The characters in Kurt Sutter’s motorcycle gang TV series Sons of Anarchy were a morally murky bunch, and it was their shades of grey that put the show among the best thriller series of the 21st century.
But even Sutter himself was surprised at the level of hate stirred up around the character of Clay Morrow, played by Ron Perlman, prior to his death in season six.
One of the great sources of tension in the early seasons of Sons of Anarchy was the simmering differences between Clay and Charlie Hunnam’s protagonist Jax Teller. And Sutter soon realised that many of his viewers were on Team Jax, especially after the revelation that Clay ordered the death of Jax’s father.
“I was somewhat surprised how Clay ultimately has become the most hated character on TV,” Sutter told Entertainment Weekly in 2011.
“I can’t obviously hate any of my characters, and in my mind, it’s all coming from a desperate place for Clay. Even though his actions are nefarious and awful, I can’t help but know what’s going on with the guy underneath, so I always feel like there’s a reason for all his actions. But yeah, people felt very strongly about him going away.”
Clay’s execution in the season six episode Aon Rud Persanta proved to be one of the most pivotal moments in the story of one of the best TV series of the modern era, particularly in its status as an homage to Shakespeare play Hamlet.