Jacob Zinn :: journalist + photographer

Getting Desperate for death

Posted in Observations, TV & Film by Jacob Zinn on May 18, 2009

With the season finales wrapping up (most of which already have), it’s sometimes fun to look back on a series and see how far it’s come.

Desperate Housewives just finished its fifth season and since its television debut on ABC in 2004, a number of characters in this dramedy have been killed off in plot twists and turns. Actually, 33 characters, to be specific.

I took a stroll down Wisteria Lane (the street the housewives live on) and tried to find out how many times the Grim Reaper had to visit their block. Here’s my body count by season number, episode number, character, type of death and a description.

Spoiler Alert

Season One

[1.01] Mary Alice Young – Suicide
Mary Alice was a former housewife who killed herself with a pistol in the pilot episode, creating the mystery of the first season. Since then, she has been the narrating voice for almost every episode in the series.

[1.08] Martha Huber – Murder
Mrs. Huber was a nosey neighbour who Paul Young, Mary Alice’s husband, suspected of driving Mary Alice to suicide. So he hit her over the head with a blender and buried her body in the woods.

[1.17] Juanita “Mama” Solis – Accident
Mama Solis, Carlos Solis’ mother, was put in a coma after a hit-and-run with a car driven by Andrew Van De Kamp. When she awoke, she left her hospital bed, but fell down the stairs to her death.

[1.23] Rex Van De Kamp – Murder
A heart attack put Rex, Andrew’s father, in the hospital and the doctor told him not to eat foods with potassium. Meanwhile, his wife Bree befriended pharmacist George Williams. Jealous of Bree and Rex’s marriage, George put potassium pills in Rex’s prescription which lead to Rex’s death.

[1.23] Deirdre Taylor – Murder
Deirdre was a recovering drug addict who had given birth to a son named Dana. Dana was adopted out to Paul and Mary Alice, who renamed him Zach. When Zach was two, Deirdre tracked down the Youngs after cleaning up her act and tried to get Zach back. In Zach’s defense, Mary Alice stabbed Deirdre with a kitchen knife and Paul buried her in a chest under their swimming pool.

Season Two

[2.09] George Williams – Suicide
With Rex dead, George thought Bree would fall in love with him, but when she didn’t, his depression drove him to overdose on pills in hopes that Bree would call 9-1-1 for an ambulance. She didn’t.

[2.11] Curtis Monroe – Accident
Detective Curtis Monroe was hired to investigate the Applewhites, the new black family that joined the neighbourhood in season two. While walking down the wooden stairs to the basement, he fell through and his gun went off, shooting him in the stomach.

[2.23/24] Melanie Foster – Murder
Matthew Applewhite, the oldest son of Betty Applewhite, had told his mother that his girlfriend Melanie foster was killed by his mentally challenged brother Caleb, who they kept locked in the basement most of the time. Turns out Matthew had beaten her to death with a two-by-four in a lumber yard.

[2.23/24] Ralph – Accident
In season two, Carlos Solis was on house arrest, with the exception of doing community service. He didn’t feel like doing it, so he paid his gardener Ralph to take his place. Ralph got hit by a speeding vehicle while picking up trash on the side of the highway. Better yet, when Carlos’ wife Gabrielle was informed, she thought her husband was dead–it made for quite a hilarious scene.

[2.23/24] Noah Taylor – Murder/Assisted Suicide/Whatever
Noah, Deirdre’s father and Zach’s grandfather, was on his death bed when he asked Zach to put him out of his misery. Zach unplugged the ventilator and Noah passed away, leaving his entire estate to Zach.

[2.23/24] Matthew Applewhite – Murder, I guess…
Matthew was in the Van De Kamp’s house, armed with a pistol, trying to break into their safe so he and Danielle (Bree’s daughter) can run away together. Bree interrupts and gets put at gunpoint by Matthew, but before he can pull the trigger, a SWAT team breaks through the windows and shoots him dead. That came out of nowhere.

Season Three

[3.07] Nora Huntington – Murder
Nora, the woman Tom Scavo had a one night stand with, is introduced in season three–and she has a daughter, Kayla. In the episode titled “Bang,” Carolyn Bigsby brings a handgun to a supermarket where her husband Harvey works, planning on killing him for having an affair with Monique Pollier. Instead, it turns into a hostage situation and Nora gets shot.

[3.07] Carolyn Bigsby – Murder in Self-Defense
As the hostages wrestle the gun away from Carolyn, a customer named Maya gets a hold of it and shoots Carolyn dead.

[3.10] Rebecca Shephard – Illness
After the Applewhites were taken to jail (or shot) at the end of season two, Art Shephard and his wheelchair-bound sister Rebecca moved into the vacant house. Midway through the season, Rebecca goes into cardiac arrest and passes away. It isn’t long before Art moves off of Wisteria Lane after it’s discovered he’s a pedophile.

[3.13] Jane Hainsworth – Illness
After unsuccessfully triggering plumber Mike Delfino’s memory since his coma, Susan Mayer meets Ian Hainsworth, whose wife Jane is still in a coma. She never regains consciousness and passes away when her blood pressure dropped during a fever.

[3.15] Monique Pollier – Murder
(This one requires a lot of background context.) In season three, Bree Van De Kamp meets Orson Hodge and the two get married (now her last name is Hodge). Orson used to be married to a woman named Alma, but when she had a miscarriage, he had an affair with a flight attendant named Monique Pollier (it turns out that Monique is the same woman Harvey Bigsby had an affair with).
Gloria Hodge, Orson’s mother, is on Alma’s side–when Monique is with Orson, she gets Mike Delfino to show up and fix their sink (he’s a plumber). When Mike steps out to get something from his truck, Gloria hits Monique over the head with Mike’s wrench and tells Orson it was “an accident.” They try pinning it on Mike, but… well, it gets way too complicated to explain from there.

[3.15] Alma Hodge – Accident
Gloria locked Alma in the attic, but when Alma tried escaping, she fell off of the roof and died.

Season Four

[4.04] Lillian Simms – Illness
Lillian Simms, Katherine Mayfair’s aunt, dies of an illness that never was defined in the show…

[4.09] Al Kaminsky – Accident
In the tornado episode titled “Something’s Coming,” lawyer Al Kaminsky gets electrocuted by downed power lines after delivering the papers Carlos needs to access the money in his off-shore bank account.

[4.09] Victor Lang – Freak Accident
During the tornado, Carlos and Victor get in a fight (Victor was sleeping with Gabrielle at the time) when a picket fence post impales him.

[4.09] Sylvia Greene – Accident
Adam Mayfair, Katherine’s husband, had an affair with a woman named Sylvia Greene, who had stalked him all the way to Wisteria Lane only to be swept away by the tornado.

[4.10] Ida Greenberg – Accident
Ida was an elderly neighbour on Wisteria Lane who was crushed by the rubble from the tornado while keeping the Scavo family safe in her basement.

[4.17] Ellie Leonard – Murder
Ellie Leonard, the pot-smoking temporary house guest of the Solis’, was shot in a hostage situtation where Katherine’s ex-husband Wayne Davis kept the two women at gunpoint.

[4.17] Wayne Davis – Murder in Self-Defense
Katherine gets a hold of the shotgun and shoots Wayne dead. It was pretty cool. Plus, Wayne was played by Gary Cole.

Season Five

[5.08] Dr. Samuel Heller – Murder
While backstage at a night club with patient Dae Williams, Dave strangles Dr. Heller to death in the storage room, then sets the club on fire.

[5.13] Eli Scruggs – Illness
Local handyman Eli Scruggs (played by Beau Bridges in a one-time guest appearance) has a heart attack while fixing the shingles on Susan’s roof.

[5.16] Bradley Scott – Murder
Gabrielle Solis finds out that Bradley Scott, Carlos’ business partner, has been having an affair. He confesses to his wife Maria and ends up with a knife in his back…

[5.18] Edie Britt – Accident
Throughout season five, town tramp Edie Britt has a relationship with Dave Williams, but after a fight, she gets in her car and drives away. She doesn’t get very far as she swerves to avoid a masked man (Orson) in the middle of the street and crashes into a telephone pole. Then she gets shocked by a jolt of electricity and dies.

Suicides: 2
Murders: 13
Accidents: 4
Illnesses: 9

Deadliest Season: Season Four, 7 deaths
Deadliest Season Finale: Season Two, 4 deaths

Off-Screen

Gilbert McCluskey
Karen McCluskey had a skeleton in her closet–turns out it was a corpse in her basement freezer. When her husband suddenly died, she found out he left everything to his first wife, so to keep his pension cheques coming, she kept him in her basement freezer. Eventually, the Scavo kids found him.

Dylan Davis
Dylan, the original daughter of Katherine Mayfair and Wayne Davis, died at the age of six when a cabinet crushed her.

Lila & Paige Dash
Dave Williams’ wife and daughter, Lila and Paige, were killed in a car accident with a vehicle driven by Susan Mayer. Mike Delfino was in the passengers seat and took the blame for the accident. Things got screwed up after that.

Edwin Hodge
Orson’s father, who supposedly committed suicide, was found out to have been murdered by his wife Gloria.

Glen Wingfield
During the five year gap (oh yeah, between the end of season four and the start of season five, the series jumps ahead five years), Lynette’s previous stepfather dies, but his death isn’t explained.

This may not even be a complete list–I might’ve missed other off-hand comments on deaths and funerals. But 33 deaths in five seasons isn’t too shabby.

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