The year 2011 may have been a groundbreaker -- as well as a neck-cruncher and arm-smasher -- when it came to showing TV characters being offed in creative, gruesome ways. The blood flowed not only on CBS procedurals such as the "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" franchise and "Bones," but on prestigious series such as "Boardwalk Empire" and "Breaking Bad." Some of the carnage was so extreme that even viewers who are usually strong of stomach found themselves covering their eyes during several of these horrific scenes.
1. "Breaking Bad," "Face Off": Drug kingpin Gustavo Fring (Giancarlo Esposito) caused a lot of mayhem for enemies -- and friends-- on the AMC drama. But Gus really went out with a bang in the season finale when he was blown up in a bomb explosion in a nursing home. The blast tears half his face off, but he still has enough sense of style to straighten his tie before collapsing.
"Breaking Bad" runner-up -- "Box Cutter": Gus slashes the throat of an accomplice with a box cutter.
2. "Game of Thrones," "A Golden Crown:" A drunken Viserys (Harry Lloyd), who is jealous when his pregnant sister Daenerys (Emila Clarke) becomes popular with the Dothaki tribe, pulls a sword on her and threatens to cut out her child if her husband, Khal Drogo (Jason Momoa), does not conquer the Seven Kingdoms and win him a crown. Khal responds by giving him a true "golden crown," pouring a cauldron of molten gold on his head.
"Game of Thrones" runner-up -- "Cripples, Bastards and Broken Things": Ser Gregor Clegane (Conan Stevens) pierces the neck of an opponent during a jousting match.
3. "Boardwalk Empire," "Gimcrack and Bunsum": Gangster Jimmy Darmody (Michael Pitt) holds down a veteran of the American Indian wars who had earlier struck him with a cane, as accomplice Richard Darrow (Jack Huston) scalps him.
"Boardwalk Empire" runner-up "Gimcrack and Bunsum": Sheriff Eli Thompson (Shea Whigham) loses control and kills a man by bashing his head in with a wrench.
4."Dexter" -- "Get Gellar": Dexter and Miami Metro homicide detectives discover the body of a professor who has been killed by a serial murderer staging religious slayings. The body, which is on the stage of a lecture hall, has been drained of blood. When the detectives start to investigate, they trip a booby trap that opens up a huge container above them and rains blood and guts all over them.
5. "Sons of Anarchy"-- "Fruit for the Crows": Outlaw motorcycle gang member Juice (Theo Rossi) shoots an attacker point blank in the face several times, shattering the man's skull.
What were your favorite TV deaths of 2011? Tell us in the comments below.
Robert Lloyd's Top New TV of 2011
Mary McNamara's Top TV of 2011
-- Greg Braxton
Upper photo: Gustovo Fring (Giancarlo Esposito) puts on plastic garments before slashing the throat of an accomplice in "Breaking Bad.' Credit: Ursula Coyote / AMC
Lower photo: Michael Pitt, left, and Richard Easton in "Boardwalk Empire." In a scene from the episode, Pitt's character holds Easton's character down as he is being scalped. Credit: Macall B. Polay