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 Guy
Just 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 Lights
There 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 Cheers
One 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 Interest
Despite 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 Abbey
Long 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 Community
For 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 Office
Although 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 Life
My 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 Bones
Like 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.