Top 10 Shocking TV Deaths You Didn't See Coming

Written by Garrett Alden These TV deaths had our hearts in our throats. Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Shocking TV Deaths You Didn’t See Coming. For this list, we’re looking at the deaths of TV characters that were shocking because of how unexpected, sudden, and/or upsetting they were. Because this list involves character deaths, spoilers will be a given throughout. Special thanks to our user ninou78 for suggesting this idea, check out the voting page at WatchMojo.comsuggest/Top+10+Shocking+TV+Deaths+You+Didnt+See+Coming
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These TV deaths had our hearts in our throats. Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Shocking TV Deaths You Didn’t See Coming.

For this list, we’re looking at the deaths of TV characters that were shocking because of how unexpected, sudden, and/or upsetting they were. Because this list involves character deaths, spoilers will be a given throughout.

#10: Zoe Barnes
“House of Cards” (2013-)

This ambitious young reporter meets her end while investigating the death of Representative Peter Russo, whose unexpected murder by Frank Underwood nearly made our list instead. However, not long after Russo’s suspicious apparent suicide, Zoe’s digging into the details surrounding it leads Underwood to manipulate her into deleting her phone records of their conversations. To ensure she doesn’t look any deeper, the unscrupulous politician then pushes her in front of a train. While Russo’s death was unexpected, seeing another main character killed by Underwood so soon afterwards, particularly in that manner, was just brutal.

#9: Will Gardner
“The Good Wife” (2009-16)

This legal drama had its share of twists and turns, but few were as sudden as this death. Will Gardner, the womanizing, on-again-off-again love interest of series protagonist Alicia Florrick, is representing a client named Jeffrey Grant, who’s having a very difficult time in prison. The strain of Grant’s treatment inside causes him to snap during his trial, and he fires a weapon he stole from a guard, killing Will. The apparently innocent defendant’s violent courtroom outburst is surprising enough, but the loss of one of the series’ primary male leads is equally jarring, particularly as the event happens off-screen.

#8: Lady Sybil Branson
“Downton Abbey” (2010-15)

The intelligent, modern-thinking youngest daughter of the Crawley family, Sybil tragically meets her end shortly after the beginning of her own daughter’s life. Before giving birth, her doctor diagnoses her with pre-eclampsia, a hypertensive disorder that’s best dealt with in a hospital. However, her family doesn’t want to risk moving her during labor. The doctor’s fears are well founded, however, as Sybil develops eclampsia after delivering the baby and goes into convulsions, unable to breathe, with everyone helpless to stop her from suffocating. The visceral and distressing nature of her death ensure it a place on our list.

#7: Lane Pryce
“Mad Men” (2007-15)

The “Pryce” in Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, Lane Pryce is the ad agency’s financial officer. However, financial pressures ironically mount on Lane personally, leading him to steal from the company by forging Don Draper’s signature. After being fired, Pryce learns that his wife has bought him a new Jaguar. With the weight of his debts too much to bear, Pryce attempts to kill himself with fumes from his expensive new car, but is unsuccessful. He then decides to hang himself in the office, shocking and upsetting his coworkers when they arrive for work and leaving viewers equally astonished.

#6: Rita Morgan
“Dexter” (2006-13)

This show is about a serial killer who kills criminals, so it features its fair share of violent deaths, but this one caught us all by surprise. After delaying his murder of the seemingly perfect Trinity Killer for most of the season, Dexter finally ends the life of the crafty psychopath, who tells him it’s already over. Upon returning home, Dexter discovers his wife, Rita, in a tub of her own blood, having already been murdered by Trinity earlier, and with their infant son crying nearby. In addition to how unexpected it is, this death’s parallels to the death of Dexter’s own mother, as well as the loss of his love and moral compass, only add to the tragedy.

#5: Adriana La Cerva
“The Sopranos” (1999-2007)

Like the last entry, this one comes from a show that doesn’t shy away from death. However, Adriana getting whacked is particularly memorable. The girlfriend of Tony’s protégée, Christopher Moltisanti, Adriana turns informant for the FBI to keep herself out of prison. After Christopher finds out, Adriana receives a call from Tony, who tells her that Christopher has tried to kill himself, so he sends Silvio Dante to drive her to the hospital. On the way there, Adriana’s slow realization that she’s about to be killed, as well as her tearful, futile attempts to escape her imminent murder, are absolutely heartbreaking.

#4: Lt. Col. Henry Blake
“M*A*S*H” (1972-83)

The easygoing commanding officer and senior surgeon of this show’s central MASH unit, Colonel Henry Blake departed the Korean War after being discharged. However, the rest of the cast learns soon after via radio that their former C.O.’s plane has been shot down over the Sea of Japan while returning home, and everyone onboard has perished. Blake’s death wasn’t just a surprise to the audience, though; the actors were not told about it until filming, which made their reactions all the more authentic, and therefore, all the more emotionally impactful.

#3: Hank Schrader
“Breaking Bad” (2008-13)

Just when Walter “Heisenberg” White looked like he was set to be arrested by his DEA brother-in-law Hank Schrader, Walt’s white supremacist allies arrive and get into a shootout with Hank and his partner, Steve Gomez. While Steve dies in the crossfire, Hank survives and Walt begs for his relative’s life, even offering millions of dollars. However, Agent Schrader is finally one step ahead of Walt and realizes that Jack, the neo-Nazis’ leader, has no intention of sparing him. After one final taunt, Hank is executed mid-sentence, leaving Walt, and the audience, in complete shock.

#2: Omar Little
“The Wire” (2002-08)

A fan favorite, Omar Little’s Robin Hood-esque mission to rob criminals in his neighborhood brings him into conflict with many of the series’ most dangerous characters. However, his demise comes at the hands of a most unexpected source – a young boy. While inside a convenience store, Omar sees the boy, Kenard, and dismisses him as a potential threat, only for Kenard to shoot him in the head. To see a beloved character that’s survived so many other seemingly more hazardous situations exit in such a way is utterly dumbfounding.

Before we get to our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
- Dr. Derek Shepherd
“Grey’s Anatomy” (2005-)

- Tara Maclay
“Buffy the Vampire Slayer” (1997-2003)

- Glenn Rhee
“The Walking Dead” (2010-)

#1: Robb & Catelyn Stark
“Game of Thrones” (2011-)

After previously clashing with Walder Frey over a marriage alliance, King in the North Robb Stark, his mother Catelyn, his wife, and his bannermen all attend the wedding of Robb’s uncle to one of Walder’s many daughters. Walder never forgets a slight, however, and allying himself with traitorous members of Robb’s own army, proceeds to have Robb’s family and men slaughtered. While the execution of Robb’s father, Ned Stark – the ostensible protagonist in Season 1 – was also quite unexpected; the appalling manner of death at the now infamous Red Wedding cemented these as the most gut-punchingly shocking deaths in TV history.
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