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Well that's it, Sons of Anarchy fans. The Final Ride has come to the finish line or ran out of gas or whatever metaphor you see fit. I'm still having a little trouble picking up the pieces of my emotions and expectations, knowing that I'll never again worry about the fate of SAMCRO and its rugged members (and their white sneaks.) I feel a full Lucille Ball ugly cry coming on.
But instead of looking forward to the dismal Tuesday night voids where Sons of Anarchy once reigned supreme, we're looking back on the past seven years of vengeance, chaos, debauchery and deceit. While there are many more corpses in the biker drama's wake than Cinema Blend can possibly handle, I've chosen the top 30 deaths that Sons of Anarchy has used to blow away our expectations. That comes out to an average of five deaths a season, which seems pretty paltry, but I think we can agree Dave Navarro didn't need to make anything more than a one-sentence cameo in this list. So sit back, put on a good Red Woody original in the background, and feast on the wrath that Kurt Sutter hath wrought.
30. School ShootingsIn an episode that caught the hate-filled attention of the Parents Television Council, a young boy brings an automatic weapon into a school and kills several people. Because the gun could be connected to SAMCRO, this was how Season 6 Law Enforcement had a shot at taking down the M.C. for good. Not that they did or anything.. Still, this was one of the more awful incidents in Sons of Anarchy’s run, despite being handled bloodlessly.
R.I.P. All them kids
29. Dawn TragerIn one of the rare instances where Tig got his own piece of the storyline, his daughter Dawn (whose mother’s name is Fawn) shows up and immediately starts mooching money from him. It’s slightly different from the old sitcom trope where someone is just dating someone for their money and the person is oblivious, with this one ending in Dawn getting burned alive while Tig is forced to watch. This obviously brings about dark days in Tig’s life, ending in a most sweet revenge. But what a terrible scene.
R.I.P. Dawn, although you really sucked.
28. MilesNo one is going to stand here and say that Miles was the most amazing part of Sons of Anarchy, but his death had huge reverberations moving forward. He accidentally stumbled on Juice holding the missing cocaine that Rat and Filthy Phil were playing Russian Roulette over, and then Juice shot him through the head. (In one of the show’s coolest visual shots.) This was a major turning point for Juice, who succumbs to the guilt and tries to kill himself, but takes eons to actually die of anything. Sadly for Miles, the wrongful terms surrounding his death mean he was buried without his patch.
27. Filthy PhilThere will never be another SAMCRO prospect greater than Filthy Phil Russell. (More badass and sexually amorous? Certainly.) Often used for comic effect, babysitting duties, or that occasional Russian Roulette scene, Filthy Phil was about as non-threatening as this show gets. Which of course means he had to suffer an extremely terrible fate, as he was shot in the head (alongside V-Lin) by Galen, and then chopped into pieces as a visual threat to the M.C. So harsh.
R.I.Pieces Filthy Phil
26. JimmyLike all of the SAMCRO good guys, Chibs is a fan favorite, so anyone who comes across as Chibs’ arch rival is instantly hated. And Jimmy O’Phelan was the douchiest of douches, with his main goal of removing SAMCRO from the Earth supplemented by creepster rape vibes over Chibs’ daughter. Jimmy gets sold out by the Russians and suffers the same Glasgow Smile cheek-slices that Chibs did, though Jimmy doesn’t get to live to tell anyone about it. He and that also-dead fuckface Galen can wail about it in Hell.
No R.I.P. for you.
25. The ToricsNurse Pamela Toric unwittingly became a pawn in Otto’s plan to get the RICO case against SAMCRO thrown out. She was stabbed in the throat – a series staple – which brings her crazyballs brother Lee Toric to Stockton, where he has Otto tortured sadistically for his latest crime. The surviving Toric is eventually stabbed to death by Otto, remarking that he didn’t see it coming. Though Lee Toric was kind of a B.S. antagonist in the long run, Donal Logue is always amazing. Especially as a half-naked whore killer.
R.I.P. Terriers and Pamela but not Lee
24. KeithOne of the First 9 along with Piney and John Teller (and the rarely seen Lenny “The Pimp”), Keith McGee later went on to become the President of the Irish charter SAMBEL. Alas, he let his personal greed get in the way of the brotherhood, and when SAMCRO got wind of this (almost getting exploded in the meantime), Clay stripped Keith of his cut and pushed him off of a building. Seeing a First 9 member get killed was huge, and it further proved no one was safe from Clay’s particular brand of justice.
R.I.P. the old non-traitorous Keith
23. Damon PopeKingpin Damon Pope was pretty much the scariest man in Oakland for a while, and a botched attempt at a One-Niner’s life leaves his daughter Veronica Pope dead, which brings an even darker demon out of him. Pope's immediate action partly culminates in Tig’s daughter being burned to death. Of course, you’re only as scary as you are alive, and Tig makes sure that Pope’s reign of terror comes to a close with the back of his head blown out. What’s more, the murder was committed using Clay’s gun, which is used to put him behind bars for part of Season 6. (Remember when those guards made Clay rape Gemma? Ew.)
No R.I.P. for you.
22. August MarksAs the successor to the Damon Pope throne, August Marks initially seemed like a cool cat, ready to handle things with a level head and an optimistic outlook. He even forgave Tig for shooting Pope. But criminals will be written like criminals, and Season 7 saw Marks become increasingly pissed off at Jax’s attempt to achieve vengeance for Tara’s murder, and saw the piles of dead bodies as a disgrace to his name. Or something. I never really understood it. In any case, he was responsible for Bobby getting clipped, and there was good closure in seeing him die in front of the courthouse that he shouldn’t have been allowed to walk out of a free man. Plus, the homeless lady finally had a purpose!
R.I. differing levels of P. August Marks
21. JuryJury’s murder at Jax’s hands got Jax the Mr. Mayhem vote, and it was a tearfully unanimous one. But there was no Mayhem involved, so Jury’s death was just another shameful pin in the donkey-shaped volcano that Jax erupted throughout Season 7. Not only did he end Jury’s life based purely on conjecture (and in direct opposition to Jury’s claims of innocence), but Jax lied about it afterward, making the President-killing-a-President crime all the more controversial. And poor Jury never even got to find any peace over his club-murdered son.
Bonus Death: Kia GhaneziNo one expects torture porn directors to utilize their moral centers, but keeping a tub full of piss around to use for “movie magic” is just weird. Thankfully, this wasn’t just a tub of urine meant to hang out in the background of a shot, as Tig drowns one of the porn producers in it, then takes a leak on the corpse. That’s how you kill the piss into someone, ladies and gentlemen.
20. DarvanyWhile Darvany was a pretty useless character in and of herself, she was the mother of the boy who shot up his school, as well as a pivotal piece of the animosity built up between Jax and Juice and Nero. As a form of penance, Jax makes Juice shoot Darvany full of heroin and then smother her, making it look like an overdose, and then lies to Nero’s face about it. It later comes up again when Juice is all fucked up and starts blabbing about it to Nero, unveiling everyone’s betrayals all at once. But Juice still lived on. Also, Dave Navarro was her husband, and Nero shot him.
R.I.P. Darvany, I guess.
19. Half SackThe scrappy and largely innocent Kip “Half Sack” Epps was a bit of a brawler most known for having one testicle (and later another testicle that gave him huge problems). But he was also the first SAMCRO member to die in the series, and he did so trying to save Tara and Abel from that pinheaded Irish bastard Cameron. The real life woes of actor Johnny Lewis don’t take away from Half Sack’s posthumous patch-in.
R.I.P. Half Sack
18. A.J. WestonIt’s hard to believe that Sons of Anarchy introduced the carelessly evil A.J. Weston and his League of American Nationalists leader Ethan Zobelle in the very first episode of Season 2. In it, Weston and a few other goons kidnap Gemma and brutally rape her to send a message to Clay to stop dealing guns with non-white races. It was an act that deepened Gemma’s character development and gave the series its first monster antagonist. The best part about Jax shooting Weston inside that bathroom stall was that Weston died knowing that his boss had betrayed the cause. Rough thing for his son, though.
No R.I.P. for you, sir.
17. Agent KohnWhen it comes to handling creepy ex-boyfriends who are also a little too interested in finding out what their ex-girlfriends’ current boyfriends are up to, Sons of Anarchy handles things with trigger-happy aplomb. As an ATF agent not actually investigating SAMCRO, Josh Kohn revealed himself to be a total psycho stalker-rapist, in a role that had The Shield fans howling. Tara shoots Kohn in self-defense once he gets too hands-on, and Jax soon kills him in cold blood, later burning the body. Remember this was six seasons ago, and Jax hadn’t yet turned “Kill ‘Em All” into a mission statement. It was only the beginning...
No R.I.P. for you.
16. David HaleGood old David Hale is the equivalent of what Charlie Brown would be as an adult: a guy who tries to do good by nature and often sucks at it. (Although Hale got laid, and Charlie Brown probably wouldn’t have.) Hale’s career ambitions within Charming PD and life ambitions to destroy SAMCRO are cut short when he is hit by a speeding van. His death ultimately leads his brother Jacob Hale to rub out the police department with the San Joaquin County Sheriff Department, which puts a huge dent (like the one in that van) in the M.C.’s ties to the badge.
R.I.P. Deputy Chief Hale
15. The RooseveltsEli Roosevelt presented a hard edge when he was first introduced in Season 4 as a man on a mission to keep standout gang behavior far away from his community. Of course, he ends up halfway bonding with SAMCRO on several issues, particularly while he’s blackmailing Juice, and his morals nosedive following the home invasion attack on his wife, which leaves her and their unborn baby dead. It makes perfect sense that he would actually be on SAMCRO’s side (more or less) when he unwittingly walks into the massacre of Tara’s murder and is immediately shot by Juice, ruining the only good friendship he had left. Althea Jarry then stepped into his law enforcement shoes, with only a limited amount of resources invested in actually finding Roosevelt’s killer.
R.I.P. Roosevelt family
14. LuannOtto’s wife and Gemma’s best friend, Luann Delaney was a porn star and entrepreneur who started the studio Cara Cara (with a little help from club profit-skimming). She was later beaten to death by Tom Arnold-as-a-porn-guy’s thugs in Season 2, which led to a whole host of shit for SAMCRO to deal with. It started up Otto’s internal disdain for the club, which was strengthened by the botched handling of Tom Arnold’s death. (Luann banging Bobby didn’t help.) But on the positive tip, this was the club’s entry into the sex business, which has remained their main source of legit income ever since.
13. Agent StahlATF Agent June Stahl was the bane of many a Sons of Anarchy fan’s Tuesday nights for three seasons, trying to do everything in her power to take SAMCRO down for their gunrunning. (A task that at one point gets her face beaten in by Otto.) Though she sucks at doing her actual job, Stahl is a master of deception, and one of her lies ends in the murder of Opie’s wife Donna. And even though she sort of works with the club to get Abel back from Ireland, she proves herself most interested in screwball justice by trying to pit the M.C. against Jax, which ends with Opie blasting the back of her head open with a MAC-10. What a biiiiiitch.
No R.I.P. for you.
12. OttoThe eyepatch-donning Otto Delaney was one of the most masochistic characters that television has ever had the pleasure of watching bite his own tongue off. For his entire run on the show, which ended in Season 6, Otto served as SAMCRO’s tortured Inside Man, getting club business done with Stockton prison. But he wasn’t ever quite the same after Luann died, and his ties with Clay and Jax grew strained as time went on, particularly after the dastardly Lee Toric enters the picture. Fittingly, Otto was able to die as he lived: bleeding and in prison, finally putting an end to all of his pain.
11. BobbyI fucking love Bobby Munson, the man who went from impersonating Elvis to getting his eyeball ripped out as the price for Jax’s inability to recognize a serious threat. Under different circumstances, Bobby’s untimely death might have cracked the Top 5, but the event itself was rather one-dimensional and its place within the narrative relied entirely on fans’ adoration for the pot-smoking teddy bear. Beyond some scenes where characters looked sadder than normal, Bobby’s death wasn’t able to affect Season 7’s storyline much more than “making Jax madder than he already was.” And that’s a damned shame, because Bobby's final bow deserved a lot more revulsion attached to it.
Bonus Death: That Guy with Ants on His FaceAs Clay and Bobby meet with the Wahewa Indians about ammo issues, they are shown a man who is buried up to his neck, with fire ants crawling all over his face. Though the guy doesn’t die of these wounds – Clay suffocates him after the guy hears Clay and Bobby talking club business – it’s still one of the most painful things Sons of Anarchy has ever assaulted my nerve endings with. I. Can. Still. Feel. The. Ants.
10. JuiceJuice ahead of Bobby? In whose world, am I right? In this one, sadly, as Juice’s storyline developed far more than Bobby’s ever did over the years, despite many fans just clamoring for the traitorous bastard to die for Christ’s sake. Forever faithful to the brotherhood (when he's not disrespecting it entirely), Juice’s path detoured into being a rat who murdered Milo and betrayed Jax and killed Roosevelt and a million other sins that should have tied his story off long ago. Instead, he survived long enough to be used as a rape victim means to an end for a mostly useless Season 7 prison storyline, dying with the same amount of neck-blood spatter as his former mentor Clay. (Probably in the place where his neck was bruised from his failed suicide attempt.) Did I mention Marilyn Manson is the guy that killed him?
R.I.P. Juice for a little while at least
9. PineyPiney served as our only real conduit into the world of the Sons of Anarchy's First 9, having been the Vice President under his best friend John Teller. He was a classic M.C. gangster with a tolerance for bullshit barely wider than the cigar he could be seen puffing on, despite having emphysema. It’s because of Piney's knowledge and ownership of J.T.’s manuscript that we grew to understand the kind of people Clay and Gemma really were, and Piney paid the price for sharing that knowledge by taking a shotgun blast to the chest. This heinous act, arguably more than anything else Clay did, ensured his doomed future, and turned Opie into an even bigger mess than he already was.
8. UnserWayne Unser really is the hero of Sons of Anarchy when it comes down to it. Despite going against occupational duties while he was still Sheriff, Unser was the best friend that SAMCRO ever had, and they treated him mostly like shit every step of the way. Even Gemma, whom he loved more than his own life. This kind of shitty behavior toward Unser even stretched out to his death scene; he refused to just walk away knowing that Jax was going to kill Gemma, so Jax thoughtlessly dropped him with one shot, and his passing was followed by Gemma and Jax having their first real talk of the season, which wasn’t really a talk at all. I hate that it makes sense within the scope of the show, because Unser was worthy of far more reverence than this. Although it's good he didn't die of cancer, I guess.
7. DonnaAudiences, as much as Kurt Sutter, were just getting used to the twistedly fatal decision-making of Sons of Anarchy as its first season went along, and the mistaken murder of Donna Winston pretty much solidified where Clay and Tig (before he was mainly the pervy dude) stood on the moral spectrum. Donna proved her worth as a wife and mother by re-dedicating her life to Opie and their kids, but a fucked-up lie from Agent “Longface” Stahl sealed her fate, which was closed out in Opie’s pickup truck with a shot to the back of the head. Donna definitely wasn’t the first body that fell in Season 1, but hers was one where the ramifications lasted for many seasons.
6. John TellerEven though Sons of Anarchy fans never got to know and appreciate John Teller through direct communication with the man himself, we’ve for years seen his mugshot, heard his voice and read the words of his M.C.-based memoir. He not only co-founded the very club that his son Jax would come to run (into the ground, mostly), but he also inspired the somewhat rebellious thoughts and motivations that Jax would come to exhibit in his own pacifist manifesto. We don’t get to see J.T.’s death play out as it happened in history, and the events behind it are still shrouded in some mystery, but his manuscript and subsequent accident play heavily into the character development of the Morrows and the Tellers, both in the United States and in Ireland. Without J.T., this show doesn’t exist.
5. ClayThis old hurt-handed son of a bitch. It didn’t take long for Clay Morrow to go from “guy I wouldn’t mind turning into when I’m that age” to “fucking asshole dickhead murderer psychopath.” It’s hard to remember if there’s anyone on Sons of Anarchy whose life Clay didn’t fuck over, but even the people he was most kind to still had reasons to hate him. Ron Perlman was the perfect actor to play this ruthless leader, because he’s the kind of guy that almost drew sympathy out of viewers in the episodes before his death, despite all the carnage he caused and attempted to cause. But no one can really forget THAT much infidelity, lying, betrayal and murder, so it was with much relish that I watched blood spurt crazily from his neck in a final statement from the stepson he helped sculpt.
4. OpieSons of Anarchy has never shied away from bringing misery to its characters – and its viewers, by extension – but Opie Winston was by far the show’s biggest victim on a minute-by-minute basis. His wife was murdered in an attempt on his own life, leaving him to raise two kids without much of an education in fatherhood, and his constant inner-club clashes put him at odds with almost everyone at one point or another. (Not to mention having his father murdered in another inner-club clash.) But he was Jax’s best friend, and he took the ultimate hit for SAMCRO, which is more than I can say for just about anyone else. (Except Juice, but fuck Juice.) His death was one of those final straws that turned Jax from a pseudo-virtuous guy to one who knows little beyond bloodlust, and Opie’s absence soured me on the show for a little while.
3. TaraThere were so many times over the years when I hoped that Tara would get into some kind of an accident, allowing Jax to raise his two sons without his best/worst romantic foil coming around to harp on him about something. They re-entered each other’s lives in chaos when the series began, and such chaos also ended their time together. Gemma thought she was keeping Jax out of major trouble, but instead put into action the deaths of many dozens of people in and around Charming, as well as the death of her family. Tara’s ghost haunted Season 7 of Sons of Anarchy; not just in the way that Gemma talked to herself, but in the physical space between Jax and Gemma every time they met up, and in Abel’s braindead questions about his mommy. I always wanted Tara to go, but having her brutally assaulted and stabbed in the head with a carving fork WHILE PREGNANT was probably more than I bargained for.
2. GemmaThis is it. Sons of Anarchy’s emotional mother lode, no pun intended. Up until the series’ penultimate episode, Gemma Teller Morrow was the one character who had her fingers in nearly everything single terrible thing SAMCRO had ever been a part of, from the death of John Teller to the death of nearly everyone in Season 7. She was a pillar of brutal strength, of harsh judgment and of loose morals, and proved time and again that she would do anything to keep her family safe, even if it was the absolute worst thing to do. Gemma’s death was probably the most harrowing scene I’ve ever witnessed on this series, and that makes sense, as Gemma’s indisputable importance meant her murder was most definitely not a sure thing. But now she’s gone, and TV has lost one of its toughest personalities. The real family flaw? Being a murderer.
1. JaxWell it fucking happened. Jax is dead. It needed to happen, and it did. He set up the future of SAMCRO to be one without excess chaos and violence. (Or at least that was his intention.) He set up a somewhat safe future for his kids and Wendy. And he removed the club’s guilt from having to put him through a mayhem vote. He died by his own terms, which involved taking a massive squad of cops on the run and then letting his bike guide him into the front of an eighteen-wheeler. (Something tells me that was kind of impulsive.) Plus, fucking Michael Chiklis killed him! That’s INSANE! He got to say goodbye to just about everything and everyone, and I think Kurt Sutter gave him as fond of a farewell as possible after seven seasons.
R.I.P. Jax Teller. It was well worth seven years of my life watching you do your miserable work. Thanks for the ride.
And because Sons of Anarchy just never stopped dropping bodies, read on for five extra bonus entries that blew our minds.
Extra Bonus Death 1: BaroskyI was really hoping that a Peter Weller character in the Sons of Anarchy universe would have been on the side of SAMCRO, but he ended up being just as much of a rat to them as he was to everyone else, and it fucked their world up. There are no surprises there. Anybody not looking for bloody surprises in their baked goods in the area shouldn’t go to Barosky’s shop though.
Extra Bonus Death 2: Colette and the Diosa GirlsKim Dickens sadly never got to live up to the potential of escort maestro Colette Jane, but she did get to take Jax to bed at least once, and she probably had a few great conversations with Charles Barosky before she went. A lot of the Diosa girls were just faces and erotic coos, but the bloody massacre enacted within that building made for one of the messiest murder scenes in the show’s history. It was more a statement than a blow to the character list, but it totally cockblocked a bunch of potential sexcapades.
Extra Bonus Death 3: GalenI fucking hate the IRA’s Galen O’Shay with the force of a gale wind…soufflé? Like everyone else in Ireland, Galen enjoys shitting on SAMCRO and trying to sabotage things, doing such dastardly deeds as shooting Filthy Phil and siding with Clay on everything. It makes absolute sense that he dies in a set-up just before Clay does. Good riddance to rancid rubbish. I just wish it could have happened over and over again.
No R.I.P. for you.
Extra Bonus Death 4: KozikI like anybody who gives Tig a run for his money, and Kozik was about as affable a SAMCRO member as there ever was. He was also one of the only members to die indirectly, as he was the victim of a landmine placed by the Lobos cartel. As far as last lines go, “You gotta be shittin’ me,” is a classic.
Extra Bonus Death 5: LinThe Lin Triad was one of the more dangerous gangs on Sons of Anarchy, though things took a turn for the worse when Henry Lin took over after his uncle’s death in Season 6. Not that it was his fault, as Gemma’s lies caused Jax to seek an empty vengeance by tearing apart Lin’s gang. Still, he was an egotistical prick, and I wasn’t sorry to see him get shanked by Juice in a Stockton boiler room.
No R.I.P. for you.