Look, no eastenders..
Ever since J.R. got shot television producers have been using shocking violent and tragic deaths to boost the ratings. For truly great shows the deaths are often just an inevitable by-product of their realistic approach or refusal to compromise or sugar coat things. Sometimes the deaths are schmaltzy or lead to lingering tribute sequences, sometimes they are more to do with writing an actor out of a series and sometimes they hit you in the face like an unexpected shovel. Here are the deaths that floored me with increasing intensity as the list goes on.
Be warned this article is filled with spoilers.
Edgar in 24Edgar Styles in 24
He was chubby and loveable as the computer geek sidekick to Chloe and it seemed as though he was destined to be a permanent fixture in CTU. Edgar met his demise when he went to check on a colleague and didn’t make it back to the situation room in time. With everything locked down Chloe could only watch as he succumbed to nerve gas and choked his last breath with her name on his lips.
Charlie in LostCharlie in Lost
Desmond’s visions of the future led to the death of Charlie, one of the original characters in Lost and easily the most likeable and well rounded of the bunch. His back story as a successful musician who fell to heroin addiction and then his fight to get clean and care for Claire and her baby was well acted. His eventual demise was definitely milked by the makers of the show but it was tough not to be affected by his sacrifice in the underwater station and his posthumous letter.
Crosetti in HomicideCrosetti in Homicide: Life on the Street
The bald, tubby, moustachioed homicide cop with a Lincoln obsession, Steve Crosetti was partnered with Meldrick Lewis in Homicide: Life on the Street. He was an important fixture in the squad room as one of the veteran detectives. He was one of my favourite characters for the first two series, fighting for the blinded patrolman Thormann and putting down several murders. Sadly near the start of season three his body washed up and it turned out he had committed suicide driving Meldrick into a terrible emotional state which was powerfully acted and really upsetting.
Bodie The WireBodie in The Wire
He started out as a teenage drug slinger working for the Barksdales at the low rise projects. Hot headed and full of attitude Bodie was a true product of his environment and his slide into full time criminal activity seemed inevitable and impossible for him to resist. He did his best to keep his head above water and emerged as a fairly successful small time player with a corner of his own but when Marlo’s crew spotted him talking to McNulty they got the wrong idea. Bodie was shot in the back of the head while standing on his corner. His refusal to back down, a trait he learned the hard way, was ultimately his undoing.
Lem in The ShieldLem in The Shield
Curtis Lemansky or Lem, as he was called by his strike team buddies, was the unlikely good guy in the miscreant squad. He seemed to genuinely care about people and allowed himself to be pulled into various evil schemes by Vic and the gang out of a sense of loyalty. He was never aiming to make a fortune and his burning of the money train cash as an attempt to protect the others was a clear proof of that. His constitution couldn’t handle the nefarious schemes and when he became increasingly unbalanced Shane decided to take matters into his own hands and dropped a grenade in his lap. Lem just looked at him quizzically in a totally heart breaking scene.
Chris in The SopranosChristopher Moltisanti in The Sopranos
It was inevitable that characters would drop like flies towards the end of The Sopranos as Tony’s criminal empire started to fall apart but the death of Chris was unnecessarily nasty. Tony took the dim-witted Chris under his wing and trained him up into gangster material. Chris struggled with drug addiction and despite being completely loyal to Tony he had a habit of being unreliable. In the final series Chris crashes the car with Tony in the passenger seat. As he pleads for help worried about a drug driving conviction Tony decides to seize the chance to rid himself of the burden and suffocates Chris with his hand. Tony Soprano was a seriously nasty piece of work but it was only really this murder that made me stop rooting for him.
Adebisi in OzAdebisi in Oz
The guy you would least like to have as your cell mate, Adebisi was a seriously scary bully and one of the most dangerous characters in a prison wing filled with violent criminals. He was in for beheading a cop and despite heroin addiction and a touch of insanity he rose to rule the drug trade in Emerald City. He made so many enemies along the way it was a constant mystery how long he would be able to get away with it but his diabolical scheming was frighteningly successful. Rising through the ranks he begins to stir up racial hatred and tries to seize control of the prison. Eventually the Muslim leader Said is forced to kill him in self defence during a knife fight but even in death the corrupting influence of Adebisi is felt. It was a shocking moment when he emerged from his cell apparently victorious only to cough up blood and fall down dead.
Omar in The WireOmar in The Wire
The only show to get two deaths on the list but Omar had to be in the top spot. The stick up boy who made the drug dealers lives a misery is my favourite television character from the last few years. This overtly homosexual, shotgun wielding robber who only targeted drug slingers was absolutely fearless. He evaded police and gangs with ease and operated with impunity growing to become a legend on the streets and a bogeyman for the dealers. His moral code led him into a war against the Barksdale organisation and he somehow emerged victorious. Unfortunately his robbery of Marlo causes the upcoming ruthless scumbag to hold a grudge and Omar, having made good his escape from the streets of Baltimore, is obliged to return. You dare to hope he might emerge victorious but The Wire doesn’t sugar coat anything and Omar ends up shot in the head by a little kid while he buys cigarettes. It was a fitting, inevitable and somewhat poetic end but very hard to take.