This post contains major spoilers for the most recent episode of The Good Wife.
If you've checked Twitter in the last 24 hours, you're probably aware of the fact that last night's episode of The Good Wife featured a twist so shocking that it caused friends and family you never knew were fans to come out of the woodwork and take to social media to discuss it. We are, of course, referring to the fact that Will Gardner (Josh Charles), died last night after being shot in the courtroom by his client. His unexpected death was not just shocking becuse neither fans nor his fellow characters could have seen it coming, but also becuase The Good Wife is not a particularly shocking television show.
Unlike Game of Thrones or House of Cards, which seem to find a way to make each episode more insane than the last, the drama on The Good Wife comes from either inter-personal conflict or the cases that Alicia Florrick and her colleagues at Lockhart Gardner take on. There are no battles or massacres, and rather than ending with a major character in mortal peril, the season-finale cliff-hangers usually center around Alicia starting her own law firm. Killing off a character with a stray gunshot is simply unheard of on this show.
Of course, The Good Wife isn't the first non-shocking show to feature a huge, plot-altering twist, and it certainly won't be the last. In honor of Will and his untimely demise, we've rounded up 10 of the most shocking television moments to be featured on realistic, straightforward television shows. Our condolences, Good Wife fans; you're not alone.
Brian Dies on Family GuyJust a few short months after the world managed to recover from the Red Wedding, Seth MacFarlane managed to bring the Internet to its knees when Brian Griffin, the sarcastic, alcoholic dog on Family Guy was killed after being hit by a car. Twitter was filled with threats about quitting the show if he wasn't brought back, websites scrambled over each other to interview MacFarlane and TV fans everywhere wondered how they missed the fact that people were not only still watching Family Guy, but could be emotionally invested in such a show. Of course, two weeks later, Brian was brought back to life, and everything settled back down to normal, but we shall always remember the time that a cartoon dog ruled the Internet.
Landry Murders Someone on Friday Night LightsThere are three things in this world that Friday Night Lights fans can unanimously agree on: Tim Riggins is insanely hot, the Taylors would be the best parents in the world, and the second season never, ever happened. That overwhelming denial is the result of everyone's favorite sidekick Landry Clarke killing a man who attacked Tyra, and then attempting to cover up the murder, a plot which even the writers agree was too insane for a show that specialized in quiet, realistic character development. Thankfully, the writer's strike resulted in the second season being cut short, and when the third season premiered, the plot had been all but retconned, and everyone continued on with their lives as if nothing strange had ever happened.
Sam Malone Reveals His Baldness on CheersOne of the things that made Cheers such a beloved television staple is the fact that watching it was like hanging out with a group of friends: everyone was relaxed, having fun, and attempting to guess when the perpetually will-they-or-won't-they couple would finally get together. Which is why the show's most shocking moment came when Sam revealed to Carla that his famously lush head of hair wasn't all his, and that, like Ted Danson, he was covering up his baldness with a toupee. Luckily, Danson and Sam are so charming that the world instantly forgave them of the deception, and instead went back to debating whether he should end up with Diane or Rebecca.
Taraji P. Henson Is Killed Off of Person of InterestDespite doing well in the ratings, Person of Interest has stayed under the radar since premiering in 2011. In fact, we're willing to bet most people didn't even know it's been on TV for that long. However, it properly entered the mainstream's consciousness when Detective Joss Carter, played by Taraji P. Henson, a fan favorite, was shot and killed in the line of duty. Suddenly, it seemed as if everyone was talking about Person of Interest, and you finally gave in and watched it with your parents the next time you had Sunday night dinner at their house.
Mr. Pamuk Dies in Lady Mary's Bed on Downton AbbeyLong before Downton Abbey turned into a full-blown soap opera and dispensed with most of the cast at regular intervals, the most shocking moment of the first season occurred when Lady Mary gave into her desires and spent the night with Mr. Pamuk, a handsome visiting diplomat, only for him to promptly roll over and die. Pamuk's death and the resulting cover-up was both surprising and hilarious, and is now likely looked back upon by disillusioned Downton Abbey fans with much fondness. Ah, the good old days.
Starburns Dies on CommunityFor all of the pillow-fort building, alternate timeline-jumping, and pop culture homages that make up Community, it has always managed to keep at least one foot in reality, even when the campus of Greendale is falling apart. Therefore, when Alex "Starburns" Osbourne died after the meth lab in his truck exploded, it was a genuinely shocking moment. It managed to cut through the insanity of Chang's military coup and the study group's latest bit in order to bring to light the genuine surprise and sadness that occurs whenever a friend or classmate suddenly dies. Don't worry, though; the gang incited a riot immediately afterwards, so everything went back to normal pretty quickly.
The Sound Guy Comforts Pam on The OfficeAlthough there are plenty of sitcoms on television that use a documentary-style of shooting, the production crews presumably filming everything are never acknowledged in any way. That is, until the episode of The Office where Pam revealed that not only were there real people behind those cameras and microphones, but she had become close with them over the years that they had been filming the staff at Dunder-Mifflin. The reveal of Brian, the boom-mic operator and his affection for Pam was enough to shock the show out of the rut it was in and allowed The Office to wrap up the show in an unexpected, emotional way. Plus, it kept fans engaged until the last episode, because they wanted to be sure that nothing would ever come between Jim and Pam.
Rayanne Sleeps with Jordan Catalano on My So-Called LifeMy So-Called Life has entered the Hall of Fame of teen dramas for being a smart, realistic show that dealt with the kind of issues that teenagers were actually going though. Issues like your best friend sleeping with the boy of your dreams, which Rayanne did towards the end of the show's run. Fans who had spent weeks watching Angela pine for Jordan were just as shocked and hurt as she was, and were torn between fury at Rayanne's betrayal, and understanding that nothing is more enticing that Jared Leto at his prime. Those cheekbones are definitely worth ruining a friendship over.
Marissa Shoots Trey on The O.C.Another classic of the teen drama genre, The O.C. was surprisingly down-to-earth considering it was a show about the obnoxious rich kids who lived in the most expensive part of California. That all changed, though, when Marissa Cooper (always the most dramatic person in Orange County) shot Ryan's brother, Trey, in order to protect Ryan. That shocking moment kicked off a full season of insanity, chronicling Marissa's downward spiral, which resulted in her own shocking exit a year later, and made it impossible to ever take an Imogen Heap song seriously ever again.
Zack Is the Serial Killer's Apprentice on BonesLike all crime procedurals, Bones has had its fair share of crazy, intense or scary episodes, but nothing came close to the reveal that Zack Addy, was working for the Gormogon, the cannibalistic serial killer the team had been hunting for months. Neither the fans nor the characters could have thought that shy, awkward, well-meaning Zack was capable of assisting a murder and blowing up a lab, but suddenly a beloved character was revealed to be the enemy. None of the twists that the writers have managed to come up with have ever topped this shock, though, and Bones has since gone back to being the show that everyone watched reruns of when they're sick.
Will Will Truman get lucky? Will Chandler and Monica tie the knot? Will Dawson and Pacey make up? And what's up with "Popular"?!
Those are some of the questions that have been posed and that will be answered during the fall season of television.
Herein is a critique of the fall seasons of 10 TV series that Hollywood.com staffers watch on a weekly basis:
"Will & Grace," NBC, Thursdays, 9 p.m. ET
Is "Will & Grace," the as-of-late-sometimes-hilarious sitcom about a gay man named Will Truman (Eric McCormack, who looks tan and really sexy this season), his best gay friend Jack McFarland (the always funny, over the top Emmy winner Sean Hayes), his best female friend Grace Adler (Debra Messing), and her lush of a socialite "employee" Karen Walker (Emmy winner Megan Mullally), falling from, er, grace this season? "Will & Grace" sadly has been spotty since its Emmy win for Best Comedy. McCormack has said that Will will date this season and have a number of boyfriends. The guest spot a few weeks back by Patrick Dempsey as one of those alleged future boyfriends was funny, and the exchange among Dempsey, McCormack and Hayes in Banana Republic (dancer-actor-singer-choreographer Jack is now a Banana Republic sales associate, headphones and all) was witty and pretty and ... well, you know. But last week's much-hyped guest spot by Cher was totally disappointing. The writing was weak for most of the episode, guest star Camryn Manheim was wasted and Cher appeared in only the last few minutes. What we needed was a half hour of "Jack & Cher." Here's hoping that Will hooks up with Mr. Banana Republic. Life is about the Banana, after all. Go, girlfriend. Grade: B-
"Friends," NBC, Thursdays, 8 p.m. ET
Some shows grind to a halt after two characters get together, but the pairing of Monica (Courteney Cox Arquette) and Chandler (Matthew Perry), who are set to wed this season, has created more hijinks than ever. They have created the funniest storylines of the season: Monica consults an elaborate wedding binder she's been keeping since 4th grade, only to find out that her parents spent her wedding fund on a beach house. Chandler keeps having embarrassing moments with his future father-in-law (Elliott Gould) and finds that he can't smile in photographs. Rachel (Jennifer Aniston) and Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow) compete for maid of honor (Phoebe wins, but lets Rachel do it because it means more to her). Meanwhile, the non-wedding-related storylines have fallen to the wayside: Rachel has hired a cute younger assistant she can't date; Joey's pilot gets canceled, and Phoebe just found out that her grandmother's secret cookie recipe is from Nestle Tollhouse. Ross (David Schwimmer), other than a memory-lane kiss with Rachel, is so far unlucky in love. But, in the funniest episode of the season, he finds an unlikely snuggling partner in Joey when the two accidentally nap together -- and like it. Grade: B+
"The West Wing," NBC, Wednesdays, 9 p.m. ET
This Emmy winner started its second season with a bang -- quite literally. After the cliffhanger from the end of the first season, wherein President Jed Bartlet (Martin Sheen) and Deputy Chief of Staff Josh Lyman (Bradley Whitford) were shot, the two-hour opener took viewers from the present to the past. The episode cleverly gave the audience the background of why Bartlet first got on the campaign trail and showed how his extraordinary staff was assembled, all while juxtaposed with the assassination crisis. And the show doesn't seem to be stopping, creating scenarios that mirror the current social and political climate -- including some controversial racial conflict. The cast is still outstanding -- including Emmy winners Allison Janney as Press Secretary C.J. Cregg and Richard Schiff as Communications Director Toby Ziegler. Guest spots by the likes of Timothy Busfield and John Laroquette added heart and intensity to the behind-the-scenes storylines. But the heart of the show remains Sheen as the wise and truthful President Bartlet, and given the current real-life situation in the political world, Bartlet would be considered a godsend. Grade: A
"Everybody Loves Raymond," CBS, Mondays, 9 p.m. ET
Though "Everybody Loves Raymond" does not tend to build upon storylines episode to episode, it has shown some resourcefulness this season. Bringing in guest stars such as Robert Culp as Debra Barone's (Emmy winner Patricia Heaton) dad was a nice touch, especially when it led to a hilarious dispute between in-laws. But the show has been quite hit-or-miss lately. Ray (Ray Romano) developing a fear of germs, for example -- interesting but not funny, especially for a character who already has three young children. Just a breakdown of logic there. Ray's brother Robert, the divorced cop (played with deadpan precision by Brad Garrett), has also been curiously underused thus far. Grade: B-
"ER," NBC, Thursdays, 10 p.m. ET
The best thing America's top drama -- for the past six seasons -- has done so far is not add any new characters. Drs. Greene and Corday (Anthony Edwards and Alex Kingston) have gotten engaged; Dr. Kovac (the very hunky Goran Visjnic) is feeling guilt over a guy he accidentally killed during a mugging; and Dr. Carter (Noah Wyle) is back from rehab and peeing in a cup whenever he's asked. Dr. Chen (Ming-Na) is pregnant by a doctor at another hospital; Dr. Benton (Eriq LaSalle) lost his surgical attending position and is now "demoted" to an ER post; and there are hints that Dr. Weaver (Laura Innes) is mulling a lesbian relationship. Oh yes, and they treat people, too. The strongest episodes are still the medical-oriented cases, especially the 22-week-old "miracle baby" who survived nearly an entire day. Medical student/nurse Abby Lockhart (Maura Tierney) is emerging as the emotional core, letting us miss Sherry Stringfield and Julianna Margulies a little less. What's left to do is to use more of Michael Michele, who plays pediatric resident Dr. Cleo Finch. "ER" is not consistently great, but it still keeps our pulses pounding. Grade: B
"Dawson's Creek," WB, Wednesdays, 8 p.m. ET
Last year ended with Joey (Katie Holmes) sailing into the sunset with Pacey (Joshua Jackson), leaving her best friend/soul mate Dawson (James Van Der Beek) weeping and alone. It's a good choice because Holmes and Jackson have decidedly better chemistry, and although they dispense the same amount of SAT-filled sentences (meanwhile Pacey is flunking school) as Joey and Dawson, this new couple have snappier arguments/flirtations. This season: Joey's repairing her friendship with Dawson, who's trying to move on by taking pictures and finding a new confidante in Pacey's older sister (Sasha Alexander), particularly after his parents discover that they're having another baby. Pacey and Dawson take (very small) steps toward reconciliation after the former's boat is swept into a storm and the latter risks his neck to save him. Jen (Michelle Williams) is temporarily ostracized from the group -- and from best friend Jack (Kerr Smith) -- when she lets the already medicated Andie (Meredith Monroe) try Ecstasy at a rave, causing her to collapse and nearly die. But it's Andie who gives the fractured group a chance to heal again when she announces that she's leaving Capeside to spend the rest of the year in Italy (she already got into Harvard early, dontcha know). In her tearjerking farewell, she implores her friends to make up, and it looks as if they will. Grade: B+
"Frasier," NBC, Tuesdays, 9 p.m. ET
In the early '90s -- in its third season -- "Seinfeld" began to structure its episodes around the supporting characters, not the title character. Suddenly, the same seems true about "Frasier." While the love affair between Niles (David Hyde Pierce) and Daphne (Jane Leeves) seemed to be the hook to get viewers back into the show early this fall, it remained the hook throughout most of the season. And it worked. Their relationship has spawned a number of morose storylines thus far, with ex-wives and ex-fiancees plotting against the likable couple, but Frasier himself seems to have been pushed aside, stuck with adequate conflicts such as his displeasure with his wealthy new boss. But it still works. And Niles pretending to still be married in social circles is surprisingly hilarious each time. Grade: B+
"Spin City," ABC, Wednesdays, 9 p.m. ET
No, you can't blame Charlie Sheen alone for "Spin City's" decline in popularity. It really comes down to the writing. Only one episode of "Spin City" this fall has been impressive -- the one where Sheen and Heather Locklear lock horns on the set of "Live With Regis" -- but little else has proven to be much of a surprise. Sure, Sheen's character, the deputy mayor of New York, is narcissistic, and yes, he has a tainted history with drugs, but didn't we already expect that? It's not Sheen's fault that this sort of cliched writing took place. It's not Locklear's fault that she has little chemistry with him. And it's not the viewers' fault for wanting to change the channel - even though it means the certain demise of one of their previously most beloved shows. We miss ya, Mike. Grade: C-
"Popular," WB, Fridays, 9 p.m. ET
The WB's "Popular" is one of the most underrated and funniest shows on television. It's sad that it's been relegated to a Friday night spot. The show boasts a fabulous ensemble cast of pretty people vs. Everyday people, although the two sides have been mingling more and more. School stud turned social pariah Josh Ford (Bryce Johnson) has hooked up with tree-hugger Lily Esposito (Tamara Mello) after the pair rescued a gay chimpanzee from the L.A. Zoo. It's a lame pairing, but player-player Josh has already hooked up with the rest of the ladies on the show, so I guess Lil' Lily was next. Alarming this season: Instead of funny gags such as kidnapping Gwyneth Paltrow's personal shopper and competing ruthlessly for Homecoming Queen, "Popular" has turned to Very Special Episodes. Harrison John (Christopher Gorham) is battling leukemia, Nicole Julian (Tammy Lynn Michaels) has cried ... twice(!) ... over her fall from popularity, Carmen Ferrera's (Sara Rue) mother is an alcoholic, and both reigning Homecoming Queen Brooke McQueen (Leslie Bibb) and Mike "Sugar Daddy" Bernadino are battling eating disorders. Not very funny stuff. This season has been more about tears over sadness and struggles rather than laughter. As Mary Cherry (the always hilarious Leslie Grossman) would say, let's get some laughs back, hon. And pronto! Grade: B-
"Ally McBeal," Fox, Mondays, 9 p.m. ET
After a disappointing third season, David E. Kelley's series was in need of some serious spice. Kelley tried everything to raise ratings, from a lesbian lip-lock to some full-blown musical mishmash, but nothing could save the sinking show. In a final act of desperation, Kelley brought in a fresh-from-the-cell Robert Downey Jr. Little did Kelley know that the criminal element would bring such critical success this fall. As a cute, clever attorney named Larry, Downey's straight but sarcastic delivery is the perfect foil for Ally's (Calista Flockhart) high-strung hysteria. He steals every scene with his flawless timing, then punctuates even the simplest sentence with that trademark sexy smirk. Downey may have been sent in to rekindle the spark, but his presence has set the show on fire and made "Ally McBeal" a must-see on Monday nights again. Grade: B+
Reviews by Jason Alcorn, Kit Bowen, Tracey Pollack, Ellen A. Kim and Don Chareunsy.