desperate to find a missing Clarke at all costs, the normally empathetic Finn takes a turn for the homicidal when he opens fire on a Groundling village, killing almost 20 helpless individuals. It's the beginning of the end for one of the show's most prevalent characters up to that point.

8. The Unity Day Explosion

The ninth episode of the series, "Unity Day," sees Clarke and Anya trying to forge a truce between their people. But the true action takes place far above their heads, as an explosion rocks the Ark during the Unity Day celebration — the result of an attempted coup. Try watching the scene with Kane (Henry Ian Cusick) reciting the traveler's blessing to his mother as she dies in his arms without welling up. It's not Desmond and Penny levels of tears, but it's definitely moving.

7. Queen Nia (Brenda Strong)

Easily the most playful of these brutal deaths, as much as a death can be playful. In season three, Strong debuted as Queen Nia, ruler of the powerful Ice Nation. Established as a possible season-defining villain, Nia didn't last more than two episodes before being impaled in the chest. It was a brilliant way to use stunt casting to set up false expectations, and also a great testament to Commander Lexa's badass battle tactics — one of the last great testaments, sadly.

6. The Young Nightbloods

The 100 is not shy about killing children. See: Wells. See: Charlotte. Those deaths are nothing compared to this one: Ontari (Rhiannon Fish) killing the boys and girls who were one night away from beginning the trials toward becoming the new Commander, presenting their severed heads in a show of dominance. Think Anakin Skywalker slaughtering the younglings, but so much worse.

5. The Tondc Missile Crisis

Another instance of mass Grounder violence, and one that could have been prevented. Instead, Clarke and Lexa agreed not to interfere with an imminent missile strike against a Grounder community called Tondc, since letting it proceed would afford them an element of surprise against their enemies. Clarke's call here was so ruthless that even her mother couldn't stand for it. And yet! Not the most devastating decision Clarke makes in season two.

4. Lincoln (Ricky Whittle)

He was the very first Grounder the show introduced in rich detail, becoming one of the most essential figures, and certainly one of the most physically capable. Executed by a gunshot wound to the head, Lincoln's death weighed heavily not just on fans, but also on Whittle, who was vocally unpleased about his exit from the show. The actor will next star in Starz's American Gods.

3. Finn (Thomas McDonell)

Remember when Finn killed all those Grounders? The Grounders sure do, and there will be no peace between their people and the Sky People until they have been avenged. Blood must have blood, but Clarke must not let the Grounders torture Finn to death, so she does the only humane thing she can think of: kill him herself. Clarke euthanizing Finn at the halfway point of season two was a huge turning point for The 100, ending one era of relative innocence and beginning a new chapter of devastation. And still, not Clarke's most brutal moment!

2. Mount Weather

Here's the moment: Clarke makes the soul-wrenching choice to let the people of Mount Weather die so she can save her own people. Not just the worst and most wicked denizens of the underground city, either. Clarke actively chooses to radiate everyone from the Mount Weather community, ending the blood feud between their two people, but at an incredible cost to Clarke's soul. This is the moment she more than earns the Trigedasleng moniker Wanheda, Commander of Death.

1. Lexa (Alycia Debnam-Carey)

Although the writing was on the wall due to the actress' commitments to Fear the Walking Dead, Lexa's exit from the series was nevertheless the single most brutal moment in the show's history. It's devastating within the confines of the story, as Clarke loses the love of her life in such a sudden and senseless fashion — which is the exact same reason so many viewers were so upset over the nature of the death, which played into the "Bury Your Gays" TV trope and instigated a furious uproar within The 100 community. Lexa's ethereal City of Light return in the season-three finale was a great final moment for the celebrated character, but for many fans, it wasn't enough to wipe away the in-universe and real-life strife of losing Lexa in that way in the first place.

The 100 returns for season four Wednesday at 9 p.m. on The CW. Share how you would rank the show's most brutal deaths in the comments below, and click here for more coverage of the show.