How ‘The Good Wife’ Shocker Out-Scandalized ‘Scandal’

How 'The Good Wife' Shocker Out-Scandalized 'Scandal'

Two major twists in four days — what is this, cable?

(Spoiler alert: Don't read this if you haven't seen Sunday's “Good Wife” or Thursday's “Scandal.”)

“The Good Wife” creators Michelle and Robert King must have watched all the fuss over Thursday's “Scandal” surprise with plenty of amusement — because they knew their own show had an even bigger shock ahead.

Sunday's “Good Wife” featured the shooting death of Josh Charles‘ Will Gardner, and arrived just four days after “Scandal” made Twitter go wild over the death of James Novak (Dan Bucatinsky). Will's death was more surprising because Charles has been one of the show's leads since the beginning.

Also read: ‘Scandal’ Shocker: The Shot Heard Round the Net, by the Numbers

In both cases, the shows easily could have written the characters off without killing them, freeing up the actors to do other projects while leaving open the option of bringing them back.

But no. Not after “Game of Thrones.”

Also read: Michael J. Fox Returning to ‘The Good Wife’

In death, as in so many other things, networks are taking the cues from cable shows. In the past year, “Thrones,” “Breaking Bad,” “Homeland,” and “Sons of Anarchy” have all killed off characters we never imagined losing.

Cable shows tend to surprise us with deaths by placing them late in a season, but not in a finale. (The finale, after all, is when we expect big things to happen.) “The Good Wife” and “Scandal” took the same approach.

Also read: ‘Scandal’ Postmortem: Dan Bucatinsky Talks Show's Shocking Death

It's certainly good for drama — we never know who will die next. But it usurps the traditional broadcast TV model, in which shows try to keep shows from changing too much, for the sake of stability and syndication.

The Outstanding Drama Series category has been a playpen for cable shows for years. “The Good Wife” was one of the only shows able to slip in recently. Sunday's episode was a good illustration of why: The CBS drama goes where other broadcast shows don't — and where fans of Will wish it hadn't.

  • Tressa Eckermann

    I love “Scandal” and James’ death was deeply moving (if the press conference scene didn't make you cry I don't think you have a heart) but “The Good Wife” is leaps and bounds ahead of “Scandal”. It is the most perfectly executed, acted and written show on television. Every single week it challenges the viewer and proves itself to be the best drama on network television. Will was my favorite character and I'm so sad about his death but I'm also so excited to see where it's going to take the show.

    • TwiggyB

      That was sooooooooooooooo hard to take, I could barely watch it. And we know how guilty he feels because he setup his partner without ever realizing what the effects would be.

      This just gets deeper . . .

  • Jeff Scott

    A shocker, to say the least! CBS gets credit for fooling us all–a “3 episode event” indeed, they set us up to think the result of the political scandal would lead to something like Will getting disbarred or the governor resigning. Such a daring achievement in so many ways. Will has been a central presence and tension in the show and tension for such a long time that an episode like this was unimaginable until it happened. Though Will is a great character, I admired the guts of the actor for deciding it was time to move on to other projects. There are 2 or 3 leading roles in every show that kind of define the franchise. Few actors in that situation willingly step away from a show when they are on the top of their game. That Will chose to do that at the peak of his character actually makes his role with the show even more powerful. Always leave them wanting more.

    • jerseydave

      Oh yeah. I thought that the guy on trial was going to kill himself or do suicide by cop, never expected what happened.Also kudos to them for keeping it quiet so it would be a surprise in the “leaks” era we have today.

  • DavidVilches

    This is one of the best shows I've ever seen in my LIFE. I'm still shocked and very THANKFUL that this show exists.

  • BlackCanseco

    this will be interesting. Scandal is pure hyperbolic nighttime soap. it's what it's been from jump. if other shows try to randomly stunt episode their way way into competing it won't end well.

    killing off Will in such a slap-dash manner was really bizarre and not needed. it woulda made sense to see his character arrested or forced out in a hostile-takeover of some sort. now that he's dead, you're stuck.

    hope the buzz was worth it.

    • TwiggyB

      The actor, Josh Charles wanted off the show in Season 4 but was talked into staying until now. Good for him and he'll direct one of the next few shows as well.

      Sure, it could have been LBO-leverage buyout/hostile take over but life is not always so neat & clean. There are shocking events that happen to all of us all the time and we just have learn to cope with that unexpected situation. Ergo all the things that follow from this point on are really going to test the mettle of those characters, the audience and the fans. I'll be watching because we'll get to see the “layer under the layer” of how those characters really feel and what they've been hiding from each other and themselves.


  • TwiggyB

    Josh Charles, now the late Will Gardner, was recently married and has a new baby. He probably wanted some time with them before he goes off to his next project. I know I would. And yes, that would be nice to see him on Newsroom to end that show.

    I can't wait to see which show he directs on The Good Wife. And bringing in Michael J. Fox from his canceled comedy will make us all throw something at our TV screens next week. So get out those nerf balls/frisbees because I can see myself throwing some Tupperware/Rubbermaid next week.

    Also the gloves and veneer are off on the Florricks marriage. For the first time, we'll see how Peter really feels about his wife having feelings for another man while he was skirt-chasing other women. The shoe is on the other foot and Peter knows it. He now has to deal with his own weaknesses and face reality that he's really a crappy husband.

    But aren't we all glued even more to The Good Wife now more than ever??? My Thursdays with Scandal and now my Sundays with The Good Wife are must see TV for sure!

  • mandawg

    I wouldn't say any of the people who died in Breaking Bad were people I never imagined losing. Probably the opposite is true.

  • Jimmy

    This show deserves an Emmy nomination for Best Drama this year and be worthy of the win, as well. Josh Charles is also deserving of an Emmy for this season.

  • Carl Mape

    Still trying to get over Matthew Crawley's (Dan Stevens) shocking death on Downton Abbey on 12/25/12!