NEW YORK -- Viewers of "The Good Wife" were gobsmacked by the sudden, unexpected death of its dashing attorney, Will Gardner, on Sunday's episode of the CBS legal drama.
Gardner, a prominent character portrayed by Josh Charles since the series' debut five seasons ago, was gunned down in a Chicago courtroom by his unhinged client. He was pronounced dead shortly afterward.
Once the episode had aired, Twitter lit up with astonished, sorrowful and even irate posts.
One viewer called for a group hug, while another issued a plea for a counselor to treat jolted fans. Yet another viewer expressed hope that, as with "Dallas" long ago in revealing Bobby Ewing's death to be only a dream, "The Good Wife" would find Gardner stepping out of his shower next week, alive and well.
Other viewers vowed never to watch the show again, as payback.
Gardner was a rival lawyer and former lover of the character played by series star Julianna Margulies.
His death and Charles' decision to exit the show had been well-guarded secrets. Charles, who entered the series with a four-year contract, opted not to re-up when it expired after last season, according to his publicist.
Charles' past TV work includes the ABC dramedy series "SportsNight" and a season playing a client of therapist Gabriel Byrne on the HBO drama "In Treatment."