As audiences are still trying to process the gruesome death that befell a fan favorite on Sunday night’s “The Walking Dead,” it may be cold comfort to know that they are not alone in their pain. Television has a long history of gutting its fans with shocking deaths. Here are seven varieties of dumbfounding deaths, courtesy of TV.
Reading the books won’t save you
Glenn Rhee, “The Walking Dead”
One of the most gut-wrenching circumstances of Glenn Rhee’s (Steven Yeun) (supposed) death is that it was not as its source material foretold, catching fans of the graphic novels just as unaware as the average television viewers. This may be what’s spawned suspicion whether the character actually met his demise.
Reading the books would have saved you
Ned Stark, “Game of Thrones"
“Game of Thrones” is rife with unspeakable deaths, but the first came in the first season, when the ostensible protagonist of the entire series, Ned Stark (Sean Bean), lost his head in the ninth episode. It was unthinkable for the uninitiated, but individuals who’d read the series of books written by George R.R. Martin had the benefit of sitting back and watching the rest of the world burn.
"The Red Wedding," “Game of Thrones”
Similarly, yet not, is the matter of an event called “The Red Wedding,” an unceremonious slaughter that takes place at what’s supposed to be a celebration. At it, Catelyn Stark (Michelle Fairley,) her son Robb (Richard Madden,) his bride, Talisa (Oona Chaplin,) and their unborn child, are all murdered in gruesome fashion. Twitter lost its collective mind at the massacre, yet again, fans of the book saw it all coming from miles away.
The show is ending, everyone must go
Nate Fisher, “Six Feet Under”
Whenever death came to visit “Six Feet Under” it was far from a surprise, given that the central family ran a funeral business, but few anticipated eldest son Nate Fisher (Peter Krause) would die of a stroke with three episodes of the series yet to air. Fans were distraught, but with the show’s finale flashing forward to feature the deaths of each of its characters, Nate’s time would have come sooner or later.
Christopher Moltisanti, “The Sopranos”
Four episodes from the end is precisely when Christopher Moltisanti (Michael Imperioli) was murdered by his boss and mentor, Tony Soprano, in the final season of “The Sopranos.” Though Moltisanti had always been a problem child (former fiancee Adriana La Cerva had her own shocking death in a previous season, after informing to the FBI) but seemed like a sure thing to make it, at the very least, to the series finale, making Tony’s smothering of the pest after the pair are in a car accident, all the more jaw-dropping.
Defeat from the jaws of victory
Henry Blake, “MASH”
During its run, “MASH” never failed to fully embody the senselessness of war, but perhaps never so much so as with the demise of Henry Blake (McLean Stevenson). The commanding officer of the 4077th during the first three seasons of the show, Blake had warranted an honorable discharge, as happy an ending as anyone could get in the midst of a war-time hospital, but tragedy strikes soon after as it’s reported over that Blake’s plane is shot down over the Sea of Japan.
Teri Bauer, “24”
After a harrowing day spent triumphing over a touch of amnesia, a false pregnancy and a kidnapped daughter, Teri Bauer (Leslie Hope) is finally reunited with estranged husband Jack (Kiefer Sutherland), who has just finished up saving the world, only to accidentally discover that the woman her husband has been sleeping with is actually a mole working for the enemy. Teri is killed, Jack is distraught, and the first season of “24” ends with one of the most shocking deaths ever.
Gary Shepherd, “Thirtysomething”
“Thirtysomething” did something a little different when it came to thwarting expectations when it killed Gary Shepherd (Peter Horton, above right) in a car accident, after spending several episodes dealing with Nancy Weston’s (Patricia Wettig) ovarian cancer diagnosis. Even if fans has found themselves preparing for the worst, nothing could have prepped them for this twist in the show.
Out of order
Rosalind Shays, “L.A. Law”
There are few television deaths as iconic as that of Rosalind Shays (Diana Muldaur), who met her grisly end on “L.A. Law” when she unwittingly fell into an open elevator shaft. It’s as memorable a demise as you can get.
You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here
James Evans, “Good Times”
News of James Evans’ (John Amos) death on “Good Times” was delivered via letter, much to the heartbreak of the gathered characters. As shocking as the death may have been to audiences, it was less so to individuals behind the scenes who were well aware of the friction between Amos and show creator Norman Lear.
George O’Malley, “Grey’s Anatomy”
George O’Malley’s (T.R. Knight) death in the Season 5 finale of “Grey’s Anatomy” was heart-rending, with the character rendered unrecognizable to his friends after saving a woman from a bus accident, only to be hit by the bus, and dragged, himself. Eventually, he succumbed to his injuries, a tragic fate for the character. Perhaps it was reported tensions between Knight and show creator Shonda Rhimes that spurred the character to hit the skids so intensely.
Out of the blue
Will Gardner, “The Good Wife”
Arguably the single most surprising death on the list, the murder of Will Gardner (Josh Charles) sent shockwaves through the television world when it transpired in the middle of “The Good Wife’s” fifth season. Gunned down in a courtroom shooting, the loss was pretty much unprecedented in the Internet age because there had been no inkling that Charles would be departing imminently, as he was signed through the end of the 22-episode season. Credit CBS and its ability to keep a secret to making Gardner’s killing a death worth remembering.
Follow me on Twitter at @midwestspitfire.