2018 had a lot of good TV. Almost too much (even if there is no such thing). There were also some serious shocks in store for us with a few of our favorite shows. From bonkers character decisions to stunning introductions, here are the moments that surprised us the most. Beware the spoilers!
Jo (Camilla Luddington) spent a lot of time running away from her violent and scary past onGrey's Anatomy. Despite her best efforts to conceal her old identity and forge a new life for herself in Seattle, though, her worst nightmare was realized once her estranged husband, Paul Stadler (Matthew Morrison), came traipsing down the halls of her hospital. Things got very intense, very quickly, and it all culminated with him trying to attack his new fiancee, whom he was also abusing, and dying in the process of a post-collision brain swell. Every second of his screen time was hair-raising, and the significance of the stunning plot points here was not lost on the folks at Shondaland, as they renamed the episode "1-800-799-7233" to point anyone who might need it to the National Domestic Violence Hotline.
This Is Us fans knew that they'd find out how Jack Pearson (Milo Ventimiglia) died eventually, but when the big reveal finally happened, it wasn't exactly what anyone expected. After so many red herrings about his drinking and driving and depression, it turned out that the simply left the Crockpot on, and it caught his house on fire. After going back to rescue the family's dog, he suffered some severe health problems and later passed away in the hospital. What was really surprising about the moment is how the brand associated with the scene reacted, by promising customers that nothing like that would happen in real life and then green-lighting a Super Bowl ad to hammer home how Crockpot had nothing to do with killing off America's new-favorite TV dad.
Drama-slash-AV Club member Emaline (Sydney Sweeney), and, surprise surprise, when Kate finally confessed her feelings, Emaline turned out to be receptive to that interest and was totally on board for exploring their budding chemistry with a surprise kiss. It was an unexpected, albeit heartwarming moment that made Everything Sucks!'s early end that much more disappointing.
Atlanta's "Teddy Perkins" episode was our pick for the best TV episode of the year, and for good reason. As Darius (Lakeith Stanfield) followed up on a Craig's List lead about purchasing a used piano, he was introduced to the sad, isolated life of the titular persona and found himself at the center of an absolutely bonkers assassination scheme that left him forever shaken. The fact that the highly disturbed character later made an ominous cameo at the Emmys was even more ridiculous and awesome.
HBO's Barry was the kind of show no one could see coming. The comedy series centered on the title character (played by Bill Hader), who was an assassin-turned-acting class member who wanted to start anew, and it was all mostly very charming stuff -- ya know, despite all the murders and mayhem. But in the Season 1 finale, things got pretty dark as Barry continued to try and cover his tracks, slipping in one last murder before declaring that this time, he was turning over a new leaf, just like all those New Year's resolutions that never quite seem to pan out.
13 Reasons Why's first season featured an upsettingly graphic bathroom scene, and the second round followed suit with another depiction of extreme violence. This time, it was a brutal sexual assault that occurred in the school restroom, after a trio of bullies attacked a character by slamming his head into a porcelain sink and then violating him with a mop stick. The scene was so disturbing that audiences immediately began issuing trigger warnings on social media to warn others about what was in store.
Surprise! The Flash dropped a major doozy over the summer when the show revealed that the Mystery Girl who'd been dropping in on the team all year was none other than Nora Allen (Jessica Parker Kennedy), a.k.a. Barry's own daughter, from the future. The time-travel twist was a crazy, crazy turn for the show to introduce, and it only ushered in even more intrigue as fans found out that her little adventures were not exactly solo missions.
The Season 1 finale of Killing Eve was exactly the kind of bonkers character dissection effort that made the show such a blast to begin with, but the final scene was still quite a doozy. In it, the eponymous Eve (Sandra Oh) finally busts into the apartment of the assassin who's been after her -- and who she's been fascinated with in return. Villanelle (Jodie Comer) finds her there and the two make some electric declarations to one another before falling into bed with fatigue over their epic game of cat and mouse. But the action isn't over yet. After Eve asks if she'll kill her, and the answer seems to be in the affirmative, Eve pulls out a knife and proceeds to stab her new nemesis. She's quickly taken aback by what she's done and tries to scurry up something to help, but after Villanelle takes a shot in her direction, Eve returns to find that the lady is gone, and she's missed her chance to do ... whatever she wanted to do with her.
The finale ofThe Americans was a grand finish for the much-loved spy drama, and part of the reason it worked so well is that Philip (Matthew Rhys) and Elizabeth (Keri Russell) had to say goodbye to not just one, but both of their children in the process of escaping to Russia. Although they voluntarily left Henry (Keidrich Sellati) behind to live out his days in America, what they weren't expecting was for Paige (Holly Taylor) to ditch them on their runaway train and go it on her own in the US of A. It was a gasp-worthy moment indeed when Elizabeth spotted her on the tracks and realized the measure of what she'd just lost.
The Handmaid's Tale Season 2 was an emotional rollercoaster throughout, but the common theme seemed to be June (Elisabeth Moss) making one deadly attempt after another to escape the confines of Gilead so that she could take refuge in Canada with her baby-to-be. After so much loss in the process, she finally managed to convince Serena Joy to hand over the baby and let her make a run for it, as the Marthas all banded together to guide her away from the place. Once she got her chance, though, she decided entrust baby Holly to Emily instead while she hung back to ... well, we don't know yet. Chances are, she's going to try and save her eldest daughter Hannah somehow, but after so many trials and errors in reaching that exit sign, the fact that she turned back from it in the end was a thunderbolt to all expectations.
Orange is the New Black's sixth season had some weaker spots (looking at you, "Badison"), but the finale still had everyone wiping floor dust off their jaws, especially when it came to the epic sisterly showdown of newcomers Barb (Mackenzie Phillips) and Carol (Henny Russell). After being separated in prison for decades, all the while forming their own unique factions and ordering hits on one another by proxy, the two finally came face to face to do their own dirty work, and the resulting scene was unbelievably bloody.
HBO'sSuccessionwas a surprise hit for the summer, with its high brow drama about the son of conservative media empire owner's attempt to stage a coup and install himself as the company's next CEO. Said son, Kendall (Jeremy Strong), met quite a few unexpected obstacles along the way to ousting Logan Roy (Brian Cox), including his own brother withering under pressure, but the biggest shocker came along in the show's final episodes. Even as Kendall managed to secure a buyout arrangement that would finally put his way into the works, he couldn't resist asking a waiter to help him score some drugs and caused a car accident that claimed the life of his new friend. Although he tried to clean up the evidence on himself and act like nothing happened, his father stoically informed him that could still be linked to the fatal accident and offered him a deal: cease the buyout and his homicide mess goes away for good. Despite all his efforts to undermine his dear old dad, Ken was proven to be just a boy playing in a grown-up's world in the end as he sobbed in his father's arms. It was a wowza way to end things, for sure.
Even for those who had read Gillian Flynn's novel upon which the HBO show was based, the final few words of the Sharp Objectsseason created quite a bit of digital hysteria. After Camille (Amy Adams) discovered that Adora (Patricia Clarkson) had been abusing her daughter Amma (Eliza Scanlen) and was responsible for Marian (Lulu Wilson)'s death, the mystery seemed solved. But then, when she took a look at Amma's dollhouse and discovered the missing teeth of Ann Nash and Natalie Keene, and Amma simply said "Don't tell Momma," well, it was a complete game-changer, and the fact that the series has probably ended on that chilling revelation made it all the more effective.
You'd think a character whose real-life counterpart was a co-creator of the show would be safe from elimination, but nope. Not so for Kanan, who was killed off on Power, despite Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson sporting some important behind-the-scenes credentials. Considering how integral he was to the series, his demise was a shock to the senses indeed.
Easily the most compelling scene of the season -- if not the entire series -- BoJack Horseman's funeral episode consisted entirely of the titular equine eulogizing his mother with a painfully honest exploration of the fractures in their relationship and the way that it has impacted him since childhood. Throughout the weighty diatribe, BoJack was constantly drawn back from the point of seething by something his mother had said to him on her deathbed: "I see you." For the entire speech, he went back to that one utterance as the redeeming moment of her existence as his mother ... until it dawned on him, in a gloriously dragged out examination of the exchange, that she was simply reading the letters on the wall of her hospital room: ICU.
The Haunting of Hill House contained a lot of well-placed surprises -- the revelation that Nell (Victoria Pedretti) herself was the Bent-Neck Lady ghost that'd haunted her for so many decades, for example, was an ace "Aha!" moment. The really riveting revelation came in the season's close, though, when the Crain family discovered that the red room they'd been locked out of for so long was secretly traveling throughout each and every one of their lives -- a sort of room of requirement that revealed itself to all of them in its own way. The scene invited audiences to journey back and savor all the clues that'd built up to that moment, like young Shirley dream-talking about the red room in the first episode and the shape of the window in Luke's treehouse. It was like the ending of The Sixth Sense all over again.
The announcement that Andrew Lincoln would be departing The Walking Dead -- the series that he was the central figure of since the start -- in the middle of its ninth season led many fans to believe that his character would be killed off, after so many narrow escapes from certain doom. How else could Rick Grimes go out? Alas, when his long-promoted final episode aired, Grimes was still alive (albeit, flitting off in a rescue helicopter), and AMC announced that he'd be featured in a trio of spin-off movies instead of ~really~ being gone from the TWD community. It was beyond a WTF moment for fans who'd braced themselves for a bitter end, to say the least.
Finally, finally Batwoman got some on-screen representation thanks to the CW's ever-expanding Arrowverse. The network announced early this summer that they'd be introducing Ruby Rose as the oft-overlooked DC character, and when the annual crossover event happened, Kate Kane finally came out to play in all her tatted-up glory. Batwoman is expected to get her own spin-off series to join ranks with Oliver Queen a.k.a. Green Arrow (Stephen Amell), Barry a.k.a. The Flash (Grant Gustin), Supergirl (Melissa Benoist), and the Legends of Tomorrow, and what a long overdue and welcome surprise that news was for DC fans.