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The 25 Most Devastating Character Deaths In TV History

16. Lane Pryce in Mad Men

Portrayed by: Jared Harris
Dies in: "Commissions & Fees" (Season 5, Episode 12)

Lane’s season five experience is a series of fails (despite getting to administer a proper fade to Pete Campbell), but it was over for him as soon as Don discovered that he’d stolen money from the agency—and forged Don's signature on the check—to pay off his own debts. There are two key points to remember about Lane: He loves being in America about as much as he hates being with his prim British wife.

The embarrassment of presenting her with such a failure, disappointing his son, and slinking back to the UK defeated is too much for him to bear. As soon as you see him calmly drinking while “settling some affairs,” you know what time it is. Cut to: Lane attempting to commit suicide in the Jaguar his wife bought him with money they can’t spend. Of course, the damn car doesn't start.

The next time we see Lane, he’s back in the office, and there’s a slight sliver of hope that he’s gotten over his suicidal thoughts—a hope that's dashed when the staff finds the P in SCDP hanging in his office. The moment is as heartbreaking as it is chilling. There’s Joan’s initial mounting dread when she tries to get in his office but can’t get through the door, and catches a nasty smell.

Then there’s the note, which turns out to be a simple, rote resignation letter, with an added sting that only Don understands. But all of that is trumped by the sight of his body dangling ominously (seriously, hats off to the make-up department) when they cut him down. Lane Pryce, we hardly knew ye.

 

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