The golden age of TV we currently live in has brought us a ton of quality shows, laugh out loud comedies, tear-jerking dramas, exciting thrillers – and a lot of surprising deaths, many of them of shows’ heroes themselves. Here are the best – and most shocking – TV deaths in the recent years (and just a spoiler alert before we begin: this whole list is comprised of spoilers, so proceed at your own risk):
1. Rita Morgan, Dexter
Sure, Dexter was, after all, a show about a serial killer, so death was always on the table, but this one broke our hearts. Season 4 saw Dexter battling the Trinity Killer, and ended with Dexter killing Arthur aka Trinity. Or so we thought.
In the very last moments of the show Dexter arrives home, only to find that his wife Rita was murdered by Trinity – and their baby boy crying, covered in her blood, just like what happened to Dexter when he was a baby. With her death died also our hopes for a normal, happy life for TV’s most troubled killer.
2. Derek Sheperd, Grey’s Anatomy
Grey’s Anatomy's 16 seasons were filled with shocking and sad deaths – in the hospital and outside of it - but nothing got to us like the death of Dr. Derek Shepard, AKA McDreamy, in season 11.
Shepard and Meredith Grey’s love story was the main love story in what was, in essence, a show about the love lives of the doctors at the Chicago hospital. We were hoping they will get to live happily ever after, and his heroic death - while saving others, naturally - crushed us.
3. Gemma Teller, Sons of Anarchy
Matriarch Gemma Teller caused a lot of death and suffering on Sons of Anarchy, but her killing daughter-in-law, Tara, was what brought her ultimate death.
Shockingly, it was at the hands of her son. She knew he would come for her -“It’s ok, my baby boy. I’m ready”, she said to him, as the shot pierced through her head. Chilling.
4. Omar Little, The Wire
Gangster Omar Little, perhaps the most beloved character on the celebrated show, lived a life of danger, and managed to escape death many times.
Maybe that’s what made his death on season 5 so shocking – as he was ultimately killed by a young boy, one he didn’t even suspect. Fitting for the show's social commentary narrative, this shooting that highlights the meaningless violence that, as implied, will continue to future generations.
5. Zoe Barnes, House of Cards
When ambitious reporter Zoe Barnes starts a professional relationship – and later, an affair - with Washington DC's strongman, Frank Underwood, she doesn’t realize he is not only a powerful man, but a very dangerous one.
And when she turns on him, Underwood asks her to meet him in a metro station – only to push her in front of a moving train, in a shocking season premier.
6. Nicholas Brody, Homeland
To us, Brody and Carrie’s complicated relationship on Homeland was just as thrilling as the CIA story line. Their palpable chemistry overcame many hurdles, and by the end of season 3, with Carrie being pregnant, we felt safe to hope they would end up together, and have a bunch of cute ginger babies.
Instead, Brody was hanged in a public execution, with Carrie – and us – tearfully watching.
7. Will Gardenr, The Good Wife
Will Gardner’s character returned to The Good Wife after a long break, but fans’ excitement soon turned into shock minutes before the end of the episode, he was shot in the courtroom by his client.
The death of the show’s main lead and fan favorite was something that no one saw coming, and we – and Alicia – are still recovering.
8. Ned Stark, Game of Thrones
Throughout the long-running show, each season’s ninth episode always had twist and turns, and gave us some of GOT’s most iconic moments. Season 1, episode 9 was the first of them, and it introduced us to the true nature of the show – where no character, no matter how beloved or central to the plot line it is – is safe from death.
Ned Stark was that unfortunate victim, with a shocking beheading that changed the whole course of the show.
9. Lori Grimes, The Walking Dead
The post-apocalyptic show has demonstrated time and time again that no one is safe – not from zombies, nor from the cruelty of mankind. Lori Grime’s death shocked us because we never expected the hero’s pregnant wife to die – and certainely not during child birth.
But poor Lori had to go through a terrible anesthesia-free C-section, die from loss of blood, and finally be shot in the head by her son so she won’t turn into a zombie. It’s a cruel world they live in.
10. Mathew Crawley, Downton Abbey
In the hit period-drama, the beloved Mathew Crawly survived both World War 1 and the Spanish Flu, only to die in a senseless car accident on a quiet country road.
The fact the him and Lady Mary were so happily in love and have just had a baby boy made his shocking death so much worse.