'True Blood' finale: Stakes are higher than everBy Rande Iaboni, CNNUpdated 2:25 PM ET, Fri August 22, 2014Photos: Shocking character deaths 29 photosShocking character deaths – TV can be a cruel, cruel place, and we're not even talking about the writers' rooms. Here are some of the small-screen deaths that shocked us the most (stop here if spoilers aren't your thing).Hide Caption 1 of 29Photos: Shocking character deaths 29 photosShocking character deaths – FX's "Sons of Anarchy" didn't hold back as it ended its run after seven seasons. In the penultimate episode, the show's main character, Jax Teller (Charlie Hunnam), fatally shot his mother, Gemma (Katey Sagal). That jaw-dropping moment was followed by the death of Jax himself in the series finale.Hide Caption 2 of 29Photos: Shocking character deaths 29 photosShocking character deaths – Fan favorite Trip (B.J. Britt) on "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." met a disastrous end on the show's midseason finale in December 2014. In an attempt to rescue Skye just as the mysterious Obelisk was activated, Trip was turned into stone as a result. Hide Caption 3 of 29Photos: Shocking character deaths 29 photosShocking character deaths – "The Walking Dead's" midseason finale in November was a heartbreaker. Emily Kinney's Beth got into an altercation with Dawn (Christine Woods) that led to her death. Several fans turned to Twitter to admit that Beth's tragic ending left them in tears.Hide Caption 4 of 29Photos: Shocking character deaths 29 photosShocking character deaths – "Chicago Fire" started off its third season with a gut punch. We knew to expect casualties after season 2's building explosion, but that didn't make it any easier to say goodbye to paramedic Leslie Shay (Lauren German). She didn't die in vain, though: Executive producer Matt Olmstead told Entertainment Weekly that the intent is to have her death shake up the storylines for the coming season.Hide Caption 5 of 29Photos: Shocking character deaths 29 photosShocking character deaths – "Pretty Little Liars" fans were ready for a death in the fifth midseason finale, but that didn't make it any easier. In the August 26 episode, one-time "A" Mona Vanderwaal (Janel Parrish, left) was killed off. Or so it seemed; "Pretty Little Liars" is famous for also bringing people back from the presumed dead. (We're looking at you, Ali.)Hide Caption 6 of 29Photos: Shocking character deaths 29 photosShocking character deaths – When "True Blood" met its true death in its series finale on August 24, it dragged one of its main characters down with it. In a surprising twist, the writers actually killed off Stephen Moyer's Bill Compton. The toughest part to stomach? They had his one love, Sookie (Anna Paquin), do the staking.Hide Caption 7 of 29Photos: Shocking character deaths 29 photosShocking character deaths – Not that "True Blood's" seventh season hadn't been breaking hearts left and right. After kicking off the final stretch of episodes with a surprising death (which you'll hear about next), the HBO staple axed Joe Manganiello's beloved werewolf, Alcide, in the third episode. Hide Caption 8 of 29Photos: Shocking character deaths 29 photosShocking character deaths – During "True Blood's" June 22 season premiere, Rutina Wesley's vampire Tara met her final death while protecting her mother. Viewers were caught off-guard by Tara's sudden demise, but Wesley wasn't, and she supported the decision. "I think it's great," she told Entertainment Weekly of her character's death. "I think somebody had to go."Hide Caption 9 of 29Photos: Shocking character deaths 29 photosShocking character deaths – It seemed almost poetic that Tywin Lannister (portrayed by Charles Dance) was killed by his son Tyrion on an episode of "Game of Thrones" that aired on Father's Day 2014. It was a less than dignified end for the Lord of Casterly Rock, who bought it while on the commode. Hide Caption 10 of 29Photos: Shocking character deaths 29 photosShocking character deaths – On the April 17 season finale of "Scandal," creator Shonda Rhimes threw out a death-murder plot that stunned fans and altered the fate of one of the drama's main characters, President Fitzgerald Grant (Tony Goldwyn).Hide Caption 11 of 29Photos: Shocking character deaths 29 photosShocking character deaths – No one lives long in the world of HBO's "Game of Thrones," but for a while it seemed that only the good were sentenced to be written off the show. Thankfully, season 4's Purple Wedding proved that death comes for the wicked just the same -- even when that person is the king of the realm. So long, King Joffrey!Hide Caption 12 of 29Photos: Shocking character deaths 29 photosShocking character deaths – Josh Charles' turn as lawyer Will Gardner on "The Good Wife" has come to an end. The character was killed off in the 15th episode of the fifth season. "We've all experienced the sudden death of a loved one in our lives," the showrunners said in an explanatory letter. "Television, in our opinion, doesn't deal with this enough: the irredeemability of death."Hide Caption 13 of 29Photos: Shocking character deaths 29 photosShocking character deaths – The death of the wise doctor, Hershel, during "The Walking Dead's" fourth season broke some hearts. Hide Caption 14 of 29Photos: Shocking character deaths 29 photosShocking character deaths – On the November 24 episode of Seth MacFarlane's long-running "Family Guy," fans were stunned to watch one of the animated comedy's central characters bite the dust. The family dog, Brian, lost his life after being hit by a car. Hide Caption 15 of 29Photos: Shocking character deaths 29 photosShocking character deaths – Author Helen Fielding killed off Mark Darcy in her latest Bridget Jones novel, "Mad About the Boy." Fans are reportedly not happy about the loss of Darcy, played by actor Colin Firth in the films. Hide Caption 16 of 29Photos: Shocking character deaths 29 photosShocking character deaths – Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and Lori Grimes (Sarah Wayne Callies) didn't have a chance to live happily ever after on "The Walking Dead" since she died in childbirth. Hide Caption 17 of 29Photos: Shocking character deaths 29 photosShocking character deaths – The character of medical student Lucy Knight (played by Kellie Martin) was stabbed to death by a mentally disturbed patient on "ER."Hide Caption 18 of 29Photos: Shocking character deaths 29 photosShocking character deaths – Heath Ledger starred as the Joker and Maggie Gyllenhaal as Rachel Dawes in "The Dark Knight." The death of Rachel hit Bruce Wayne/Batman hard.Hide Caption 19 of 29Photos: Shocking character deaths 29 photosShocking character deaths – The birth of her daughter should have been a joyous time for Lady Sybil Branson (Jessica Brown Findlay) and her husband, Tom (Allen Leech), on "Downton Abbey," but fans were shocked when tragedy struck. Hide Caption 20 of 29Photos: Shocking character deaths 29 photosShocking character deaths – The death of Kevin Spacey's character Lester Burnham in the 1999 movie "American Beauty" is accompanied by poignant words at the end of the film.Hide Caption 21 of 29Photos: Shocking character deaths 29 photosShocking character deaths – The revival of John Travolta's career via playing hit man Vincent Vega in the 1994 film "Pulp Fiction" was almost as surprising as the way his character gets taken out in that film. Toaster pastries, anyone?Hide Caption 22 of 29Photos: Shocking character deaths 29 photosShocking character deaths – Killing off a popular character early on has almost become a trademark of HBO shows (remember Stringer Bell on "The Wire"?) so fans really shouldn't have been stunned when Sean Bean as Eddard "Ned" Stark lost his life during the first season of "Game of Thrones."Hide Caption 23 of 29Photos: Shocking character deaths 29 photosShocking character deaths – Viewers didn't actually witness the death of Gwyneth Paltrow's character Tracy in the 1995 film "Se7en," but "The Box" was enough to shock Detective David Mills, played by Brad Pitt -- and us viewers.Hide Caption 24 of 29Photos: Shocking character deaths 29 photosShocking character deaths – Tara Maclay (Amber Benson) and Willow Rosenberg (Alyson Hannigan) were a happy couple on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" until a bullet felled Tara, which led to much outrage from fans. (But what else is new?)Hide Caption 25 of 29Photos: Shocking character deaths 29 photosShocking character deaths – "The Sopranos" offered up plenty of killing, but the murder of Adriana La Cerva (Drea de Matteo) struck a nerve with fans.Hide Caption 26 of 29Photos: Shocking character deaths 29 photosShocking character deaths – Michael K. Williams plays Omar Little, who was a bit of a Robin Hood on the critically acclaimed series "The Wire." His death in season five was more shocking for the manner in which it happened than that it happened in the first place.Hide Caption 27 of 29Photos: Shocking character deaths 29 photosShocking character deaths – Peter Krause starred as Nate Fisher, who was expected to survive after a brain hemorrhage but ultimately died -- like the rest of the cast -- on "Six Feet Under."Hide Caption 28 of 29Photos: Shocking character deaths 29 photosShocking character deaths – Is there any character on TV who's died as often as poor Kenny on "South Park"? The hooded kid has met his maker via death by tree, chicken pox, mosh pit and even giant bird. By some counts, Kenny has bid farewell roughly 89 or 90 times. Hide Caption 29 of 29Story highlights"True Blood" ends seven-season run on SundayViewers wonder if cure for lethal Hep-V will be foundMany characters have paired off: Will relationships stick?Sookie Stackhouse has been at center of many concernsAll good things must come to an end. Or in the case of HBO's hit series, "True Blood," all bad things must meet the true death. After seven dark and twisted seasons of the drama, based on Charlaine Harris' "Southern Vampire Mysteries," fans of the show -- referred to as "Trubies" -- must say their final goodbyes to Sookie (Anna Paquin), Bill (Stephen Moyer), Eric (Alexander Skarsgård) and the rest of the supernatural creatures of Bon Temps this Sunday. While some fans have argued the show's quality has declined over the years, it doesn't mean people have stopped watching. Here are the storylines we're absolutely dying to have wrapped up in the final episode:Will there be a true cure to Hep-V? Hepatitis-V, a disease that infects both humans and vampires and is lethal to the latter, has been the main plot point of season seven. At first, the disease caused bloodsuckers to lose their minds and eat humans at an alarming rate. Midway through the season it began to transform and just weakened the vampires until eventually they withered away. Anna Paquin, Sam TrammellYes, Sarah Newlin's blood contains the cure to Hep-V, but only a select few actually know this -- and Mr. Gus of the Yakonomo Corporation (Will Yun Lee) wants to keep it that way. Instead of releasing the real cure to the world, he has teamed up with Eric and Pam (Kristin Bauer van Straten) to synthesize a partial antidote. That way, infected vampires will need to take the medicine regularly without ever being fully cured. Smart business move, but no doubt morally corrupt. Newlin (Anna Camp) has spent the last few episodes held captive, but will she finally escape in the series finale? Or will Eric and Pam turn on Gus and release the cure to the world? Could this maker-progeny duo actually make an ethical decision that doesn't also benefit them financially? Only time will tell. But as tensions rise between Gus and Eric, fans can definitely expect a showdown. Especially now that Sookie is in Gus' crosshairs. And everyone knows when it comes to Sookie, Eric does not mess around. Will our favorite non-vampires find happiness? Characters such as Sam (Sam Trammell), Lafayette (Nelsan Ellis) and Arlene (Carrie Preston) may not have a thirst for blood, but they certainly find themselves in consistent danger. So who makes it out (emotionally) alive?Things are looking pretty good for resident shape-shifter Sam Merlotte. He hasn't been at the forefront of the action much this year, spending most of his time ignoring his mayoral duties in lieu of protecting his pregnant girlfriend, Nicole (Jurnee Smollett-Bell). He even agreed to her demand that they move to raise their unborn child in a safe place. Sam's gotten the short end of the stick throughout the series, so here's hoping he finally gets that happy ending he deserves. Lafayette has also suffered a lot of loss, but, like Sam, life is starting to turn around. Everyone's favorite cross-dressing fry cook might have even found love --with Jessica's boyfriend, James (Nathan Parsons). Lafayette is a fan favorite and the writers will most likely allow him to ride off into the sunset with this dreamy guitarist. Then there's Arlene. The fiery, redheaded waitress, now owner of Bellefleur's Bar and Grill, has suffered the loss of two men in her life: former fiancé Rene, who turned out to be a psychopathic murderer and was killed by Sookie; and war veteran Terry Bellefleur, who made her happy but was then killed by a hit man. Tough break. But through it all Arlene has been a survivor, always coming out on top. And it looks like she may find love once again -- this time with ancient vampire Keith (Riley Smith), who is absolutely smitten with her. But who wouldn't be? Will Jason actually be able to keep his pants on? Deborah Ann Woll, Jim ParrackFor seven seasons, Jason (Ryan Kwanten) has been in trouble dozens of times, all because he is unable to control himself when it comes to members of the opposite sex -- including Amy (Lizzy Caplan), Sarah Newlin, Crystal (Lindsay Pulsipher), Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll) and Violet (Karolina Wydra). The relationships' ends have often been messy -- physically so. But now that Jessica and Hoyt (Jim Parrack) have finally rekindled their romance (rejoice!), this is the perfect time for Jason to re-evaluate his life choices. While most fans may cry at the thought of a celibate Jason Stackhouse, it may be for the greater good of Bon Temps that he keep his pants on for at least a little while. Of course, no one says he has to keep his shirt on for the finale. This is "True Blood," after all. Who will meet the true death? Current "True Blood" show runner Brian Buckner, who replaced original creator Alan Ball, promised there would be game-changing deaths in the final season, and he wasn't kidding. Within the first minute of the opening episode, Tara Thornton (Rutina Wesley) was staked and killed by a Hep-V-infected vampire. The death happened off-screen, too -- talk about a cold exit. A few episodes later, Sookie's werewolf boyfriend, Alcide (Joe Manganiello), got the ax as well. He died while protecting Sookie, a common theme in the series. But ever since those deaths it has been unusually tame. Which prompts the question, who will bite it in the series finale? The obvious choice going in would be Bill Compton. Infected with the Hep-V virus (at an alarming rate due to Sookie's faerie blood), he refused to drink from Sarah Newlin and cure himself, stating that he had accepted his fate to die. He claims he is making this decision in an attempt to save Sookie from his own "darkness." Kind of seems like an anti-climactic way for his character to go out, though. Early predictions from fans had Eric Northman as a main contender to die -- and it seemed likely with him contracting the Hep-V virus early in the final season. But now that he's sampled from the fountain of Sarah Newlin, he is officially cured. Could this be a ploy to fool viewers into thinking he is safe? It seems rather fitting for his character to go out in a blaze of glory. And what about Sookie Stackhouse? Yes, she is the show's main character, but crazier things have happened. Besides, some would argue she is partially responsible for all of the terrible things to befall the town of Bon Temps, so maybe a death would be satisfying to some fans. Besides, no one has put themselves in more dangerous situations in the seven-season run than Sookie. That girl cannot keep herself out of trouble. Who will Sookie choose? "True Blood" began with a love story, and the question still lingers: Who will our heroine, Sookie Stackhouse, end up with? Alexander Skarsgård, Anna Paquin, Stephen MoyerFirst there was Bill Compton, Sookie's primary love interest. They broke up occasionally, but Sookie always found her way back to him. (Possibly because actors Anna Paquin and Stephen Moyer are married in real life.) Then there was Eric Northman. Fangirls everywhere squealed when they got together. But while their chemistry was magnetic, they spent more time against one another than actually coupled. There was also Warlow (Robert Kazinsky), because who wouldn't fall in love with a faerie vampire who is responsible for murdering your parents and hunting you over the years? And then the doomed relationship with Alcide, the gorgeous werewolf who never stood a chance. Based on this season, it appears Sookie will end up with Bill. They have spent the majority of the year rekindling their original romance. Sookie has made it very clear that all she wants is for Bill to live. But the idea of Bill still being alive at the end of this season is looking less and less likely. That would leave Eric, which would certainly please the fans. But if it only happens by default after Bill dies, does that cheapen their relationship?Here's a thought -- maybe Sookie should end up alone. It's almost unheard of in a vampire love story, but something that might need to happen for fans to finally respect her. Each season she has put herself in danger over her inability to stay away from particular men. Maybe she will finally make the right choice, pack up her bags, and leave Bon Temps for good. It would be a bold move and sure to anger many fans, but hey -- at least it would be a surprise. Goodbyes suck, but hopefully this one won't. The series finale of "True Blood" airs Sunday at 9 p.m. on HBO, which -- like CNN -- is a unit of Time Warner.More from showbizSAG Awards: See who's nominated5 surprises about CNN's Roger Ebert film, 'Life Itself'