TV’s top 5 shock deaths

As Downton Abbey's Lady Sybil meets her maker, we count down the small-screen demises that no one saw coming


Last night’s Downton Abbey wrung tears of anguish from its fans as Lady Sybil Branson (Jessica Brown Findlay) made a shock exit following the birth of her baby. This dramatic twist of fate took everyone by surprise, but which other TV deaths also caught viewers on the hop? We profile the most memorable demises… 


Doctor Who – Adric

Who can forget this one? Credits rolling in silence, that smashed badge on the floor…Yes, it’s the Fifth Doctor’s companion Adric making the ultimate sacrifice to save Earth from a Cyberman plot.

ER – Lucy Knight 

Med student Lucy’s time at Chicago’s County General came to a premature end after she and Carter were stabbed by a schizophrenic patient. Carter’s life was saved but, as Doctors Corday and Romano battled to save Lucy, viewers were left slack-jawed in disbelief that a popular character had come to an unexpected and permanent end.

Torchwood – Ianto Jones

Alien hunter Ianto’s death in the Children of Earth mini series is surely the show’s finest hour. Shocking and poignant, it led to fans setting up websites in the character’s honour, while the drama’s writers were petitioned with pleas to resurrect him. Yet – so far – Ianto remains well and truly dead. 

Grey’s Anatomy – George O’Malley

The fifth season of the medical drama ended with a double calamity – first Izzie looks like she’s about to lose her fight with cancer, then George is brought into the hospital, his face horribly disfigured as a result of a road-traffic accident. At first, no one realises it’s him, but once George’s identity becomes apparent, the efforts of the staff take on an extra impetus. Unfortunately, it doesn’t end well for poor George…

House of Cards – Mattie Storin 

In Michael Dobbs’s original novel, political schemer Francis Urqhart  jumps to his own death from the roof garden of the Houses of Parliament. Presumably sensing the opportunity to stage a sequel, dramatist Andrew Davies instead had Urqhart kill journalist and mistress Mattie in the drama’s final seconds. See it for yourself from 1m 11 secs in…