Thanks to television shows like The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones, the oft-recycled conversation about violence on TV is louder than ever, with one side arguing that the empty trauma of gory TV scenes is warping the minds of the world’s youth, while the other side revels in a bloodlust that knows no bounds. While fictional TV violence is probably low on the list of things that are desensitizing people, there are some shockingly violent TV moments that make you glad to be sitting on your couch, and not in the same room with the guy who just used a chainsaw to kill a cheerleader.
The kind of TV shows with the most violence are the series that have death baked right into the premise. If your favorite show is about a tough-as-nails DA who is also juggling a job as a pastry chef, you’re probably not going to see a lot of dead bodies, but if you never miss an episode of Machete Detective, then you’re probably used to the high body count that comes along with your viewing habits. Gruesome television shows take many forms, and in some cases, the violence feels more cartoonish even when it’s technically more blood-soaked than something where the brutality of a scene hits you on an emotional level.
Keep reading to find out which scenes made the cut for the most violent television moments that just barely made it to air.
Game of Thrones is full of scenes that stack violence on top of violence until you're numb to the gruesome visuals that are playing out in front of you. But Joffrey's death in season 4 is different. It plays out like an extended scene from an unproduced John Hughes movie, where Joffrey's cool guy antagonist (in the John Hughes movie he would have been named Geoff or Thurston) bullies Tyrion Lannister until he gets his inevitable comeuppance. In a series full of people getting stabbed to death and being pushed out of windows, there's something especially violent about watching a guy choke to death on his own poisoned vomit.
It was a task to decide which violent scene from the episode of The X-Files called "Home" to include on this list. Would it be the scene of three inbred monsters burying a still living, disfigured baby? Or would it be the scene where the audience discovers that the inbred creeps are keeping their inbred, paraplegic mother under a bed so they can rape her? In the end, it's closer to a tie.
How have we gotten to a point in society where we're totally cool with watching someone get beaten on tv? This isn't a take down of The Walking Dead, it's just a question. This long and brutal scene must have been a shock to anyone who hadn't read the comic that this episode was based on, and UK censors found it to be so intense that they actually cut a few seconds of his and Abraham's death.
The violence in this scene waxes and wanes and the aggression that continually bubbles under the surface makes for a very interesting watch. You know what's going to happen from the moment Vince Vaughn's Frank slams his lackey's head into a wall, but it's intriguing to watch the slow beatdown of this wormy thug. This scene was the cherry on top of a gruesome sundae of a season. Now it's time to sit back and let the metaphor awards roll in.