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Old 12-07-2014, 11:48 AM
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What was the most shocking turn on series TV? [LOTS OF OPEN SPOILERS -- edited title]


These days, it's almost impossible for a television show to have a surprise turn without it being telegraphed - f'rex, everyone knew that someone was going to die in the last episode of Walking Dead; the only surprise was who, and to a lesser extent, how and why.

Which got me thinking: was was the most shocking, unexpected, upsetting, game-changing, show-changing turn in a television series? What event (probably a death) completely gobsmacked the audience and the world of casual viewers?

It's probably not THE the, but an example would be the death of Ed Coffey on Hill Street Blues. IIRC, it was almost a throwaway moment in the tag - the storyline was wrapped up, all was well, he tells Lucy he's going to grab a pack of smokes... and walks in on a robbery, only to get blown backwards through the door. Roll credits. No clue, no setup, no hit in the (pre-internet) press that I recall... just a Steven Bochco punch in the face.

What tops that?

ETA: I'd exclude cliffhangers like the HSB story arc about Howard being suicidal, which went black on a terrifying moment, but was resolved. It has to be an actual event or happening that was unforeseen.

Last edited by twickster; 12-08-2014 at 05:50 PM. Reason: added spoiler warning to thread title
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Old 12-07-2014, 11:50 AM
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The death of Henry Blake in MASH was hugely shocking to people as I recall. The elevator drop in "LA Law" was also a big shock for viewers...
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Old 12-07-2014, 12:00 PM
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The death of Henry Blake in MASH was hugely shocking to people as I recall.
I'd forgotten that. We may have a winner in one. (But let's keep playing...)

Quote:
The elevator drop in "LA Law" was also a big shock for viewers...
Eh. Minor character who came into the series late - a bit of a shocking turn but not on the scale of these first two.
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Old 12-07-2014, 12:10 PM
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Tessa NoŽl's death in The Darkness episode of Highlander.


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Old 12-07-2014, 12:14 PM
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Buffy's mom.
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Old 12-07-2014, 12:16 PM
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Only speaking for myself, of course, but Ned Stark's death-by-beheading in Game of Thrones shocked the right shit out of me.
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Old 12-07-2014, 12:19 PM
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And from a historical perspective (so I've been told/read), Tony Soprano - the protagonist of the series The Sopranos - killing a man with his own two hands.
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Old 12-07-2014, 12:21 PM
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Mrs. Landingham on West Wing.

And, seconding Buffy's mom.
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Old 12-07-2014, 12:25 PM
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The elevator drop in "LA Law" was also a big shock for viewers...
I liked that because it was completely unexpected. NBC usually gives away any big event in the commercials and previews but didn't in that case. Another where they surprised me was the disarming of Dr Romano on ER (and then again his later death).
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Old 12-07-2014, 12:27 PM
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Another where they surprised me was the disarming of Dr Romano on ER (and then again his later death).
Yeah, there was one man who really should have been in a career which didn't interact with helicopters that much...
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Old 12-07-2014, 12:28 PM
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Claire giving Briscoe a ride home on Law and Order.
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Old 12-07-2014, 12:30 PM
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Which reminds me...ER again. Lucy and Carter being attacked by that patient, and Lucy's death from it.
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Old 12-07-2014, 12:35 PM
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Which reminds me...ER again. Lucy and Carter being attacked by that patient, and Lucy's death from it.
Yeah, that was something - especially in the reactions of Benton, Romano, and Weaver.

In the opening episode of "Twin Peaks" the death of Laura Palmer isn't a shock, of course, but the reactions of the people in the town were shockingly raw - this isn't just a death to give the detective something to investigate, it's a violation that wreaks havoc in the lives of everyone around Laura
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Old 12-07-2014, 12:41 PM
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Lady Margery booking passage on the Titanic when she was going to visit her daughter, on Upstairs, Downstairs. That show usually used foreshadowing, and there was none here-- well, we were left to wonder whether Lady Margery would be among the survivors, but that it was the right year, and the HMS Titanic would be the obvious ship for her to take when she was planning her trip slipped viewers minds.

I actually don't think that beats "Abyssinia, Henry," but if we were making a list, it'd be in the top 10.
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Old 12-07-2014, 12:43 PM
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Post internet, the latest big "shock" I can recall is the Red Wedding in GOT. There was a lot of videos recording people's reactions to that episode.

Pre internet? Mmmmh... Before my time, but I always hear about Bobby Ewing's sudden resurrection in Dallas as the biggest WTF moment in TV history.
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Old 12-07-2014, 01:00 PM
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I'll go with the final moments of the season 1 finale of Battlestar Galactica, which, even though it aired nearly ten years ago now, I'll still put in spoiler tags;

SPOILER:
Boomer, who has come to suspect that she is a Cylon and unsuccessfully attempted suicide after coming to that conclusion, is sent on a mission to plant a nuke onboard a Cylon basestar and destroy it. While setting up the nuke, she encounters multiple copies of herself, proving her suspicions, but nonetheless carries out her duties and arms the nuke, fleeing as the basestar is destroyed. Upon returning to Galactica just after Adama executes a coup d'ťtat and abolishes the civilian government of the fleet, she meets him in CIC, where he shakes her hand and congratulates her on executing her mission.

Then she draws her sidearm and shoots him in the heart.
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Old 12-07-2014, 01:09 PM
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In the pilot episode of The Shield (from wikipedia):

Eighteen months into the "Farmington Project", Detective Vic Mackey and his Strike Team prepare to take down a major drug dealer who has never before been caught with product. Meanwhile, following a homicide, Detectives Wyms and Wagenbach discover that a child is missing, sold to a pedophile by her drug-addicted father. Captain David Aceveda installs Detective Terry Crowley as a new member of the Strike Team in order to have an inside man to root out their corruption. The episode ends with Mackey taking the opportunity to kill Crowley during the high risk raid.

Bolded part. That told me this TV show was going to be different.
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Old 12-07-2014, 01:18 PM
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Two network shows recently did a good job of killing a cast member and keeping it secret until it actually aired.

Since their relatively recent and this thread isn't about them specifically I'll spoiler to be safe:

SPOILER:

Person of Interest killing Teraji P. Henson's Detective Carter. They teased that "someone would die" but I don't remember any serious chatter before hand that it would be her.

This season on Bones them killing Sweets came out of left field with no buildup at all.


Wouldn't call them the biggest of all time but with today's modern ability to track things behind the scenes I was impressed both made it to air without being leaked.

Last edited by obfusciatrist; 12-07-2014 at 01:18 PM.
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Old 12-07-2014, 01:22 PM
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I came in to say Romano's arm-chopping scene on ER. I think that was the only time I've ever yelled out "Holy SHIT!" when watching a TV show.
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Old 12-07-2014, 01:22 PM
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Oh, c'mon guys.

"Mr. Worf. Fire."

TO BE CONTINUED

"Dum dum. Dum dum. Dumm dum dum."
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Old 12-07-2014, 02:13 PM
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A lot of people were "shocked," or maybe "pissed off" is a better term, that the killer wasn't revealed at the season finale of the first season of Twin Peaks. Actually, he sorta had been revealed episodes earlier, but not in a way that was acceptable to most audience members, who wanted a more conventional whodunnit.

Anyway, as far as an episode not going in the direction people expected, that one ought to make the list.

I didn't watch the show, but "Who shot JR?" became a catch phrase over the summer, and the first ep. of the following season brought in a lot of new viewers (probably beyond the writers and producers wildest dreams), so as far as an ep. shocking or at least touching people who didn't even watch the show, that one gets special mention. It was actually a news item on the 11pm news that So-and-so shot JR (I don't remember who it was, but I knew at one time).
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Old 12-07-2014, 02:13 PM
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Henry Blake seems to be the best example, but I'd vote for Magnum's death in the
"real" last episode of Magnum PI. I read TV guide, but had no idea that 1) it was the series finale and 2) they were going to kill him off. Quite the shock, especially as my friend asked during the episode if Magnum was going to die, and I said "sill boy, of course not. He's the lead." So it was quite a shock to me.

Of course, then they brought him back to life. Oh well.
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Old 12-07-2014, 02:27 PM
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Didn't Sonny Crockett deliberately blow away an unarmed man in Miami Vice? It's been ages since I watched that show, but IIRC the victim had had Sonny's wife (Sheena Easton) murdered. I remember the whole scene being pretty intense, with a big bang at the end.

It pretty much marked the beginning of Don Johnson's noninvolvement with the series, if I'm not mistaken. (Sonny was put on "indefinite leave" afterwards, or something like that.)
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Old 12-07-2014, 02:39 PM
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So-and-so shot JR (I don't remember who it was, but I knew at one time).
Sue Ellen's hot little sister Kristen (played by Mary Crosby), whom JR had been boning on the side.

Bobby's resurrection wasn't all that unexpected; hell, people disappeared and reappeared all the time in Dallas, even after being presumed dead, and EVERYBODY wanted him to come back. What was so hokey was that they tried to pass the whole previous season (including its cliffhangers) off as just one of Pamela's dreams.

The failed attempt to replace the "presumed dead" Jock Ewing with another actor (Steve Forrest) was an absolute howler! They never did explain that one (though Bobby did finally identify him as an impostor), except for a hint at the beginning of the next season that the guy may be been under the delusion of being Jock Ewing.

I've always been convinced the attempt was real, and it just fizzled out when everyone realized how stupid it was (kind of like everybody, including Francesca, pretending that Frasier's new partner was really Ray at the start of Due South's third season).

Last edited by terentii; 12-07-2014 at 02:40 PM.
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Old 12-07-2014, 02:47 PM
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The biggest twist for me was Lock being revealed to be in a wheelchair at the end of his first major episode of LOST. Great twist and a jaw-dropping moment for my wife and me. We just sat there shocked. Blown away.

Also from LOST, the moment where Desmond actually gets Penny on the phone. We were blown away, in tears, and had been completely manipulated by the writers and show-makers.

Quote:
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Only speaking for myself, of course, but Ned Stark's death-by-beheading in Game of Thrones shocked the right shit out of me.
I had read the book, at had countless others, but I did see my wife's reaction(yep, shocked). The Red Wedding blew it away by a mile, though. My wife was so shocked from the Red Wedding, I had to console her for a good 10-15 minutes.
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Old 12-07-2014, 03:05 PM
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Didn't Sonny Crockett deliberately blow away an unarmed man in Miami Vice? It's been ages since I watched that show, but IIRC the victim had had Sonny's wife (Sheena Easton) murdered. I remember the whole scene being pretty intense, with a big bang at the end.

It pretty much marked the beginning of Don Johnson's noninvolvement with the series, if I'm not mistaken. (Sonny was put on "indefinite leave" afterwards, or something like that.)

A tv drama in which Don Johnson is married to Sheena Easton just about sums up why I hate so many shows of the era.
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Old 12-07-2014, 03:44 PM
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The biggest twist for me was Lock being revealed to be in a wheelchair at the end of his first major episode of LOST. Great twist and a jaw-dropping moment for my wife and me. We just sat there shocked. Blown away.
For me, the shock was when the guy got sucked into the jet engine. I think that was within the first 15 minutes. Whoooooah!
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Old 12-07-2014, 03:53 PM
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I was shocked near the end of the last season of The Wire, but I feel like it's still spoiler-worthy.

SPOILER:
Omar getting popped by the little kid.
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Old 12-07-2014, 03:59 PM
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In the pilot episode of The Shield (from wikipedia):

Eighteen months into the "Farmington Project", Detective Vic Mackey and his Strike Team prepare to take down a major drug dealer who has never before been caught with product. Meanwhile, following a homicide, Detectives Wyms and Wagenbach discover that a child is missing, sold to a pedophile by her drug-addicted father. Captain David Aceveda installs Detective Terry Crowley as a new member of the Strike Team in order to have an inside man to root out their corruption. The episode ends with Mackey taking the opportunity to kill Crowley during the high risk raid.

Bolded part. That told me this TV show was going to be different.
What I came in to say. Completely hooked me from the first episode. Perfect use of music also - I can't hear Bawitdaba without thinking about it. And of course later in the series
SPOILER:
Shane blowing up Lemmy with a hand grenade
.
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Old 12-07-2014, 04:06 PM
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Agreed that the Red Wedding in Game of Thrones and Locke's wheelchair reveal in episode 4 of LOST are good ones.

I thought Jane's death was a big deal in Breaking Bad, in so far as that was not only a shock but a turning point as the final nail in the coffin that turned Walter into a really bad guy. Also, Gus's death was both shocking and epic.

Last edited by cmyk; 12-07-2014 at 04:08 PM.
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Old 12-07-2014, 04:11 PM
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Oh, c'mon guys.

"Mr. Worf. Fire."

TO BE CONTINUED

"Dum dum. Dum dum. Dumm dum dum."
In terms of "turn of events", not even the biggest one in that series, if you ask me.

That would be...
"He is human...and humans have a way of showing up when you least expect them."

My choice: Maddie's miscarriage (if you can call it that, that late in the pregnancy) on Moonlighting - even though TV Guide spoiled it by mentioning it in the next week's issue.
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Old 12-07-2014, 04:15 PM
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Oh, also on Breaking Bad, As for an event, episode six of season one (Crazy Handful of Nothing) when Walt tells Tuco he has one thing wrong: Walt isn't holding crystal meth... BOOM!
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Old 12-07-2014, 04:29 PM
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The Good Wife:

SPOILER:
Will Gardner getting offed in the courtroom.
  #34  
Old 12-07-2014, 04:30 PM
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The Lone Gunmen's deaths on The X-Files. The promos ahead of time said that "a" character would die, so 3 at once was an amazing upset to fans

I think I was most shocked by the death of Karen on John Doe, though
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Old 12-07-2014, 04:30 PM
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The current season of Homeland has been one mindfuck after another. Can't wait for tonight's episode.
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Old 12-07-2014, 04:31 PM
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The death of Henry Blake in MASH was hugely shocking to people as I recall. The elevator drop in "LA Law" was also a big shock for viewers...
I came in to say this. And Buffy's mom.
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Old 12-07-2014, 04:38 PM
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Tessa NoŽl's death in The Darkness episode of Highlander.


I still haven't recovered. Many of us never will.
Richie's (accidental) death at the hands of his long-term mentor was much more shocking, since we had many more seasons for the character in question to "sink into" the minds of viewers.
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Old 12-07-2014, 04:49 PM
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House of Cards
SPOILER:
Zoe's death. I thought she was going to play a large role and be instrumental in bringing Frank down


Homeland
SPOILER:
Brody's death.


Sons of Anarchy
SPOILER:
Tara's death. This probably wouldn't have been as shocking if it weren't such a brutal scene.
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Old 12-07-2014, 04:54 PM
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Serena Sutherland:

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Is this because I am a lesbian?

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Old 12-07-2014, 04:56 PM
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The current season of Homeland has been one mindfuck after another. Can't wait for tonight's episode.
You're gonna be pissed
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Old 12-07-2014, 04:58 PM
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In terms of "turn of events", not even the biggest one in that series, if you ask me.

That would be...
"He is human...and humans have a way of showing up when you least expect them."
Enh. The actress had already been given away by her voice. And I had already figured that Yesterday's Enterprise meant Yar could return to the series. Of course it wasn't Yar.
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Old 12-07-2014, 05:06 PM
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Ari shooting Kaitlin at the end of season 2 of NCIS was a bit of a WTF moment opening the way for Ziva. And director Sheppard a few seasons later which brought us my most disliked character, director Vance.
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Old 12-07-2014, 05:10 PM
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Maude and the t-shirt.
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Old 12-07-2014, 05:26 PM
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In fictional TV, TVLand's 2005 list of most unexpected TV moments were:

The Newhart finale
Bobby Ewing alive on Dallas
Seinfeld, Susan dies from poison stamps
St. Elsewhere finale
ER, Romano meets helicopeter
Henry Blake's death on M*A*S*H

Since Newhart and St. Elsewhere were show finales, they probably don't fit the OP. Of the other three, I don't think anything in "a show about nothing" actually qualifies as
Quote:
the most shocking, unexpected, upsetting, game-changing, show-changing turn in a television series.
In fact, I'd argue Susan's death didn't change the show one bit. Bobby Ewing's resurrection has been discussed and dismissed.

That leaves Romano vs. Blake. I saw both shows the first time they each aired. Romano's accident was certainly shocking, but for stopping the viewers dead in their tracks, discuss the next day at work, total disorientation, emotional wreckage, I don't think anything else ever had that impact, at that time.

Although if Edith Bunker had not escaped her rapist (possibly the most frightening moment on a sitcom ever) or had died during the season on All In the Family, that would be my choice.
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Old 12-07-2014, 06:23 PM
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Well, it leaves Romano vs. Blake, and everything aired after 2005.
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Old 12-07-2014, 06:51 PM
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When Sonny Bono skied into a tree.

Oh, wait . . . .
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Old 12-07-2014, 07:16 PM
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In fact, I'd argue Susan's death [on Seinfeld] didn't change the show one bit.
I have to mildly disagree with you there. The callous manner in which Jerry, Kramer, Elaine, and George reacted to her death was meant to change how the viewers felt about the characters and drive home what truly awful people they really were.
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Old 12-07-2014, 07:18 PM
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Only speaking for myself, of course, but Ned Stark's death-by-beheading in Game of Thrones shocked the right shit out of me.
I agree completely.

Obviously, people who'd read the books (I haven't) knew that was coming, but I NEVER expected a TV series to kill off the star in the first season!
  #49  
Old 12-07-2014, 07:34 PM
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I also gasped when the little girl walked out of the barn in Walking Dead.

I was devastated and did not see it coming at all.
  #50  
Old 12-07-2014, 07:36 PM
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As a long-time Star Trek TOS fan, I eagerly awaited the premiere of Star Trek: TNG. Now, I knew from having read The Making of Star Trek and The World of Star Trek ( heh ) that the upper saucer could detach from the lower hull.

Who the HELL expected it in the opening scenes of the pilot episode ??

To me, shocking and completely delightful. Here's a whole new crew making new use of the ship. COOL !



My first thought was, as it was for many others, Henry Blake's death on M*A*S*H.
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