Chronic hepatitis C virus (cHCV) infection is a major global health burden and the leading cause of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in the Western world. The course and outcome of HCV infection is centrally influenced by CD8+ T cell responses. Indeed, strong virus-specific CD8+ T cell responses are associated with spontaneous viral clearance while failure of these responses, e.g., caused by viral escape and T cell exhaustion, is associated with the development of chronic infection. Recently, heterogeneity within the exhausted HCV-specific CD8+ T cells has been observed with implications for immunotherapeutic approaches also for other diseases. In HCC, the presence of tumor-infiltrating and peripheral CD8+ T cell responses correlates with a favorable prognosis. Thus, tumor-associated and tumor-specific CD8+ T cells are considered suitable targets for immunotherapeutic strategies. Here, we review the current knowledge of CD8+ T cell responses in chronic HCV infection and HCC and their respective failure with the potential consequences for T cell-associated immunotherapeutic approaches.