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The Absolute Worst Thing Tara Knowles Ever Did On Sons Of Anarchy

Sons of Anarchy premiered on FX in 2008, the same year as Breaking Bad, and helped kickstart TV's love affair with complicated anti-heroes. Even though viewers might objectively know that the actions of the gang-like Sons of Anarchy Motorcycle Club Redwood Original (or SAMCRO) were often unquestionably morally wrong, the strength of the show came from its ability to get viewers to sympathize with them as human beings, and see events from their perspective. It can be strange to think about rooting for the criminals and against those who seek to bring them to justice, but that's exactly where Sons of Anarchy took its viewers.

However, that doesn't mean that every decision made on the show was embraced by those viewers. There were plenty of times throughout the series' seven-season run when fans found themselves aghast at the actions of characters they otherwise loved, and few characters found themselves on the pointy end of fan reaction more than Dr. Tara Knowles (Maggie Siff). In a cast full of murderers and thieves, what did Tara do that was so heinous that she's remembered as one of the show's most controversial characters?

Tara's ultimate act of betrayal

Throughout the run of Sons of Anarchy, Tara found herself in increasingly precarious and complicated situations. She often yearned to find a better life for herself away from Charming, California and the criminal activity that consumed the Central Valley town; however, beginning in season 1, she found herself rekindling her romance with her high school sweetheart, Jax Teller (Charlie Hunnam), the son of one of SAMCRO's co-founders.

As Tara and Jax's romantic relationship developed, it became harder and harder for Tara to extricate herself from the life of crime she'd become entangled in. By the show's sixth season, Tara had been through the wringer; it was then that her desire to leave Charming and prevent her sons from following in their father's footsteps became her main objective.

There was a giant hurdle in any attempt to save her family from SAMCRO, though, in Jax's relationship with his mother, the ferocious Gemma Teller Morrow (Katey Segal), which bordered on Greek tragedy levels of messed up. In order to drive a wedge between the two, Tara faked a pregnancy, and then — after an altercation in which Gemma kicked her in the stomach — used a pre-bloodied rag to subsequently fake a miscarriage.

When her scheme was exposed, she was left with few options and even fewer allies. Seeing no other way to protect her sons from SAMCRO, she played the last card left in her hand: turning to the authorities to rat out the criminal activities of the club.

Did Tara deserve her fate?

Tara's miscarriage plot and eventual snitching to the law put her firmly in Gemma's crosshairs, and the matriarch took matters into her own hands in the sixth season's shocking finale. With Tara thinking she is safe in the arms of the police and finally free of the club, Gemma ambushed her, brutally assaulting and eventually stabbing Tara to death with a barbecue skewer. It's not the most barbaric death endured by a character on the show, but the savage murder of a woman at the hands of her own mother-in-law was definitely an extreme highlight in a show that regularly plunged its viewers into the darker side of humanity.

Most people would agree that faking a miscarriage is pretty damn low, but given the situation that Tara was in, the lie was very clearly the desperate action of a desperate woman. She felt that she was doing what was best for her sons, and clearly thought that their safety was worth whatever deception she needed to partake in.

Maggie Siff's thoughts on her Sons of Anarchy character's fate

In 2013, Entertainment Weekly asked Siff for her thoughts on Tara's lie and the fan anger toward the character it inspired. She pointed out the issue of perspective in a show like Sons of Anarchy, saying, "I think these shows are always set up so we follow a protagonist and the story is very intricately built around caring for them in some way...anybody who runs counter to that is going to run into the problem of people turning on them."

She went on to expand by pointing out the double standard of Jax and the rest of SAMCRO at times committing despicable acts, yet still being the perceived heroes of the show, while Tara was villainized for her own step into the moral grey area. "I think it's the hostility that's the most disturbing thing... that people can feel when they say, 'She should be shot. She should be killed.' That's the thing that's most startling and disturbing, when you really sit down and think about it."

A good point... but one could easily make the case that even if Tara didn't ultimately deserve her fate, she had to have known it was a possibility.