With the 2005 – 2006 television season wrapping up, we thought it would be a grand time to look back at some of the most memorable TV deaths from the past year. These are the demises that made our jaws drop, brought a tear to our eyes, or simply made us laugh out loud (cough, Mischa, cough). Granted, not every fatality made its way onto the list. Just because someone dies doesn’t mean it’s actually interesting. It’s all about the when, where, and how. But of course, feel free to discuss and debate the list in the comments section. Warning: this post will reveal the untimely fates of several characters. If there’s a television series out there that you’re not totally caught up on, read with caution…
20. T-Bag’s bitch, Prison Break
This guy didn’t do much on the show beyond clutching onto T-Bag’s pocket, but his death certainly made the Fox audience do a little double take. The whole thing went down in a matter of seconds: some prisoner walked up to the guy, shanked him in the torso about five times, and then walked away. The death proved that Prison Break wasn’t afraid to “go there,” — as if the toe-chopping, eye-ball-gouging, neck-slicing, penis-severing, and hand-amputating action didn’t make it clear enough.
19. Julius Caesar, Rome
Okay, we all saw it coming. But hey, it was still pretty cool.
18. The Apprentice: Martha Stewart
A long, slow, agonizing death. Technically, this is a show, not a character, but man, if there was one death TV pundits were talking about this fall, it was this ill-fated reality flop.
17. Michael Vaughn, Alias
“Michael Vaughn?” you say. Yes. I know, I know. He’s alive and well and still poking around the show, but for a while there, he was actually dead until allegedly the producers realized how much the show sucked without him, and he was magically revived. Still, when he was thought to be a goner, it certainly caused shock and grief amongst the fans. Never again, Michael Vartan! Never again!
16. Vito Spatafore, The Sopranos
This probably would have ranked higher had it not been so expected and routine. Vito’s journey came to an end when a vengeful Phil Leotardo and his goons beat him to death in his motel room and then stuck a pool cue up his derriere. Tough way to go for Johnnycakes’ sweetheart, but hey, it’s The Sopranos. When your number’s up, it’s up.
15. Jonathan Kent, Smallville
In a much-hyped episode midway through the season, Clark Kent precipitated the death of his father (ahem, Earth father) when he went back in time and saved good ol’ Lana from a certain untimely demise. You know, considering he was given the chance to go back and change one thing, don’t you think Superman would have — I don’t know — stopped 9/11?? Worst teenage superhero EVER!
14. Admiral Helena Cain, Battlestar Galactica
Some say Admiral Cain got what she deserved when she was offed by the Cylon she had ordered beaten and tortured. Tough break for her, but anyone who’s familiar with the work of actress Michelle Forbes (who played Cain) should have seen this coming. Forbes has a nasty habit of getting killed off nearly any project she’s employed on. Whether it’s Swimming with Sharks or 24 (technically not killed, but pushed down a staircase and shipped off to oblivion), she just can’t seem to find a show that wants to keep her. Presently, she’s being evil on Prison Break, but if the past is any indication, she’ll be falling into a meat grinder in no time.
13. Dylan Young, Grey’s Anatomy
Poor Dylan Young. He was the plucky bomb squad dude that attempted to remove a bazooka shell from some idiot’s body in the ER. Everything seemed to be going well until — oops! The shell exploded, blasting Dylan to smithereens. It was a shocking little bit of activity — one that had audiences buzzing around the water cooler the next day. Even Ellen Pompeo’s Botox-laden face managed to churn out an expression. Lesson learned: don’t play with bazookas, children!
12. Fat Dom, The Sopranos
Just like Dylan Young, sometimes the minor characters get all the glory. In an episode where Vito’s death was supposed to be the centerpiece, this rotund guy stole the show. He joked about Vito’s murder just a little too much, causing Silvio and Carlo to stab the goon in the stomach with a giant chef’s knife over and over and over again. It was so intense and nasty and downright horrific that it became the lasting image of the show. And who said The Sopranos had gotten too tame?
11. Alexandra Borgia, Law and Order
In its sixteenth season, Law and Order can still surprise us. In this case, with the murder of A.D.A. Alexandra Borgia. This marked the second time that a lawyer had been killed off on the series. And boy was she killed off! She was beaten to a bloody pulp, and later she asphyxiated on her own vomit in the trunk of a stolen car. So… yeah… that’s shocking, right?
10. Monica Mancuso, Las Vegas
Ranking as one of the silliest deaths of the past year — or ten years — Monica Mancuso (played by über-waif, Lara Flynn Boyle) died when she was literally blown off the roof of a casino. Yes, she was so skinny that a gust of air whisked her away into the night. Of course, since this was done on a shoestring budget, the entire scene played out like a Passions episode gone bad. You could almost see the wires tugging her around the green screen. Nevertheless, it was a wonderful addition in to the canon of televised deaths.
9. David Palmer, Michelle Dessler, Tony Almeida, 24
This troika of beloved 24 stars bit it unceremoniously this season with President Palmer and Michelle dying in the first ten minutes of the season premiere alone. It proved — or reiterated, perhaps — that 24 was willing to kill whoever whenever. These deaths also set the tone for a particularly bloody season, one which saw many heads roll (or gag) in the land of CTU.
8. Aaron Echolls, Veronica Mars
When Aaron got out of prison, we all wondered if he would ever be brought to justice for what he did. We didn’t have to wait very long for the answer to that question. Smell ya later!
7. George Williams, Desperate Housewives
George was the creepy sociopath who stalked Bree Van De Kamp and poisoned her husband to death. Naturally, it was only fitting that he’d wind up dead on Wisteria Lane. When Bree pulled away from him due to his — you know — homicidal impulses, he tried to win her back by downing a handful of pills. Surely Bree would run to his rescue and call the paramedics. Nope. She just sat there and let him die. Van De Kamp style.
6. Leo McGarry, West Wing
Here’s the thing about Leo McGarry: the actor who played him (John Spencer) really died. That’s gotta be worth something.
5. Denny Duquette, Grey’s Anatomy
Okay, we saw this coming for weeks — it was obvious that Denny’s heart would eventually give out on him, but his death still managed to have people bawling at the water cooler. Ah, the tragic fate of a bedridden Lothario.
4. Chef, South Park
One of the most talked-about deaths of the season came from one of the most unlikely places: South Park. When Isaac Hayes abruptly quit the show in a cloud of controversy over Scientology, we knew that Chef would not be long for this animated world. Sure enough, Chef had a graceful exit from the show: he fell from a bridge, impaled himself on a rock, caught on fire, shat his pants, and was eaten by a bear.
3. Marissa Cooper, The OC
Serving as the most unintentionally funny and ridiculous death of the year, Marissa’s much-hyped death proved to be an exercise in overwrought melodrama. It all happened when she and Ryan were driving along a dark, twisty road. The evil Volchok pulled up alongside and rammed them off the road! The car went tumbling, and Marissa’s poor, fragile body was tossed around like a rag doll. Even though she managed to escape the crash with nary a drop of blood on her body, she still had sustained massive internal injuries. This allowed for Mischa Barton and Ben McKenzie to flex their limited acting skills in a scene full of darting eyes, quivering lips, and dramatic stammering. It was supposed to be heartbreaking, but instead, it was HILARIOUS.
2. Ana-Lucia Cortez, LibbyLost
The surprise death that Lost fans could not stop talking about. Without any hype or indication that it would happen, Michael suddenly shot Ana-Lucia dead. Moments later, when Libby entered the room, Michael freaked out and shot her too. And then that third noise? That was the sound of millions of jaws hitting the floor.
1. Edgar Stiles, 24
The single-most surprising, heartbreaking, moving, and frustrating death of the year. How could they do that to Edgar! Why?? Why???? It all happened when terrorists filled CTU with deadly nerve-gas. All the important people sealed themselves up in the Situation Room. Everyone but Edgar. He was still toiling in the server room. By the time he returned, it was too late. He knew his time was up. “Chloe…” he said, articulating a great friendship and perhaps mutual love. And with that, the big guy fell to the ground like a sack of marshmallows. There have been many, many deaths on 24, but none have had the emotional intensity of this scene.
So what do you think? Agree with the rankings? Did we miss anyone?