*Warning: Major Spoilers Ahead for all five seasons of Dirilis: Ertugrul*
So, I’ve been wanting to write an Ertugrul post for a long time, ever since we were still binge-ing through the show. Now, four months after having finished the season finale (wow, has it really been that long?), it is now time.
The first time my family ever watched Ertugrul was in circa 2015/2016 back when it was still only in Turkish and there were only 1 or 2 seasons. We started watching the first episode on YouTube with my dad translating what was going on since there were no English subtitles. When I watch something, I like to understand every single thing that is happening, so this was short-lived. I don’t think we even made it through half the episode.
Fast forward to late 2017 when Ertugrul now had subtitles in many different languages and had the first two seasons up on Netflix. We actually subscribed to Netflix for the purpose of watching Ertugrul. And the rest is history. My mom, my sisters, and I were the main viewers, and we watched everything together. My dad joined in most of the time, and my brothers stopped by every now and then. We finished the entire show in about a year and a half (Season 5 started airing when we were on Season 3 or 4), and we are now lifelong fans.
Anyone who watches the show knows that one of its most memorable features is the intensity of the death scenes. No matter how much we hate them, Ertugrul just isn’t Ertugrul without the deaths. We grow attached to the characters, root for them, feel their pain, and then…they are wrenched from us in traumatizing, unforgivable ways. Each of these deaths represents some truth about life: some deaths are the result of betrayal, while others occur after a major sacrifice. And some deaths just seem utterly pointless. However, all of the deaths demonstrate that, just as in real life, ready or not, everyone’s set time will come. Ertugrul reinforces the fact that just as we have our own plans and hopes and dreams, there is a greater plan ultimately destined for each of us.
So, I thought it was only fitting that my first Ertugrul blog post should be about the deaths, remembering the characters who have departed over the course of the five seasons, but who will never be forgotten. I put particular thought into my specific ranking and the characters who I chose and the ones I left out, although some of it was pretty difficult to rank. A lot of this is subjective, so I understand that not all fans would agree with my choices. However, I based my ranking on a few selective criteria: where each person was in his/her life, who he/she left behind, how he/she died. I did not choose the order based on who my personal favorite characters are.
If you have read until this point and you haven’t watched Seasons 1-5 of Ertugrul, be warned: the spoilers are about to begin. If you still wish to continue reading, do so at your own risk.
Here is my list of the 11 saddest, most memorable deaths from Dirilis: Ertugrul.
11. Suleyman Shah
The death of Ertugrul’s father at the end of Season 1 is certainly a very moving transition point in the show. The reason I ranked it as the lowest on the list is not because it isn’t sad. On the contrary, it is one of the first deaths in the show that really tugs at the heartstrings. This is the first time someone from Ertugrul’s immediate family dies. The death of Suleyman Shah, the bey of the Kayi tribe, not only leaves a huge empty spot in his family, but also has serious political implications for the Kayis. Compared to many of the other deaths, however, Suleyman Shah’s passing comes after the end of a long, accomplished life. His is one of the only deaths that is completely expected; it is literally foreshadowed from the first episode of the series. Dying in the arms of two of his beloved sons, following the completion of an important mission for his tribe and a heartfelt goodbye to his wife, Suleyman Shah dies in a very fitting tribute for his character.
Ok, so some of you might say that Ertugrul doesn’t count because he doesn’t actually die during the course of the show. However, because of the number of times he fake died (in almost every single season) and the fact that the whole tribe mourned him and held a whole funeral for him, I thought it made sense to add him to my list. Even though Ertugrul Bey, the hero of the show and the leader of the Kayis, as well as the Ucbey, doesn’t actually die, his “death” scenes when his family and tribe think he’s dead are extremely devastating and emotional. Losing Ertugrul for them is losing a central piece of their tribe. The only reason Ertugrul’s death scenes (Seasons 2, 3, 4) are ranked so low on this list is because he doesn’t actually die.
Yigit’s death is a tragic end to Season 2. His entire lifespan is extremely short, as he dies in his early teens. Furthermore, he spends his whole life on the run from people who either want to kill him or manipulate him for their own political gain. Seeing Halime watch her little brother die is heartbreaking, but the reason I ranked Yigit’s death lower in the list is because death provides rest for him. If he had continued to remain alive, there would have always been someone out to get him because of his royal blood. Living with that constant worry for someone so young is tragic, so in a way, Yigit’s death is a bit of a relief. He dies with honor, remaining loyal to his people until the very end.
8. Samsa Alp
My list wouldn’t be complete without one of the countless fierce, brave alps who lost their lives fighting oppression and defending their people. Samsa Alp represents that intense dedication and willingness to sacrifice for the sake of Allah and His cause. Samsa is actually one of my dad’s top favorite characters (perhaps second only to Deli Demir), so losing him was a heavy blow to our family. His death in Season 4, the result of betrayal and trickery from people who were supposed to be trusted, is one of the worst kinds of deaths we see on Dirilis: Ertugrul. The cruelty with which his murderers kill him and the fact that he dies alone surrounded by enemies only increases the tragedy of his death. One of the gentlest, kind-faced alps, Samsa endures a difficult life, losing his own bey (Tugtekin), readjusting to life in a new tribe, and eventually dying a cruel, painful death.
7. Deli Demir
Deli Demir’s death towards the end of Season 2 is truly one of the worst, saddest deaths that occurs on the show. A beloved man by all, Deli Demir is an unforgettable character for his light-hearted banter, his expressive story-telling, his passion while blacksmithing, and his kindness to the young and old alike. His funeral really elicits goosebumps like few others do, as we can see how much the Kayi people have loved him and cared for him. His voice in the background during the funeral is extremely powerful as he tells one last story and shares his wisdom one last time. Despite having no living blood relatives left, Deli Demir has clearly made a mark on his people who will not forget him. After a long, difficult life, it is fitting for him to join his family. His final courageous act of seeking to avenge his daughter Aykiz’s death (no matter how pointless it may seem) is an appropriate end for this passionate, beloved character.
6. Suleyman (Junior)
Next up is the only Season 5 death that has made it on this list: that of young Suleyman, Gundogdu and Selcan’s son and namesake of Suleyman Shah. Everything about his death is tragic: his youth, the extreme torture he is subjected to, the fact that he dies alone with his killers, and the family he has left behind. After all the miscarriages and difficulty having children Selcan endures way back in the first two seasons, having her lose her son in this way is unimaginable. Suleyman’s death is one of the few scenes I’ve had to close my eyes for, and it definitely is one of the most traumatic deaths on the show.
Gokce’s death is definitely very traumatic and a terrible end to the character’s life. I can’t tell whether the worst part is that she is simply being used as a pawn in a much larger conflict or that she is killed right in front of her husband. Gokce is one of the characters who goes through considerable character development, growing through each of the life challenges she endures. The tragedy of her death is multiplied by the fact that she is a newly-wed bride. Although her husband Tugtekin technically dies right after she does, he didn’t make it on this list because he made the last few months of her life pretty miserable. Basically, Gokce’s life and death both sucked. Of course, she had to make the list.
I am a bit conflicted about Aslihan’s death. On one hand, I am heartbroken by the loss of such a powerful female character who has gone through more character development than almost anyone else on the show. On the other hand, I love that her final moments reflect her inner courage and tenacity to get things done. Aslihan is probably the first person to manage a secret attack on Sadettin Kopek, arguably the worst bad guy from all five seasons of the show. I was trying not to be too gruesome in this post, but she literally stabs him multiple times before eventually dying by his hands. I actually cheered while watching the beginning of this scene, but when I came back to the sober realization that this beloved character was dying, I felt the enormous tragedy of the situation. Even though she knew she was walking to her death, and apart from Aslihan being a young newly-wed bride at the cusp of a long, full life, the fact that she leaves behind her husband Turgut, a man who has endured tragedy after tragedy his entire life, makes it so much worse. Every time Turgut seems to gain some happiness in his life, someone he loves is ripped away from him, and that is what make Aslihan’s death so tragic (also that, technically, her efforts to kill Kopek fail, so the entire thing is pointless, despite the heroics).
Of course, each of Turgut’s wives (who both die tragic early deaths) would come right after each other on this list. Oh, Aykiz! Aykiz’s character, her story, and her death are so poignant, so memorable that even after five seasons, we still remember her keenly. Her early Season 2 death is definitely one of the most unforgivable occurrences in the show. Aykiz is most people’s favorite character when they start watching Season 1. She is a fierce, strong warrior, extremely skillful with a bow and arrow. At the same time, she is a devoted, dependable friend and family member. We love Aykiz, not just because of her many strengths, but also because she is a flawed, real human being who has doubts and sometimes has trouble being patient during the rough challenges life throws at her. When she finally seems to get her happiness at the end of Season 1, everything is shattered with her appalling death at the very beginning of Season 2. Of all the ways for Aykiz to meet her end, her horrible, agonizing, drawn-out death is completely uncalled for. There’s no question about it. Aykiz’s death definitely belongs in the top three saddest Ertugrul deaths.
Turgut, Bamsi, and Dogan. Ertugrul’s three sidekicks who everyone expected would always stick together. Among the three of them, Dogan is definitely the kindest, the gentlest, the purest soul who could never hurt anyone. He balances out Turgut’s fierceness and Bamsi’s intense zeal with his calm and simple nature. Dogan is beloved because of his beautiful character, and that is primarily what makes his death so heartbreaking. Furthermore, the fact that he is leaving behind his young pregnant wife, never to meet his unborn orphaned son makes it even worse. It is truly difficult to ever forgive Dundar for his foolish, fatal error that results in this tragedy. Dogan’s death reduces Ertugrul’s trio of alps to a pair, and for this, it is at the top of my list.
Finally, here is my top saddest, most memorable, worst death from all five seasons of Dirilis: Ertugrul. There isn’t much to say about Halime’s death, since few would argue against this choice. Some may say that the worst thing about Halime’s death is watching her young son, Gunduz, call out her name or listening to newborn baby Osman cry for his mother, with little Savci sitting alone nearby; these three must grow up without their mother, two of them never remembering Halime at all. Others may say the worst thing is seeing the strong, undefeated Ertugrul crumple at the sight of his dead wife. I think the worst part is that she didn’t actually have to die since the real-life Halime in history didn’t really die until much later in life. Her death in the show is a moving incident that reminds us that, sometimes, we don’t truly appreciate what we have until we lose it. The loss of such a central character is life-shattering, as Ertugrul loses his wife who has loyally stood by him for four entire seasons, their children lose their mother, and the entire Kayi tribe loses a beautiful, kind-hearted soul who helped lead them through their many, many struggles.
So, those are my top 11 saddest, most memorable Ertugrul deaths ranked. Do you agree with my choices? How would you change this list?