Kiefer Sutherland and Kim Raver
You know that nasty smell permeating throughout TV land? It's most likely the stench of death. As if regular readers of Ask Ausiello needed to be reminded, many of our favorite shows will be bidding permanent farewell to pivotal characters in the coming months — capping a bloody TV season that has already claimed lives on Smallville, Battlestar Galactica, Las Vegas, 24 and Lost. Who's next on the Grim Reaper's hit list? Let's sift through the latest evidence and see if we can ID the victims.

24
The buzz: As exec producer Howard Gordon made pretty clear when I spoke to him in early January, Palmer and Michelle won't be the only 24 MVPs getting clocked this season. "I would say it's a pretty good bet that we will have another major loss… or two," he said. "No one's off-limits." Actually, no one except Kiefer Sutherland and Mary Lynn Rajskub, the only two 24 thesps contracted for the entire season.
The lowdown: Things look pretty grim for Audrey, mostly because A) she loves Jack and that's never a good thing, B) Kim Raver has found other work opposite Ben Stiller in the 20th Century Fox comedy Night at the Museum, and C) she bugs.

The Shield
The buzz: The March 21 mid-season finale will feature "a couple departures" — both of which will be "surprising but inevitable" to viewers, says exec producer Shawn Ryan. "I'm not a big fan of things that happen randomly in a finale or during sweeps. This is something we've planned from the beginning."
The lowdown: Lupus-inflicted Claudette (CCH Pounder) and Strike Team mole Lem (Kenny Johnson) are the obvious choices, so we can probably rule them out. (In case you haven't noticed, The Shield doesn't do obvious.) My money's on another member of the Strike Team (take your pick) and Forest Whitaker, who I'm fairly certain only committed to appearing in 11 episodes.

Grey's Anatomy
The buzz: Ellen Pompeo risked the wrath of information Nazi Shonda Rhimes when she announced in the new issue of TV Guide that "one of the interns is leaving the intern program" — fueling speculation that someone was about to go the way of Kyle Chandler's bomb-squad stud.
The lowdown: Relax, people. Pompeo clearly stated that the character was leaving the intern program, not the show.

Everwood
The buzz: As I first reported way back in the fall, a longtime Everwood resident will bite it in Episode 19, tentatively scheduled to air on May 22. "Someone will die," says exec producer Rina Mimoun, "and it will affect everyone." Also, Mimoun says "two people you've come to love will be leaving Everwood forever."
The lowdown: Scott Wolf, who just landed an ABC drama pilot, is probably out of harm's way since Jake's hardly a "longtime" citizen. (He may, however, be one of the two characters leaving town "forever.".) And it seems doubtful that producers would deal another blow to the tragedy-prone Brown clan or anyone close to them, so Andy, Ephram, Delia, Nina and Amy are probably safe. Who does that leave? A bunch of old folks — among them a cancer survivor named Rose.

Veronica Mars
The buzz: The March 29 episode will mark the end of the road for someone in Neptune, although this person will not be carted away in a body bag. Instead, he/she will be forced out of town. Also, the character is recurring and, according to sources, probably not one whom fans will miss too much. 
The lowdown: Someone we won't miss? Ladies and gentleman, I give you Jackie Cook! There's just one problem — my spies tell me she's not the one going. At least not in this particular episode.

One Tree Hill
The buzz:
The first hint that bad things were looming came last month when Chad Michael Murray went on Live with Regis and Kelly and announced that two characters would lose their lives this season. The second hint came on Feb. 1 when exec producer Mark Schwahn told Ask Ausiello that OTH "will soon shake things up in a major way." And the third hint came Wednesday night when the previews for the March 1 episode showed Tree Hill High getting rocked by a Columbine-esque massacre.
The lowdown: One of those deaths Murray alluded to will definitely occur in the aforementioned March 1 episode, per my Tree mole. And yes, it's a student.