Over the years, TV murders have become quirkier and quirkier, in part to compete in an ever-crowded genre, in part a reflection of just how disturbed TV writers’ imaginations are.
Period procedural Anno 1790, new to SBS On Demand, features a skull crushed by printing press, a wooden peg to the brain and what looks to be a lethal horse kick among other eclectic murders.
To wit, here are our top 20 quirkiest TV murders of all time. They’re head-scratchingly bizarre and not for the faint hearted.
The Hot Dog – Six Feet Under
In one of the series’ signature cold (!) opens, a nursing home resident shuts her complaining roommate up permanently by shoving a hot dog down her throat. That’s one form of conflict resolution.
The Human Cello – Hannibal
A show about creatively minded serial killers deserves another entry. A classical musician has a fetish for creating musical corpses, his piece de resistance, a cello neck shoved down a corpse’s throat to create one hell of a creepy performance.
The Body Totem Pole – Hannibal
Hannibal is the gift that keeps giving, with the ‘body totem pole’ a standout in a litany of imaginative murders. Staged on a desolate beach, this is a serial killer’s, straight-up artfully disturbing tribute to his life’s work.
The Deep Freeze – Picket Fences
Picket Fences reached peak quirk with season three’s macabre freezer corpse storyline. One victim was a masseur who gave many of Rome’s female residents more than just a therapeutic rubdown. A happy ending this was not.
The Ballpoint Pen – Fringe
When a mentally handicapped man is given a smart drug, he uses a ballpoint pen to orchestrate the seemingly random deaths of those that plan to restore him to his diminished mental state.
The Arcade Game – CSI: Crime Scene Investigation
A video arcade landlord is murdered via circular saw followed by the discovery of a woman’s corpse wrapped in plastic and stuffed in a Ms. Pac-Man machine. Gaming really can be all consuming.
The Corpses – Dexter
Instead of showing pictorial evidence to his prey as he normally would, Dexter (Michael C. Hall) confronts the culprit with the bodies of his child victims before his reckoning. Corpses Dexter dug up himself. Awkward.
The Skin Crawler - The X Files
Beware the pedestrian who ignores this quaintly talented paraplegic beggar from season 8. Fail to drop some spare change and he’ll crawl inside you and kill you.
The Trebuchet - Midsomer Murders
This episode of the countryside kill-fest featured a double-doozy - one man drowned in a TV set (yes that’s right); another staked by croquet hoops and glassed with wine bottles catapulted from his own trebuchet.
The Tumble Drier - Midsomer Murders
A show this murderous deserves another entry with this season 11 shocker. It’s alcoholic housekeeper Miss Crouch in the laundry offed via tumble drier spin cycle. That’s one way to dry out.
The Goo - Stranger Things
Fans hoped that the beloved Barb (Shannon Purser) would somehow make it out of The Upside Down unscathed. After all, others did. For now, it seems the permed, high-panted breakthrough character lies for eternity in a goo-cocoon secreted by the Demogorgon.
The Glue – Seinfeld
Ok so this one’s technically manslaughter, but George Costanza’s tight-arsery may as well be the murder weapon. When fiancé Susan repeatedly licks the stocky bald man’s cheapest choice of toxic wedding envelopes, it’s lights out in one of TV’s most shocking deaths.
The Bug Eyes – Game of Thrones
At the end of an epic battle, The Mountain (Hafþór Júlíus "Thor" Björnsson) finishes the job by thumb-gouging the eyes of Oberyn Martell (Pedro Pascal) aka The Red Viper, until they explode.
The Sex Toy – American Horror Story
In AHS Hotel, New Girl’s Max Greenfield is literally screwed via a drill-bit dildo. (Writer squirms awkwardly in seat).
The Cursed Vajayjay – American Horror Story
In AHS Coven, Taissa Farmiga’s witch Zoe has a cursed vagina causing her lover to bleed out in a bothersome case of coitus interruptus and/or killer orgasm.
The UFO – Fargo
A trolling UFO hovering above distracts crime family member Bear Gerhardt (Angus Sampson) for long enough to lose his scuffle with cop Lou Solverson (Patrick) who guns him down.
The Tweets – Scream Queens
Ariana Grande’s Chanel No.2 is stabbed to death by the Red Devil, all the while tweeting the bloodshed. In the all-consuming social media age, not even your own murder goes undocumented.
The Doppelgänger – Boardwalk Empire
Brothel madam Gillian Darmody (Gretchen Mol) takes a lover who resembles her dead son. Needing said doppelgänger’s corpse to legitimate an inheritance, she injects him with heroin in a bath before gently drowning him. That’s one messed up form of grief therapy.
The Blood Eagle – Vikings
Ragnar Lothbrok (Travis Fimmel) uses this sickeningly brutal, traditional Viking punishment on his very cheesy sounding rival Jarl Borg (Thorbjørn Harr). We’ll spare you the details, except to say that it involves the victim dying painfully by way of severe anatomical origami.
The T-Shirt Shooter – The Simpsons.
Another shocking death when Homer, the desired target of a track girl’s T-shirt shooter bends over and the missive sends Maude Flanders, just back from a hotdog run, to the great beyond. As we come full circle quirk, a hotdog is again an accomplice.
Anno 1790 is available to stream on SBS On Demand: