Last week, an executive producer for "The Simpsons" announced some unsettling news: A major character is set to die sometime in the upcoming season.
"I’ll give you a clue that the actor playing the character won an Emmy for playing that character, but I won’t say who it is," Al Jean added in his interview with The Sun News. Although, as the publication noted, virtually all of the actors who voice major characters have won an Emmy.
Whoever this character turns out to be, he or she won't be the first regular to croak on "The Simpsons." Maude Flanders was killed off in an 11th season episode, and Lisa's mentor Bleeding Gums Murphy died off five years before that. And it wasn't easy for "Simpsons" fans to say goodbye to either.
In fact, it's never easy to say goodbye to a regular TV character, especially when their death comes as a shock. After all, wasn't it tough to see the following characters go? (Spoilers ahead.)
- Susan Biddle Ross, "Seinfeld"
In the seventh season finale of "Seinfeld," George Costanza was desperate to get out of his engagement to Susan Ross. None of his sneaky tricks worked out, so George accepted his fate. However, while mailing out their wedding invitations, Susan became ill from licking the toxic adhesive on the cheap envelopes (which George picked out) and soon died. Jerry, Elaine and Kramer were pretty much unfazed by this news, and George — as Susan's doctor would later say — seemed to be showing signs of "repressed jubilation."
- Henry Blake, "M.A.S.H."
Television audiences weren't prepared for the death of Lieutenant Colonel Henry Blake in the show's third season finale (and nor was most the cast, who only learned of this twist on the last day of filming). The character had just gotten word he was being discharged from service, and was excited to head back to his family in Illinois. But in the episode's final minutes, Radar O'Reilly informed the camp that Blake's plane was shot down somewhere over the Sea of Japan en route to his home.
- Eddard Stark, "Game of Thrones"
Eddard Stark's death on "Game of Thrones" probably didn't come as a surprise to fans of the George R. R. Martin books on which the series is based, but the rest of HBO's viewers were completely shocked when the show's main character was killed off. In the penultimate episode of the first season, Eddard (or Ned, as he was often called) falsely confesses to treason in order to save his and his daughter's lives, but nonetheless gets sentenced to death by a sadistic king. His beheading marked the end of one of the last truly honorable characters on the series, which made it that much more gut-wrenching.
- Charlie Harper, "Two and a Half Men"
The eighth season of "Two and a Half Men" was cut short while Charlie Sheen began a stint in rehab, but he was soon fired after making unflattering remarks about series creator Chuck Lorre. His absence from the ninth season was explained in the premiere, when it was revealed that his character, Charlie Harper, was unceremoniously pushed in front of a train.
- Adriana La Cerva, "The Sopranos"
We all know what happens to rats in mob movies, so it was obvious that Adriana La Cerva had to die for leaking info to the FBI. Still, the way it played out was heartbreaking. Once Tony Soprano got wind of Adriana's betrayal, he tricked her into thinking her fiance Christopher had tried to kill himself. Tony's cohort Silvio picked up Adriana under the guise of bringing her to the hospital, but instead drove her into the woods, dragged her from the car and shot her. (The actual death scene is a little too upsetting and vulgar to post here, so please enjoy Adriana's last moments with Christopher instead.)
- Eddie LeBec, "Cheers"
Cantankerous cocktail waitress Carla Tortelli had several suitors throughout the course of "Cheers," but none left the series as gruesomely as Eddie LeBec. LeBec was a hockey player who was dropped by the Boston Bruins and had to settle for a job as a mascot, but he was killed off-screen when a Zamboni ran him over. (Some sources, including actor Jay Thomas, who played LeBec, believe that the character was killed off because Thomas had made negative remarks concerning co-star Rhea Perlman on his radio show). In fact, a band named the Zambonis wrote a song about LeBec's death:
- Dr. Robert Romano, "ER"
Robert Romano was the character fans loved to hate on "ER," so some viewers found it oddly satisfying when he lost his arm in a helicopter accident during season nine. In season ten, he escorted a new doctor to the helipad area on the roof of the hospital, where an emergency chopper was waiting to transport a patient. The sights and sounds sent Romano into a panic attack, so he excused himself to the ground floor's outdoor ambulance bay. Just as Romano was regaining his composure, the emergency helicopter buckled in the wind several stories above and came crashing down on his head.
- Rosalind Shays, "L.A. Law"
Not many TV characters made an exit like abrasive attorney Rosalind Shays of "L.A. Law." Shays joined the firm of McKenzie, Brackman, Chaney and Kuzak during the show's fourth season, but during the fifth, she walked into an empty elevator shaft and fell to her death.
- Rita Morgan (née Bennett), "Dexter"
Violent deaths weren't so rare on the Showtime drama "Dexter," especially since the title character was himself a serial killer. Still, most of his murders were reserved for deserved victims, so it was a surprise for both him and viewers when his innocent wife Rita was targeted by a madman. Dexter dispatches of this fellow serial killer in the fourth season finale, but returns to his home to discover that his efforts came too late: In the final scene, Dexter finds his lifeless wife in their bathtub, with their infant son crying on the floor in a pool of her blood.
- Chuckles the Clown, "The Mary Tyler Moore Show"
The main characters on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" worked for a news program on WJM-TV in Minneapolis, but the station also ran a children's show starring Chuckles the Clown. And although he rarely appeared on camera, Chuckles and his several TV personas (Aunt Yoo Hoo, Peter Peanut) were often referred to throughout the show's seven seasons. But when Chuckles was accidentally killed by an elephant during a parade (he was dressed as Peter Peanut and the elephant tried to shell him), the news team had trouble keeping a straight face — especially Mary, who laughed through his eulogy.
Still reeling from any other shocking TV deaths? Let us know in the comments.