*Warning: There be spoilers here! If you’re not completely caught up on the following series, you may want to stop right here and back the fork up: The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, House of Cards, Breaking Bad, The Good Wife, Sherlock, Hannibal, Luther, Homeland, Mad Men, Top of the Lake, Rectify and Justified.
We love to be surprised, don’t we? Let’s face it, most series’ shockers, and plenty of the moments on this list, involve characters dying—maybe before their time or in surprising ways. There are characters we thought somehow immune, or for crying out loud, just children. When it comes down to it, knowing all men must die doesn’t mean anyone’s prepared. You’d think we’d learn… There are a few non-deadly trip-ups in here, just to throw a wrench in the works. Still, we screamed, didn’t we?
1. Lizzie Kills Mika, The Walking Dead
We knew Lizzie was having difficulty coping with the whole zombie apocalypse thing; we suspected her of feeding the walkers rats, and worried for Judith. But we sure as hell didn’t see that sister murder coming.
2. Carol Kills Lizzie, The Walking Dead
Carol and Tyrese had no choice though, this being television, who knew they’d come to such a quick decision—or that it would gut us as much as it did Carol.
3. Walt and Skyler Fight; Walt Takes Holly, Breaking Bad
With all the crazy, illegal, murderous Breaking Bad goings-on, it was the Whites as parents going after each other that hurt like they were our own mother and father. I stepped right into Junior’s shoes and was completely broken when he had to protect Skye from Walt…then again when Walt took little Holly, leaving Skye sobbing in the street.
4. Hank Is Killed, Breaking Bad
There were two Breaking Bad deaths that seemed like they just couldn’t be real, and by far this was the one that haunted me past the series end. After surviving One Minute, how could Hank be dead?
5. Frank Pushes Zoe to Her Death, House of Cards
Uh, isn’t this a risky move for the Vice President who has Presidential aspirations?
6. Frank Is Sworn in as President of the United States, House of Cards
Apparently not! One can’t help but admire how the man’s ever-so-well-planned machinations played out.
7. The Red Wedding, Game of Thrones
It’s one thing to read about this kind of massacre, quite another to see it play out onscreen. And when it still shocks the crap out of anyone who watches? Well done.
8. Theon Loses His Junk, Game of Thrones
It’s been flat-out skin-crawlingly, excruciating to watch Ramsay Snow torture Theon, but taking away his…sausage? That’s the worst.
9. Trey Removes ID and Gets Rid of George’s Body, Rectify
George commits suicide, because he can’t live with…something, and when Trey finally comes upon his body, he takes George’s wallet and pushes the body into the creek. Uuh.
10. Daniel Is Brutally Beaten, Rectify
Of all the moments on this list, the beating delivered to Daniel by Bobby Dean and his cowardly cohorts made me feel a soul-crushing devastation like nothing else. It still makes me flinch to even think about it.
11. Don Reveals His True Self to Clients, and His Children, Mad Men
While it was certainly shocking to Don’s peers and clients when he opened up about his childhood during a pitch meeting, it was almost more so to see the man being truthful with his own children. Sad…and beautiful.
12. The Winged People, Hannibal
Hannibal has become known for its beauty, in everything from cooking to the crime scenes. But by its fifth episode, we still weren’t prepared for the carnage coming at us; cripes, those wings! I still can’t look at them closely.
13. Hannibal and Jack Fight, Hannibal
We might think we know how the story of Jack Crawford, Will Graham and Hannibal plays out, but Fuller enjoys the game as much as his titular character. Eventually the tables will turn; when and how we see that is not up to us. And we cannot wait to see how this fantastically acted and choreographed scene ends.
14. Jamie Falls to His Death, Top of the Lake
In an act of selflessness, Jamie dons Tui’s coat to draw Matt and his men away from Tui, and while being chased, Jamie falls off the side of a cliff. Heart-breakingly horrifying…
15. Moriarty Kills Himself, Sherlock
Their rooftop meeting after Moriarty sets up Sherlock’s fall climaxes in an impossible ultimatum—Sherlock must jump to his death to save his friends’ lives. Of course Moriarty has a fail-safe Sherlock tries to convince him to use, but Moriarty has a fail-safe for the fail-safe…a gun to his own head. Splat; we weren’t ready for that.
16. Maybe Not? Sherlock
And…in (arguably) one of the best moments of the Series 3 finale, Moriarty announced his return. Is it a trick? Was his suicide the trick? Is Mycroft in on the whole thing? Heck, who cares; all I need to know is we’ll get at least a little bit more wicked Andrew Scott.
17. DS Ripley Dies, Luther
This one came out of nowhere, and it hit us directly in the chest, just like that bullet. “He’s my mate. I love him.”
18. Brody Is Hanged, Homeland
Knowing he has to go, and seeing him go in that slow, horrible way—two completely different things.
19. Danny Crowe Trips and Falls into His Dog’s Freshly Dug Grave, Stabs Himself in the Neck and Dies, Justified
By far, the funniest and most appropriate death scene yet. While we were all sitting there waiting for the moment Raylan pulled his umpteenth quick-draw McGraw, Danny killed his own dumb ass. Bravo.
20. Boyd Throws Picker an Explosive Pack of Smokes; Picker Explodes, Justified
Doubling down on a practiced scene, Boyd cunningly restaged the players and went right back to the moment he was about to have a last cigarette. Only he wasn’t the only one lighting up…and Picker went boom.
21. Will Is Shot, The Good Wife (I don’t even watch this one, but I was traumatized-adjacent)
I’ll just let Dustin’s words do the talking.