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updated: 8/3/2014 10:00 PM

TV deaths that made us cheer, not cry

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  • Gustavo "Gus" Fring (Giancarlo Esposito), right, shocked Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul), Mike Ehrmantrout (Jonathan Banks) and Walter White (Bryan Cranston) with what he did with a box cutter in this episode of "Breaking Bad." Gus would be the shocked one just a few episodes later.

      Gustavo "Gus" Fring (Giancarlo Esposito), right, shocked Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul), Mike Ehrmantrout (Jonathan Banks) and Walter White (Bryan Cranston) with what he did with a box cutter in this episode of "Breaking Bad." Gus would be the shocked one just a few episodes later.

  • Video: Rosalind takes a tumble

  • Video: Dr. Romano and the helicopter

 
 

Last Sunday's episode of HBO's "Game of Thrones" did the unthinkable and united the Internet commentariat in joyous jubilation -- and did so by killing off a character. (No name given here, spoilerphobes.)

The death of a major or recurring character is the ultimate shock tactic in television, and rarely is such a death met with celebration. But viewers did not shed a tear for any of these demises (OK, now you should beware of spoilers):

• "24" -- Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) blew away a lot of bad guys in the eight original seasons of Fox's real-time action show, but it took him three seasons to finally pull the trigger on Nina Myers (Sarah Clarke). Nina was Jack's right-hand woman -- and extramarital partner -- in Season 1, but is revealed to be a mole before the final episode, in which she kills Jack's wife, Teri (Leslie Hope). Nina ultimately met her fate in Season 3, Episode 14, in the very same spot where she killed Teri.

All eight seasons of "24" are available for streaming to Amazon Prime members, and on DVD. A new 12-episode miniseries, "24: Live Another Day," begins May 5 on Fox.

• "Breaking Bad" -- A mild-mannered chicken restaurant operator by day, ruthless drug lord by night. Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito) was, in many ways, an equal to protagonist Walter White (Bryan Cranston), and if "Breaking Bad" had been a story about a fast-food manager who turns to selling drugs instead of a chemistry teacher who turns to selling drugs, he could have been our anti-hero. But in Walt's world, Gus was the ultimate baddie -- and his spectacular, explosive death in Season 4's final episode was the kind of moment that left you laughing and clapping in disbelief. (The episode was called "Face Off" for a reason.)

"Breaking Bad" is streaming on Netflix and available on Blu-ray and DVD.

• "ER" -- It is ironic and perhaps a bit perverse that a show about people saving lives in a Chicago hospital would give us such a satisfying character death, but no one -- not even the characters on the show -- was sad to see loudmouth jerk Dr. Robert Romano (Paul McCrane) die when a crashing helicopter(!) fell on top of him in Season 10's "Freefall." (Mind you, this is the same character who lost an arm to a helicopter blade on the hospital's helipad just one season earlier.)

The 15 seasons of NBC's landmark show are available on DVD and VOD services.

• "L.A. Law" -- Fresh off her one-season stint as the Enterprise's cranky Dr. Pulaski on "Star Trek: The Next Generation," Diana Muldaur joined David E. Kelley's lawyer dramedy in 1989 as the loathsome Rosalind Shays. She was unceremoniously offed in a Season 5 episode entitled "Good to the Last Drop" -- her character stepped into an elevator shaft after a confrontation with boss/lover Leland McKenzie (Richard A. Dysart). At least Muldaur got two Emmy nominations for her troubles.

(And no, I'm not too young to remember this; I saw Rosalind's tumble when it first aired! Along with "St. Elsewhere," "L.A. Law" was one of the "grown-up shows" I watched with mom and dad every week.)

"L.A. Law" was just released on DVD in America for the first time in February; only Season 1 is available so far.

Am I missing anybody? Let me know online in the comments. I can think of a couple castaways on a magical island that might belong on this list ...

• Sean Stangland is a Daily Herald copy editor and a tireless consumer of pop culture. You can follow him on Twitter at @SeanStanglandDH.

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