"The Good Wife" and 10 Other Shocking TV Deaths

By Colin Bertram
|  Monday, Mar 24, 2014  |  Updated 1:47 PM CDT
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CBS via Getty Images

From left: Alicia (Julianna Margulies), Will (Josh Charles) and Diane (Christine Baranski) in "The Good Wife"

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Loyal audiences were left stunned following the death of one of the main characters of "The Good Wife" Sunday night.

SPOILER AHEAD!

Attorney Will Gardner was shot by his deranged client during a courtroom scene. Gardner, played by actor Josh Charles, was later pronounced dead in the hospital after viewers were offered, then denied, a glimmer of hope of that he would in fact live.

"The Good Wife" demise is just one in a recent string of shocking TV deaths that have left audiences opened mouth in disbelief and set social media buzzing over the unceremonious exit of one of their favorite characters.

From "House of Cards'" Zoe Barnes encounter with a Washington subway train to Matthew Crawley's surprise exit from "Downton Abbey," and all the way back to the reveal that Dan Connor had in fact passed away on "Roseanne," here are 10 television deaths that still have viewers talking.

"Scandal" - James Novak

"Scandal" stars warned viewers via social media not to miss the first few minutes of Thursday's episode and they weren't kidding: Jake (Scott Foley), head of the top secret spy agancy B-613, shot and killed James Novak (Dan Bucatinsky), the husband of President Grant's chief of staff, in order to prevent him from spilling the beans to the public about Sally (Kate Burton) murdering her husband.

"House of Cards" - Zoe Barnes

Audiences were thrilled when season 2 of the Netflix drama returned on Valentines Day. Pleasure quickly turned to shock and pain when, during the premiere episode no less, Barnes went to meet ex-lover Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) in a shadowy Washington metro station. After agreeing to delete all messages from him on her phone, Underwood pretends to walk away only to circle back and remorselessly push Barnes into the path of an oncoming train.

"Downton Abbey" - Matthew Crawley

As season 3 of the soapy British period drama was drawing to a close, audiences were aglow in the knowledge that happiness had finally found Crawley and his wife Lady Mary thanks to their marriage and the recent birth of their son. A thrilled Matthew rushes home to impart the news of his child to his extended family but is caught off guard by an truck winding its way through the country lane on which he is driving. The season ends with a shot of Matthew in his mangled car, blood pouring down his face. Airing on Christmas night in the UK, viewers were left reeling at the sudden loss.

"Family Guy" - Brian Griffin

For an animated show that revels in tongue-in-cheek violence and often murderous mayhem, the unexpected death (and schmaltzy goodbye) of Griffin family dog and longstanding cast member Brian had audiences and Twitter in an uproar, including petitions for his return. Creator Seth MacFarlane's silence over the demise and the show's swift replacement of Brian with new dog Vinny (Tony Sirico) hinted that something was still afoot in the "Family Guy" realm. And it was. Three weeks later Stewie regained his ability to time travel and Brian was returned to the family fold.

"The Walking Dead" - Lori Grimes

Sure, by the time lead character Rick Grimes' wife Lori bit it (zombie pun intended) early in season three, viewers were up to there with her back-and-forth antics between the husband she thought to be dead and his former police partner Shane. Lori, portrayed by Sarah Wayne Callies, ultimately sacrifices herself for her unborn daughter during an emergency Cesarean Section. But it's not the procedure that kills her. In a monumental twist in a show filled with shockers, Carl (Rick and Lori's pre-teen son) says a final goodbye to his mother before shooting her in the head in order to save her from an undead fate at the hands (and mouths) of the approaching zombies.

"Mad Men" - Lane Pryce

Financial office Lane Pryce (actor Jared Harris) always appeared caught between the stiff upper lip of his British upbringing and the burgeoning excesses of the late 1960s in New York City where he worked as part of the ad agency Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce in the AMC drama series. Pryce stole money from the agency - an act discovered by lead character Don Draper (Jon Hamm) - in order to pay off private debts. Rather than admit to his proper British wife that he had failed in some aspect of his career, he attempts to commit suicide in the Jaguar car she has bought with money they don't have. Cut to a later scene in the office and Joan (Christina Hendricks) attempts to enter Pryce's office after noticing a nasty smell. The other partners eventually bust in, only to find Pryce hanging from his office door alongside a note announcing his resignation.

"The Sopranos" - Adriana La Cerva

The writing was on the wall for Adriana (Drea de Matteo) the minute she admitted to her mobbed-up fiance Christopher (Michael Imperioli) that she had become an FBI informant. Adriana believed a new, safe life awaited the couple in the witness protection program, a plan Christopher eventually agreed to join her in. Soon after, Tony (James Gandolfini) calls Adriana to tell her Christopher has attempted suicide and is the hospital. But when a comrade of her betrothed takes Adriana for a drive into the New Jersey woods rather than to the hospital, viewers knew exactly what side of the family Christopher had ultimately chosen. After attempting to flee, Adriana is dragged from the car and gunned down.

"The Simpsons" - Maude Flanders

Thanks to a target painted on Homer's bare chest in order to score free t-shirts at Springfield's raceway, Maude (wife of evangelical neighbor Ned) is hit with a wayward jersey missile that knocks her from the bleachers into the parking lot below. RIP Maude. Never a key player in the Simpsons universe, Rev. Lovejoy sums ups Maude's contribution to the animated juggernaut in her eulogy: "In many ways, Maude Flanders was a supporting player in our lives. She didn't grab our attention with memorable catchphrases, or comical accents. But, whether you noticed her or not, Maude was always there...''

"Roseanne" - Dan Connor

Just when audiences believed life in the Connor household was getting sunnier thanks to a lottery win for the family, a love match for Jackie, a new baby for Darlene and Dan's (John Goodman) continued recovery from a heart attack, the rug was pulled from beneath viewer's feet. It was all a dream! The storylines were simply figments of Roseanne's (Roseanne Barr) imagination in order to cope with the reality of her life: Dan did in fact die of his heart attack at Darlene's wedding.

"The West Wing" - Mrs Landingham

A steady presence in the whirling corridors of politics, Delores Landingham (played by Katherine Joosten and universally referred to as Mrs Landingham on the show) was President Josiah Bartlet's (Martin Sheen) personal secretary and surrogate big sister throughout the the first two seasons of the hit NBC series. Mrs Landingham is killed by a drunk driver while driving herself to the White House to show the President her new car. A request made directly from the Oval Office. Her death deeply affected the President, not to mention the viewers who had come to see Landingham as one of the few people the President had complete faith in.

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