Top 10 Most Unexpected Brutal Deaths in TV Shows
VOICE OVER: Ryan Wild
WRITTEN BY: Garrett Alden
These TV deaths shocked us with their brutality! For this list, we'll be looking at the most surprising and graphic deaths suffered by characters on television. Naturally, there will be spoilers and graphic imagery. Our countdown includes Helen Pierce from “Ozark” (2017-22), Queen Aemma Arryn from “House of the Dragon” (2022-), Anatoly Ranskahov from “Daredevil” (2015-18), George O'Malley from “Grey's Anatomy” (2005-), and more!
Welcome to WatchMojo and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Most Unexpected Brutal Deaths in TV Shows. For this list, we’ll be looking at the most surprising and graphic deaths suffered by characters on television. Naturally, there will be spoilers and graphic imagery. Viewer discretion is advised. If there’s a violent and surprising death you’re surprised didn’t make our list, keep things peaceful in the comments.
#10: Nikki & Paulo
Not every survivor of Oceanic 815 sees the end of this mystery show. Nikki and Paulo are a pair of background characters who come to the forefront in Season 3. While their reception was lukewarm at best, fans were still shocked by how brutal their deaths were. The pair of lovers fight over a stash of diamonds. Nikki uses a spider’s venom on Paulo and takes them for herself. She gets her comeuppance when she’s bitten soon afterwards. Stumbling towards the others, she lets out a last sentence that sounds to them like “Paulo lies.” After working out what led to their deaths, the Losties bury Nikki and Paulo. Except, Nikki said “paralyzed” - which means our heroes unwittingly buried the two alive! That’s dark!
#9: Adriana La Cerva
“The Sopranos” (1999-2007)
The girlfriend of Tony Soprano’s protege Christopher Moltisanti, Adriana La Cerva finds herself caught between loyalties after she becomes an informant for the F.B.I. After the feds get some bad dirt on her, she’s forced to go all in with them. However, she tries to get Christopher to go into witness protection with her. He seems to agree at first. But things look bleak when Tony calls to tell her Chris has been hospitalized. When Silvio picks her up, the atmosphere is tense. But it only ramps up as it becomes obvious she’s being driven somewhere remote to be whacked. Adriana’s desperate, but futile attempts to escape still haunt us.
#8: Helen Pierce
Helen Pierce is the lawyer of Omar Navarro, a Mexican drug cartel leader. As such, she’s also his liaison with his American money launderers, Wendy and Marty Byrde. The conclusion of Season 3 sees Helen and the Byrdes locked in a power struggle, with each planning to cut the other out of Navarro’s business. Helen fakes evidence showing Marty is cooperating with the F.B.I., while the Byrdes help Navarro’s business by feeding the authorities information on his rivals. Both arrive in Mexico sure that the other will lose. But when they all arrive at Navarro’s compound, Helen is unceremoniously shot in the head, splattering the Byrdes with blood, and leaving the audience as shell-shocked as they are!
#7: George O’Malley
“Grey’s Anatomy” (2005-)
Death comes for many of the doctors in this long-running hospital drama. But none were as shocking as this one. George O’Malley is ready to depart the hospital for good and goes home to spend time with his family. Meanwhile, back at work, the victim of a bus collision is brought in. The man is so badly injured, he can’t be identified, nor can he properly communicate. However, after tracing an in-joke on the hand of Meredith, she realizes that it’s George. But that knowledge only makes his death soon after in surgery that much more of a gut punch.
#6: Warren Mears
“Buffy the Vampire Slayer” (1997-2003)
Sometimes accidents have big consequences. Warren Mears is a small man hoping to get revenge on Buffy for perceived slights. After firing wildly at her house with a gun, he accidentally kills Willow’s girlfriend Tara. Unfortunately, for Warren, Willow has been struggling with an addiction to dark magic and the death of the woman she loves pushes her back into a bad, bad place. Dark Willow catches up with Warren and restrains him. Willow proceeds to push one of Warren’s bullets through his body to torture him and sews his lips shut. His pleas for mercy, and her friends’ arrival only prompt her to give Warren a shocking and grisly death - instant flaying and incineration. And Willow’s the nice one in the group!
#5: Anatoly Ranskahov
In Hell’s Kitchen, there are plenty of gangs, and Anatoly Ranskahov runs the local Russian mafia. However, he and everyone else answers to Wilson Fisk - the Kingpin. To help smooth out some bad blood between him and Fisk, Anatoly arrives at a restaurant, where Fisk is on a date. Anatoly is ushered away and speaks instead to Fisk’s right-hand man, Wesley. Things seem smoothed over until Wesley gets a call from Fisk, who wants to talk - but not on the phone. Kingpin drags Anatoly out of the car and beats him senselessly. Furious that Anatoly embarrassed him in front of his date, Vanessa, Fisk uses the vehicle’s door to turn Anatoly’s head into red paste! He may fight Daredevil, but Kingpin’s the actual devil!
#4: Lizzie Samuels
“The Walking Dead” (2010-)
Zombie apocalypses are awful for a myriad of reasons. But their effects on the psychology of those who grow up in them is seldom explored. Lizzie Samuels displays a high degree of empathy for the undead. She doesn’t understand that they’re no longer people. To illustrate her point of view to Carol and Tyreese, the adults watching over her and her sister, Mika, Lizzie murders Mika. This death is shocking enough. But Carol and Tyreese realize a hard truth - Lizzie’s mental illness is too dangerous to be left untreated. And they can’t treat it. So Carol tells Lizzie to look at some flowers, before shooting. Seeing someone so young go is always hard, but it’s especially awful here.
“Breaking Bad” (2008-13)
Walter White enacts a risky plan to ensure that he and Jesse Pinkman remain useful to meth kingpin Gustavo Fring. He has Jesse kill Gale, Gus’ other cook. Victor captures Jesse and brings him back to Gus’s secret meth lab. Their lives are still in question, as Victor proves he can follow the same cooking steps as them, having observed them. Then, Gus arrives. Tranquilly dressed in a hazmat suit, he picks up a box cutter. All the while, Walter is talking a mile a minute about all the reasons not to kill them. Gus’ silent fury is evident for every second. And then, Gus slits Victor’s throat, staring at Walt and Jesse as he slowly dies. Nobody saw this savage killing coming!
#2: Queen Aemma Arryn
“House of the Dragon” (2022-)
“House of the Dragon” is still new, but it has already featured some of the shockingly gruesome deaths its franchise is known for. The first episode introduces us to Aemma Aeryn, the queen of the Seven Kingdoms, who gives birth with King Viserys Targaryen hoping for a boy. Unfortunately, as sometimes happens, there are complications during the birth. The King is given a choice - save his wife, or save his child. Although Viserys clearly loves his wife, he still longs for a male heir. Even so, neither he nor the audience is prepared to watch Queen Aemma’s disturbingly graphic C-section. Naturally, Aemma dies from the “procedure.” And, heartbreakingly, the child is only heir for a day. Speaking of heartbreak…
#1: Oberyn Martell
“Game of Thrones” (2011-19)
You thought we were done with Westeros? You sweet Summer children. While we considered the vicious death of Talisa and her unborn child at the Red Wedding, there’s been enough of that already. Instead, let’s discuss an epic duel. Oberyn Martell, the Red Viper, fights Gregor Clegane, the Mountain, in a trial-by-combat. While the Mountain’s freakish strength is worrying, Oberyn proves so skilled with a spear, that he brings the Mountain to the ground. Yet, his search for answers regarding the death of his sister means he doesn’t make it as quick as he should. The Mountain gets hold of Oberyn, and knocks out his teeth. Then Clegane squashes Oberyn’s head like it’s a melon! Hearts and last meals were in viewers’ throats after this!