TV's most shocking deaths... including Unforgotten, Downton Abbey, Bodyguard, Line of Duty and Cold Feet

After Trigger Point last night, TV’s most shocking deaths… from Bodyguard to Downton Abbey

Never saw them coming

After Trigger Point last night, it’s time to look at the most shocking deaths on TV – they often come out of nowhere, blindsiding both telly characters and viewers.

They’re shocking because they rattle us – leaving us suddenly bereft after we invest in a character.

Of course, a character’s death can also be shocking due to the manner of how they leave us. And the scope and scale of TV production means that could involve the most spectacular of deadly circumstances.

***WARNING: Spoilers from Trigger Point episode one ahead*** 

However, it isn’t necessary for characters to be blown to smithereens – as happened with Trigger Point‘s Nut – to move audiences.

Some shocking TV deaths that have been portrayed much more subtly. And they have still contained equally poignant emotional hits as when Wash came across her partner’s dismembered and bomb-blasted arm.

Following on from Sunday (January 23) night’s astonishing first episode, here are more TV deaths that left viewers stunned.

Georgia departs Line of Duty (Credit: BBC)

TV’s most shocking deaths: Georgia Trotman in Line of Duty

Line of Duty showrunner Jed Mercurio is certainly partial to a plot twist or two. And DC Trotman’s sudden exit – in all senses – certainly came without warning.

But even though Jessica Raine’s stint on the series was surprisingly brief, it was certainly dense with feeling.

Read more: Trigger Point reviews and reaction: What did critics and viewers make of new ITV drama?

With Steve Arnott knocked out, Georgia tackled Tommy Hunter’s nurse, who was actually an undercover assassin. Bravely, but almost silently, she battled her male opponent until he hauled her up and almost casually popped her out of the hospital window many floors up, sending Georgia plunging to her jarring doom.

Not Cassie! (Credit: ITV YouTube)

DCI Cassie Stuart in Unforgotten

How could Cassie leave us like this?

With the fourth series winding up, external forces not relating in any other way to her work or life intruded upon Cassie’s.

Hit head on by another car while she was driving, Cassie was operated on.

However, her head injury was too severe – and she died without regaining consciousness leaving colleague Sunny to delivers a moving eulogy at her funeral and also to viewers.

Helen Flynn in Spooks

Big-name casting meant viewers were unprepared to lose Helen Flynn when Spooks first aired in 2002.

But those watching at home had reason to be shocked beyond losing star Lisa Faulkner so early on.

Her spy character came in for a violent end in just the second episode after having her face burned off in a deep fat fryer before being shot in the head.

RIP Matthew Crawley (Credit: Downton Abbey YouTube)

Matthew Crawley in Downton Abbey

The loss of Matthew wrong-footed many viewers of the glossy period drama. Like the character’s landed gentry relatives, some expected him to be the focus of the family going forward.

However, after becoming a father with Mary during the Christmas Day special episode, Matthew chose to drive back to his country pile.

The jubilant new father was shown enjoying the ride with the top down as small van drove in the other direction.

But viewers were left open-mouthed as the next shot cut to Matthew laying in a ditch, thrown from his car, and quite dead.

Rachel's sudden death was heartbreaking
Cold Feet’s Rachel dies suddenly (Credit: This Morning YouTube)

Rachel in Cold Feet

Rachel and Adam were destined to love one another forever.

Having been prevented from adopting but finding themselves pregnant instead, and having just gone through redundancy and eviction, it seemed like love might win the day after Adam’s estranged father offered them money to secure a home.

On the way to a house auction, however, Rachel fiddled with a cassette to listen to while driving. A truck continued on as they both approached a crossroads at speed. And then it was over.

Julia Montague covered in ash and rubble followed a bomb attack
Julia Montague covered in ash and rubble followed a bomb attack (Credit: BBC)

Julia Montague in Bodyguard

As with grief, viewers may struggle when a central character is bumped off at an unexpected point.

And with Bodyguard, fans seemed fixated for the rest of the series whether Julia Montague was actually, really dead. Or was it all just a plot swerve?

Nonetheless, coming halfway through the series, and due to the dramatic portrayal of a devastating bomb explosion, it is no wonder some viewers were looking everywhere for hints the death was a fake out.

Read more: OPINION: The Tourist on BBC One – critics are missing the point

Trigger Point executive producer Jed Mercurio – who also wrote Bodyguard – reflected to the Radio Times: “I think there’s a certain expectation with series TV that it will always orbit around an equilibrium, in which nothing much changes for the main stars, and there are no drastic changes to the set-up, especially now things tend to run for several series.

“But, with my work, I like to try to do things that move the story on, and with Bodyguard I wanted to have this event mid-series that would completely alter the dynamic.”

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