Your television screen is spattered with more blood than ever before, what with all the zombies and vampires, meth fiends and Prohibition gangsters who populate our favorite dramas. From the biker treachery of Sons of Anarchy to the boardroom betrayal of Mad Men, it's one big American horror story. Here are 10 of the most brutal, shocking and delectable deaths from the 2012 TV season.
'True Blood': Russell Edgington Stakes Roman Zimojic (Season Five, Episode Six)
Deaths on True Blood are so commonplace, the only way to shock the fans at this point is to kill off a major character as soon as he or she is introduced. That's exactly what happened to megalomaniac vampire Roman Zimojic, whose storyline came to a screeching halt after just five episodes at the hands of the diabolical Russell Edgington – proving once again that no character, however powerful, is safe on this show. This rule of thumb re-emerged at the season's end, when we bade a blood-teared adieu to Russell himself (staked by Eric Northman, settling a 1,000-year grudge), and when, after downing a vial of vampire goddess Lilith's blood, Bill Compton was reborn an indeterminate hybrid the interwebs have unofficially dubbed "Billith."
'Gossip Girl' (The Series)
"You know you love me, XOXO." Oh, but how we did, dear Gossip Girl! Remember when that show was everything? Dan and Serena! Chuck! Blair (and Nate)! Dorota! The Met steps, little J before she became a punk-rock raccoon, and the time when every masked ball, every fundraiser and every champagne brunch felt like it was the place to be, because it was? Those times became a distant memory sometime around 2010, when – seemingly overnight – the show's guilty pleasure appeal became tired and uninspired and we no longer actually cared who was hooking up with whom or when (if) Chuck and Blair would finally play it for keeps. But the CW kept the Josh Schwartz teen show a-churnin' for three more seasons, until, in the spring of 2012, the network finally realized it was time to put the show out of its misery with a half-season order. And so, we raise our glass of champagne to the Upper East Siders. Here's to the good times, despite how long ago they actually were.
'Sons of Anarchy': Saying Goodbye to a 'Son' (Season Five, Episode Three)
There have been plenty of deaths on Sons of Anarchy over the years (see: Piney and Half-Sack), but none shocked fans more than the unexpected demise of Opie, played by Ryan Hurst. The brutal lead-pipe prison beating of the fan favorite left many asking, "Why?" But in the realm of SAMCRO, it was the only way to save Opie's best buddy, Jax, from a similar fate. The onscreen death was compounded by the grisly real-life murder-suicide involving Johnny Lewis, who played the aforementioned Half-Sack, that unfolded just hours after the episode aired. It was a sad example of life imitating art, in the worst possible way.