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Top 10 TV characters' deaths in 2013

From left, Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) and Walter

From left, Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) and Walter White (Bryan Cranston) in a season 5 episode of "Breaking Bad." Credit: AMC

Death, be not proud. Or, on second thought, be proud. Be whatever you like. You never cared what anyone thought, anyway, especially on TV.

And what a TV year for you -- mayhem, destruction, a beheading, a kitchen fork. Your methods, your variety, your sheer virtuosity made 2013 a macabre masterpiece. BuzzFeed, the website, tallied 65 major TV deaths a couple of days ago. It was an incomplete list.

There are all sorts of reasons for the killing (beginning with "violence sells"), but TV also has learned that there's no easier way to galvanize fans than offing a major character.

Today, I rank 10 key deaths, in order of importance. Certain shows don't really count, by the way -- "American Horror Story," for example, where death is cheap, commonplace, and sometimes not even for the whole season.


10. Joss (Taraji P. Henson), "Person of Interest"


IMPORTANCE Henson's Det. Jocelyn Carter -- gunned down protecting Reese (Jim Caviezel) was a shock to "POI" fans who are not accustomed to witnessing the death of a core part of the show's chemistry and formula. Henson had other career plans, so no holiday for death here.


9. Deb Morgan (Jennifer Carpenter), "Dexter"

M.O.D. Shot

IMPORTANCE Showtime wouldn't let producers off Dex (Michael C. Hall), so Next Best Victim, Deb. A bit of a surprise -- yes -- but the show was over, anyway.


8. Walter White (Bryan Cranston), "Breaking Bad"

M.O.D. Shot

IMPORTANCE Expected, or this would rank higher, but the end came to one of the most important characters in TV history.


7. Clay Morrow (Ron Perlman), "Sons of Anarchy"

M.O.D. Multiple gunshots

IMPORTANCE Could and maybe should go much higher here except this ending has been expected for a few seasons. Even so, Perlman was a core asset -- a particularly fine actor who made Morrow vile, depraved, rotten, nasty, and yet . . . strangely human.


6. Hershel Greene (Scott Wilson), "The Walking Dead"

M.O.D. Broadsword to the neck

IMPORTANCE Not Hershel! Good, decent Hershel who saved his people from the plague, who wouldn't even shoot "walkers" at first, because (after all) they are people, too -- albeit dead ones, with just bad eating habits. But gone he is, by the sword of The Governor (David Morrissey) who himself would feel cold steel, too. Big loss.


5. Hank Schrader (Dean Norris), "Breaking Bad"

M.O.D. Gunshot in shootout with the "Nazis"

IMPORTANCE Vast. Hank was the white hat -- the Last Good Guy, who grew in complexity, subtlety, intelligence over five seasons -- arguably more than any other character.


4. Tara Knowles-Teller (Maggie Siff), "Sons of Anarchy"

M.O.D. Kitchen fork

IMPORTANCE More shocking, horrific, perhaps than "important." She was brutally offed by Gemma (Katey Sagal) in a mistaken rampage, thinking she was about to go to the Feds. Tara, a bit like Hank, was one of the good ones, but in "SOA," good-always-dies-young.


3. Richard Harrow (Jack Huston), "Boardwalk Empire"

M.O.D. Shot

IMPORTANCE The most human character on "Empire" and -- getting beyond the fact that he is a ruthless killer -- the most sympathetic. His loss hurts the series in ways stricken fans can't even begin to imagine at this point.


2. Catelyn Stark (Michelle Fairley), "Game of Thrones"

M.O.D. Throat slit

IMPORTANCE Insanely shocking death scene at the infamous "Red Wedding" in a season that also saw the end of her son Robb Stark (Richard Madden). Stark's death would seem to have greater importance, but the "Wedding" shock value was so great that it changed the entire series.


1. Brody (Damian Lewis), "Homeland"

M.O.D. Hanging

IMPORTANCE The most important death of the TV season because this resets "Homeland." The first three seasons are over. A brand new story begins in the fourth.

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