Frank and Claire Underwood return for more deliciously twisted schemes tomorrow (March 4) when House of Cards season four hits Netflix in its entirety. Just what will Frank do after Claire left him at the end of season three? All we know is that when it comes to House of Cards, we never know what to expect.
From shock deaths to a surprise mnage trois via friendship betrayals, House of Cards has had us glued to the screen throughout. And to celebrate its return, weve looked back through the past three seasons to find the 15 most shocking moments from the show to date.
15. Frank becomes President
Episode: Chapter 26 - S2.13
Moment: Poor President Walker (Michel Gill). At the end of season two, he realises that Frank (Kevin Spacey) has been anything but his friend and, facing impeachment over his connection to China, Walker is forced to resign. Enter President Underwood.
Why its shocking: Sure, we all knew that Frank wanted the presidency, but the manner he goes about it is cold even by his standards. President Walkers only flaw is hes too trusting and Frank makes him pay remorselessly. No democracy here, just Franks machinations. And it leads to a seriously cool final shot as Frank does his trademark ring double-tap on the Oval Office desk.
14. Fathers Day
Episode: Chapter 7 - S1.07
Moment: Frank pays a visit to journalist Zoes (Kate Mara) apartment on Fathers Day and then, as you do, performs oral sex on her as shes on the phone to her dad. Franks closing remark? Arent you gonna wish me a Happy Fathers Day? Shudder.
Why its shocking: Arguably one of the most disturbing sex scenes ever put on screen, its a moment thats hard to shake. The inherent creepiness of the context and the innuendo (Im gonna try to come) just works horrifyingly well together. We feel dirty just writing about it.
13. Claires surprise for Steve
Episode: Chapter 6 - S1.06
Moment: After learning their former bodyguard Steve (Chance Kelly) has cancer, Claire (Robin Wright) visits him in hospital where he reveals hes always loved her. To reciprocate, Claire shows her disdain for him by giving him a hand under the covers.
Why its shocking: If Fathers Day oral sex wasnt bad enough, how about a forced hospital pleasuring? If we werent aware before, this eye-opening moment shows Claire is every bit as dark as Frank and showcases just how perfect they are for each other. Disturbing on every level.
12. Frank spits on a crucifix
Episode: Chapter 30 - S3.04
Moment: Unhappy with a bishop telling him that theres no such thing as absolute power, Frank asks for a moment alone. He then proceeds to stare out Jesus before stating, Love, thats what youre selling? I dont buy it. And then spits on the crucifix.
Why its shocking: Once youve urinated on your fathers grave, we guess a bit of sacrilegious spit isnt that big of a deal. Perhaps the most shocking bit comes when it seems Frank has an moment of regret. One that soon passes after the crucifix comes crashing to the ground, leading Frank to pick up a piece and claim, Ive got Gods ear, now.
11. Xander Fengs introduction
Episode: Chapter 18 - S2.05
Moment: Chinese businessman Xander Feng (Terry Chen) has some decidedly kinky sexual preferences. Strapped to a bed with a plastic bag over his head, hes receiving oral sex from a man and a woman when we first meet him.
Why its shocking: Talk about an attention-grabbing introduction. Feng would go on to play an unwitting role in the downfall of President Walker, and this was certainly a daring way for him to enter House of Cards. It was clearly just for the shock factor, as it was never brought up again throughout his run on the show.
10. Frank turns on Freddy
Episode: Chapter 22 - S2.09
Moment: After his friendship with Freddy (Reg E. Cathey) was leaked to the media to smear Frank, he cuts ties with the restaurant owner. The media attention also leads to Freddy losing his restaurant after a franchising deal fell through.
Why its shocking: Were down with most of Franks evil ways, but this was just unforgivable. The shock comes from how easily Frank turns against Freddy when hes a risk to him and while Frank tries to make up for it in season three, the damage has been done. A man who makes delicious barbecue ribs deserves better.
9. Rachel attacks Doug
Episode: Chapter 26 - S2.13
Moment: Doug Stampers (Michael Kelly) weakness when it came to Rachel Posner (Rachel Brosnahan) also proved to be his downfall. Fearing for her life, Rachel escapes into the woods and when Doug comes looking, she ferociously attacks him with a rock.
Why its shocking: If anyone was going to die in those woods, it was surely going to be Rachel, but she had other ideas and her actions left us aghast. Our final shot of Doug in season two is of his seemingly lifeless body. Had Frank lost his closest ally? We had no idea back then.
8. Frank mercy kills a dog
Episode: Chapter 1 - S1.01
Moment: The very first scene of the entire series saw Frank and Steve dash out of the house after hearing an accident. They discover an injured neighbours dog who Frank then strangles as an act of mercy.
Why its shocking: A perfect introduction to Frank and his fourth wall-breaking ways and its probably the kindest thing hes done throughout the show. Its the calmness with which he carries out the deed that unnerves us the most. There, no more pain, he concludes, and one of TVs greatest anti-heroes has arrived.
7. Claires TV interview
Episode: Chapter 17 - S2.04
Moment: After revealing to Frank that she was raped by General McGinnis (Peter Bradbury), Claire takes part in a live TV interview where she admits she had been raped and that she had an abortion as a result of it.
Why its shocking: A perfect example of how Claires Machiavellian ways more than match Franks. Shes telling the truth that shes had an abortion and that she had been raped by the General, but we know that the two arent linked. With one falsified revelation, she turns a potentially calamitous situation for the Underwoods into a genius political move. Bravo.
6. Corrigan hangs himself
Episode: Chapter 32 - S2.06
Moment: The Underwoods travel to Russia attempting to free Michael Corrigan (Christian Camargo), arrested for campaigning for gay rights. To get him to read a Russian-written statement, Claire stays in Corrigans cell where, while she sleeps, he hangs himself with her scarf.
Why its shocking: The stark picture that awaits Claire when she wakes up is bad enough, but its the dramatic impact that Corrigans actions have that increases its power. As a result, Claire publicly denounces the Russian president which, in turn, kickstarts the breakdown of her relationship with Frank in one cutting remark: I should never have made you President.
5. Claire leaves Frank
Episode: Chapter 39 - S3.13
Moment: After an explosive argument during which Claire tells Frank its you thats not enough, Claire packs up and announces that shes not going to New Hampshire with Frank and walks out of the White House.
Why its shocking: Despite all their troubles throughout season three, we still never expected the Underwoods to split but when it happens, Claire does it in style. No long speeches, just three simple words - Im leaving you - and a commanding walk out of the room. You go, girl.
4. Meechum threesome
Episode: Chapter 24 - S2.11
Moment: At the end of a shift as the head of Claires security detail, Edward Meechum (Nathan Darrow) accidentally cuts his hand and Claire bandages him up. They get drunk and when Frank walks in, one thing leads to the other and they end up in bed together.
Why its shocking: Were already aware that Frank was bisexual after a visit to his college back in season one, yet this doesnt mean were expecting him to have some fun times with Meechum. Its one of the most talked-about moments of season two, ironic really given that it all transpires with minimal dialogue.
3. Doug kills Rachel
Episode: Chapter 39 - S3.13
Moment: Having recovered from his attack at the end of season two, Doug tracks down Rachel in New Mexico where he kidnaps her. However, Rachel seemingly talks him out of killing her and he lets her go, only to turn back around and finish the job.
Why its shocking: Its arguably more shocking given we dont actually see the act take place, cutting straight from the grim realisation on Rachels face to Doug covering her face with dirt. Its a shattering moment as Doug finally does what Frank would have wanted him to do back in season one. And all to someone who didnt deserve it.
2. Peter Russos death
Episode: Chapter 11 - S1.11
Moment: Having been tempted to drink again by Frank (via Rachel), Peter Russo (Corey Stoll) screws up his chance of being Governor. To stop him confessing to his crimes, hes driven back to his apartment by Frank who leaves the car running after Peter falls asleep, suffocating him.
Why its shocking: When it comes to innocent victims, Rachel has got nothing on Peter. Sure, he had his alcohol and drug issues, but its Frank that mercilessly exploits them to his own gain, pushing him to the brink before Frank decides to give him that one last push. Its a heartbreaking end and, if he wasnt already, marked Frank out as an utter bastard.
1. Zoe Barnes meets train
Episode: Chapter 14 - S2.01
Moment: Meeting at a train station, Zoe agrees to a "fresh start" to her relationship with Frank. However, she continues to press about Peter Russo's death and Frank decides to push her in front of an oncoming train.
Why its shocking: People who had seen the British version of House of Cards would have seen it coming, but no-one else would have. For one, Mara was one of the major stars of the series, and it was only the first episode of season two. The brutal, abrupt fashion had us - and likely all viewers - gasping at the screen. It's not just House of Cards' most shocking moment, it's one of TV's most shocking deaths ever.