Sons of Anarchy takes its very final ride tonight when the series finales airs on the FX network and over the past seven seasons there’s been a lot of death. So much death. Best and worst is subjective in this case, is it not? Does best mean, “Yay! they re finally dead!” Does it mean the person died honorably? Is the way they died a factor? Or does it mean the death of him/her affected viewers the most, blowing up social media, causing spoiler outrage?
For the best/worst death ever…..the end of Sons of Anarchy, let’s stroll down Reaper Lane and remember some of the mayhem.
Since this feature is about the deaths on the show, SPOILERS for the entire run of Sons Of Anarchy. Also, since the series finale has not aired yet, this list does not include anything from that episode.
UPDATE: Now that the series finale has aired, we’ve updated this feature to include events that occurred in this final episode. So, once again — SPOILERS!
Agent Kohn (Jay Karnes): Who? It was so long ago! At this point we were only invested in main characters, and Jax Teller (Charlie Hunnam) and Tara Knowles (Maggie Siff) needed something big to really pull them together. The catalyst was Kohn, Tara’s ex from Chicago that had started acting weird. Tara initially shot and injured him, but then Jax came in and ended him. As a reward for saving her, they made love with the body nearby. Ah romance! Kohn’s death = Best.
Marcus Alvarez’s son Esai (Kevin Alejandro): Although not unusually gruesome or upsetting on the SOA scale, this death perhaps was the moment that fans knew that all clubs loved their patch more than their actual family. Clay (Ron Perlman) wanted to cut the One Niners out of the guns deal by dealing with the Mayans, but the Mayans were on the wrong end of the revenge train at the time. In order to satisfy this revenge debt, Alvarez (Emilio Rivera) met and then sacrificed his son. Happy (David Labrava) stabbed him in the neck. Esai’s death = Good
Donna Winston (Sprague Grayden): The first death that truly mattered, we all sat in openmouthed horror as Tig (Kim Coates) shot Donna in the back of the head through Opie’s truck window, mistaking her for Opie (Ryan Hurst). Agent Stahl (Ally Walker) had set Opie up, making it look like he turned rat, so Clay told Tig to take care of him. Clay found out last minute that Opie didn’t turn and tried to take it back, but it was too late. Donna’s death = Worst for our feelings, but shockingly best.
Luann Delaney (Dendrie Taylor): The love of the ever-loyal Otto’s life was found at the bottom of a hill, beaten to death. All of Otto’s crazy was motivated by Luann from here til the end of him. Luann’s death = Worst, because…poor Otto!
A.J. Weston (Henry Rollins): One of the three men that brutally raped Gemma (Katey Sagal), this white supremacist finally got what was coming to him as Jax silently shot him in a bathroom stall. It got a little tricky because Weston was with his kids, but he sent his kids away calmly and faced his doom. Weston’s death = A good one.
Polly Zobelle and Edmond Hayes (Sarah Jones and Callard Harris): Agent Stahl shoots Edmond (son of IRA Cameron Hayes), then gets Gemma to take the fall when she stumbles in and shoots his lover Polly for setting up the rape. Edmond’s death = Ok. No big deal. Polly’s death = A little better as she deserved it for her part in Gemma’s rape and the creepy kiss she gave her father.
Half-Sack (Johnny Lewis): Art imitates life as Kurt Sutter needed Johnny Lewis off the show for his inconsistent work ethic and a disturbing feeling. Unlike the actor, the character went out a hero, trying to protect Tara and Abel unsuccessfully, as Cameron Hayes sticks a butcher knife in him and steals the baby, causing an entire next season of anguish for Jax. Half-Sack’s death = Best because it had to happen.
David Hale (Taylor Sheridan): A good guy and a conflicted cop (aren’t they all?), Charming’s Deputy Chief of Police had a soft spot for Tara and the club, having grown up with her, Jax, and Opie. He met his end at Half-Sack’s funeral when he was run over by the van that held a drive-by shooter. Death = Worst. I really think he had more story to tell.
Cameron Hayes (Jamie McShane): Seeking revenge for Gemma killing his son (or so he thinks), Abel’s kidnapper meets his end in a church pew, after Jimmy O’Phelan (Titus Welliver) and the IRA decided he was a liability. He was strangled quietly with the blessing of a priest. Fans worried… what would become of Abel? Death = Good. I hate babynappers.
Amelia (Monique Gabriela Cumen): Gemma’s dad’s caretaker gets her own knife to the gut, when she tries to escape to cash in on the reward on Gemma’s head. Tig helps Tara and Gemma get rid of the evidence, by calling for the cleaner (Stephen King!). Amelia’s death = Meh. Didn’t care either way that she died, only that the three were going to keep a secret (albeit short-lived) from the club.
McGee (Andy McPhee): Part of the first 9, McGee, Clay, and JT formed the Belfast charter. McGee hooked up with Jimmy and Liam O’Neill (who was shot by Jax), and betrayed the club for money. This was an example of killing with love as Clay hugged him then shoved him off a roof to his death. Death = Pretty damn good.
Lumpy (Michael Fairman): Friend of the club and owner of the local boxing gym, Lumpy didn’t want to sell to Jacob Hale (Jeff Kober). Hale hired Salazar to beat him up, making it look like a Mayan job. Lumpy later died of internal injuries. Death = Worst. Lumpy survived the Holocaust, but couldn’t survive Charming, California.
Abel’s adoptive parents: This seemed like a chance for Jax to save his son as he selflessly let Abel go to live with a nice, normal, happy couple away from the club. But alas, everything SAMCRO touches turns to blood. Those poor nice folks were brutally murdered and Abel was snatched once again. Death = The Worst! It was sad and pointless.
Hector Salazar (Jose Pablo Cantillo): Vicious Tara really was an old lady as she took a piece of mirror and sliced Salazar’s girl’s throat to escape captivity with Margaret, her boss turned friend. Promising to save his girl Luisa if he set Margaret free, Salazar flipped as she died anyway. He dragged Tara to get another hostage in Jacob Hale, as everybody swarms around them. The plan is to kill Tara in front of Jax, but plans go awry as they are apt to do. Jax stabs Salazar to death, then cuts his own arm with an ax to claim self-defense. Death = Pretty good. I was happy about this one.
Agent Tyler (Pamela J. Gray): We knew Stahl was a nasty piece of work, but thought it was motivated via an “I don’t care what criminals are sacrificed to achieve my goals.” We didn’t know how evil she was until she turned around and shot her lover in the neck, then pretended to cry as she died in her arms, just because it would help her further in this case and her career. Death = Worst. It disgusted me and I wanted Stahl to die right then.
Jimmy O’Phelan: I heart Titus Welliver. I never want his bad-guy characters to die. But they must. Chibs (Tommy Flanagan) finally returned the scarring favor (also because he stole his family) before he massacred Jimmy by slicing through his chest in a con that also led to the one below. Jimmy’s death = Ok…best…he’ll be on three more shows before I finish writing this anyway.
Agent Stahl (Ally Walker): Thinking she got her guy (Jimmy) and had succeeded turning the club on Jax, ATF Agent Stahl was in for an unhappy surprise when the sneaky tables turned on her. Opie finally got HIS revenge and blew out the back of her skull. Stahl’s death = Best, best, best, and best!!!!
All the Russians (and an undercover FBI agent): Lyla and Opie’s wedding was a blast! Literally…all the Russians were invited and systemically taken out at the wedding, while Otto did some scalpel artistry with one on the inside. Death = So much death.
Miles (Frank Potter): Juice’s first betrayal victim, Miles accidentally caught Juice with the stolen cocaine brick from the stash, and a fist/knife/gun battle ensued, of which Juice was the victor. Or was he? This hastened his unraveling. Guilt is an unhandleable emotion for Juicy. Death = Not good. He died with everyone believing he was a “lying bitch” and stripped of his patch.
Piney (William Lucking): This death hurt me. Poor Piney! He was devastated when his daughter-in-law was killed. He tried to protect Tara, who had bombshell letters that implicated Gemma and Clay’s role in John Teller’s death. A member of the original charter, along with Clay and JT, Piney still believed the club meant something and could survive without all the illegal stuff. He stood up to Clay to the very end, and got a shotgun blast to the chest to show for it. Piney’s death = Best…honorable til the end.
Kozik (Kenny Johnson): Kozik, a transfer from the Tacoma chapter, went out with a bang when he stepped on a mine after getting trapped in a minefield with Juice, Clay, and Romeo. He uttered, “You got to be shittin’ me!” after hearing the death-click and then pieces of him flew in the air and his hand fell on Juice. Death = Pretty good. Johnson’s character on The Shield (a Sutter production) died via exploding grenade.
Georgie (Tom Arnold): An abusive porn pimp, we didn’t get to witness this slimeball’s death, just watch Tig and Opie shoot up the trunk of a car Bobby stuffed him into. But he deserved it for beating Luann to death. Death = Good.
Laroy then Darnell (pictured with Tyler): The first was chopped up into bitty pieces, which were shown to his successor Darnell. Darnell, the second, was shot soon after, in front of the “oh-god-I-don’t-want-to-be-the-third” third, Tyler. Death = Pope and Marks don’t play around.
Opie Winston (Ryan Hurst): My favorite! Introduced as Jax’s BFF who was trying to live on the straight and narrow for the sake of his family, Opie could not help but be pulled back into the club. It brought him nothing but heartache as his wife was mistakenly gunned down by Tig (Kim Coates) on orders from Clay, and then his dad WAS gunned down by Clay for putting doubts in Tara’s head (along with the letters) about Clay’s role in JT’s death. In season 5, Opie decides to go back to the club and immediately and purposefully gets arrested when he sees Tig and Jax about to be taken away. In prison, Jax has to sacrifice one of his guys to settle Damon Pope’s death debt. Jax plans on giving himself, but Opie jumps in front of him. His “I got this” was one of the best moments of the series, and Opie went down with a smile on his face. Fans cried out in anguish with Jax as one of the most beloved characters of the series met his end. Death = We didn’t want it to happen, but it was still the best.
Dawn Trager (Rachel Miner): Punishing Tig for accidentally killing his daughter when he tried to take out Laroy, Damon Pope killed Dawn in front her father, Tig, in the worst way I have ever seen someone die on television. His men poured gasoline on her and set her on fire in a pit, while she screamed for her daddy, and Tig wailed in horrific grief. I almost stopped watching the show that day. Death = The worst death ever, so much so that it was the best in terms of shock value.
Carla (Wanda de Jesus): Nero’s half-sister nursed more than a crush, but lost it when he got involved with Gemma. She held Gemma at gunpoint, but when Nero told her to shoot him, she turned the gun on herself. Clay helped Gemma out of that mess, even though they were estranged at the time. Death = Wackjob.
Frankie Diamonds (Chuck Zito): He went the way of his two home invasion accomplices, killed by the Italian Piretti, right after he told Juice that Clay was in on it, but before Jax could hear. Jax found out soon after anyway, because Juice was in full-fledged guilty Juice mode. Death = Expected.
Damon Pope (Harold Perrineau): In one of the most satisfying cons in the history of Sons of Anarchy, Jax had both Tig and Damon Pope convinced that he was turning Tig over (because burning Tig’s kid alive wasn’t enough). Jax turned the tables on Pope by allowing him to lead Tig away before he takes out Pope’s men and hands Tig Clay’s gun to take him out. Death = Best and Harold Perrineau will also be in three more shows by the end of the week.
Rita Roosevelt (Merle Dandridge): Eli Roosevelt’s wife Rita was introduced in season 4 as a florist who starts to befriend Gemma. In Season 5, right after they are a smiley, happy, we-are-gonna-be-parents couple (they jinxed it), Rita accidentally shoots herself with her own gun, while trying to defend herself from masked intruders that invade her home. She and her unborn child die soon after. Death = Worst.
Arcadio and Darveney (Dave Navarro and Samaire Armstrong): Darveney’s son shot up his school, and she tried to get her man Arcadio (Navarro) to run with her. Nero killed him and Juice suffocated her on Jax’s orders, leading to that final “you betrayed me” preceding Tara and Eli’s death. Death = Worst. Why?
Filthy Phil (Christopher Reed): Poor Phil got gunned down and de-handed alongside one of Lin’s men, by Galen and Connor, as a punny message to Jax. Jax shot down Galen’s Irish cause and told him “hands off my club.” Death = Good. Hands off, indeed.
Lee Toric (Donal Logue): A vendetta against the Sons for Otto’s murder of his sister with unwitting help from Tara, Lee Toric gets it in the end, by the man he tortured the most (see Otto Delaney below). Toric made the Sons look like alter boys, shooting up, killing hookers, and framing innocent people. Death = Justified.
Otto Delaney (Kurt Sutter): Nobody has ever suffered for his club as much as Otto Delaney (Sutter). Their man on the inside, Otto had been imprisoned for decades, passing info, with the condition that the club look after his wife, Luann. They failed. And worse, he thought Bobby killed her, so he turned rat. But not for long. He bit off his own tongue so he couldn’t testify. Toric had him repeatedly raped as punishment. Clay secretly passed him a knife, and Otto ended freaky Toric, and died in a hail of officer gunfire, in peace at last. Death = Best. He deserved the death he craved.
Galen (Timothy V. Murphy): The head of the Irish, Galen, was finally repaid for his “hands off” policy as Jax got his revenge, and returned a bullet for a handshake. Death = Good.
Clay Morrow (Ron Perlman): What hasn’t Clay done? Who hasn’t he turned on? Why was he such a compelling character? He was not like Jax – the reluctant hero turned killer when he lost his true love. Clay was always a killer, yet there was always a glimpse that he could turn good – that he could love and be loyal to someone other than Gemma. It’s why they followed him. And why he had to die. Clay put together a deal where he would go to Belfast and put together his own crew, after helping SAMCRO deal with the Irish and the guns. Jax shoots Galen and the Irish, and walks him to his end. He smiles at Gemma as Jax shoots him in the throat. Death = Best. He had to pay.
Tara Knowles (Maggie Siff): Torn throughout the seasons between her love for Jax and the safety of the kids, Tara had not settled into “old lady” life, despite having punched, killed, and threatened with the best of them. She spent the entire season plotting with her lawyer, Wendy (Drea de Mateo), friend and administrator Margaret, and eventually Unser (Dayton Callie) to extricate her and her boys from club life. No secrets stay secret, but Jax surprises her. Instead of killing her as she feared he would when he showed up at the park with the club, he instead wants to go to prison instead of her for the nurse’s death at the hand of Otto. The estranged couple reunites and makes love for the last time, unbeknownst to them. Gemma, shows up at their house as Tara is packing and attacks her, believing she betrayed the club. First a bit of drowning and then a barbecue fork to the head, and Tara is no more, setting up season 7. Death = Best, but I’m not happy about it. Social media blew sky high that night.
Eli Roosevelt (Rockmond Dunbar): Charming finally got a cop who was on the side of the law, but he didn’t last too long. His death, minutes after Tara’s, was almost boring. After a barbecue fork, two shots to the back seems pretty lame. But, it WAS shocking that it happened at all because that triggered the season-long mystery – the mystery to the club anyway. Juice kills him after Eli tells Gemma that Tara never betrayed the club. Juice helps Gemma flee the scene and takes care of some evidence. Death = Conflicted. I didn’t want Eli to die. I didn’t want Gemma to get away with murder for as long as she did. But it did add to the already unfolded drama.
Collette & Diosa’s Girls (Kim Dickens & others): Porn stars with hearts of gold, and Jax’s on-again, off-again lover, get brutally murdered by Lin’s men, after they call Nero (Jimmy Smitts) to thank him and that it wasn’t personal. Death = Made its point. Season 7 is not playing games.
Jury White (Michael Shamus Wiles): Jury helped Jax out with Lin’s guys, bringing along two young guys. Jax and Sons kill the two boys, setting it up to look like the Chinese did it. One of those boys was Jury’s secret son and he recognized the set-up. This discovery led Jax to believe Jury ratted him out. They met up and Jax killed him, lying about his confession and claiming self-defense. Death = Bad. This was one of JT’s best friends.
Bobby Munson (Mark Boone Jr): Poor Bobby only ever wanted to do what was best for the club, and he died as he lived. After losing an eye (I saw THAT costume on Halloween), and a couple of fingers, it looked like he would be released back to the club, because Jax had to cave. Alas, August Marks went to Damon Pope School for Merciless Killers, and shot Bobby through the head in front of Jax at the moment of freedom. Death = So bad it was good. RIP Bobby!
Henry Lin (Kenneth Choi): The head of the Lin Triad is in the dark as Jax arranges for his men to be massacred, and tortures and then kills one of his men with a barbecue fork, having been pointed in that Tara’s killer’s direction by Gemma and Juice. Lin retaliates (see above), but ends up getting pinched. Juice, trying to win his way back in the club (not gonna happen!), gets Lin to name Barosky as rat, then murders him as he hangs there. Death = Worst. I don’t know why I felt bad for this gang member, I just did.
Juice Ortiz (Theo Rossi): Poor Juice has always been weak-willed, pushed and pulled because of his insecurities and fears. We saw it when he was being used for info by the Feds. We saw it when he killed Miles and then tried to kill himself – twice. We saw it when he betrayed Jax and then Clay. And again when he confessed to Nero about killing Darveney, again betraying Jax. The only time he had ever seemed sure of himself was when he shot Roosevelt and held a hand out to Gemma, sealing their Season 7 fate. Juice spent this season hiding and stressing until the club eventually found him, thanks to Alvarez, then sent him to prison on a mission. Juice thought it was redemption, so he endured Tully’s (Marilyn Manson) loving, and awaited his opportunity to kill Lin. No redemption, but a clean death for finally telling Jax the truth about Tara. The Chinese pointed Juice towards taking Tully out, but he “went out good” allowing Tully to kill him instead, after a piece of pie. Death = Very best. Juice only ever wanted approval and acceptance from the club, and kept getting in trouble when that acceptance was threatened. He did the right thing by his club by thwarting the Chinese’s plans.
Wayne Unser (Dayton Callie): Unser has lived and breathed the club through all the seasons. It is fitting that he died for his one true love, Gemma. There was nothing more poignant than Jax asking him to go and Unser turning to look at her one last time and stating, “I got nothing left but this.” So Jax blew him away. Death = Best. Really…I’ve always liked Unser and I don’t think he deserved to die, but he died for love, and that was sweet and honorable.
Gemma Teller Morrow (Katey Sagal): This was a long time coming and not unexpected. We watched in anticipation as the pieces began falling into place with Juice’s unraveling, her whispered confession in front of Abel, and his innocuous, “So is that why Grandma killed my other mommy, so my first mommy could be here with me?” Finishing her downward spiral that began (kind of) when she stuck a fork in Tara’s head, Gemma seemed relieved and at peace at the end, even encouraging Jax to pull the trigger. His anguish was palpable (although upstaged by his anguish in Nero’s arms), but he knew as we knew that she needed to die. Death = Best and necessary.
Who will die in tonight’s series finale “Papa’s Goods”? I’m not really sure. I stayed away from those Kurt-Sutter-accidentally-gives-away-ending bits in my newsfeed, afraid that he really did and the ending will be spoiled for me (as the last 2 episodes were before I got to my DVR). Although straying a bit from the Hamlet theme in the middle, Sons seems to be back on track, so my hunch is that Jax has to die. But Sutter has given us many bloody surprises along the way, and I expect nothing less at the end. The only difference is that I will be watching in real time this time.
Hey…maybe the ending will be that everyone who died is reunited in heaven while dressed like lumberjacks right before the screen suddenly goes black!
Too soon? RIP Sons of Anarchy.
No luck of the Irish: Connor survives an Irish bloodbath once again as Jax takes out several Irish soldiers. Jax wants Connor to allow Alvarez do all the gun distribution, while he works with the Belfast charter. Connor, defeated, points out that he just butchered an IRA king. Jax smiles and says, “My old man tried to sever that tie 20 years ago. Better late than never.”
Charles Barosky (Peter Weller): Barosky was merely an item to check off on Jax’s to-do list. Jax strode into the shop, Barosky greeted him warmly, Jax put a bullet in his head, then added a few more for good measure. The customers suddenly were not very hungry anymore. Dead rat isn’t very appetizing.
August Marks (Billy Brown): This death was not a surprise. At first, I thought August Marks was a gentler Damon Pope (Harold Perrineau), suave and still a killer, but less brutal and a man of reason. The way Bobby (Mark Boone Jr.) was pulled apart (literally) rivaled Pope’s brutality. Ok, maybe it didn’t rival burn-a-teen-alive Pope. God! I will never unsee that! Marks was a credible, immediate threat that was “70 miles away” from the club (but not to Tyler), so he had to be taken out. This was the second biggest death of the last episode. The homeless woman who has appeared throughout the series, comes face to face with Jax who says, “Who are you?” She hands him his “cover” and says “It’s time.” It is the gift from this Angel of Death that shields him until the right moment for him, wrong moment for Marks.
Jax Teller (Charlie Hunnam): The only fitting end for a troubled life. “A good father and a good outlaw can’t saddle inside the same man,” Jax spoke to his own dead father, finally understanding the manuscript, the letters, and the life. His day was spent making sure his affairs were in order (gives Nero the honor of watching out for Wendy and the boys), killing bunches (see the three previous deaths), and saying lots of goodbyes — some without words. His last act as president was to patch in TO Cross, the first black member of SAMCRO. He confesses to Patterson the truth of Gemma’s death. Jax closed the circle John Teller began. The club voted for Mr. Mayhem at the behest of Jax for killing Jury. He hopped on his bike after shooting at an officer and then it was time for the final ride. The posse increases moment to moment, crows flying above. He sees his doom in a “Papa’s Goods” truck driven by the same driver who gave Gemma a lift to her own death. On his father’s bike, on the same road, in the same manner without ambiguous intent. Hands off the bike, arms outstretched, slow peaceful smile, and close your eyes. Crows fly away as the blood flows into frame.
Sons of Anarchy Season 7 Episode 13 “Papa’s Goods” trailer: