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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

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June 3rd, 2013
05:47 PM ET

Is your favorite TV character about to be killed off?

It is June, which means many television series are ending their seasons with cliffhangers, and in some cases, with blood baths.

There appears to be a real proclivity these days to kill off characters, and not just the bad guys or the unpopular characters, like when "L.A. Law's" Rosalind Shays stepped into that elevator shaft many years ago. Shows are now offing real, beloved, heart-of-the-series characters.

Spoiler alert: There was a bloodbath on Sunday night on HBO's "Game of Thrones." Since many fans watch the show on their own schedule, CNN will not disclose who didn't make it. But it is already being described as one of the goriest scenes ever in television history.

It is not the first time the show killed off a major character.

"It is tough. Both in the storytelling sense, because you miss characters that you really loved writing for, but it's also tough because some of our favorite people to hang out with, you know ... they're no longer on the show," creator David Benioff told CNN earlier this year. "It's many of our most beloved friends from the series we've had to kill. And it's, you know, it's - makes you sad, but they got to go."

Benioff is not the only producer playing god. As favorite shows wind down for the season, some of television's best tell CNN that an actor's last gasps are as tough to write as they are to watch.

Show creator Shonda Rhimes has stopped many hearts, in many ways, on ABC's long running hit, "Grey's Anatomy."

"I feel like medical traumas aren't that interesting if you know that everybody's going to live," said Rhimes, who added that she has regretted killing characters.

One of the toughest characters for Rhimes to off was season two's Denny Duquette, the heart transplant heart breaker who died just after proposing to Katherine Heigl's character, Izzy.

"He didn't want to die. Nobody wanted him to die. He didn't want to leave the trailer and come to set and die," said Rhimes. But "the story really dictates everything. If you can't stay true to the story, just because I've grown wildly attached to an actor, then we have a problem."

In fact it seems there are some really itchy trigger fingers among the creative types these days. In recent weeks and months fans have watched major characters meet their makers on "Downton Abbey," "Homeland," "Boardwalk Empire," and not surprisingly "The Walking Dead."

Some of television's favorite characters clearly have targets on their backs.

On "Mad Men," one of the partners at Sterling Cooper Draper Price was killed last season.

"That was really hard," said creator Matthew Weiner. "I don't do that kind of storytelling lightly."

With just three episodes left this season, "Mad Men" obsessives are on edge, wondering who is next. On numerous web sites, fans seem particularly focused on parallels between character Megan Draper and real-life murder victim Sharon Tate; a red star T-shirt worn by both women is not to be taken lightly. According to a tweet from "Mad Men" costume designer Janie Bryant, it was "no coincidence."

If this season winds up being a favorite character's last, rest assured his or her departure will not be taken lightly.

"The stakes are very human. If you're going to pull the trigger on something that permanent, you want to make it count," said Weiner.

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