The road to “How to Get Away with Murder” is lined with dead bodies. Twenty-eight to be exact. Over the years, the series showed that there’s no shortage of ways to die. Suicide, poison, overdose, suffocation — you name it.
The most shocking deaths, of course, are the “anchors”: In the season’s first half, each episode reveals a new detail about the murder while the second half reveals how they covered it up. But there are a few others that stand out, as well.
In the first season, for example, Lila Stangard (Megan West) was done in by Frank (Charlie Weber), a proxy of Sam (Tom Verica) in a way that actually made the “cheating husband kills his pregnant girlfriend” schtick interesting. In the second season, Rebecca Sutter (Katie Findlay) was also killed, delighting audiences due to seeing a calm, murderous side to Bonnie (Liza Weil). And then, of course, there was Wes Gibbins (Alfred Enoch), who was only presumed to be murdered, which allowed Viola Davis to deliver impeccable sobbing over a wooden dummy, but whose return occurred at the (apparent) funeral of the woman whose husband he killed.
With six episodes left to wrap up his rich storyline, it will be exciting to see what’s next. But for now, to celebrate the series’ final season, Variety went through all 84 episodes and ranked each murder covered up by Annalise Keating (Davis) and company.
5. Simon Drake (Season 4, Episode 8, “Live. Live. Live.”)
Even though Simon Drake (Behzad Dabu) didn’t end up dying, this cover-up comes in as the series’ very worst. The episodic flash forwards and build ups were great, but the midseason finale fell hard. Season 4’s plot — the messiest out of the six by far — didn’t readily necessitate a murder victim so the writers settled for Simon accidentally shooting himself in the head. To top it all off, after his recovery, Simon went from being a well-earned antagonist to a gay immigrant deported by a black woman. Highlight: Laurel (Karla Souza) kissing Michaela (Aja Naomi King).
4. Asher Millstone / Annalise Keating (Season 6, Episode 9, “Are You the Mole?”)
The writers left us with one dead body, a funeral, two reappearances and a lot of unanswered questions in this frantic midseason finale. As a reformed frat boy, the only one of the Keating 5 to commit murder in cold blood, an FBI informant and Michaela’s adoring boyfriend, there’s varied opinions about Asher’s (Matt McGorry) death. The same goes for Annalise for completely different reasons. We can’t definitively rank their “murders” because we’ve yet to see the fallout, but assuming that Asher’s head wound was worse than believed and Annalise successfully disappeared, these come in as one of the weaker midseason deaths. Highlight: Michaela easily outing Asher as the mole, and Oliver (Conrad Ricamora) yielding the murder weapon with rainbow gloves. Lowlight: the reappearances of Wes and Laurel overshadowing Asher’s death.
3. Emily Sinclair (Season 2, Episode 9, “What Did We Do?”)
While season two’s plot is relatively out of place — can anyone even remember that incestuous Hapstall case? – the death of prosecutor Emily Sinclair (Sarah Burns) solidified the corruption and power surrounding Annalise. After Sinclair slandered Asher’s late father, he ran her over with his car and immediately asked Bonnie (who in turn called Annalise) for help. The most satisfying part of Sinclair’s murder is that it’s completely logical for her to show up dead at the house of the people she planned to put away (Caleb and Catherine Hapstall, played by Kendrick Sampson and Amy Okuda, respectively). Asher’s hectic backstory deserved better planning, but the trauma circle when Annalise goaded her students into shooting her made up for the episode’s messy beginning. Highlight: watching Annalise piece together all the information to cover up Sinclair’s murder. Lowlights: no one having Asher’s number to call him after his father committed suicide and frequent time jumps.
2. Ronald Miller (Season 5, Episode 8, “I Want to Love You Until the Day I Die”)
By Season 5, these characters are so used to covering up murders that the question of whether they should commit them is rarely asked. Even though Ronald Miller (John Hensley) actively tried to prevent it, Nate Lahey Jr. (Billy Brown) accused him of arranging for Nate Lahey Sr. (Glynn Turman) to be murdered. Enraged with grief, Nate took matters into his own hands and nearly beat Ron to death outside the Conniver wedding. Even better, Ron’s girlfriend, Bonnie, finished the job by smothering him while Laurel’s infant son watched. Highlight: Ron’s point-of-view shots, allowing the audience to humanize him. Lowlight: Ron becoming a victim caught up in a complex political conspiracy.
1. Sam Keating (Season 1, Episode 9, “Kill Me, Kill Me, Kill Me”)
Even though Lila Stangard was the first dead body on the show, Sam’s death started it all. Objectively the most justified cover-up, Sam’s death trauma-bonded Laurel, Michaela, Connor and Wes. After Sam’s wife Annalise walked in on the crime scene and orchestrated the cover-up, she practically owned them. Everything leading up to Sam’s death — Lila’s disappearance, fierce rivalries, the iconic line: “Why is your penis on a dead girl’s phone?” –came together tightly in this chaotic, perfectly choreographed episode. Better yet, the Keating 5’s actions in Season 1 echoed throughout the series, escalating until Annalise was forced to fake her own death. Highlights: the genius bonfire alibi, first-year law students fumbling on how to build their murder defense case, and Annalise’s heart-wrenching voicemail telling her already-dead husband to come home.
“How to Get Away with Murder” returns with the rest of its final season April 2 on ABC.