We've just passed the halfway point of the year and already there have been a host of gasp-inducing, screamworthy, jump-out-of-your-chair-and-fling-your-remote-at-the-screen scenes that remind us we're in the second Golden Age of Television. So many, in fact, that we can't wait for December — here are biggest of the year so far.
Warning: It's all spoilers from here on out!
"Game of Thrones" — The Red Wedding
Let's start with the big one. Episode 9 of HBO's "Sopranos with dragons" climaxed with the deaths of two more heroes on the show — the son and the wife of the guy we thought was the hero back in Season 1. Also, their entire army got whacked and, with them, pretty much any chance of anybody ever being happy in Westeros ever again.
"Downton Abbey" — Matthew Crawley dies
Oh, you think there's only one show with British accents and a penchant for ripping fans' hearts out of their chests? How about leaving Matthew bleeding in a ditch right after seeing his newborn son on Christmas? It's enough to make you believe Santa isn't real.
[Related: Our Favorite 'Downton Abbey' Parodies]
"Anger Management" — Charlie Sheen fires Selma Blair
We're not sure whether to file this under "Irony, Sitcom Titles" or "What Did You Expect? It's Charlie Sheen," but perennial bad boy (or man — is there such a thing as a bad middle-aged man?) Sheen reportedly flew off the handle and had Selma Blair fired for complaining about his chronic unprofessionalism.
So just in case you're confused: Blair complained about Sheen's bad behavior on a show (about fictional Sheen's bad behavior) that exists only to capitalize on real-life Sheen's bad behavior. It's like the "Inception" of Hollywood jerkdom.
"American Idol" — Mariah vs. Nicki
Speaking of Hollywood jerkdom: Divas Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj were at each other's throats all season, both on and off the air. Rumors swirled that Minaj threatened to "knock out" Carey, and her rants on Twitter suggested that there was even more backstage friction than was apparent on TV.
What u SHOULD be doing (wit your messy ass) is asking why a woman SO successful at her age, is still so INSECURE, and bitter @perezhilton— Nicki Minaj (@NICKIMINAJ) May 2, 2013
They both performed recently at the 2013 BET Awards, and we've yet to hear any reports of spitballs flung or blood shed. Of course, their feud could have just been a well-orchestrated attempt to generate media attention for a show whose best ratings are behind them. Too bad neither will be back for the next season of "Idol" to prove it one way or the other.
"NCIS" — Tony, Ziva, and McGee resign
What? Gibbs's team took the fall for all their questionable tactics? This is Iran-Contra all over again! Or at least Martha Stewart. Dammit, Jack Bauer never had this kind of trouble!
What we're trying to say, Leroy Jethro Gibbs, is that you'd better get these people their jobs back! Do you know how hard it is to find a job as a Navy criminal investigator in this down economy? What are they gonna do — work at Starbucks? There are only so many times you can send the espresso nozzles off to Abby in the lab before they ask you to hand in your apron.
"The Office" — Michael Scott returns for the finale
Though Steve Carell said he'd never return, and though the cast and crew swore for months that he hadn't returned, Michael Scott made one last appearance on the series finale of "The Office."
"It was so thrilling. We all just flat-out lied!" gushed John Krasinski after the episode debuted, saying he planned to apologize to David Letterman for it. There were concerns that Carell showing up in a season that many fans had decried for its lack of Carell would overshadow the rest of the finale. In the end, though, his cameo was as restrained and tasteful as the rest of his time on the series was heavy-handed and crass (in the best possible way, of course).
"Mad Men" — Sally Draper catches her dad in flagrante delicto
One of the best things about "Mad Men" is that it's not only entertaining, but also educational. For example, did you know that the very, very, very worst thing you can tell your daughter when she finds you sleeping with a married neighbor is: "I know you think you saw something. I was comforting Mrs. Rosen. She was very upset. It’s very complicated." Well, you do now!
"The Walking Dead" — Daryl kills zombie Merle
In a show filled with death (and undeath), it's the relationships that get us through the episodes. So when Daryl finally reunites with his brother, Merle, only to find he's become a walker, well, that's something of a blow. Especially because it means his brother has been killed, and he'll have to kill him again.
[Related: 'Walking Dead' Season 4 Poster Revealed]
Norman Reedus, who plays Daryl, said in an interview with Entertainment Weekly that he used a Willie Nelson song that reminded him of his father's death to get him into the right state to do the scene: "I just wanted to be crushed in a way you see my heart break. I wanted to curl into a little ball and be a little kid right there."
"Big Bang Theory" — Sheldon and Amy have sex in a game of Dungeons & Dragons
Three of the most chilling words in the English language: nerds having sex. Fortunately "The Big Bang Theory" avoids getting graphic by having two of its leads role-play (in every sense of the word) their intimacy.
If you're curious whether or not this is an accurate depiction of the game D&D, the answer is: yes, pretty much. Walking into a gaming convention is basically like walking into what you'd imagine the Playboy Mansion looked like in the '70s, just with more dice.
"How I Met Your Mother" — "Your Mother" is revealed
After eight full seasons, we finally got a glimpse of the titular maternal unit. Yellow umbrella? Check. Bass guitar? Check. Ticket to Farhampton? Check. It's been so long; it's like watching "Waiting for Godot" for eight years and Godot finally shows up! (Spoiler: Godot doesn't show up in the play.)
Like Doctor Who, the role went to a relative unknown. Well, as unknown as a Tony-nominated actress can be. Find out more about Cristin Milioti here [http://tv.yahoo.com/news/-how-i-met-your-mother--reveals-the-mother--5-things-to-know-about-the-actress-who-will-become-ted-s-wife-073043645.html].
"Dallas" — J.R. Ewing dies
The question of who killed J.R. has been on the lips of America for decades now. The first time, it was his sister-in-law/mistress who shot him. This time, who was the vicious bastard that killed J.R.?
Wait, what? Yep, J.R. went down to Big C. But not without framing Cliff Barnes for his death days before doctors said he was going to die anyway. The episode aired after actor Larry Hagman's death from leukemia, and was a fitting tribute to a legendary television character and the great man who played him.
"Scandal" — Olivia's dad is the head of B613, Rowan Pope
How bad is your relationship with your dad? Bet your dad didn't try to have the shadowy black-ops organization he runs for the U.S. government try to kill you. Or try to get a guy to sleep with you so he could tape it and show the president.
If your dad did do those things, we're very sorry. That must have been traumatic. Also, you need your own reality TV show.
Super Bowl XLVII — Destiny's Child reunion
It's fair to say Beyoncé is the queen of pop: 17 Grammys, 118 million records sold worldwide, married to one of the greatest rappers ever. Like Justin Timberlake of NSync, George Michael of Wham!, and any number of stars who broke out from the success of their earlier bands, it's not hard to see why they're not keen on putting the old band back together.
Still though, there are a lot of people who pine for the glory days of "Bootylicious" and "Independent Women." And for a brief, shining moment, they got it.
"Elementary" — Irene Adler is Moriarty
CBS's take on Sherlock Holmes certainly is no stranger to deviating from the source material (not that we're ever going to complain about any excuse to see Lucy Liu on television). But when it was revealed that Holmes's nemesis, Moriarty — the man who killed the love of Sherlock's life, Irene Adler — was in fact Irene Adler? Well, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle probably spun around a time or two in his grave. At least until he saw the ratings that night.
"Survivor: Caramoan - Fans vs. Favorites" — Brandon Hantz melts down
Meltdowns aren't that uncommon on reality shows, especially shows where the contestants are stranded on desert islands. But when's the last time you've seen someone melt down so bad that the host had to give him a massage?
Brandon Hantz was already such a liability that his team forfeited the challenge just so they could vote him off. Hantz snapped, threw his tribe's rice and beans all over the ground (though he didn't, as he once threatened, pee all over it), and it took Jeff Probst's soothing hands to calm him down.
If he can't control his temper enough to be invited back a third time to the island, we hear there's a slot open on Charlie Sheen's show.
"The Voice" — Adam Levine hates this country
Episode 21 brought the pain by eliminating two of its front-runners simultaneously: Sarah Simmons and Judith Hill. (Hill was a backup singer for Michael Jackson, for heaven's sake! What were you people thinking?)
It was so painful that Adam Levine (both of the singers were from his team) muttered "I hate this country" under his breath. Of course, live TV and live microphones being what they are, all of "this country" heard it and lit up his Twitter page. He later apologized, saying to Us Weekly, "I obviously love my country very much and my comments last night were made purely out of frustration." No doubt, there were a lot of viewers who, if they had been miked, would have said pretty much the same thing.