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The 10 Most Shocking TV Deaths of 2012

Featuring ‘Breaking Bad,’ ‘Homeland,’ ‘True Blood’ and more

best tv deaths 2012

Your television screen is spattered with more blood than ever before, what with all the zombies and vampires, meth fiends and Prohibition gangsters who populate our favorite dramas. From the biker treachery of Sons of Anarchy to the boardroom betrayal of Mad Men, it's one big American horror story. Here are 10 of the most brutal, shocking and delectable deaths from the 2012 TV season.

By Sean T. Collins, Erica Futterman, Halle Keifer, Katy Kroll, Sarene Leeds, Bex Schwartz and James Sullivan

sons of anarchy opie

Prashant Gupta/FX

5

‘Sons of Anarchy’: Saying Goodbye to a ‘Son’ (Season Five, Episode Three)

There have been plenty of deaths on Sons of Anarchy over the years (see: Piney and Half-Sack), but none shocked fans more than the unexpected demise of Opie, played by Ryan Hurst. The brutal lead-pipe prison beating of the fan favorite left many asking, "Why?" But in the realm of SAMCRO, it was the only way to save Opie's best buddy, Jax, from a similar fate. The onscreen death was compounded by the grisly real-life murder-suicide involving Johnny Lewis, who played the aforementioned Half-Sack, that unfolded just hours after the episode aired. It was a sad example of life imitating art, in the worst possible way.

homeland brody tailor

Bob Leverone/SHOWTIME

4

‘Homeland’: Brody and the Tailor (Season Two, Episode Three)

As if the epidemic of "distracted driving" weren't bad enough – now our nation's terrorist sleeper agents have to deal with distracted killing, too? Such is life for Homeland's Nicholas Brody, whose assignment by his al Qaeda handlers to whisk their tailor-slash-bombmaker to safety goes tits up in the woods outside Gettysburg. Believing Brody to be his executioner, the tailor makes a break for it, thus turning his fear into a self-fulfilling prophecy – a prophecy that comes true while Brody fields a phone call from his worried wife Jessica, loudly enough for her to hear it happening. "What was that?" "What was what?" Nice save, Congressman.

owen sleater boardwalk empire

Macall B. Polay

3

‘Boardwalk Empire’: Owen Sleater in a Box (Season Three, Episode 10)

The murder of Boardwalk Empire's most unhinged mobster, Gyp Rosetti, may have been Season Three's splashiest death, but given the battle lines that had been drawn between Gyp and Nucky Thompson, we figured at least one of them would wind up six feet under. It was the subtle, offscreen killing of Nucky's right-hand man, former IRA soldier Owen Sleater, that had us all jumping up from our couches when his body was delivered in a wooden crate to Nucky's Ritz-Carlton suite – a casualty of the botched assassination attempt on Joe Masseria. The consequences of Owen's murder went beyond gangster reindeer games, though: in the season finale, a distraught Margaret Thompson, whose affair with Owen had resulted in an illegitimate pregnancy, made the heart-wrenching decision to abort the baby.

breaking bad mike

Ursula Coyote/AMC

2

‘Breaking Bad’: Mike’s Quiet Exit (Season Five, Episode Seven)

In the end, he goes peacefully. Okay, sure, he has to tell his murderer to shut the fuck up in order to make it happen. But still, for Breaking Bad's Mike Ehrmentraut – fixer, enforcer, doting grandfather, cold-blooded killer and ersatz partner to Walter "Heisenberg" White – quietly tipping over into oblivion while sitting in the reeds and watching a river flow past in the sunlight is probably the most tranquility his murderous life has afforded him in a long time. Pity he earned these final moments of rest by getting shot in the gut because he hurt Walter White's feefees.

mad men lane pryce

Ron Jaffe/AMC

1

‘Mad Men’: Lane Pryce Resigns (Season Five, Episode 12)

When Mad Men returned after a 17-month absence this past March, the show appeared to be suffering from a case of uncharacteristic jollies. Namely, Don Draper, womanizer extraordinaire, was happily married and displaying zero signs of infidelity. Yet the fifth season turned out to be especially dark, with the story line of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce's financial officer coming to a bleak end in the penultimate episode. After learning that Lane had embezzled funds from the company to pay back taxes, Don was forced to demand the British expatriate's resignation. Personally and professionally humiliated, Lane hangs himself on the door to his office (following a bungled self-asphyxiation attempt in his brand-new Jaguar), leaving his bereaved colleagues to discover his dead body.