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Well, that certainly took a turn for the worst! Welcome to WatchMojo and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the top 10 darkest plot twists on TV dramas.
For this list, we’ll be looking at some of the most notable plot twists from television dramas with the darkest implications. Due to the nature of this list, there will be plenty of spoilers.
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#10: Bernard Is a Robot “Westworld” (2016-)
In the often dark sci-fi series Westworld, Bernard stands out as one the most compassionate characters, always trying to do what he thinks is best. It’s this moral code that appears to drive him to expose Dr. Ford’s machinations by working with Theresa, his former lover, despite the fact that she basically got him fired. While exploring an unmapped house, the pair discovers a secret underground lab—where Theresa finds blueprints for Bernard himself. Ford then arrives and reveals he’s been directing Bernard, before coldly ordering the android to brutally murder Theresa.
#9: Ward Is Hydra “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” (2013-)
The Nazi-related terrorist organization, Hydra, coming out of the shadows of SHIELD was a huge twist in the MCU, but particularly on “Agents of SHIELD.” While the episode sees recurring character John Garrett outed as a Hydra agent and the season’s big bad, even more disturbing is when Garrett’s former protégé and regular cast member Grant Ward is also shown to be a member of Hydra by executing the agents escorting him to prison. The twist turned everything about the character, the team, and the show on its head and set the stage for Ward to become one of the team’s most enduring, effective and emotionally challenging villains.
#8: Rudy’s Identity “Dexter” (2006-13)
The titular killer of serial killers navigates plenty of twists and turns during his conflicts with his peers, but one of the darkest and most surprising happens in the very first season. The Ice Truck Killer famous for dismembering his victims and draining them of their blood, also liked playing mind games with Dexter. The twist that he’s actually Rudy, the prosthetics expert who’s dating Dexter’s foster sister Debra, is bad enough, but things get really twisted when it’s revealed that Rudy is actually Brian, Dexter’s elder biological brother whom he was too young to remember. Their shared tragic origin, coupled with Brian’s eventual fate, made for one seriously dark revelation.
#7: It WAS Walt Who Poisoned Brock “Breaking Bad” (2008-13)
On his journey from chemistry teacher to meth kingpin, Walter White makes progressively more evil choices, but this is arguably his worst. Backed into a corner by his boss/rival Gus Fring, Walt is confronted by his partner Jesse, who accuses him of sickening his girlfriend’s son, Brock with poison they had intended to use on Gus. Walt convinces Jesse that it must have been Gus; citing times he has used the death of children. Together, they finally kill Gus, but it’s revealed that Walt did indeed poison Brock as part of an elaborate scheme to win Jesse over. Walt might’ve won, but he had to stoop to the level of his nemesis.
#6: Violet Has Been Dead for a While “American Horror Story” (2011-)
This anthology horror series features more than its share of creepy reveals, and while it was tempting to include one like the identity of Bloody Face—both of them—for our money, we had to go with a twist from the first season. After encountering ghosts in her new house, teenaged Violet is overwhelmed after realizing how many there are, as well as the fact that one of them is her new boyfriend, Tate. She tries to kill herself but is saved by Tate. However, it’s revealed several episodes later that Violet died during that suicide attempt and has been a ghost, unbeknownst to herself or her parents.
#5: Sophia Was in the Barn All Along “The Walking Dead” (2010-)
Season 2 of this zombie apocalypse show can feel a bit slow at times, since much of it takes place on and around a farm. However, one of the survivors’ reasons for remaining there is to locate Carol’s daughter Sophia, who went missing on the highway during the season premiere. After learning that Hershel, the farm’s owner, has been keeping walkers in his barn with the hope of curing them, Shane takes it upon himself to let them out so their threat can be neutralized. In doing so though, the group learns that Sophia, whom they’ve been searching for, was already dead.
#4: Perry Is Jane’s Rapist “Big Little Lies” (2017-)
Despite having a small number of episodes by US television standards, Big Little Lies has plenty of twists in its debut season and some of them definitely go to dark places. Early on, it’s revealed that Jane’s son Ziggy is the result of her rape by a man she has not been able to locate since. As the season goes on, it becomes clear that Celeste’s husband Perry is abusive and violent. The two plot threads weave together in the finale, when Jane realizes upon meeting Perry that he was the one who raped her, prompting a violent confrontation that ends with Perry being pushed down some stairs.
#3: Earth Is a Wasteland “Battlestar Galactica” (2003-09)
This series follows a ragtag fleet of survivors, led by the titular ship, as they flee the nuclear holocaust of their homeworlds by their own creations, the Cylons. Their only hope is a lost world, called Earth. With help from rebel Cylons, the humans are finally able to locate it. Their joy turns to ash in their mouths though, when they find Earth to be an irradiated wasteland. Further investigation reveals that a similar uprising occurred there, although the inhabitants were humanoid Cylons. The discovery that their long-held hope for refuge is just another empty promise drives many characters to despair and one to suicide; making for a really bleak twist.
#2: David Had Sex with Syd Without Her Consent “Legion” (2017-)
Legion goes to some weird and often dark places, but this is without a doubt the darkest to date. Locked in a struggled with his nemesis, Amahl Farouk, a.k.a. the Shadow King, David Haller is willing to go to great lengths to kill the man who tormented him for decades. Farouk reveals this fact to David’s girlfriend Syd; who then tries to shoot David. Convinced that Farouk has used his mental powers to manipulate her, David blocks these memories from her mind and they later have sex. After being confronted by Syd and his friends at Farouk’s supposed trial, the protagonist is shown how horrific his actions were.
Before we get to our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
- Nina Is the Mole, 24 (2001-10; 2014)
- Second Nuclear Apocalypse Is Coming, The 100 (2014-)
- Michael Works for the Others, Lost (2004-10)
#1: The Red Wedding “Game of Thrones” (2011-)
Did you see this coming as our number one pick? Too bad the same can’t be said for the victims of this bloody affair. While Game of Thrones features dark and surprising plot developments practically every week, and Ned Stark’s death was certainly a contender, there’s simply no beating this infamously shocking and tragic twist. Robb Stark, his mother, his wife and unborn child, along with most of his men, are all murdered graphically at his uncle’s wedding when the bride’s family and some of Robb’s own banner men betray him. Catelyn’s final, anguished cry is all of us. The horror.