45. Dead At 21
Air Dates: June 15, 1994 - September 7, 1994
Best Episode: "In Through The Out Door (Part 2)" (September 7, 1994)
Pat yourselves on the back if you remember MTV's Dead At 21. How obscure is the show? It's not even available as a Region 2 import DVD. Created by Frasier producer Jon Sherman, Dead At 21 interrupted MTV's regularly scheduled programming at the time (music videos, reruns of awards shows) to tell a bleak, dystopian, and youth-driven saga. Jack Noseworthy starred as Ed Bellamy, a fun-loving, brainy guy who, on his 20th birthday, learns that doctors put a chip into his skull when he was born that makes him a genius, but will also kill him once he turns the big 2-1.
And, spoiler alert (though who knows if anyone will ever get the chance to see the show ever again), he dies right when he hits the legal age. Obviously lasting only one season (again, dude ceases to live), Dead At 21's final episode completely shattered the minimal audience's expectations; we figured Ed would make it out alive, as would his sexy friend Maria, but they both lose, big time.
Throughout its 13 episodes, Dead At 21 ratcheted up the tension with, in the spirit of MTV, a punk-rock sensibility. It's worthy of placement here simply for having one of the most downbeat endings in cable television history.