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VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Garrett Alden
Then they woke up and realized it was all a dream! Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we're counting down our picks for the most unexpected surprises and revelations from TV series. Naturally, there will be tons of spoilers ahead! Our countdown includes twists from TV shows “Breaking Bad”, “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”, “Battlestar Galactica” and more!

Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the most unexpected surprises and revelations from TV series. Naturally, there will be tons of spoilers ahead! Is there an unexpected TV twist you thought would be on our list all along? Tell us your favorites in the comments!

#30: Bob Hartley’s Dream

“Newhart” (1982-90)
Even if you’ve never seen “Newhart,” you probably know about this twist ending. Protagonist Dick Loudon expresses frustration with his eccentric fellow characters and gets hit by a golf ball. Then, we see him wake up. Or rather, we see Bob Hartley, Bob Newhart’s previous character from “The Bob Newhart Show,” wake up. His wife Emily, played by Suzanne Pleshette, also makes a cameo. Bob describes the events of the show as a strange dream. The end credits even use “The Bob Newhart Show” theme! There have been a lot of “it was all a dream” endings, but “Newhart’s” finale is especially memorable for how tongue-in-cheek it is.

#29: Who Killed Lila

“How to Get Away with Murder” (2014-20)
There are several surprising murders during the inaugural season of this legal thriller, but the one that started it all is that of Lila Stanford. For most of the season, the characters and the audience are convinced the killer was Sam, husband of protagonist Annalise Keating, since he was cheating on her with Lila. And they were right… sort of. Rather than kill Lila himself when she expresses a desire to reveal her pregnancy, Sam instead tasks Annalise’s investigator, Frank Delfino, to do the deed. So how do you get away with murder? You get someone else to do it for you!

#28: John Doe

“Grey’s Anatomy” (2005-)
This long running medical drama has had plenty of twists and turns during its time. One of the most surprising comes in the season 5 finale. Surgical resident George O’Malley has his last day at the hospital before departing to join the army. Meanwhile, a bus crashes into a man after he pushes someone out of the way, leaving the victim unrecognizable and unable to speak. While the doctors all debate whether they could be that selfless, Meredith is shocked to discover that the unidentified man is actually George. The surprising reveal only makes his death soon afterwards even more tragic.

#27: Lorca’s True Identity

“Star Trek: Discovery” (2017-24)
“Star Trek” doesn’t often do serialized storytelling, but when it does, it can lead to some fantastic twists. When the titular Discovery is trapped in the Mirror Universe, Captain Gabriel Lorca and Michael Burnham infiltrate the Empress’s ship by pretending to be their Mirror counterparts. However, after revealing her identity to Empress Georgiou, Michael realizes that, much like her captain, residents of the Mirror Universe have sensitivity to light. All the clues add up and she realizes that Lorca isn’t from her own universe, but rather, the Mirror one! It’s a great twist because the clues were all there, but we needed this moment to make sense of them.

#26: Wanda All Along

“WandaVision” (2021)
Look, we love the reveal that Agatha Harkness is manipulating things, and the accompanying song, as much as the next folks. But at the end of the day, she just took advantage of the situation – she didn’t create it. It’s even more surprising when, during a flashback episode, we learn that the hex that trapped the town of Westview and all its residents was created by protagonist Wanda Maximoff. It’s quite a shock to find out that our heroine is in fact the villain responsible for keeping all these people prisoner in her TV fantasy. Sure, there were hints, but we all figured she was being manipulated by some outside force.

#25: Dr. Manhattan

“Watchmen” (2019)
While this series, and the comic it’s based on, do have superheroes in them, the only truly superpowered individual in the franchise is largely absent from most of the show. Or so we’re led to believe. During this episode, Lady Trieu reveals that Dr. Manhattan, the nuclear-powered, temporally aware superhuman has disguised himself as a man in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Angela Abar isn’t surprised by this revelation. But the audience certainly is, when she goes home and takes a hammer to her husband Cal’s forehead! The object she pulls out of his head and the resulting blue glow had everyone’s jaws on the floor!

#24: Peter’s Not from Here

“Fringe” (2008-13)
In addition to being one of the most underrated sci-fi shows ever made, “Fringe” has some awesome twists! The season 1 finale sees antagonist David Robert Jones (not David Bowie’s real name, different guy), try to open a door to an alternate universe. And indeed, the discovery that Olivia crosses over into a parallel Twin Towers is a huge twist. But, when we discover that the grave Walter Bishop has been visiting is that of his seemingly alive son, Peter… well, that completely blew our minds! There’s more than one of everything – and everyone!

#23: Chuck’s Back

“Supernatural” (2005-20)
After the prophet Chuck Shurley disappeared into thin air, fans had plenty of theories. There were forum threads galore! It wasn’t until six seasons later that we finally got an answer. The prophet of God/writer of the in-universe “Supernatural” books finally reappears when ex-angel Metatron suddenly finds himself in a bar with the man. After some debate about the merits (or lack thereof) of Chuck’s writing, Chuck gives Metatron some shades and turns on the divine light, revealing that he’s actually God. And sure, some people called it in those aforementioned forum threads, but that didn’t stop most of us from reacting just like Sam and Dean when they found out!

#22: The Assassin

“Sherlock” (2010-17)
The eponymous world famous detective is rarely wrong, but on one occasion, a mistake nearly costs him his life. After confronting Charles Augustus Magnussen, a notorious blackmailer, Sherlock discovers that he’s already being held at gunpoint. He recognizes the perfume of the gunwoman and assumes it’s Lady Smallwood. However, it turns out to be Dr. Watson’s very pregnant wife, Mary. She even shoots and nearly kills him! If Sherlock Holmes didn’t see it coming, you can be sure that we didn’t expect this reveal either. Thankfully, Sherlock survives and manages to get his best friend’s wife to be honest with him.

#21: Who Snitched for Logan

“Succession” (2018-23)
The three Roy siblings can rarely agree on anything, but the season 3 finale sees the trio finally coming together to out-vote their overbearing father, Logan, in a proposed company buyout. However, in a last second reversal, Logan reveals that his amended divorce terms nullify their votes, foiling their plans and allowing him to retain his share. In the episode’s final moments, Logan jovially greets Shiv’s browbeaten husband Tom. Shiv suddenly realizes that the man she has been so dismissive of has betrayed their plans to her father. There are few depths the characters in “Succession” won’t sink to, yet this betrayal still caught us off guard!

#20: The Bent Neck Lady

“The Haunting of Hill House” (2018)
Who knew a simple haunted house story would contain one of the greatest plot twists of the 2010s? This acclaimed Netflix series had little to do with its source material, so each story development was exciting and unpredictable, including the Bent Neck Lady. Young Nell is tormented by a shadowed ghost who appears to have suffered a broken neck, hence its creepy name. In the present, a mentally broken Nell visits Hill House and inadvertently hangs herself during an idyllic vision. As she falls, she travels through time and discovers the horrifying truth – she is the Bent Neck Lady, and she’s been tormenting herself for decades. Suffice to say, Nell’s subplot is easily the most depressing and horrifying of them all.

#19: Violet

“American Horror Story: Murder House” (2011)
Several years before “The Haunting of Hill House” and The Bent Neck Lady, “American Horror Story” pulled a similar trick with its protagonist, Violet. In the sixth episode, titled “Piggy Piggy,” Violet attempts to take her own life by swallowing a handful of sleeping pills. However, Tate prevents her from dying by forcing her to throw up. Four episodes later, Violet is prevented from leaving the house, almost as if her spirit is trapped within it. It’s then that Tate reveals the truth by showing Violet her own rotting corpse. Turns out that Violet was successful in her attempt, and she’s been a ghost the whole time.

#18: Time Jump

“This Is Us” (2016-22)
The pilot for this NBC drama concerns four people turning 36 years old. There’s Jack, husband to Rebecca and expectant father of triplets. Kate, who is attempting to shed some weight. High powered businessman Randall, who was left at a fire station as a baby. And Kevin, the disillusioned star of a sitcom who decides to quit during a taping. Near the end of the episode, all four disparate stories are brought together via a clever time jump. We learn that Jack’s storyline actually takes place in 1980, that Kate and Kevin are Jack and Rebecca’s adult children, and that Randall is their adopted son. Watching this, we knew from the start that “This Is Us” would not be a traditional family drama.

#17: The Chicken

“M*A*S*H” (1972-83)
In the show’s stellar finale, Hawkeye is treated for a nervous breakdown. He relays a story of being on a bus with a group of refugees and forcing a woman to keep her clucking chicken quiet as an enemy patrol was driving by. However, Hawkeye painfully remembers that the chicken was actually an infant baby, and the mother had smothered it to death on the orders of Hawkeye, resulting in his mental breakdown. “M*A*S*H” was never afraid to go to some dark places, and this twist proved to be the darkest of them all. It’s one of the most disturbing and emotional scenes in television history, and it all came as a complete surprise.

#16: Ice Truck Killer

“Dexter” (2006-13)
“Dexter” follows a serial killer who holds a day job as a blood spatter analyst for the Miami Police Department. In season one, Dexter hunts the Ice Truck Killer, a fellow serial killer who leaves various body parts at sites linked to Dexter’s past. In the season one finale, we learn that the Ice Truck Killer is Dexter’s biological brother, Brian Moser. They were separated after being found in a blood-filled shipping container – the same event that permanently traumatized the brothers and sent them on their murderous paths. Unlike Dexter, Brian didn’t have a father figure to help control his urges. It brings into question concepts of nature and nurture, and proves that killing truly is in Dexter’s blood.

#15: The Truth About Earth

“Battlestar Galactica” (2004-09)
This twist is reminiscent of the famous Statue of Liberty reveal at the end of “Planet of the Apes,” and it’s almost as shocking. Throughout the preceding four seasons, the Galactica was searching for the fabled 13th Colony, also known as Earth. As the other twelve colonies were destroyed by the Cylons, the enigmatic 13th Colony remained humanity’s last hope for survival. After searching for four seasons and over sixty episodes, the Fleet finally makes it to Earth, only to learn that it’s a barren and radioactive wasteland. It’s a huge gut-punch of a twist, especially following the jubilance of the discovery of the planet, and it’s easily one of television’s most unexpected and upsetting reveals.

#14: Sydney in Hong Kong

“Alias” (2001-06)
In 2004, J.J. Abrams would change TV forever with the premiere of “Lost.” But three years earlier, he created another twist-filled extravaganza known as “Alias.” “Alias” follows Jennifer Garner’s Sydney Bristow, a double agent working for the CIA. Although the show is full of brilliant twists, the best comes at the end of season two, when Sydney wakes up alone in Hong Kong. She has no memory of how she got there, and when she meets the now-married Vaughn, she learns that she’s been missing and presumed dead for two years! It’s the kind of tantalizing cliffhanger that Abrams has become known for, and it had millions of viewers chomping at the bit for season three.

#13: Who REALLY Shot Mr. Burns

“The Simpsons” (1989-)
Matt Groening’s long-running cartoon isn’t really known for its intriguing storylines, but that all changed in the spring of 1995 when Mr. Burns was shot by an unseen assailant. While the episode was meant to parody the “Who shot J.R.?” concept of 1980, fans of “The Simpsons” were genuinely invested in the mystery and it became just as much of a phenomenon as the J.R. sensation. Blame was placed on both Smithers and Homer, until Burns reveals that it was actually Maggie, who may or may not have intentionally shot him. The reveal put previous clues into clear focus, and while episode writers Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein were not confident in the reveal, it’s since become an iconic piece of TV history.

#12: Carl

“The Walking Dead” (2010-22)
“The Walking Dead” is well known for indiscriminately killing main characters, and that continued well into its eighth season. During the season’s sixth episode, “The King, the Widow, and Rick,” Carl and Siddiq are set upon by a group of zombies while traipsing through the woods. They seemingly survive uninjured, but Carl appears stunned. In the midseason finale, it’s revealed that Carl was bitten on the stomach during the struggle, effectively sealing his fate. It’s not only shocking within the context of the series, but it also deviated heavily from the source material in which Carl was still alive. The reveal caught viewers, long-time readers, and even actor Chandler Riggs off guard.

#11: Ben

“Scrubs” (2001-10)
The third season episode “My Screw Up” is widely regarded as one of “Scrubs’” best. And much of that acclaim stems from the ending. Throughout the episode, Cox is hounded by his ex-brother-in-law Ben, who continuously neglects to follow up on his leukemia. While Cox is away from the hospital, a patient dies from cardiac arrest, and Cox enters an obvious funk. At the end of the episode, we learn that the patient was Ben and that Cox had simply been envisioning Ben in his mind to cope with his unexpected death. The reveal itself – with Ben suddenly disappearing from view – is both haunting and beautiful, and seeing Cox grudgingly process the truth is easily one of the show’s most emotional moments.

#10: Tommy’s Imagination

“St. Elsewhere” (1982-88)
One of the most famous (or infamous) series finales in television history belongs to “St. Elsewhere.” “St. Elsewhere” was a typical medical drama that aired on NBC throughout the 80s. Nothing about it was really out of the ordinary. Until the series finale. The final scene reveals that the events of “St. Elsewhere” were imagined by an autistic child named Tommy. It comes out of absolutely nowhere, and it tweaks the “it was all a dream” concept just enough to be original. The quality of this twist will forever remain divisive. Some call it a unique subversion that was remarkable for its day, while others call it cheap and nonsensical. But one thing is guaranteed – you certainly didn’t see it coming!

#9: The Bad Place

“The Good Place” (2016-20)
“The Good Place” is a great comedy concerning the lives of various deceased individuals who have found themselves in a Heaven-like utopia suitably titled The Good Place. Or have they? In the season one finale, Eleanor comes to the startling realization that The Good Place is actually an experimental version of The Bad Place and that the characters were sent there to torture each other. Like all great plot twists, this reveal is not only surprising, but it completely upends the entire show and makes you question everything that you have previously seen, seemingly understood, and analyzed. And to think, one of the greatest twists in modern television comes from a sitcom.

#8: True Allegiance

“Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” (2013-20)
Throughout the first season, we were led to believe that Grant Ward was a devoted member of S.H.I.E.L.D. However, the truth is revealed in episode seventeen, “Turn, Turn, Turn.” Throughout the episode, S.H.I.E.L.D. attempts to thwart an internal uprising of HYDRA sleeper agents. Everything seems headed towards a happy ending – Ward and Skye finally kiss, the HYDRA infiltrators are taken into custody, and Garrett is scheduled to be executed. But when given the opportunity, Ward kills Victoria Hand in cold blood and frees Garrett, effectively revealing his true allegiance to HYDRA. It’s a fantastic twist that ended the already-great episode on a high and made us eager to see what came next in Ward’s subterfuge.

#7: River’s Identity

“Doctor Who” (1963-89; 2005-)
Introduced back in the fourth series, River Song was a mysterious woman who could seemingly travel through time with the Doctor. She became a companion of the Doctor and eventually married the Matt Smith incarnation. Her true identity and backstory remained a mystery until series six’s “A Good Man Goes to War,” where it’s revealed that she’s the daughter of the Doctor’s companions, Amy and Rory. As she was conceived in the TARDIS while it was in a time vortex, she’s been given time traveling capabilities. The twist was kept top secret even within the crew, with only a select few – including Steven Moffat and actress Alex Kingston – knowing the truth.

#6: Bernard

“Westworld” (2016-22)
In many ways, “Westworld” is the “Lost” of today, balancing intriguing character drama with endless mysteries, twists, and turns. Some twists are a little too out there and confusing, even for the most die hard “Westworld” fans. But some work brilliantly, including the reveal that Bernard is a host. The truth is revealed in episode seven, titled “Trompe L’Oeil.” Bernard can’t see the door leading to the secret lab, as he’s been programmed to ignore it. “Westworld” pulled off a brilliant trick. It served the audience a story and character-shattering plot twist not through actions, but through visuals and important dialogue. If you weren’t really paying attention to what Bernard was saying, you would have completely missed “Westworld’s” biggest revelation. At least at first...

#5: Elliot’s Location

“Mr. Robot” (2015-19)
Season one ends with many shocking revelations concerning Mr. Robot. We learn that he’s a figment of Elliot’s imagination, that he appears as his dead father, and that Mr. Robot was the name of his computer repair shop. But we think the prison reveal in season two tops all that. After Krista asks Elliot about his location, everything unravels and we discover that Elliot has been in prison the entire season. Some viewers sussed out the gist of the twist beforehand, believing that Elliot was in a psychiatric hospital. Like all great twists, this one answered questions while leaving the door open for more. And what’s even more unpredictable is the fact that this reveal came in episode seven rather than the more traditional season finale.

#4: Walt & Brock

“Breaking Bad” (2008-13)
Season four of “Breaking Bad” ends on a relatively happy note. Gus is dead, the lab is burned to the ground, Walt and Jesse make up, and the dangerously ill Brock turns out OK. We, like Walt, are feeling quite good. That is, until the camera slowly zooms in on the Lily of the Valley plant in Walt’s backyard, proving that he poisoned Brock. Jesse was right all along, but Walt had successfully manipulated him into working against Gus. It was an admittedly genius move by Walt, but it also proved to be his moral death. Even the most ardent of Walt defenders can agree that deliberately poisoning a child crosses a line. With this, Walt officially went from anti-hero to full-blown villain.

#3: The Red Wedding

“Game of Thrones” (2010-19)
Of course, the Red Wedding didn’t come as a surprise if you had read George R.R. Martin’s “A Storm of Swords.” But for newcomers, this was a plot twist for the ages. The Red Wedding served as the horrific culmination of three seasons’ worth of story, and it will fondly be remembered as one of the most startling scenes in television history. At the Twins, Walder Frey gifts Robb with bread and salt, a symbol of trust and safety. However, the doors are bolted, the Rains of Castamere starts playing, and the Starks are mercilessly slaughtered. So much for trust and safety. This twist is now legendary, as are the famous reaction videos of viewers displaying absolute disbelief at the events onscreen. If there is one thing that “Game of Thrones” will be remembered for, it’s the shock that was the Red Wedding.

#2: The Flashforwards

“Lost” (2004-10)
“Lost” is well-known for its twists, but none were as significant as the one that closed out season three. Throughout the episode, we witness a bearded and depressed Jack as he battles substance use disorder and dark thoughts. While viewers believed that this was just another flashback, it’s actually revealed to be a flashforward showing that Jack and Kate had gotten off the island. Everyone talked about this twist, and it completely rejuvenated interest in the show. It’s now regarded as perhaps the greatest twist in TV history, and Jack’s line, “We have to go back,” has been ingrained in popular culture.

#1: Nina

“24” (2001-10; 2014)
“24” was absolutely chock full of twists and turns, but perhaps none were as notable as this season one twist. Throughout the first season, Nina Myers played the role of CTU official and ally of Jack Bauer. When a mole is discovered within the CTU, Jack immediately suspects Nina, but her name is soon cleared. However, we eventually learn that he was right all along in a twist that turned the entire character and show on their heads. This is a classic plot twist, one where a previously upstanding and exceptional officer turns out to be a malicious psychopath. Nothing is the same once Nina is exposed, and this twist catapulted “24” from a great show to a fantastic one.