(CNN) -

As "True Blood" nears its series finale, it's taking some of its best characters down with it.

The series' seventh and final season opened with a major death, and the third episode, Sunday's "Fire in the Hole," served up another shocker.

Joe Manganiello's werewolf, Alcide, who's been running with the "True Blood" pack since season three, was unceremoniously killed off with bullets to the chest and the head.

"Alcide's character deserved so much more than what he got in this series," tweeted one fan. "I'm just...devastated."

"HOW COULD THEY DO THIS," wailed another distraught viewer.

One fan may even have to rethink Sunday night's TV lineup: " 'Alcide' couldn't have died in this episode of True Blood... He's the reason why I watch this show."

But according to the actor who portrayed the incredibly buff Alcide, it was time for the wolfy guy to die. In several interviews, Manganiello has said that he wasn't surprised that his character was killed off, and in fact, he understands why his death was necessary.

"Honestly, I called it as soon as I read the finale last season," Manganiello told TVLine with a laugh. "There was no way they could keep him around. ... On a show like this, where you're looking for vital characters to kill off, you've got to take out Alcide."

Besides, the main star of the show is still Anna Paquin's Sookie, whose dance card has been filled with one too many supernatural paramours. With "True Blood" having only so many episodes left to tell its tale, Manganiello believes it makes sense to remove Alcide from Sookie's romantic circle so she could deal with her vampire issues. It may be hard for fans to let him go, but, he argues, Sookie needs to.

"Storytelling-wise, you have to get Sookie with (Stephen Moyer's) Bill; that's the beginning of this whole story," the actor explained to BuzzFeed. "That's the A plot of the show. The B plot is (Alexander Skardsgard's) Eric. ... I'm not even the C plot. ... I'm like indigo on the rainbow if Bill is the red. Alcide would be a smart choice for her inevitably, but you can't have me wind up with her at the end. So, what? They're going to have her break up with me? They're going to have her break the heart of the best guy she knows? The guy who would do anything for her? They can't do that because then the audience is going to hate her for breaking his heart. That's why they had to kill him."

At the very least, Manganiello seems OK with his exit from the show.

"I die naked in the woods with nothing but my sock on," the actor told The Hollywood Reporter. "Given Alcide's track record on the show, I was like, 'that's about right.' "