'Sons of Anarchy' Creator Kurt Sutter Wanted SAMCRO Member to 'Go Out a Warrior'

The showrunner of FX's biker drama talks about the dramatic, bloody death on Tuesday’s episode.
Prashant Gupta/FX

[Warning: Major spoilers from the Tuesday, Sept. 25, episode of Sons of Anarchy.]

Sons of Anarchy’s fifth season is off to an explosive start due to the arrival of new boss, Damon Pope (Harold Perrineau).

In the premiere episode, Pope forced Tig (Kim Coates) to watch as his own daughter was burned alive.

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And now, just three episodes in, a major character –Opie (Ryan Hurst) – has been beaten to death, sacrificing his own life to protect his best friend Jax (Charlie Hunnam) and the motorcycle club that caused the deaths of his wife and father.

As soon as the episode finished airing, fans were shocked, heartbroken and confused. Many wondered if Hurst had asked to leave the show, as some other actors have done in the past. Or why the most loyal of members of SAMCRO had to be killed?

Creator Kurt Sutter spoke to reporters on Wednesday morning to explain his decision to kill off a major character who had been on the show since the beginning.

“This is really the first season I’ve had to think about the end game, and knowing where I want to take my hero, and knowing how I wanted to get there, the road I wanted to travel, Jax needed that emotional upheaval – that one event that happens in a man’s life that can change the course of his destiny,” explained Sutter, who says he still plans to end the show after seven seasons.

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Sutter said that he told Hurst that he was planning Opie's death before he had even written the script.

“It’s a difficult thing. He’s very plugged into the show and loves the character. Ryan’s a super sensitive dude and it was difficult for both of us to figure out how to do this,” he said.

Sutter said that when Hurst read the scripts for the episodes that follow this tragic turn of events, he understood the importance of his characters death – which Sutter said will resonate through the rest of the series.

“I don’t do things arbitrarily, or for shock value,” he said. “Yes, it’s incredibly sad, but the death of Opie will color the rest of the episodes for the rest of the series. It’s not a death that will happen in vain.”

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As for the way Opie was killed, volunteering to be the one to die in prison, which leads to a violent beating in a prison cell, Sutter said that that is a realistic situation in that world.

“As dramatic and as absurd as that dynamic was, it’s not uncommon. Shit like that goes down in prison,” he said. “Just last week there was videotapes that came out of an Alabama prison about what guards were doing in prison to inmates.”

His main goal was to give Opie – a man who struggled with staying in the club after his wife and then father were both killed due to the actions of the club – an exit fitting of his character.

“I wanted Opie to go out a warrior,” said Sutter. “I really wanted him to go out with nobility and a sense of feeling like, ‘I may not have a lot to live for, but at the very least, I am going to go out doing something noble and protecting the people I still love.' "

Sons of Anarchy airs on Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on FX.

Email: Rebecca.Ford@thr.com; Twitter: @Beccamford