I say “My Top 10” because “Your Top 10” will no doubt vary. Having read the Ice & Fire series before sitting down to watch Game of Thrones, I was prepared for moments like Ned Stark’s execution, The Red Wedding, and the duel between The Mountain and The Red Viper. Similarly, behind-the-scenes developments on other shows prepared me for the “writing off” of certain characters. And then there are those shows whose entanglements keeps you in a constant state of wariness, waiting for the other shoe to drop so that when it does and a character like The Sopranos’ Adriana gets bumped off, you’re left surprised…but not all that shocked.
No, the following 10 television deaths are moments that took me by surprise; moments I didn’t see coming. In some cases, I really should have. But at the time I watched them – spoiler free – these deaths left me completely and utterly shocked.
WARNING: SPOILERS ABOUND!
#10. Lady Sybil (Downton Abbey)
Look, I know it’s a soap opera and that characters die all the time in soap operas but…Lady Sybil? Young, earnest, idealistic Lady Sybil dying during childbirth? And her death partly attributable to her own father’s ignorance? Shocking!
#9. Dale (The Walking Dead)
I’ve been reading the comic book series for years, so the deaths of Shane and Lori weren’t all that shocking as the characters had far outlived their comic book counterparts. But Dale? Dale?! Now THAT was a shocker!
#8. Jimmy Darmody (Boardwalk Empire)
The death of Jimmy Darmody at the hands of Nucky Thompson was shocking in most part because it didn’t make a whole lot of sense. Nucky executes Jimmy for turning against him, yet lets Eli walk free. Yes, I know, Eli is Nucky’s brother, but Jimmy was like a son to him. Strange.
#7. Lem (The Shield)
For seasons, the members of Mackey’s strike team were inseparable: Vic, Shane, Lem, and the guy who got his face seared on the stove top. And then, the team was blown apart by suspicion, betrayal, and the grenades Shane drops into Lem’s lap at the end of the show’s fifth season.
#6. Lizzie and Mika (The Walking Dead)
A two for one here. First, psychotic little Lizzie offs her own sister and then Carol caps Lizzie to end her threat. Critics were livid, but I thought it brave and shockingly perfect. The best episode of the series to date.
#5. Zoe Barnes (House of Cards)
Zoe was a pivotal character throughout the show’s first season, so to kill her off so early in the second – well I, for one, did NOT see that coming.
#4. Edith Bunker (Archie Bunker’s Place)
It’s hard to lose a loveable character, especially when said character is a television icon – even more so when she’s a television comedy icon. And for Edith to pass away in her sleep off-screen. Agh, the anguish!
#3. Omar Little (The Wire)
Yeah, I know. He was living on borrowed time and, sooner or later, his renegade disregard for all sides of the law would catch up with him – but for Omar to go out the way he did, gunned down at a convenience store by a young boy. That was a shocker.
#2. Terry Crowley (The Shield)
The pilot of The Shield still ranks as my very favorite for the sudden and unexpected twist at episode’s end, the death of undercover detective Terry Crowley at the hands of the show protagonist (???) Vic Mackey.
#1. Lt. Col. Henry Blake (M*A*S*H*)
This oen gets the #1 spot because it left such an indelible mark on my young and naive t.v. viewing self. M*A*S*H* started off as a goofy comedy that, in time, morphed into a smart, provocative dramedy – and a television classic. And the death of the clownish Henry Blake at the end of the show’s third season marked a pivotal shift for the show – and the television landscape as a whole.