Sons of Anarchy changed the game when it comes to character-driven, action-packed television, making it hard for fans and critics alike to choose which scenes were the most impactful. With a legacy built on incredible moments that people still discuss to this day, it very well may go down in television history as one of the best TV shows of all-time.
Aside from re-energizing the careers of Ron Pearlman and Katey Sagal, it launched Charlie Hunnam into A-list status and was a crucial catalyst to stardom for cast members like Theo Rossi and Tommy Flanagan. The series was so beloved that it has launched a spinoff — Mayans M.C. — which follows the lives of a rival motorcycle club.
For now, though, scroll down to relive some of the all-time greatest, darkest, and most shocking moments from Sons of Anarchy — as originally shared by Rolling Stone. And let us know in the comments which one is your favorite!
'Fire or Knife?' (Season 1, Episode 5: 'Giving Back')
While the show may have had more brutal moments, the scene in the first season where a disgraced SAMCRO member has his SoA ink burned off with a blowtorch certainly left an impression — and set the pace for what fans could expect from the show long-term.
Tig and Venus (Season 7, Episode 10: 'Faith and Despondency')
The romance between Tig (Kim Coates) and Venus (Walton Goggins) was a complicated relationship culminating in one of the most beautiful, vulnerable moments of the show when the two of them confessed their feelings in a tear-filled heart-to-heart during the final season. The storyline was so impactful that Goggins earned a Best Guest Performer in a Drama Series nomination at the 5th Critics' Choice Television Awards.
Juice's Secret (Season 4, Episode 6: 'With an X')
One of the rules that would keep someone from being a SAMCRO member was if they had African-American ancestry, which Juan Carlos "Juice" Ortiz (Theo Rossi) did, because it turned out his father was a black man. In a tight spot trying to hide his ancestry from the club, and being pressured by the sheriff to gather incriminating evidence on the club, Juice attempted to steal some cocaine as evidence, but was caught red handed by a new member who he then killed and framed for the theft. This was the moment one of the show's most likable characters began heading down a tragic path.
The Death of Opie (Season 5, Episode 3: 'Laying Pipe')
Sons of Anarchy featured a number of brutal deaths, some cathartic and some hard to watch. The death of Opie Winston (Ryan Hurst) was a tough one because he essentially sacrificed himself for Jax (Hunnam), Chibs (Flanagan), and Tig. In a prison brawl for the ages, Opie ended up taking a lead pipe to the back of the head and bled out right there in the cold, hard ground while his SAMCRO brothers, including Jax, had to watch.
Otto and his Disappearing Tongue (Season 5, Episode 13: 'J'ai Obentenu Cette')
Series creator Kurt Sutter stepped in front of the camera a number of times to play the bizarre and dangerous "Big" Otto Delaney, with one of those appearances featuring Otto biting off his own tongue. The unforgettable moment comes as Otto is being interrogated by an ex-Marshall who, it turns out, is the brother of a nurse who Otto killed. In a fit of insanity, Otto refused to speak and then slams his head on the table, bites off his tongue, and then spits it at the room's two-way mirror.
Otto and the Weaponized Crucifix (Season 5, Episode 10: 'Crucifixied')
So before all that tongue-biting business, there was the not-so-little matter of the imprisoned Otto murdering the aforementioned nurse. How did he manage that, you ask? Well he had his late wife's crucifix brought into the prison where he was and used that to kill the woman. While it's certainly a dark plot line, Otto's motivation was so that the U.S. attorney's office would stop pressuring him to rat on his SAMCRO brothers, which could be considered subjectively honorable (depending on your perspective).
Gemma's Painful Past (Season 3, Episode 1: "So")
Gemma (Katey Sagal) was always a hardened, no-nonsense woman, but in the season 3 premiere fans saw a different side of her. While on the run, Gemma goes home to visit her father, who is suffering from Alzheimer's and hardly remembers who she is most of the time. The time she spends in the house, however, reduces her to a much more timid and vulnerable state.
Tara's Tragic and Shocking End (Season 6, Episode 13: 'A Mother's Work')
Tara Knowles (Maggie Siff) was the love of Jax Teller's life, and the mother of his children, but she never fully existed outside the shadow of Gemma. In the Season 6 finale, under the assumption that Tara is going to turn on SAMCRO, Gemma attacks and murders her with a barbecue fork. Some deaths on the show were tragic, and some were surprising, but this was both.