Ever since Brian on Family Guy was killed off (we still don’t know if this is a stunt or a defining change in the show’s history), people have been making lists online of the greatest deaths on TV shows. There’s been a lot of the expected, including Dallas, where Bobby (Patrick Duffy) was killed by a car and then revived one season later as part of a very elaborate dream. There was also Curtis (Kenny Johnson) being blown up by a hand grenade on The Shield, one of those Godfather-like decisions made necessary because of the victim’s insistence on going completely straight. And Adriana’s (Drea de Matteo) death on The Sopranos, revenge for talking to the feds. There was also Rosalind (Diana Muldaur), a very unlikable character on L.A. Law who was suddenly dropped down an elevator shaft. In the 1970s, M*A*S*H shocked audiences by simply killing off Colonel Henry Blake (McLean Stevenson) in an attack on the plane that was supposed to bring him to safety in the U.S.
But I have to say that any list without Falcon Crest is seriously missing out. One of the very best deaths ever on primetime television is when Maggie (Susan Sullivan) went for a swim in the pool and drowned as she got caught in the filter with her wedding ring. At the time she was married to Richard Channing (David Selby), perennial bad guy. Oh, the symbolism. A rare instance of brilliance on a show that was dying.