Animal Kingdom is one of TNT’s most successful original shows, and every single episode has viewers on the edge of their seats. A huge source of the tension in the series is driven by the fact that it is willing to write out any character, including its incredible leading lady. This show definitely isn’t afraid to pull at everyone’s heartstrings and cut the main cast in an intense and brutal way.
Some of these characters have met their fatal demise, while others have simply packed up and left. But unsurprisingly, some of these departures were much more emotional and affecting than others.
Updated January 8, 2021 by Hilary Elizabeth: Animal Kingdom certainly lives up to its titular theme referring to only the strongest surviving in the brutal world of organized crime. Every season of the series seems to get bloodier and bloodier, so with that in mind, this article has been amended to include the most recent kills and escapes in the show.
Most fans were chanting at the television screen for J to finally end this gal’s nonsense. This character started working for Smurf, and viewers quickly find out that she was the finger behind the trigger of Baz’s death.
If that wasn’t enough to make everyone hate her, she also killed Lucy. On top of that, she’s just not a nice person and isn’t an appealing character. She lasted 20 whole episodes, though, until she met her demise thanks to J’s bullet in “Ambo”, in season 5.
The only real thing that Tupi has over his girlfriend Mia in terms of likability is simply that he wasn’t around as long as she was, thus he wasn’t as irritating.
He clearly had it out for J and was foolish enough to not only make a move against the Codys and steal their latest score, but to actually wear evidence of his betrayal around his neck. Considering how stupid he was, it’s a miracle he survived as long as he did.
Smurf has run into a lot of nasty people throughout her life, so to be the one that she holds a grudge against that’s so deep she’s willing to die for it says something.
Colin was Janine’s best boyfriend, but his brother Jed was absolutely awful. He took advantage of Smurf when she was at her most vulnerable and when his own brother had just died. So, it comes as no surprise that, when Smurf realizes she’s dying, she’s willing to go out in a blaze of glory just to off Jed.
12 Morgan Wilson
Morgan Wilson was the lawyer (Smurf’s lawyer), and she was barely less irritating than Mia Benitez. While Smurf was in jail, this woman met repeatedly with J in order to settle some financial matters.
As it turns out, J was pulling an Uno reverse card and manipulating this manipulative woman, and she ends up getting sliced on his boat and tossed into the ocean to drown. Not cool, J. But with that said, no one on the show or watching it was particularly sad to see her go.
Maybe it was because J’s next flame, Mia, was infinitely worse, but Nicky’s departure was a bit of a bummer. Nicky was a bit of a mess and not the brightest character in Animal Kingdom, and the fact that she transitioned from a relationship with J to a romance with Craig was not a good look for her.
However, as far as Animal Kingdom characters go, Nicky was objectively morally better than most of them, and it would have been interesting to see her develop even further over time. Perhaps she was lucky to at least get out alive, though.
10 Julia Cody
Although Julia’s death was actually the catalyst that began the story and drew J into the criminal world that the rest of his estranged family was a part of, that doesn’t make her loss any less significant.
Yes, she wasn’t a character in her own right within the series, but J has become a genuinely terrifying and dark person, and that might not have ever happened if Julia hadn’t died of a drug overdose and left her son with nowhere else to turn.
It’s actually pretty sad that Amy’s character left the show. She was the nice church lady that Pope starts to date (while the boys are planning to rob the church fundraiser), and their relationship was genuine and it was really lovely to see Pope finally meet someone decent. She was sweet, pretty, smart, and definitely good for Pope.
However, it wasn’t that shocking that she never wanted to see him again after he told her he was a murderer. She lasted 11 episodes, disappearing forever in “Hyenas.”
8 Lena Blackwell
Leaving the entire Cody family behind is undoubtedly what’s best for Lena, and despite her young age, the fact that she wanted to stay with her foster family indicates that she knew it.
And although Pope was really the only Cody that she was close to who actually loved her like a daughter, he did the right thing and let her go for her own sake. That doesn’t mean that their farewell wasn’t completely heartbreaking though.
Pope really can’t catch a break. Almost no one was happy when Angela walked back into the Codys’ lives, but she was Julia’s best friend and thus had a significant connection to her twin brother.
They seemed to be developing a pretty solid bond, and it looked like Angela was actually trying to stay on the straight and narrow. So when Pope discovered that Angela’s sudden disappearance was because she had been murdered, it was a real shock.
6 Catherine Blackwell
Cath’s death was one of the saddest in the series. Sure, she wasn’t the most interesting character, but really her only mistake was crossing Smurf.
However, it was super depressing knowing that Lena’s mom was gone, and it was even sadder that Pope, who always loved her, was the one to do it. Smurf likes to portray herself as a woman who cares for family over everything, but the fact that she had zero qualms about disposing of Cath and that she was willing to traumatize her son by manipulating him into killing her was brutal.
Lucy was Baz’s other flame, and it seems that he truly loved her more than his own wife. Lucy was badass and wasn’t taking any guff from the Cody family. Her death cut deep because fans really thought she was intelligent and brave as hell, and she dies right in front of her son (at the hands of that pesky Mia).
She got Smurf to admit that she killed Baz, which was a huge moment in the series. But, her insistence at needling Smurf likely signed her death warrant.
Colin was only in 11 episodes, all of them in season 5. And still, his death definitely left fans in tears. Yeah, Colin wasn’t perfect, but he was trying, and he was definitely the best relationship that Janine ever had.
If that wasn’t enough, he literally dies taking a bullet for Janine while she’s pregnant with their twins. Clearly, it was devastating and had an enormous impact on Smurf and the entire Cody family. Although Deran and Craig possibly wouldn’t have been born if Colin had survived, there’s no telling how his loss affected Smurf’s brutality.
While this may be up for debate among viewers, Adrian leaving was one of the hardest moments of the show thus far. Sure, lots of characters have quite literally gotten their heads blown off, but Adrian telling Deran he was the worst thing to ever happen to him was brutal.
And then he left, and Deran collapsed into a puddle of tears. Given the dysfunctional but unbreakable bond between the Codys, it’s not a huge shock that Deran stayed. However, his relationship with Adrian survived so many horrendous experiences, so it was devastating for it to finally truly be over.
2 Barry “Baz” Blackwell
Baz was one of the most complex characters in Animal Kingdom, and for that reason alone, it was really sad to see him go. It’s even more tragic that he was seemingly on the verge of starting his dream life with Lucy when he’s brutally gunned down, and it’s awful that his surrogate mother Smurf was the one who had him offed.
Sure, he was challenging Smurf’s role as the leader of the Cody family, but it never truly seemed like their dysfunctional dynamic would end with one of them killing the other. And given that Baz was likely J’s dad, it seems like a huge mistake that this relationship development was left unexplored.
1 Janine “Smurf” Cody
Sure, in the grand scheme of things, it’s probably for the best that Smurf kicked the bucket. She was toxic and dangerous. However, she was an incredible character and the pillar around which Animal Kingdom was built.
Many characters have come and gone throughout the series, but few departures have had the kind of effect on the show that Janine’s death did. She went out like she wanted to and it’s interesting to see how her family will go on without her, but her loss changed everything.
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