Like all TV seasons, this past one has been filled with a lot of deaths. It’s not that odd that major characters get killed off in surprising ways but there was something about the deaths in the 2016-2017 TV season that were particularly shocking. While most of these demises occurred during, or right before, May Sweeps — otherwise known the perfect time for your favorite TV character to die — they are not contained to just that time period. TV spread the bloodiness around all year. Here are nine of the most shocking TV deaths from this past season.
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9. Glenn on The Walking Dead
There was so much speculation riding on who Negan was going to kill in the season 7 premiere of The Walking Dead that nearly every option was discussed during hiatus. Still, The Walking Dead managed to deliver on their promise of a shocking season opener by killing off Abraham first and then having Negan turn his wrath on Glenn. It wasn’t the most shocking option, clearly, but it was but a bit of a gut punch to Walking Dead viewers who assumed that only one character would meet the end of Negan’s bat.
8. Luna on The 100
Luna exited The 100 in a bloodbath of an episode in which three major characters were killed off. While Ilian and Roan’s deaths were heavily foreshadowed, Luna’s came as a huge shock. Luna was built up as a major character in season 3 and the beginning of season 4. Yet Luna still went out in the huge battle royal of “Die, All Merrily.” While understandable from a story perspective, it still hurt, which is a big deal considering how often The 100 loves to swing the axe down on its characters.
7. Stefan on The Vampire Diaries
It was almost a given that at least one major character was going to die on The Vampire Diaries series finale but for it to be Stefan still came a surprise. If one Salvatore brother was obviously slated for a redemptive martyr role it was Damon. For most of the series finale, it even looked like Damon was going to make the ultimate sacrifice until Stefan switched with him at the last moment. It was a hard pill to swallow as Stefan had just got married and was probably the happiest he had ever been, but it was an emotionally effective way to end the series.
6. Liz on Scandal
Scandal ended season 6 with a cavalcade of bodies falling in Olivia’s wake but Liz was the first real shock. Frankie Vargas’ assassination was surprising and was the metaphorical domino that started all the craziness of season 6 but Liz’s brutal murder came almost completely out of nowhere. While all the other Scandal exits in season 6 were from guest stars or recurring actors, Portia di Rossi as Liz was a series regular. That contract (mostly because Portia wanted to leave the show) didn’t stop Liz from getting her brains bashed in by Mellie’s “benefactors.” Somehow Liz’s death was even more alarming an orchestrated death than Frankie’s assassination.
5. Cottonmouth on Luke Cage
Before he won his well-deserved Oscar for Moonlight, Mahershala Ali turned in a magnificent performance on Netflix’s Luke Cage. Ali’s villain Cottonmouth was terrifying, charismatic and a great flamboyant foil for the stoic Luke Cage. Yet about halfway through the first season, Cottonmouth was suddenly killed off and a new villain, Diamondback made his appearance. The second half of Luke Cage season 1, without Cottonmouth, was noticeably weaker and was probably a mistake. This doesn’t stop Cottonmouth’s demise from being one of the most jaw-dropping deaths of the TV season.
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4. Malcolm Merlyn on Arrow
The original Arrow villain, Malcolm Merlyn, has survived so much. He went from Oliver Queen’s archnemesis to quasi-ally through the course of a five-season journey and even turned into a time traveling supervillain somewhere in between it all. So it came as a huge shocker when in the Arrow season 5 finale Malcolm made the selfless move of sacrificing himself to save his daughter. It didn’t redeem the character at all but it was an outrageous, if welcome, move for Malcolm to finally do something for more than himself.
3. Michael on Jane the Virgin
The Jane the Virgin season 2 finale offered a helluva cliffhanger by having Jane’s new husband Michael be tragically shot outside their honeymoon suite. The season 3 premiere showed that Michael survived but it wasn’t for long. About halfway through Jane the Virgin season 3, Michael suddenly died from a heart attack as an underlying side effect of his gunshot wound. It arrived completely out of the blue when most Jane the Virgin viewers assumed Michael would be safe. Michael’s death ushered in a huge time jump in the middle of the season as the show had to introduce a rapidly different world without him in it. Some fans might not enjoy the new-ish Jane the Virgin as much but the shock of Michael’s death demanded a change in circumstance.
2. Rayna James on Nashville
There was writing on the wall that Connie Britton was leaving Nashville in the move to CMT. Yet Britton assured fans she was sticking around till the end but she really just meant the end of her character. Shortly into Nashville‘s revival, Connie Britton, arguably the lead of the show, was suddenly killed off in a car accident. It was tragic, heartbreaking and a complete surprise, even with all the rumors circulating that Britton wanted to move on from the show. Rayna’s death isn’t the first time that a TV show has killed off its main character but it was one of the most effective uses of the trope.
1. Crowley on Supernatural
Crowley wasn’t the lead of the show on which he was killed off but in the case of Supernatural, that makes his death even more shocking. The main leads of Supernatural, Sam and Dean, have died dozens of times so any death they suffer always feels more like an obstacle than an end to their characters. Crowley’s story, on the other hand, came to an incredible end in a particularly bloody two-part season 12 finale for Supernatural. Crowley sacrificed himself to save the world and in doing so gave a character who began the series as villain the death of a hero. It was just as fitting an end to Crowley as it was shocking.
So what was the most shocking death of this TV season for you? Who were you most surprised to see kick the bucket this season? Did we miss any major shocking deaths? Which of these deaths shocked you the most?
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(Images courtesy of Netflix, The CW and AMC)