From a soldier-turned-spy-turned-confused-lover to the transformation of a high school junior into a vampire, the world of television was filled with plenty of jaw-dropping moments in 2012.
And we’ve collected the 12 best below.
As part of our year-end series (check out our Top Memes of 2012, along with the Top Videos of the past dozen months), THG now takes readers through the small screen scenes and developments that left us uttering: O… M…G!
12. The Grey’s Anatomy plane crash. Was it typically contrived drama from Shonda Rhimes? Of course. But long-time viewers of this ABC favorite can’t deny the deadly impact of that flight hitting the ground in May.
11. Bill Compton goes bad. Yes, True Blood Season 5 really went there. Every time you thought Sookie’s first love would admit he was simply playing a long con, the series continued to drive the shocking fact home: Bill really did believe every evil word out of his mouth. Then he turned into some kind of gooey new being.
10. Gossip Girl is revealed. Just a couple years ago, this would have been in contention for top moment of the TV year. But The CW drama fell out of favor even with long-time fans and, by the end of its run, was drawing under one million viewers per week. Dan Humphrey as Gossip Girl? Not a bad choice, but we stopped caring ages ago.
9. Game of Thrones, “Blackwater.” Just the entire episode. Not just the most action-packed hour of Game of Thrones Season 2, or the most action-packed hour of television in 2012. Probably the most action on the small and big screen of the past year. Amazing visuals all around.
8. Opie has got this. One of the saddest deaths of the year took place early on Sons of Anarchy Season 5, as a lead pipe to the skull led to the demise of Ryan Hurst’s tough, big-hearted character. A stunning, violent death and the driving force of the rest of the season.
7. And the bride-to-be is… We’re still waiting to learn the identity of the Mother, but How I Met Your Mother revealed Barney’s bride to close out Season 7. It’s Robin! We witnessed his adorable proposal to conclude this show’s run in 2012.
6. Elena, transformed! One wrong turned changed The Vampire Diaries forever, as Elena and Matt drove off the road on the Season 3 finale of this CW hit, leading to an infusion of vampire blood into the former and a shot to the heart of a series that had been floundering a bit last spring.
5. A birth and a death. The Walking Dead Season 3 has been filled with blood, gore and shocking events. But none more than Lori giving birth AND dying on the same installment. Seriously, no one on this show is safe.
4. A now! Pretty Little Liars finally unveiled the identity of A. Of course, there’s still an entire team behind this key villain, meaning the ABC Family drama may never answer its primary question. But, think about it fans, would you really want it to?
3. Lena Dunham gets naked. And does everything else, too: write, produce and star in Girls, the breakout show of the past 12 months.
2. Oh, sit! Breaking Bad finally opens Hank’s eyes to the identity of his brother-in-law, in a manner no fans of this AMC smash could have seen coming: while sitting on the toilet. There’s nothing we’re looking forward to more in 2013 than the final eight episodes of Breaking Bad season 5.
1. Carrie gets her man. Television’s most stunning moment did not take place on a premiere or finale, but rather the fourth episode of Homeland season 2, summing up the incredible pace of this Showtime drama. Carrie Matheson outing Brody as a spy and cuffing her nemesis/lover – this early in the program’s run – was as unexpected as anything we saw on TV all year. Our jaws haven’t left the floor since.