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TV Scenes Where Actors Nearly Died

Stars are just like us: nowhere near indestructible. While it seems like shooting a TV show can be a cushy job — and it is — it can sometimes be dangerous, potentially even fatal. Here are some people who in the line of dutifully making episodes of television almost got themselves killed due to stunts gone wrong, crew carelessness, or their own idiocy.

Matthew Fox

The cast of Lost only had one more episode to film and they would've been home free. But it was while filming a scene for the final episode in 2010 that star Matthew Fox nearly lost his life. Fox (Jack) and co-star Terry O'Quinn (Locke) had to fight on a cliff, including Locke stabbing Jack. But the show's creative team didn't think the collapsible stunt knife looked convincing on camera. So, they filmed all the fighting with a real knife and planned to use a collapsible one at the moment of flesh penetration. Fox almost didn't wear under-the-shirt protective armor because that too looked fake. And he needed it. The cast and crew forgot to swap out the knives, and O'Quinn stabbed Fox with an actual dagger.

Aaron Paul

Paul revealed in the DVD commentary for the first season of Breaking Bad that he himself (Aaron Paul, not Jesse Pinkman) was almost killed off. Paul and co-star Bryan Cranston were shooting a scene out in the desert in front of the show's RV/mobile meth lab. At one point, Paul asked the episode's director if he could try delivering his lines from a different location, so he moved. Good thing he did. There was a tarp on top of the RV, and it was being held in place by a boulder. A gust of wind came along and rolled the rock right off the vehicle. It landed right where Paul had been standing.

Mariska Hargitay

Hargitay prides herself on doing her own stunts on NBC's long-running cop drama Law and Order: SVU. She did it for about 10 years with no incident, until October 2008, when she "fell wrong" while trying to execute a stunt. More accurately, she jumped, landed wrong, and fell in such a way that she damaged a lung, leading to a microscopic bleed. Over the course of the next three months, her lung slowly started collapsing. When it collapsed and she realized it, Hargitay immediately had surgery and took some time off work to recover.

Kristin Chenoweth

In the summer of 2012, Chenoweth was filming scenes for what was supposed to be a guest-starring arc on the CBS legal drama The Good Wife. A freak accident took place during the course of a regular day of acting: a piece of the lighting rig came loose and fell right on her face. It knocked her to the ground unconscious. When she woke up later in a hospital, she learned that she'd fractured her skull and injured her hip and a rib. Two years later, she was still in physical therapy to recover from the accident.

Dominic Purcell

In early 2016, Purcell was filming scenes in Morocco for the revival of his 2005-2009 series Prison Break. In a bizarre turn of events, a piece of the set broke free and plunged right on top of the actor. Purcell suffered a broken nose and a minor head injury. But the show must go on: shooting continued as Purcell was airlifted to a large hospital in Casablanca. Not long after the accident, Purcell was reassuring fans on his Instagram page: "Pays to have a thick skull when an iron bar falls on your head!"

Aidan Turner and Eleanor Tomlinson

If you're not familiar with Poldark, ask your mom: it's a soapy, British literary adaptation that airs on PBS that depicts the adventures of a hunky Cornish soldier returning home to England after fighting in the American Revolution. And star Aidan Turner even has some battle scars. In 2016, he was helping his co-star, Eleanor Tomlinson, into a boat. As they were getting in, a huge wave came out of nowhere, heaving the boat right at Turner and knocking him in the head. In the hubbub, he dropped Tomlinson into the water. Tomlinson and Turner were ultimately fine, although the boat also struck a cameraman, who suffered a concussion.

Richard Hammond

It's a show about really fast and experimental cars, so it's frankly miraculous that more awful things haven't happened on the set of Top Gear. The show cashed in all its chips while filming a 2006 episode. Presenter Richard Hammond was racing around in a jet-powered car. He lost control of the vehicle when it hit somewhere around 288 mph. The scene turned grisly, as the car flipped over with Hammond still in it. Had he been taller, he would've snapped his neck or been decapitated. Instead, following a two-week coma, he suffered many severe long-term psychological and mental issues, such as depression, paranoia, and emotional disconnection.

Thom Yorke

Today they're the elder statesmen of weird, artsy rock, but when Radiohead started out in 1993, they were just your average alternative rock band looking to score a hit. The British band performed their song "Anyone Can Play Guitar" live at MTV's Beach House in 1993. At the conclusion, the usually quite reserved Radiohead singer Thom Yorke took a dip in the swimming pool adjacent to the performance space. And then he tried to reach for a microphone — a live microphone, brimming with electricity. Had a quick-thinking observer not kicked the microphone away, Yorke could have been electrocuted.

The Brady Bunch

In 1973, The Brady Bunch filmed at the King's Island amusement park in Ohio. One of the biggest attractions at the park, and a planned highlight of the show: The Bradys take a ride on the Red Racer roller coaster. Well, almost all of the Bradys — Robert Reed (Mike Brady) refused to ride it, owing to a fear of heights. The plan was to position a cameraman in the front of a roller coaster car and catch the actors' real reactions. Brady Bunch creator and producer Sherwood Schwartz took a test run and noticed a sign that warned riders against standing up on the coaster. Schwartz ordered a test run of the coaster with a camera tied to the front. The camera was knocked off the car during the test. Had the production used a camera man, he would've been killed. And had it just done the shot with the camera mounted to the car without seeing what would happen in a test run, the camera would've flown off the car into the path of the riders. The entire Brady Bunch could've been killed! (Ultimately, a camera was tied to the car, but in a lower, safer spot.)