Show: Game of Thrones (HBO)
For non-GOT readers out there, Eddard "Ned" Stark's (Sean Bean) death was a loss of televised innocence. Even the most radical television shows never dared to kill off the main character, and certainly not in the first season. We can hear many of your muttering "the main character of Game of Thrones is power" or something like that, but come on, the main character was Ned, and they killed him. Even those of you who put Game of Thrones a tier below the the first wave of HBO anti-hero shows in your personal pantheon have to admit that the show changed the game. When other shows do actually kill off characters, it's often well after their time has come, and they choreograph the death with heavy doses of symbolism and melodramatic music. To the credit of Game of Thrones, the show holds its harsh worldview close to its heart even when it comes to doing in movie stars. With the beheading of Ned Stark, we entered a new era of expectations for television where no one is safe and you'd better not get on Twitter until you watch the damn episode.