WARNING: You can't recount the year's most shocking TV events without going into a lot of detail, so … loads of spoilers ahead. Really.
Oh, Opie. And Lane. And Lori. And Owen. Yours were the most shocking deaths of primetime during 2012, but far from the only shocking moments we experienced while channel surfing this year.
Arresting developments, vampire evolutions, and one man's life-changing trip to the bathroom also factor in to what were the most exciting, game-changing, and just plain jaw-dropping occurrences in TV land this year.
And again, we have to issue a final warning: big, BIG spoilers ahead:
"Sons of Anarchy," Opie's Brutal Death
His wife and father had already been killed by his fellow SOA brothers, and he thought his best friend, and the new SOA president, Jax, had betrayed him. In short, a dejected Opie had serious questions about this group he and his father had pledged allegiance to, which made it all the more tragic and heartbreaking that he died -- via a brutal pipe beating that was horrifying even for a show that opened the season with Tig watching his daughter be burned alive, so his MC brethren could live.
Ryan Hurst (Opie) talks to Russell Brand about his character's death:
"Homeland," Carrie Arrests Brody
Did Carrie still have feelings for Brody, the man she'd pegged as a terrorist, or was she craftily toying with his emotions so she could nab him? We couldn't tell, and with good reason: It was both. She was, and is, in love with the former POW turned congressman, but that didn't stop her from arresting him (and enjoying it) for his traitorous misdeeds. It was an initial shocker that primed us for the rest of the show's sophomore season, in which the two would reunite for a complicated relationship that promises to continue to be tumultuous.
[Related: 8 shocking moments from 'Homeland' Season 2]
"Mad Men," Lane Commits Suicide
Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce partner Lane had been heading down a pretty pathetic path all season, from trying to foist himself on Joan and tangling with Pete to that weird phone flirtation and embezzling from the company. So when Don fired the proud Brit, it was clear he would slide quickly down the shame spiral. But his bumbling, almost comical, attempts to end his life in that fancy Jaguar (which, in a "Born Loser" comic come to life, wouldn't start) made it truly shocking when his lifeless body was found hanging in his SCDP office.
Go inside the "Mad Men" episode "Commissions and Fees," where Lane dies:
Mike Ehrmantraut's death was disappointing, but certainly not unexpected, during the first half of "Breaking Bad"'s fifth season, since the storyline had dictated a Walter-or-him showdown. But when Walt's DEA agent bro-in-law, Hank, went into the little boy's room, picked up that book of Walt Whitman poetry from the back of Walt's crapper, and slowly realized that the inscription inside pointed to Walt as the elusive Heisenberg Hank had almost died trying to find? Not since a certain White House intern was gifted a copy of "Leaves of Grass" has Whitman been involved in an incident so shocking.
Watch the shocking "Breaking Bad" scene: