The 7 most shocking TV scenes of 2023


It’s been another year packed full of great TV shows, standout episodes, and a few truly WTF moments that shocked us to our deepest cores.

Obviously the likes of Succession Season 4 and The Fall of the House of Usher had multiple shocking moments within their seasons alone, but here we’ve tried to whittle down the most oh-wow-that-really-just-happened of them all — from truly terrible Christmas dinners in The Bear to even worse orgies in The Fall of the House of Usher.

Some of these moments are memorable in a good way, and some in a bad way (hello, The Idol) — but the thing they all have in common is their shock-factor. Brace yourself for a countdown of the most WTF TV scenes of 2023.

7. Yellowjackets Season 2, a feast to remember

Three teenage girls in winter clothing stand outside a cabin in the snow, all looking at something off camera.

Who’s hungry?
Credit: Kailey Schwerman/SHOWTIME

Is it actually realistic that a slow-burning pyre could turn a human corpse into a perfectly-cooked delicacy? Not according to IRL chefs. But you don’t need realism to make something shocking, and shocking is exactly what the end of Yellowjackets Season 2, episode 2 is. Partly it’s the horrible inevitability of the moment — the threat of cannibalism has been hanging over the show since its premiere — but mostly it’s the visual of the girls succumbing to their desperate hunger and greedily tucking in to the charred body of their fallen teammate. Definitely not one to watch with dinner. — Sam Haysom, UK Deputy Editor

How to watch: Yellowjackets is now streaming on Showtime.

6. The Fall of the House of Usher, Perry’s acid orgy

A woman stands in a party wearing a skull mask and a red hooded cloak.

An unwelcome guest.
Credit: Eike Schroter / Netflix

You can’t really get much more WTF than an orgy coming to an abrupt end due to acid raining down from the ceiling, can you? The first of the Usher siblings to die, Perry’s (Sauriyan Sapkota) death really stays with you, after his partygoers are melted at midnight thanks to the toxic waste-filled water sprinklers in Fortunato’s abandoned testing facility. With this gruesome interpretation of Edgar Allan Poe’s story “The Masque of the Red Death”, Flanagan makes it clear from the get-go that The Fall of the House of Usher isn’t going to pull any punches with how its characters – and, in this case, their very unlucky friends – meet their end.* — S.H.

How to watch: The Fall of the House of Usher is now streaming on Netflix.

5. The Bear Season 2, the Christmas dinner car crash

A woman sits in a car with a cut on her head.

Worst. Christmas. Ever.
Credit: Chuck Hodes/FX

The entirety of The Bear Season 2‘s “Fishes” episode is tense, but it gradually descends into WTF territory the closer we get to Christmas dinner. Set around five years before the impending restaurant opening, “Fishes” follows the Berzatto family during a chaotic and argument-fuelled holiday get-together. It’s a brutal-but-brilliant episode that goes from family squabbles to fork-based near-fights and, ultimately, Jamie Lee Curtis driving a car through a wall. You didn’t see that coming, did you? — S.H.

How to watch: The Bear is now streaming on Hulu.

4. The Last of Us, the fate of Henry and Sam

A man crouches down by a car, hugging a young boy.

It doesn’t end well for these two.
Credit: Liane Hentscher/HBO

Television episodes don’t come much more devastating than this. After losing Tess (Anna Torv), getting ambushed, and having to fight their way through vengeful rebels, tiny Clickers and blundering Bloaters, it finally looks like Joel (Pedro Pascal) and Ellie (Bella Ramsey) are about to catch a break in episode 5. They’ve made some new friends in Kansas City! Their little party is growing! Of course, it’s all too good to be true. The episode ends in absolute despair in two parts, first with the discovery that their newfound companion Sam (Keivonn Woodard) has been infected during their escape from the QZ. Then, Henry (Lamar Johnson) is forced to shoot his own little brother to save Ellie, and immediately dies by suicide.* — S.H.

How to watch: The Last of Us is now streaming on Max.

3. Succession, the “frozen blood brick”

A woman and a man face each other in a dimly lit room. The man is sitting in a chair, the woman standing.

A conversation nobody was expecting.
Credit: Graeme Hunter/HBO

When potential Waystar buyer Lukas Matsson (Alexander Skarsgård) confesses to Shiv Roy (Sarah Snook) that he “might be in a bit of a pickle”, pretty much the last thing we’re expecting him to say is that he’s been harassing his head of comms Ebba (Eili Harboe) by sending her large quantities of his own blood (“Half a litre frozen blood brick. As a joke.”). Shiv, who’s just as taken back as us, immediately offers some sage advice: “Stop sending people your blood.” It’s just one of many WTF moments in Succession‘s final season.* — S.H.

How to watch: Succession is now streaming on Max.

2. The Idol, that ridiculous ending

A woman in a dress holding a microphone addresses a man in a suit on a stage.

Credit: Eddy Chen/HBO

From cultish shock collars to baffling acting choices, The Idol had no shortage of WTF moments. But it’s the series finale that delivered the most ridiculous moment of all.

After spending the whole season watching pop star Jocelyn (Lily-Rose Depp) struggle under the thumb of manipulative club owner Tedros Tedros (Abel “The Weeknd” Tesfaye), The Idol reveals that — plot twist! — Jocelyn was in control the whole time. It’s a narrative turn that makes no sense in the context of the rest of the season, undermining the few fascinating things The Idol had to say about stardom in the first place. Plus, it makes the troubling (and frankly harmful) assertion that Tedros was the show’s real victim. Like the rest of The Idol, this ending seeks to provoke and excite, only to fall excruciatingly flat. — Belen Edwards, Entertainment Reporter

How to watch: The Idol is now streaming on Max.

1. Scott Pilgrim Takes Off, when Scott really, truly takes off

Michael Cera as Scott Pilgrim and Satya Bhabha as Matthew Patel in Scott Pilgrim Takes Off

Wait, Scott wins this right? WRONG.
Credit: Netflix

For a moment to make this list, it must be at the caliber that it might make you screech at the screen. And beyond that unskippable intro, the opening episode of the animated series Scott Pilgrim Takes Off blew our minds with one narrative bombshell: Scott Pilgrim dies?!?! It was the twist fans didn’t see coming.

At the end of ep one of Netflix’s adaptation of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s graphic novel series, the eponymous protagonist (voiced by Michael Cera) is faced by Matthew Patel (Satya Bhabha), the first “evil ex” of the love of Scott’s life, Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). Of course, they must battle, but unlike the comics or the 2010 film, Scott isn’t victorious. Instead, he evaporates into literal spare change. He dies!!! Whaaaaat!??

Mashable Film Editor Kristy Puchko asked O’Malley and series co-creator BenDavid Grabinski about it — you should read the whole interview — and some of the decisions came down to exploring other characters’ narratives. “We were both talking about how great it would be if we could find a way to have the story told a little bit more from Ramona’s perspective — and if we could spend more time with the exes,” Grabinski said. “Because if the story is about Scott fighting the exes, that’s always gonna take up a bunch of real estate. And the exes die, so then they can’t interact with each other.”

We get it, but still, WTF?! — Shannon Connellan, UK Editor

How to watch: Scott Pilgrim Takes Off is now streaming on Netflix.

*This blurb appeared on a previous Mashable list.

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