There are loads of spoilers in the story below for a bunch of different shows. You have been warned.
Throughout 2015, it seemed like every week of television delivered a handful of moments that stunned audiences and made eyeballs come close to popping out of people’s heads. Which isn’t surprising, considering there were more scripted series this year than any previous year, which is itself a mindblowing factoid.
While it would have been impossible to include every WTF moment that passed in front of our eyes this year, here are the 16 most bonkers surprises, twists, deaths and all around oddities that TV gave us in 2015. Let’s kick things off with one of the biggest pissers of the past 12 months, shall we?
Hannibal – That CancellationAt the center of what was arguably the most disappointing network decision that occurred this year – and I think many of you agree – Bryan Fuller’s Hannibal gave viewers three seasons worth of lush and artistic horror that rivaled Silence of the Lambs, spinning out a cat-and-mouse tale where each animal’s place kept changing. So much story was left to tell, and Fuller and his creative team were the perfect people to do it. And then NBC turned it into chop suey over something as meaningless as low ratings. Okay, maybe low ratings do matter, but NBC itself became a little more meaningless when they premiered hot garbage like Truth Be Told after axing Hannibal.
Gotham – Fish’s Eye SpooningJada Pinkett Smith brought a comic book energy to the role of Fish Mooney in Season 1 of Gotham, although audiences were mostly split on how enjoyable her turn was. But regardless of how you felt about her, Fish’s time on the small screen reached an apex when she was a prisoner to the Dollmaker. He wanted to take out her eyes for his own nefarious means, and she countered by taking out her own eye…with a spoon…and then she smooshed it into the ground. It looked like a Superball that had stayed in the microwave too long, easily making it one of the grossest moments on TV this year.
The Leftovers – Kevin’s “Death”The Leftovers managed to become an even more cryptic and emotionally fulfilling series in Season 2, branching its story out while remaining entrenched in the events of Season 1. And the show rocked fans’ worlds during the last few episodes, seemingly killing off Kevin Garvey in a weird poisoning/suicide, only to bring him back for an episode-length fever dream in which he got into fist fights, watched some afterlife karaoke, pushed young Patti into a well and then drowned her depressed adult self in it. All so he could be resurrected without her appearing in his head anymore. It was possibly the greatest “dream sequence” in TV history, and also a ridiculously strong piece of character development.
Pretty Little Liars – A’s RevealFor years, Pretty Little Liars fans speculated and theorized about the identity of “A,” the main antagonist behind the game plaguing the central characters. But instead of a relatively normal reveal, viewers learned that “A” was actually CeCe Drake, who was actually Charlotte DiLaurentis, who was actually born Charles DiLaurentis, Alison’s brother who was taken away after he was wrongfully thought to have tried to drown her as a kid. So this one had both a surprise transgender character (that dated her brother, ickily enough) and a surprise character back from the presumed dead (which happens on this show often enough). Some hated it, some loved it, but everyone was shocked by it.
The Walking Dead – That Glenn BusinessOne of the biggest TV stories of the year took place on The Walking Dead, or didn’t take place on The Walking Dead, if that’s how you want to look at it. During one of Season 6’s fractured hours, the cowardly Nicholas shot himself in a moment of duress, causing Glenn to tumble into a horde of walkers, and viewers were led to believe that Glenn had been chewed to death. To the point that Steven Yuen’s name was stricken from the credits. Lo and behold, all of our worry was for nothing, as Glenn ended up escaping basically without a scratch. It felt both cheap and divisive, but at least we’ll see more Glenn when the show returns.
Mr. Robot – Elliot’s Family TwistsThroughout its stellar first season, Mr. Robot featured a lot of moments between Rami Malek's hacktivist Elliot and Christian Slater's titular anarchist, and fans were suspicious that something wasn't quite right between them. That suspicion was given relevance in the final few episodes, in which it was revealed that Mr. Robot is Elliot's father, and that he's been dead for years, meaning that Elliot has just been a follower of his own delusions, Fight Club style. Perhaps more stunning than the reveal itself was that it came during the freshman season, rather than nearer the end of the road. And let's not forget about Elliot trying to get with Darlene, who is actually his sister. Family life is strange sometimes.
Fargo – A Midwestern UFOIn Fargo Season 1, the most mystifying thing that happened was Key & Peele nabbing comedic screentime amidst the violent drama. But Season 2 took things up a notch, randomly introducing a UFO in the opening episode that causes Rye Gerhardt to stop in the middle of the road, where he’s plowed into by Peggy, setting the entire season’s doom-laden events in motion. It wasn’t the only time we saw the mysterious flying saucer, either, as it made a prominent return during the Sioux Falls Massacre, allowing Lou to kill Bear. So while an explanation for the UFO is up for debate, I think we can all assume that the aliens really didn’t like the Gerhardts.
Arrow – Felicity Gets ShotArrow, a show that likes to temporarily kill people off, had a bunch of surprises in the latter half of Season 3 and the first chunk of Season 4. But it’s hard to argue that the biggest mind-explosion of all came during the midseason finale, when Damien Darhk’s goons shot up Oliver’s limo and left Felicity a bleeding wreck. The shocking moment, juxtaposed with a cheery Darhk coming home to his surprise family, proved the villain to be as evil as they come, and caused fans to wonder if Felicity would be the person in the flash-forward scene’s grave. We have other predictions for where she’ll end up, but we definitely didn’t predict she’d get shot.
Empire – A Fall Down the StairsIf we’re being honest, the entirety of the first season and a half of Empire could take up this whole list, from Vernon’s death to Cookie’s monkey suit to Lucious’ surprise baby. But at this point, the most baffling moment came during the Season 2 mid-finale, in which the pregnant Rhonda is pushed down the stairs by an unknown assailant. And she falls hard, boy, landing on the ground in a heap, seemingly dead. Her actual fate has yet to be revealed, though, and we’re wondering who it was that pushed her. Anika, the subject of several WTF moments of her own, is a prime candidate, though maybe it’s karma for her accidentally murdering Vernon? Either way, we can’t wait to see Andre lose his mind over it.
Miss Universe 2015 – Steve Harvey’s BunglingSteve Harvey is no stranger to standing on stage and making people laugh, as he’s turned a stand-up comedy career into a series of hosting gigs. But arguably his most memorable moment in front of a crowd came during the recent Miss Universe pageant, when he announced the wrong contestant as the winner and immediately had the entire Internet shining a spotlight on his catastrophic error. He corrected his mistake soon after, and has been a good sport about all the criticism he has received, but nothing that came after can take away from the pure WTFness of him saying the wrong name. Maybe now he’ll be a little nicer to Family Feud contestants who give goofy answers.
Supergirl – Hank Henshaw Reveals HimselfWhen David Harewood was added to the cast of Supergirl as Hank Henshaw, the speculation mill began churning out ways in which the show might introduce Cyborg Superman at some point. But in Episode 7, fans received the huge bombshell that this somewhat douchey iteration of Henshaw wasn’t actually one of the show’s many villains at all, but rather a humanized version of J’onn J’onzz, better known to comic book fans as Martian Manhunter. This was not only one of the biggest and coolest twists in the DC TV world, allowing a fan favorite character to exist in primetime again, but it also gave the CBS super-drama an added boost of legitimacy among fans. And we can’t wait to see his story expand as the series continues.
Grey’s Anatomy – Derek’s AccidentIf you were paying attention to the behind-the-scenes world of Grey’s Anatomy , then you probably knew that Patrick Dempsey was having problems and would likely be leaving the show. Even so, Derek’s accident-filled final episode was a series of WTF moments, the largest of which being “What the fuck are you doing stopping in the middle of a road to use your cell phone?” His car got pummeled by a truck, but that wasn’t what killed him. No, he actually died because the hospital he was taken to was understaffed, and no one caught on that he had a head injury until it was too late. Irony? Maybe. Either way, it left fans reeling.
Veep – Amy’s MeltdownYou don’t really get a lot of WTF moments in half-hour comedies, but Anna Chlumsky’s superbly performed meltdown on Veep was a stroke of comedic genius that even beat out Selina and Gary’s momentary falling out. At her wits’ end over the aggravatingly wishy-washy Karen, Amy unleashes all of the anger and disgust that she’s felt over the years as Selina’s Chief of Staff, eventually calling her boss “the worst thing that has happened to this country since food in buckets, and maybe slavery.” It was a completely unpredictable bit that shook up the status quo of the White House staffers, while also allowing viewers to vicariously live through someone verbally taking down an inefficient politician.
Daredevil – Decapitation by Car DoorFans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe are used to seeing the heroes and villains getting violent, but Netflix’s Daredevil did away with the flashy CGI and robots’n’aliens, often delivering fights and deaths that were gut-wrenchingly realistic. And things didn’t get much more brain-smashingly disturbing than when Vincent D’Onofrio’s Wilson Fisk repeatedly smashed a car door onto a Russian villain’s head until it had fallen off of his body. All because Fisk was shamed in front of his woman. The scene cemented just how monstrous the normally subdued Fisk could be, while also proving to Marvel fans that Netflix wasn’t afraid to get extremely bloody when necessary. The other fights were great, too, but this was the one that left us staggering the most.
Game of Thrones – Jon Snow, Jon Snow, Jon SnowSeason 5 of Game of Thrones delivered a bunch of ghastly scenes and sequences – Stannis allowing his daughter to be burned alive, for instance – but the one that has kept fans talking the most came during the finale, as Jon Snow is branded a traitor by his brothers on The Watch, who repeatedly stab him until he collapses into a pile of his own blood. The moment, which turned Olly from aggravating to super-heinous, became one of the most obsessed-over TV scenes of the year, and inspired just about every form of speculation imaginable concerning Jon’s fate. We know he’ll be back for Season 6, but that doesn’t take away from the stunning impact of the scene.
The Flash – Eddie’s SacrificeWith time travel and parallel dimensions at its disposal, The Flash has pumping out WTF moments at a steady rate since it started up last year. But my jaw fell the farthest during the Season 1 finale, as Eddie made the ultimate gesture by committing suicide as a way to stop Eobard “Reverse-Flash” Thawne from continuing his reign of villainy. In fact, it completely wiped his villainy out of existence, which itself was magnificently weird. Due to his future lineage, coupled with a relationship with Iris that we knew wouldn’t last forever, Eddie probably couldn’t have lived much longer in this world anyway. Still, watching him shoot himself for the sake of Central City was a deed as heroic as anything Team Flash has done so far.
Whew. That’s a lot of mind-fuckery. Head to the next page to let us know which of these moments blew you away the most.
Which Show Had The Biggest WTF Moment Of 2015?