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The five greatest TV characters we lost in 2012

Lane Pryce (Jared Harris) - Mad Men - Seas4 - Gallery - PhoCredit: Frank Ockenfels/AMC

Lane Pryce (Jared Harris) - Mad Men - Season 4 - Gallery - Photo Credit: Frank Ockenfels/AMC

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Updated: January 29, 2013 6:12AM



As we bid adieu to 2012, it’s time to reflect on the television characters we lost along the way.

“Grey’s Anatomy” pulled the plug on star-crossed lovers Dr. Mark “McSteamy” Sloan (Eric Dane) and Dr. Lexie Grey (Chyler Leigh).

“The Bold and the Beautiful” said goodbye to veteran cast members Ronn Moss and Susan Flannery — one-half of the original “core four” who had been with the CBS sudser since its inception a quarter century ago.

Entire casts were wiped out when their shows disappeared. R.I.P. long-time favorites “Desperate Housewives,” “House,” “iCarly” and “Gossip Girl.” At least you had longer tenures than Starz’s underappreciated political drama “Boss,” ripped from our bosoms after two short seasons.

The biggest TV character loss in 2012 has to be iconic “Dallas” patriarch J.R. Ewing — a loss that’s all the more painful because it originated not in a Hollywood writers’ room but in the real world, when actor Larry Hagman, 81, succumbed to cancer last month. J.R., whose shooting in 1980 prompted a record 83 million viewers to tune in to “Dallas” to find out whodunit, will be laid to rest with a proper funeral in the upcoming second season of TNT’s reboot.

Of all the TV characters who rode off into the sunset in 2012, here are five I’ll miss the most.

Lori Grimes,
“The Walking Dead” (AMC)

Talk about making the ultimate sacrifice for your child. While dodging zombies in a prison, Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies) went into labor and made the brave decision to have an emergency C-section — without as much as a Tylenol to relieve the pain. Lori’s lifeless corpse then got a bullet in the brain courtesy of her oldest child, who wanted to spare Mom from coming back as a zombie. Lori wasn’t the only one putting others first in this heart-wrenching, Hallmark Channel-meets-horror movie episode; fan favorite T-Dog (IronE Singleton) offered himself up as zombie bait so Carol (Melissa McBride) could get away.

Lane Pryce, “Mad Men” (AMC)

Vacillating between penny-pincher and embezzler, the stuffy Brit (Jared Harris) wasn’t the most likable character on a show full of dapper, witty ad men. But you had to feel for the guy — always the awkward outsider — as his struggles both inside and outside the office mounted. Bereft of his dignity and livelihood, Lane sadly took his own life in the very office that bears his name, leaving his co-workers to find his hanging corpse.

Billie Kent,
“Boardwalk Empire” (HBO)

Nucky’s nubile object of affection, played by talented newcomer and Northwestern grad Meg Chambers Steedle, added a jolt of excitement to the period piece. A free-spirited showgirl, Billie epitomized the Roaring ’20s and youthful exuberance. She enchanted Nucky (Steve Buscemi), so much so that he took his eye off the bootlegging ball and almost lost his Atlantic City empire. Billie’s affair with Nucky ultimately cost her her life, which ended with a bang in an explosion engineered by sinister Gyp Rosetti (Bobby Cannavale), who also met his maker this year.

Mike Ehrmantraut,
“Breaking Bad” (AMC)

This cool-as-ice cop-turned-fixer was the perfect foil to Walter White (Bryan Cranston), the man who would ultimately do him in with a gunshot to the gut. Taciturn Mike (Jonathan Banks) could always be counted on to deliver Dirty Harry one-liners. When Walt demanded an “assurance” before getting out his car in a desolate field in season three, Mike quipped, “I assure you I can kill you from way over here if it makes you feel any better.” Behind Mike’s gruff façade lurked a doting grandpa, a street-smart guy who never let his ego get in the way of business.

Kristen Wiig,
“Saturday Night Live” (NBC)

After seven years as an all-star on the late-night comedy show, Wiig made her emotional departure in May with a musical sendoff led by Mick Jagger. Wiig wasn’t a TV character, but she gave us many over the years: Target lady, needy Penelope and creepy singing sister Dooneese with a big forehead and tiny hands, one of which fit snugly in Jon Hamm’s mouth. She rocked many an impersonation, from Paula Deen to Kathie Lee Gifford to Bjork. Wiig is certainly not the first big name to leave “SNL,” but she’s one of the most beloved.



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