Last weekend on [that show we won't name here because we've been writing way too much about it] there was a pretty shocking development: one of the -- if not *the* -- main characters of the series was killed off.
Offing a beloved television figure isn't an uncommon tactic (even if most programs wait until two or three seasons in to start swinging the axe, so to speak). Some we saw coming (Dr. Mark Greene in ER, Lem on The Shield) some were mild surprises (Adriana, The Sopranos) and a few were full-on jaw droppers (Col. Henry Blake, everyone). But by and large, those whose deaths we remember were well-liked.
There are exceptions (Locke from Lost, Dr. Romano in ER...man, they killed a lot of people), but looking back at the more notable names, I feel a general sense of remorse. At least, as much remorse as I'm capable of generating for imaginary caricatures passing themselves off as real people.
But you rarely see a show's primary protagonist bite the big one, for what I hope would be obvious reasons. I maintain this is unfair, and would like to rectify that with these suggestions. And a time machine.
The only redeeming quality of the titular Alien Life Form was his propensity for eating cats. Everything else smacked of an episode built around your grandfather bitching about that goddamn Roosevelt. If I'd suspected life on other worlds consisted of crotchety old men, I'd have joined NASA with the express purpose of nuking every M-class planet from orbit. It's the only way to be sure.
Aggravating Factors Mr Tanner bears an uncanny physical (and verbal) resemblance to serial mewler Joe Lieberman.
Method Of Execution: Vivisected by Men in Black at Area 51. Wearing giant cat suits.
This was a little past my time, but I can thank my younger sister and her friends for alerting me to the show's presence. You know a TV series is especially reprehensible when 14-year-old girls hate it. Watching the intro, one couldn't escape that sinking feeling that the '90s were really going to suck.
Aggravating Factors: Joey. Six. The British kid. That "Blossom fashion sense."
Method Of Execution: Suffocated by that goddamned tie skirt.
Arliss Michaels, Arli$$
Seven seasons. HBO axed Deadwood after less than half that many, but Arli$$ remains one of the network's longest running series because a handful of Van Earl Wright fans convinced HBO they'd cancel their subscriptions if the network canceled the show. Well played, liars.
Aggravating Factors: I'm hard pressed to come up with any role Robert Wuhl has played that didn't set my teeth on edge. That's his shtick, and it's worked for him, but as Leon said in Blade Runner, "Time to die."
Method Of Execution: Slow dehydration in a Turkish sauna with Chris Berman, Regis Philbin and Tommy Lasorda.
Mary Richards, The Mary Tyler Moore Show
The sad truth of the matter was that every supporting character on the MTM Show was funnier/more interesting than Mary herself (well, maybe not Gavin MacLeod). The character may have revolutionized the depiction of single women on television, but it's hard to reconcile her alleged spunkiness with the fact that she seemed like she was going to burst into tears ten times an episode.
Aggravating Factors: Who throws a goddamned hat, anyway? Did she just graduate from the Naval Academy? Hey, I'm not alone in this. Just look at those women behind her.
Method Of Execution: Drowning from too much seltzer in her pants.
Nate Fisher Jr., Six Feet Under
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Another HBO series that started strong and sort of lost its way as it went on. Initially a genuinely engaging black comedy, it soon became bogged down in the neuroses of the Fisher family and those in their orbit. None worse than Nate, who managed to turn every other character's crisis into his own personal crucifixion. When his wife died under mysterious circumstances in season 3 (or 4, who knows?), he milked that for the next two years.
Aggravating Factors: He actually died during the show. But it was pretty unsatisfying.
Method Of Execution: If we could get a do-over: buried alive in a shallow grave filled with organic blueberries and copies of William Penn's No Cross, No Crown.