While Degrassi has always been known for pushing the envelope, this week marks a new level of intensity in its drama-packed portrait of teen life.

After tackling rape, teenage pregnancy and even a school shooting where the gunman is killed, this week's episode of "Degrassi: The Next Generation" ups the ante as far as it has ever gone --with the first murder of one of its core characters.

The events leading up to the pivotal event were set in motion early in the season, but culminate when Manny organizes a house party for Liberty's birthday. Word of the event spreads far and wide, even to members of rival school Lakehurst, who crash the party with tragic results.

According to Chris Jackson, director of digital media and merchandising for Degrassi's Epitome Pictures, the only actor who knew of the death well in advance was the one playing the character to be killed off. Everyone found out at a routine read-through of the script before taping the episode.

Shane Kippel, who plays Spinner, said the cast members couldn't believe what they were reading.

"It just happened out of the blue," he told CTV Toronto on Tuesday. "It was just a pure shocker. No one knew and we all turned that same page... no one had any idea."

Cassie Steele (who plays Manny), said that after everything they'd gone through over the past six seasons, it wasn't hard to get emotional. After all, the character being lost is one who's been who's been around since the very early days of "Degrassi: The Next Generation."

"All of the characters are so close and we go to the same school, and the cast members are so close as well, the emotions just kind of flowed though the script and it came out in our acting," she said, describing the episode as one that will make fans "laugh and cry at the same time." 

"It was really easy (to act out), but also heartbreaking."

Tune in to CTV at 8 and 8:30 p.m. to see two new episodes of "Degrassi: The Next Generation": Rock this Town and The Bitterest Pill.