Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, even Stranger Things...tune in and you expect a certain amount of horrifying, gory, or otherwise disturbing imagery.
But sometimes, these shows go even further than what ends up on screen, with truly grisly sequences ending up excised from the script or cut from the final edit.
Here are a few examples. Be warned: the following contains spoilers and often a whole lot of viscera.
1| Stranger Things: Will kills Bob
The fate of poor Bob the Brain (Sean Astin) in season two of Stranger Things was harrowing enough as is: having helped free Joyce (Winona Ryder), Hopper (David Harbour), and the kids from a locked down Hawkins Lab, heroic Bob was torn apart by a Demo-dog.
But his original fate was even more disturbing. "The death of Bob was initially much earlier," executive producer / director Shawn Levy revealed. "In fact, in an early outline, Evil Will killed him in, like, episode 3."
Yes, the plan was for Will (Noah Schnapp), possessed by the Mind Flayer, to murder his mom's kindly boyfriend, which would have been all the more heartbreaking for Joyce. The story changed because Stranger Things showrunners the Duffer Brothers were so enamored with Astin's performance.
"We kept postponing his death until eventually we got to episode 8 when it couldn't be postponed anymore," Matt Duffer explained. "I think it was still narratively the right thing to do but for me it was the hardest scene to write because I really didn't want to do it, but I felt it had to be done."
2| Game of Thrones: Myrcella's brains go splat
Jaime and Cersei's daughter Myrcella was murdered by Ellaria Sand (Indira Varma), as revenge for the Lannisters' killing of her lover Oberyn Martell (more on that below).
In the episode as aired (5.10, 'Mother's Mercy'), Myrcella collapses and blood runs from her nose after Ellaria plants a poison kiss on her lips. But her demise was originally planned to be more graphic.
"Originally what happened is they gave me those mashed-up bananas with...fake blood, and my brains were supposed to be all over the ship and stuff," actress Nell Tiger Free revealed.
Turns out even Game of Thrones draws the line at having a young girl sneeze out her own brains.
3| The Missing: The drill scene—but worse
Midway through The Missing's gripping second series, German police officer Jorn Lenhart (Florian Bartholomäi) unmasked army press officer Adam Gettrick (Derek Riddell) as the man who'd been kidnapping young girls. But Lenhart was overpowered, with Gettrick holding him down and forcing an electric drill into his temple.
Nasty stuff, but the final edit at least cut away, sparing us the gorier details. Unlike the unflinching original edit, which according to writers Harry and Jack Williams, was "much more gruesome." Given the reaction to the episode as broadcast, we think they made the right call to scale back on the carnage.
4| Game of Thrones: The Red Viper's death, uncut
Thought Oberyn Martell's demise at, quite literally, the hands of the Mountain was about as extreme as it gets? Pfft.
Ben Crompton, who plays Night's Watch member Eddison 'Edd' Tollett, revealed that he saw the original, uncut version of the scene and it was much, much worse. "They showed an edit where he puts the fingers in, but instead of cutting like it does in the show, he just pulls his face apart," Crompton recalled.
Yeah, we found the 'soft' edit to be traumatic enough, thanks.
5| The Walking Dead: Daryl batters Fat Joey
Negan's goon Fat Joey was battered to death by Daryl in episode 7.8, 'Hearts Still Beating', as he escaped the Sanctuary, with actor Joshua Hoover revealing that much of the more graphic footage detailing his character's demise was cut from the episode.
"I got hit right square in the head. They had a blood packet on the pipe and it went everywhere. Everybody said it looked so awesome, but also pretty graphic. I'm assuming that's why they didn't show that angle."
Perhaps, but it's not as if The Walking Dead was shy when it came to showing us Glenn's very similar demise in all its grisly glory. We may never know why Fat Joey got such special treatment.
6| The Musketeers: Hack job
Wait, you may be thinking, blood and brutality in BBC One's comfy historical romp The Musketeers?
Yep. Series bosses were keen to push the boundaries in the show's third and final series, which took a darker turn with the introduction of Matthew McNulty's brooding villain Grimaud. But they could only get away with so much pre-watershed.
"We had to cut the scene where Grimaud chopped the General's hand off," said showrunner Simon Allen. "It was a beautiful prosthetic, it flew off nicely, there was blood everywhere but sadly it's now a deleted scene."
7| Game of Thrones: Ramsay is dog food
Again, what we got to see in episode 6.9, 'Battle of the Bastards', was actually a watered-down version of what was originally filmed.
Remember when Sansa (Sophie Turner) fed evil Ramsay Bolton to his own hounds? Visual effects studio Image Engine built a computer-generated jaw for Ramsay actor Iwan Rheon, animating it to show the flesh ripping between Ramsay's skin and gums. Ouch.
The end result was so gruesome that they had to slightly scale back the gore. Slightly.
8| Dexter: The original titles
Dexter's title sequence is one of the all-time greats, with Michael C Hall's serial killer carrying out a series of everyday tasks – shaving, flossing, preparing breakfast – all imbued with a flavour of violence.
But the original version, cut to Xploding Plastix's 'More Powah to Yah', is more unsettling and less playful than the final version, and features even more (apparently) gruesome imagery. That tomato squish!
"I put together a compelling edit, and I thought the sequence was incredibly powerful," said Eric Anderson, of designers Digital Kitchen. "The show creators liked it but it wasn't exactly what they were looking for.
"When you develop titles for a serial TV show, you're at the mercy of the show creators' knowledge of the subject matter. All I typically know is what I can extract from one conversation, but the creators have an idea of the trajectory of the entire series, they may even know a thing or two about season two or three. So it's smart to defer to their better judgment."
Here's the final version for comparison...
This story originally appeared on Esquire.co.uk.
* Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.