How could they?!
Game of Thrones may have turned shocking character deaths into an art form, but it's far from the only show to blindside its viewers by offing one of their favourites. After all, Joss Whedon practically revelled in it. But it's far from easy to make a truly memorable shocking death.
Here, we celebrate the shows that did it right and left us staring open-mouthed at our screens. In the case of a few, they even inspired Internet-wide outrage (not that it ever takes that much). We rounded up 20 of the most shocking demises for you to relive and, needless to say, spoilers are ahead.
20. Doyle, Angel
How they died: To save Angel (David Boreanaz) and Cordelia (Charisma Carpenter), half-demon Doyle (Glenn Quinn) sacrifices his own life to disable the Beacon, a machine that could have killed anyone "tainted" with human DNA. He rips out a power cable and gets disintegrated by its energy.
Why it's shocking: By the first season of Angel, we shouldn't really have been shocked by Joss Whedon killing anyone off. But Doyle's death still blindsided us because it happens nine episodes into a season where he's been established as one of the main trio of characters. And we'll never get to know if his demon face was one Cordelia could have learned to love.
19. Ianto Jones, Torchwood
How they died: When aliens called the 456 invade the Earth and demand 10% of the Earth's children, Ianto (Gareth David-Lloyd) and Jack (John Barrowman) confront them in Thames House and refuse to comply. As a result, the 456 unleash a fatal virus as Thames House is locked down and Ianto dies in Jack's arms.
Why it's shocking: Russell T. Davies, you absolute bastard. The third season of Torchwood, Children of Earth, is easily the show's best, and starts by developing the relationship between Ianto and Jack, even introducing Ianto's sister and brother-in-law. So, of course, Ianto is killed off in the fourth episode. David-Lloyd and Barrowman are heartbreaking in the final scene: "Don't forget me." "Never could." We can't either.
18. Brody, Homeland
How they died: After he kills the head of the Revolutionary Guard in Iran, Brody (Damian Lewis) escapes to a safe house with Carrie (Claire Danes). However, CIA asset Majid Javadi (Shaun Toub) arrives after being tipped off by the CIA, arrests Brody who is then found guilty of treason and hanged in a public square.
Why it's shocking: OK, so Brody probably should have died as he was supposed to in Homeland's first season, yet that doesn't make his eventual death any easier. Even when Brody accepts his fate, we still don't expect the hanging to actually happen. It's really the brutal manner of the death that's the most shocking, compounded by the lingering shots of Brody hanging and Carrie looking on helplessly.
17. Adric, Doctor Who
How they died: As Adric (Matthew Waterhouse) is trying to stop a Cyberman-controlled spaceship from crashing into Earth, a dying Cyberman destroys the computer preventing him from doing so. With the Doctor safe on board the TARDIS, Adric dies in the crash.
Why it's shocking: Unlike Clara in the most recent season and other companion "deaths" throughout Doctor Who, Adric is one of the few companions to actually die. And he does so in the most horrifying fashion, trapped on a spaceship that he knows will crash and that he cannot do anything about. Not to mention the fact that he was only a teenager. He may not have been the best companion, but nobody deserves that.
16. Mitchell, Being Human
How they died: After someone else is framed for his massacre of the Box Tunnel 20, Mitchell (Aidan Turner) asks George (Russell Tovey) to kill him. George refuses but when an Old One, Edgar (Lee Ingleby), attempts to recruit Mitchell, George stakes Mitchell.
Why it's shocking: Being Human might have gone on for another two seasons, but this felt like the true finale of the show. The whole of season three was about the prophecy of Mitchell's death, so it's perhaps not shocking in the sense of being unexpected. Many wouldn't have expected it would be George to do it though or that he did it out of love. Tovey and Turner are exceptional and have their own Star Wars moment: "I'm doing this because I love you." "I know."
15. Dee, Battlestar Galactica
How they died: Having reconciled with her estranged husband Lee Adama (Jamie Bamber), Dee (Kandyse McClure) goes to her locker, pulls out a gun and shoots herself.
Why it's shocking: We get it. After spending four seasons searching for Earth, it must be a massive blow to realise it's basically an uninhabitable wasteland. Yet, we still don't expect Dee's drastic solution to this bleak discovery. It's clear from the moment she makes her way to her locker after a night with Lee that something is not quite right. But, even then, that smile blindsides us before the deed is done.
14. Shane, Mara and Jackson Vendrell, The Shield
How they died: Seeing no way out after Vic (Michael Chiklis) threatens him with jail, Shane (Walton Goggins) tricks his wife Mara (Michele Hicks) and son into drinking an overdose of painkillers. As his former colleagues kick down the door to his house, Shane shoots himself.
Why it's shocking: Lem's death in season five at the hands of Shane might be more visceral, but there's no doubt Shane's murder-suicide of his entire family is more shocking. It was highly unlikely he was going to survive the series once he killed Lem; what none of us saw coming was that his family would go with him. And to make it even bleaker, his wife was pregnant.
13. Adriana La Cerva, The Sopranos
How they died: Adriana (Drea De Matteo) decides to tell her fianc Christopher (Michael Imperioli) that the FBI want her to inform on the family. Bad move. He tells Tony (James Gandolfini) who gets Silvio (Steven Van Zandt) to shoot Adriana as she attempts to flee.
Why it's shocking: As soon as she got mixed up with the FBI, Adriana's prospects were bleak. However, against all of our best instincts, we hoped Christopher would stick by his long-term other half. Sadly, it was not to be and, weirdly, the fact that we didn't see her actually die makes it worse. Instead, we're left to picture it ourselves from her cries of distress and two stark gunshots.
12. Rita Morgan, Dexter
How they died: Returning home after murdering the Trinity Killer, Dexter (Michael C. Hall) realises that Trinity had one last kill up his sleeve. After hearing Rita's (Julie Benz) phone ringing on the table, he hears his son crying upstairs and discovers Rita's body in a bloody bathtub.
Why it's shocking: Death was fairly commonplace throughout Dexter, although no other character demise hit as hard as this. What's worse is that it was wholly avoidable if Dexter hadn't toyed with Trinity and just straight-up killed him. We had just started to hope that Dexter would find a happy ending with Rita when we're hit with the horrifying image of her lifeless body in blood-red water. It's an unforgettable ending to season four.
11. Clay, Sons of Anarchy
How they died: Having been broken out of prison transport by Jax (Charlie Hunnam), Clay (Ron Perlman) is taken back to the office where he's gunned down by Jax.
Why it's shocking: It's tough to choose just one major character death from Sons of Anarchy (our heart still bleeds for Opie). We've plumped for Clay's long-deserved demise because it was a major development for the show. In a masterfully-executed sequence, Jax finally gets his vengeance on Clay for all manner of despicable things. It's made more startling by the fact he does so as his wife and mother watches on.
10. Ned Stark, Game of Thrones
How they died: After arriving in King's Landing, Ned Stark (Sean Bean) is arrested for treason after he tries to arrest Cersei (Lena Headey). Despite Ned confessing, King Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) ignores his mother's advice and immediately orders his execution by decapitation.
Why it's shocking: It's a running joke that Bean rarely survives in movies, but maybe things would be different for him on the small screen? After all, he was being championed as one of the main characters in Game of Thrones. Book readers knew differently. The show has more spectacular deaths (The Viper's crushed skull, for one), but none are as clear a statement of intent as this. No one was safe. Oh, and that Joffrey is a right dick.
9. Jane Margolis, Breaking Bad
How they died: Walt (Bryan Cranston) tries to wake Jesse (Aaron Paul) up after he's taken heroin with his girlfriend Jane (Krysten Ritter). However, Walt inadvertently moves Jane onto her back and she suffocates on her own vomit.
Why it's shocking: If we weren't aware that Walt was no longer the mild-mannered science teacher, then the fact that he literally watches Jane die and doesn't save her confirms the fact for us. Sure, Jane makes some mistakes, but it's clear that she and Jesse are in love, and it's a horrific, drawn-out way to go. She's not the only innocent to die during Walt's transformation to Heisenberg, yet Jane's death arguably has the biggest impact on Walt and Jesse.
8. Zoe Barnes, House of Cards
How they died: Meeting at a train station, journalist Zoe (Kate Mara) agrees to a "fresh start" to her relationship with Francis (Kevin Spacey). However, she continues to press about Peter Russo's (Corey Stoll) death and Francis decides to push her in front of an oncoming train.
Why it's shocking: Peter's death in season one may have been more of a gut punch, but there's no beating Zoe's untimely demise for sheer shock. For one, Mara was one of the major stars of the series and it was only the first episode of season two. That it comes about in such brutal, abrupt fashion had us - and likely all House of Cards viewers - gasping at the screen.
7. Lori Grimes, The Walking Dead
How they died: A walker invasion is just about the worst time to go into labour as Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies) discovers. After giving birth via a C-section that she knows she won't survive, Lori dies and to stop her from turning into a zombie, her son Carl (Chandler Riggs) shoots her in the head.
Why it's shocking: Don't get us wrong, we kind of always wanted Lori to die in The Walking Dead given the character's many annoying traits. Yet that doesn't make her eventual death any less shocking, having to sacrifice herself to save her unborn child. The kicker is that Carl (equally as annoying) has to shoot his mother's fresh corpse to stop her getting all bitey. That's got to hurt.
6. Teri Bauer, 24
How they died: Teri (Leslie Hope) picks the wrong time to discover that Nina Myers (Sarah Clarke) is a CTU mole. She ties Teri to a chair while she wipes all evidence of her treachery, before shooting Teri in the stomach and leaving her for Jack (Kiefer Sutherland) to discover.
Why it's shocking: 24 became known for killing off characters with an almost Whedon-like abandon. However, no one was aware of this back in the season one finale. Where most shows would end on a triumphant note, the death of Teri is about as bleak as it gets. It's a gut punch to end a tremendous first season and leads to the show's first iconic silent countdown but, for us, it's not 24's most shocking death. That honour goes to...
5. Ryan Chappelle, 24
How they died: Bio-terrorist Stephen Saunders (Paul Blackthorne) threatens to release a deadly virus unless high-ranking CTU officer Ryan Chappelle (Paul Schulze) is executed. After CTU fails to capture Saunders, Jack Bauer (Sutherland) is forced to kill Chappelle by shooting him in the back of the head.
Why it's shocking: How do you top ending a season with the death of your main character's wife? You get your main character to kill another long-running character in cold blood. It's an astonishing moral dilemma and it's made all the more impactful by the fact that, right up until the last minute, we think Chappelle will be saved. He isn't.
4. Joyce Summers, Buffy the Vampire Slayer
How they died: Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) arrives home after her latest mission to find her mother Joyce (Kristine Sutherland), who had just seemingly beaten cancer, dead on the couch after a sudden brain aneurysm.
Why it's shocking: Arguably, Tara's death was more immediately shocking (especially as Amber Benson had just been added to the opening credits), but Joyce's death impacts more because it's just so ordinary in a show of vampires and demons. Not to mention that it's the sucker punch at the end of one of the show's lighter episodes ('I Was Made to Love You'). That it leads to one of the finest portrayals of grief on screen cements the initial shock.
3. Drew Sharp, Breaking Bad
How they died: Innocently riding his bike one day in the desert, Drew (Samuel Webb) stumbles on Walt (Cranston), Jesse (Paul) and Todd (Jesse Plemons) carrying out a train heist. Despite Drew not knowing the significance of the heist, Todd shoots him dead.
Why it's shocking: Even in a series that blows up characters (hello, Gus!), Drew's death is seriously dark by Breaking Bad's standards. He's just a kid who wanted to collect a tarantula and, for that, he's shot and his body is dissolved in acid so his parents will never know what happened. It's the little wave that gets us the most, closely followed by Jesse's heartbreaking reaction.
2. Omar, The Wire
How they died: While on his mission to kill Marlo (Jamie Hector), Omar (Michael K. Williams) is in a convenience store when Kenard (Thuliso Dingwall), a young boy from a rival drug crew, shoots Omar in the head.
Why it's shocking: From the minute Omar starts his vengeance mission against Marlo, we're aware that he's likely going to his death at some point. But the shock comes from the fact that he doesn't go down in a blaze of bullets and glory, it's just some little upstart who offs him because Omar makes the fatal error of not paying any attention to Kenard. Omar is one of TV's greatest anti-heroes; he didn't deserve to go down like this.
1. The Red Wedding, Game of Thrones
How they died: Where to start? Everything seems fine until the band starts to play ... then Walder Frey (David Bradley) and his men turn on the Starks in bloody fashion, leading to Robb (Richard Madden) getting pierced with arrows and stabbed, his pregnant wife Talisa (Oona Chaplin) getting stabbed in the stomach and his mother Catelyn (Michelle Fairley) having her throat cut.
Why it's shocking: Though it won't have come as a shock to book readers, somehow David Benioff and D.B. Weiss managed to make The Red Wedding even worse on screen. The addition of Robb's pregnant wife (a character created for the TV show) comes as a blow even to those who know what happens when 'The Rains of Castamere' starts up. No punches are pulled in one of TV's most brutal sequences. We still can't get Catelyn's cry of anguish out of our head.