The 14 Most Disturbing Ozark Moments, Ranked

"Ozark" is one of the best Netflix original series of all time, and goes to show why the streaming platform is such a popular outlet for first-rate drama programming. Without the constraints of fitting within commercial breaks (or even waiting a week between episodes), showrunners and writers can tell one fluent story that can be digested in as many sittings as the viewer wants. In the case of "Ozark," many fans may not be able to turn this highly-watchable show off until they've completely caught up. The epic crime series seems to end on one cliffhanger after another, and there's rarely time to breathe as the Byrdes deal with their next threat.

The other reason Netflix is the perfect outlet for modern television is that there are fewer limitations on what can and can't make it past the censors, which is a good thing for a show as disturbing as this one. Between grisly murders, brutal tortures, shocking betrayals, and emotionally devastating deaths, "Ozark" frequently features some truly disturbing material. The early word of mouth on "Ozark" compared it heavily to "Breaking Bad," a show known for its shocking twists and turns, but "Ozark" gives "Breaking Bad" a run for its money when it comes to graphic imagery.

"Ozark" concludes this year, and the first three seasons have more than a few horrifyingly memorable moments. Here are the 14 most disturbing "Ozark" scenes, ranked. Fair warning: There will be full spoilers for the first three seasons of the show.

14. Gary "Sugarwood" Silverberg Takes A Plunge

"Ozark" has a very strong pilot episode, one which immediately sets the stakes for the type of violent, unpredictable series it will become. Marty learns that his employers, the Navarro clan, don't mess around when it comes to their finances — a lesson his business partner, Bruce, learns the hard way. Marty is desperate to protect his family; he knows that he will face consequences for Bruce's theft of $8 million from Del, but he doesn't want to see the ramifications continue to impact his wife and children.

Wendy is quickly thrown in the mix. Marty discovers at the beginning of the episode that she's been having an affair with Gary "Sugarwood" Silverberg, which he watches during a consultation with a client. As a message to Wendy, the Navarros track down Gary and throw him off a skyscraper. It's a heartbreaking moment for Wendy that's sickening to watch play out. It was also an important moment in the development of Marty and Wendys' relationship, driving them further apart before their big move to the Ozarks.

13. Darlene Snell Performs Shotgun Surgery On Frank Jr.

Darlene Snell is perhaps the most unpredictable character on all of "Ozark," and considering just how wild the show can get, that's a considerable statement. The Snells operate a drug ring that runs concurrent to the Byrdes' plans, and their alliance with Marty is often disrupted when they decide to take actions into their own hands. Darlene eventually murders her husband and takes sole ownership of the operation.

However, the third season introduces an even more complex side to her character, as she begins a sexual relationship with Wyatt Langmore. Darlene also respects Ruth, and is disturbed when she's put in the hospital after a deadly beating by Frank Jr., the son of the Kansas City mob boss Frank Cosgrove. Darlene decides to put Frank Jr. in his place and corners him in a car ... before shooting him in the groin with a shotgun.

12. Mason Young Almost Drowns A Kid

One of Marty's first targets when entering the Ozarks is the local pastor Mason Young, as he sees the construction of a church as a potential opportunity to launder money from a new location. Over the course of the first season, Mason suffers more than a few hardships as his plans to build the church go increasingly awry. The Snells also consider a partnership with the Byrdes, and shortly after helping deliver Mason's son, Zeke, they murder his wife, Grace.

Between Grace's death and the loss of his congregation, Mason begins to turn towards madness. Left alone with Zeke and questioning the life decisions that led him to this tragic point, Mason carries his son to a river's edge and submerges him underwater for an extended period of time. Whether it was an irresponsible baptism or an attempted murder is initally unclear, but it certainly laid the groundwork for the dark turn that Mason takes in the second season.

11. Buddy Burns Down The Snell's Farm

One of the strangest and most unpredictable characters on "Ozark" is an elderly nudist known as Buddy Dieker (Harris Yulin). Buddy is the tenant of the home that the Byrdes purchase when they first move to the Ozarks, and under the agreement, he's intended to stay in his former home until he dies. This certainly adds some humor to the series that wouldn't have been present otherwise, hinting at the aura of black comedy that distinguishes "Ozark" from other crime shows.

Buddy develops as a character throughout the series, and even becomes an early friend to Jonah, who has always struggled to connect emotionally with others. Buddy grows to respect the Byrdes and discovers that their allies, the Snells, are refusing to cooperate with the plan to burn down their poppyseed farm. Buddy decides to solve this crisis on his own, and burns down the fields with liquid fertilizer. He then dies on the ride back home.

10. The Kansas City Mob Beats Up Ruth

Ruth's defiant streak is evident once more when she's enlisted by Marty to help oversee daily operations on the Byrdes' casino barge. Ruth has to maintain professionalism and avoid any stressful situations that could disrupt the fragile peace, and she's got her eye out for rowdy customers. However, the leering mob man Frank Jr. ends up pushing her over the edge, as he aggressively flirts with her and turns sour when she rejects his advances. Eventually, Ruth throws Frank Jr. off the side of the barge in frustration.

Ruth's momentary triumph comes back to haunt her, as Frank Jr. returns with a vengeance. He brutally attacks Ruth and beats her to a pulp, immediately forcing her into the hospital. It's tough to see such a strong character left immobilized, and the encounter only strengthens Marty's protective feelings toward Ruth. Although they started off the show not trusting each other, Marty has grown into a father-like figure to her.

9. Del Vs. His Financial Advisor

The season one episode "Kaleidoscope" offers a flashback into Marty's first introduction to the mafia world, and his critical first encounters with Del. It's a very important episode that shows a different state of Marty's marriage, and gives a little insight into why he chose to go down this path. It was also an early example of just how brutal Del could be, foreshadowing the future headaches that he would give to the Byrdes throughout his run on the series.

Marty and Bruce meet with Del to discuss the opportunity of laundering money, and as a test of sorts, Del has Marty read through his ledgers to look for discrepancies. Upon analyzing the records, Marty discovers that a sum of capital has gone missing, and Del suspects that his current financial advisor Louis has been stealing from him. Del brutally gouges out Louis's eyeball in front of Marty and Bruce.

8. The Kansas City Mob Heist

"Ozark" is known for its more intimate moments of violence as opposed to big action sequences, but occasionally the show will introduce a more hectic battle that changes up the tone a bit. That's certainly the case when the Kansas City mafia arrives in the Ozarks to get their part in Marty's scheme going. If there was ever any doubt that there wouldn't be a villain with enforcers as brutal as Navarro's henchmen, then the new mob players certainly showed that wouldn't be the case.

Right at the beginning of season two, one of the mob's enforcers leads a truck heist, crashing his truck into a Mercer on the long and winding road to the Ozarks. The hapless Mercer driver isn't pursued for long. When he gets out to question the shotgun-wielding man that's been pursuing him, the henchman blasts his entire hand off.

7. Carl Accidentally Murders His Wife

"Ozark" features a lot of generally unlikeable, mischievous, and violent characters, so it's always a bit of a shock when the show introduces characters that are seemingly noble and pure in their intentions. Season three introduces Carl and Anita Knarlson, the couple that owns the Big Muddy casino. The Byrdes are launching their luxury cruiser casino, but Wendy has her sights on expanding to the location and courting the Knarlsons into a partnership.

The Knarlsons are a little on the obnoxious side and aren't the easiest to negotiate with, but they certainly don't seem to know what they're signing up for when they consider an alliance with the Byrdes (and the dangerous world of crime they bring with them). Carl is open to a potential sale, but Anita is much more resistant, and the two break out into a fierce argument regarding the future of their business. In a truly sickening accident, Carl slaps his wife when she says she should've married his brother instead. The blow sends Anita tumbling down a hill, where she perishes.

6. Cade Langmore Elminates FBI Agent Roy Petty

FBI Agent Roy Petty is one of the most complex characters on "Ozark." Petty is called in to investigate Marty's suspicious move and his ties to the Navarro clan, and in order to gather evidence on the Byrdes, he begins living undercover in the Ozarks and integrating himself into the community. It's here where he develops a surprising romantic bond with Russ Langmore, who he's heartbroken to see murdered later on.

Following the death of his lover, Petty grows even more grim, showing no empathy for the Byrdes and setting out to expose them to the full extent of the law's persecution. However, Petty learns that he hasn't had his last encounter with the Langmores. A tense encounter with Cade sees Petty pushing his limits when he insults Cade's daughter, Ruth, and suggests she's in way over her head. This sets Cade off, at which point he brutally attacks Roy and bashes in his skull.

5. Ruth Shocks Her Uncles

Ruth Langmore is certainly one of the best characters on "Ozark," and it's little wonder why Julia Garner's performance became a fan favorite. The Langmores aren't the brightest family, perhaps, but they prove to be more deceptive and ambitious than they initially seem to be. Ruth is clearly the most competent of the entire bunch, as she questions Marty's scheme from the beginning after her family members become intrigued by his lucrative offer. Ruth's skepticism continues once she joins Marty's operation, and their relationship is tense in its earliest days, only later developing into respect and admiration.

On top of that, Ruth is generally just a likable character, and her frequent quips and sarcastic humor make her a constantly enjoyable presence throughout the series. Garner brought true depth to the character — beneath her confident and edgy outward persona, she's secretly a much more empathetic person who cares deeply about those she loves. Ruth is willing to put herself at risk for her friends and family, and it grows more challenging for her when she's forced to choose between the two. Her Uncle Russ becomes an FBI informant working for Roy Petty, and plots to steal Marty's cash and murder him alongside his brother Boyd.

Ruth is forced to intervene and, in a genuinely disturbing moment, she electrocutes both of her uncles on a dock. It's a shocking act, both for the graphic way in which it's portrayed and the psychological torment Ruth goes through in the process.

4. The Navarros Execute Helen Pierce

Helen Pierce has been a constant thorn in the Byrdes' side since her introduction at the beginning of season two. Helen is the lawyer for the Navarro clan who helps manage their covert legal operations, and due to her seemingly professional front, she's able to travel more freely between locations and establish connections. Her rude demeanor and insensitive comments immediately irritate Marty and Wendy when the trio is introduced to one another during a critical meeting with the Snell family.

Helen can't be kept away that easily, as she's eventually dispatched to live in the Ozarks full time in order to constantly check on the progress of the Byrdes' operation and provide updates to the Navarro clan. It puts the Byrdes under even more stress, particularly when Helen's obnoxious daughter, Erin (Madison Thompson), also comes to stay. Erin has no idea about her mother's secret life, and Charlotte is forced to check on her to make sure the illusion stays intact.

Eventually, Helen joins Marty and Wendy for a critical meeting in Mexico, to attend his son's second baptism. It's during this conversation that they discuss the future of their operation, but Navarro gets things started by cutting loose ends. He has his enforcer shoot Helen point-blank in the face, deciding that she's an unnecessary middle-man and that he'd rather just work with the Byrdes directly. Even someone as generally unlikeable as Helen Pierce didn't deserve that fate. That said, what a great way to end season three.

3. Marty Gets Tortured By The Navarros

In "Ozark," each character is fascinatingly flawed in their own way. While characters like Del or Navarro may be pure evil, most of the show's ensemble has endearing qualities, even if they are frequently doing horrible things. This is certainly the case with Marty Byrde, the series' lead. 

At the beginning of the series, Marty doesn't appear to be a particularly great father or husband, and he's not initially empathetic to any of the new contacts he makes when he travels to the Ozarks. Over the course of the series, viewers learn more details about Marty's backstory and the events that shaped him. There's an ambiguous nature to his intentions: Is he a good guy caught in a dark path, or a truly greedy man who deserves what's coming to him? Jason Bateman does a great job in showcasing these complexities.

As events get more hectic, Marty grows closer to his family and shows that he's willing to do anything to protect them. The Byrdes weren't particularly close before they moved to the Ozarks, but they began to connect with each other more and work together in the operation. As a result, it's more shocking for them when Marty is kidnapped by the cartel and taken to Mexico, where he is held in captivity and tortured for several days. Marty does some serious soul searching, and he's rarely been more sympathetic than during this disturbing moment of anguish.

2. Bruce Lidell Is Dead

One of the things that made "Ozark" such an instant hit is that it is relentless in its pacing. There's certainly a merit to slow and meticulous storytelling, but "Ozark" moves through its key expositional moments more quickly and gets viewers straight into the action. This couldn't have been more evident than in the series pilot, which immediately sets the stakes for the type of wild and unpredictable series that "Ozark" was going to be. By the end of the first hour of the series, viewers learn all about Marty's situation, his dynamic with his family, and the challenging position that he's placed himself in.

The "Ozark" pilot also sets up the stakes as soon as possible. Marty and his business partner Bruce Lidell manage a Chicago financial consultation business, but beneath their public front they secretly help launder money for the Mexican drug cartel. They communicate primarily with the cartel's enforcer, Del, who visits the pair during a secret nighttime rendezvous and begins questioning them about a discrepancy in the last shipment. After a tense moment, Bruce admits that he skimmed $8 million. Del promptly murders him in front of Marty's eyes, and Marty must quickly think of a way to avoid the same fate. Even though he wasn't involved in Bruce's scheme, Del isn't about to listen to reason.

It's an important moment, as Marty's offer to travel to the Ozarks to repay the debt sets up the entire premise.

1. Wendy Sacrifices Ben

"Ozark" is so frequently violent and scary that there's always a risk that the show would become nothing more than a collection of shocking moments. While this is certainly an effective way to capture viewers' attention, it's not a substitute for proper storytelling and compelling characterization. The first season of the show did a great job at keeping the heartfelt emotional core of the series intact by focusing on the Byrdes' family dynamic and Marty's struggling relationship with his wife and children, but the second season began to lean heavier into sensationalism without the same emotional core.

However, "Ozark" truly redeemed itself in its third (and best) season with a renewed focus on character, and a large part of that is due to the introduction of Wendy's brother, Ben, played in a brilliant performance by Tom Pelphrey. Ben is introduced in a shocking way that informs viewers of his penchant for breaking into violent rages, but over the course of the season, he proves to be a sensitive, caring, and generally likable figure who mentors Jonah and falls in love with Ruth. 

Unfortunately, after Ben goes too far, Wendy faces the impossible choice to sacrifice her brother in order to save the operation. It's easily the most gut-wrenching development on the show, as a character with a seemingly extensive future is cut short way too soon.