13 Shocking TV Character Deaths You Didn't See Coming

Tom Eames
Photo credit: Fox / WB

From Esquire UK

Heartbreaking character deaths have to be expected in TV shows, but usually we at least have some kind of inkling that someone's about to snuff it.

But sometimes our favourite shows prefer to give us a swift kick in the crown jewels by killing off an important character out of nowhere. Cue cries of "I'm so done with [insert show]!" while secretly waiting for the next episode.

Here are 13 times characters left us with no warning:

1. Will Gardner (The Good Wife)

Will was pretty much the male lead of the legal drama, and was the man that Alicia fell in love with during the series. So it was particularly shocking when Will was shot and killed during a court case, after his own client stole a cop's gun. The show never quite felt the same without him.

2. Ned Stark (Game of Thrones)

Yes, we know this wasn't exactly shocking if you were one of those smug gits who'd read all the books. Well done you. But for the rest of us, we had absolutely no idea that Ned Stark – aka the show's lead character at the time – would be killed off in the first season's penultimate episode. WTF? We didn't think the show could work as well without him, but how wrong we were.

3. Maude Flanders (The Simpsons)

It's shocking enough that a cartoon ever decides to kill someone off (apart from Kenny in South Park), but the manner in which Ned Flanders's god-fearing wife died was pretty brutal. 1: It was pretty harsh on sweet Ned. 2: She died after Homer shouted for a free T-shirt, then ducked, and Maude was hit by the T-shirt gun and plunged to her death hundreds of feet below, like something out of Line of Duty.

4. Zoe Barnes (House of Cards)

As far as we knew, Kate Mara was still going to be a main cast member of the Netflix drama's second season. So, when she was suddenly pushed under a train by Kevin Spacey's Frank Underwood in episode 1, we couldn't quite believe it. For a character so integral to the show in season 1 to die so early on a year later was a pretty bold move.

5. George O'Malley (Grey's Anatomy)

Creator Shonda Rhimes toys with our hearts on a weekly basis, and the deaths of Derek, Lexie, Mark and Denny were tough to take. And then there was George. One of the original interns and best characters at the start had seen his storylines reduced by the end of season 5, when he was unceremoniously run over and killed. But not before he was brought into the hospital so scarred that nobody realised it was even him until the last moment. Horrid.

6. David Palmer (24)

Dennis Haysbert's smooth and dependable President was one of the best things about 24 for four seasons. So imagine everyone's shock and horror when he was suddenly shot by a sniper in the opening moments of season 5. After all those terrorist attacks and government plots, he had a sudden and underwhelming exit minutes into Day 5. He didn't even get a "silent clock".

7. Lawrence Kutner (House)

After actor Kal Penn took on an unexpected job among Barack Obama's White House staff, his character had to be swiftly written out. But this was still particularly shocking, as the episode started out with Kutner having shot himself in his apartment, despite no warnings. Even House himself said it didn't make any sense and tried to figure out if he was actually murdered. But in the end, he was left clueless, just like the rest of us.

8. Joss Carter (Person of Interest)

Agent Carter (not that one) became a close ally with Reese and Finch and their adventures saving people using The Machine for three seasons. However, mid-way through season 3, Carter was killed off without warning after being shot by ongoing villain and corrupt cop Simmons. OK, this might have had something to do with Taraji P Henson's new role in Empire, but we didn't know that at the time.

9. Ana Lucia and Libby (Lost)

Lost never shied away from killing off major characters (of the 14 original main characters, 9 were dead by the end), but this scene was probably the most shocking (unless you count Dr Arzt being blown up by dynamite). Michael betrayed his fellow survivors by teaming up with Ben and shooting Ana Lucia, and then accidentally shooting Libby who witnessed it. It was one of those moments where you had to take some time and sit in silence for a while.

10. Joyce Summers (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

In season 5, Buffy's mum Joyce battled a brain tumor, but after surgery all seemed to be well again. And so it was heartbreakingly shocking when Buffy arrived home to find her mother had died on the sofa after having an aneurysm. The death was so unexpected that even Spike was upset.

11. Christopher Moltisanti (The Sopranos)

Tony Soprano whacked a lot of people who crossed him in The Sopranos, but his killing of cousin Christopher was the most shocking of all. He was a burden for so many years, and caused a car crash while high. Realising that Christopher's baby daughter would have died if she had been in the car, Tony took his opportunity to make sure his cousin was out of his life for good. It happened three episodes before the show's end, and we never saw it coming.

12. Denise (The Walking Dead)

Deaths don't get more sudden than this one. Dependable doctor Denise was giving a speech to Daryl and Rosita, when an arrow suddenly smashed into the back of her head and through her eye. Just like that, she was gone. OK, she wasn't one of the biggest characters, but we had just begun taking her in as a new favourite. Damn you, Dwight.

13. Omar Little (The Wire)

You probably could have predicted that Robin Hood figure Omar would meet his end before the crime drama's conclusion, but you could never have called this one. After surviving more shootings than everyone in the show combined, he ended up being shot and killed by a child who felt wronged by him in a convenience store. Anti-climax, much?

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