The Returned

Top Ten Most Killer Series of All Time

Here we are with the most “killer” shows ever: killer as defined by body-count, that is. Zombies, murderers, gangsters, vampires, cannibals, drug dealers — they’re all in here. Vote for your top pick in the poll below.

1. The Sopranos
“Some will win, some will lose
Some were born to sing the blues
Oh, the movie never ends
It goes on and on and on and on…”

It’s impossible not to put The Sopranos at the top of this list. The ultimate “killer” show followed the ups and downs of Tony Soprano for six amazing seasons. And even when the show ended… it never really ended. After all the hits and murders, we wound up with Tony and his family sitting in a quiet diner — and then… the screen went to black. Was Tony killed? What happened? Theories abound, but what creator David Chase did with the final episode was allow us to resolve the story in our minds — imagine our own ending for Tony, or our own continuance. The concept of The Sopranos changed TV forever, and the Journey song playing at the diner gives us all a clue: after all, the story never ends. It just goes on and on and on.

2. Six Feet Under
“You only get one life. …And once it’s over, it’s over. Dreamless sleep forever and ever. So why not be happy while you’re here. Really. Why not?”
It’s hard to get more “killer-ish” than Six Feet Under; the show that began every episode with a death, and a caption reminiscent of a tombstone’s epitaph. Following the lives of the Fisher family as they attempted to manage a funeral home, each episode focused on the death of a stranger whose body came to the funeral home. The show’s message: everything everywhere eventually ends. But this is not a reason for sadness, it’s a reason to enjoy life while we have it.

3. Dexter
“I’m neither man nor beast. I’m something new entirely. With my own set of rules.”
Perhaps the first show to ever make a serial-killer the hero, Dexter manages a high kill-count with impressive regularity. Though Dexter Morgan has a moral code (a complicated one), he’s still a killer; it’s the brilliant trick of the show that we come to sympathizes with, and even like, him. Michael C. Hall embodies Dexter perfectly, and he managed to breathe new life into the killer TV genre.

4. True Blood
“If we can’t kill people, what’s the point of being a vampire?”
“Blood” is right there in the title, so we pretty much know what we’re getting into here. Vampires, vampires, and more vampires. Through five seasons, True Blood has tracked the life and death of vampires, werewolves, fairies, shape-shifters, and so on. But mostly vampires; with the biting and the blood, and the gushing, and so on. And these are some real vampires; not wimpy abstinence-sparkle-glitter-style vampires. So if you want some good-old-fashioned biting and killing action, True Blood is the show for you.

5. Twin Peaks
“..Who killed Laura Palmer?”
In the early ’90s, David Lynch’s Twin Peaks plunged us into a surreal world of murder and small-town eccentricity. The show revealed Laura Palmer’s killer in season two; after that, Lynch took the liberties of making the show… well, more Lynchian, and ended up a classic before its time. The show was canceled, leaving Special Agent Dale Cooper forever stranded in the mysterious Black Lodge. Still, its cult following continues to grow for curious viewers looking for a “damn fine cup of coffee”, a “cherry pie that’ll kill ya”, and the weirdest bunch of characters ever on TV.

6. The Walking Dead
“Don’t panic.”
What if the world came to an end… and you survived? That’s the set up for The Walking Dead, essentially Night of the Living Dead, as a TV show, except with even more gore. As Rick Grimes and his hearty band of survivors fight off, shoot, decapitate, and otherwise kill zombie after zombie, one might ask — what did the zombies ever do to them? Okay, yes, sure; the zombies are trying to kill the humans too. But hey; that’s their nature. Everyone’s just trying to get by in this brave, zombie-eat-human kind of world.

7. Game of Thrones
“What do you expect? They’re savages.”
It’s hard to be the king. It’s hard to be anywhere near the king. It’s hard to be on this show without getting brutally murdered and ending up with your head on a stake. But that’s just day-to-day life in the world of Westeros. If you want to be king, or queen; you’ve got to be ruthless, which makes Game of Thrones one of the murder-y-est shows of all time. In fact, a study shows that the series averages fourteen deaths per episode. That works out to a death every 4.2 minutes! Just another indication that in Westeros, you’d best watch your step — and your head.

8. The Returned
“They’ll get revenge one day.” “Who?” … “The dead.”
Just when you thought the zombie genre was played out, along comes a French TV series that tears open the undead trope and takes it in a completely new direction. Not only do the dead return to their families as if they have not been dead at all, they also have certain, uh, urges that they cannot suppress. Like eating, and sex, and oh… killing, of course. They are zombies, after all.

9. Hannibal
“Here we are; a bunch of psychopaths helping each other out.”
Dr. Hannibal Lecter became a pop culture phenomenon with the The Silence of the Lambs, but the series of movies about him descended into camp and general not-good-ness, and even a terrible prequel (that’d be Hannibal Rising). But who would have thought that the psychotic cannibal would make for a great TV character? But he does. Hannibal Lecter gave birth to the serial killer “genre,” and here he is, two decades later, still frightening and seducing us all in Hannibal the television show.

10. Breaking Bad
“How much is enough?”
How much is enough? For Walter White, there appears to be no limit. A good man gone bad, Walter has managed to leave a fairly impressive trail of destruction in his wake; bombs, plane crashes, murdered drug dealers, murdered drug henchmen, nearly killing a child on purpose. All of this is pretty impressive, considering Mr. White went from being just a mild-mannered high school teacher and all. And so, Walter White, we salute you. You may have destroyed your family and your own life as well, but you’ve turned into one of the all-time best cold-blooded TV killers.

SundanceTV’s THE RETURNED returns this fall.