List of television performers who died during production

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The following is a list of television performers who died during production of the television show in which they were appearing. In many cases, a show will handle the death of an actor by killing off their character or otherwise writing them out of the show. In other cases, the show may recast the part with another actor. In extreme cases, the show may be cancelled outright.


Actor Character TV show in production Number of appearances Date of death Cause of death Season in production Effect on production
Robert Ripley Presenter and participant Ripley's Believe It or Not! 13 1949-05-27 Heart attack 1 Died three days after live broadcast of the 13th episode. Ripley's friends and associates filled in as presenters for the remainder of the first season. Robert St. John took over as host for the second season. The series' final episode was on October 5, 1950, more than a year-and-a-half following Ripley's death.
Don "Creesh" Hornsby Presenter and star performer Broadway Open House 0 1950-05-22 Polio 1 Scheduled to be the show's host, but died a week before the May 29, 1950 premiere. Replaced by Morey Amsterdam (Mondays and Wednesdays) and Jerry Lester (Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays).
Richard Hart Ellery Queen The Adventures of Ellery Queen 11 1951-01-02 Heart attack 1 Character recast; taken over by Lee Bowman.
Barton Yarborough Sgt. Ben Romero Dragnet 1 1951-12-17 Heart attack 1 Romero was written out in the opening scene of the second episode of the series, shown in September 1952, with his character dying of the same cause as Yarborough. After a few episodes, the character of Romero was replaced by Frank Smith; played by Ben Alexander.
Hattie McDaniel Beulah, the maid Beulah 6 1952-10-26 Breast cancer 3 Character recast; taken over by Louise Beavers.
Nana Bryant Julia – Margaret Williams's mother Make Room for Daddy 1955-12-24 Unknown 3 No on-screen explanation given; the character simply stopped appearing midway through the third season.
Fred Allen Panelist What's My Line? 92 1956-03-17 Heart attack 6 Died Saturday night, March 17, 1956. His place on the Sunday, March 18 live broadcast was taken by Steve Allen and subsequently by guest panelists.
Charles King Various extras Gunsmoke 28 1957-05-07 Cirrhosis of the liver 2 While an urban legend states that he died on the set after playing a corpse; the final episode he appeared in that aired during his lifetime was "Cheap Labor", which aired May 4, 1957, days before his death. Seven additional episodes featuring King were aired between May 11 and July 6, 1957.
George Cleveland George "Gramps" Miller Lassie 116 1957-07-15 Heart attack 4 Character killed off.
John Hamilton Perry White Adventures of Superman 1958-10-15 Heart attack Character was planned to be away on a secret assignment, replaced as Daily Planet editor by his brother, portrayed by Pierre Watkin. No episodes with this were produced, due to the subsequent death of star George Reeves.
George Reeves Superman Adventures of Superman 1959-06-16 Ballistic trauma to the head 6 Series cancelled.
Ward Bond Major Seth Adams Wagon Train Approximately 130 1960-11-05 Heart attack 4 No on-screen explanation given; the character simply stopped appearing midway through the fourth season and was replaced by John McIntire (Christopher Hale) as the "new wagon master."
Joseph Kearns George Wilson Dennis the Menace 100 1962-02-17 Cerebral hemorrhage 3 Character written out. With Season 3 episodes still in production, the first two episodes filmed after Kearns' death do not feature Mr. Wilson nor any acknowledgement of why he is absent; the episodes simply focus on other characters. Starting with the last six episodes of Season 3, the character of John Wilson (Gale Gordon as George's brother) is introduced and will remain for the rest of the series' run; the initial explanation of George's absence is that he is "away" on business. George (along with wife, Martha) are officially written out in the fourth-season premiere as having moved, and after a few scattered mentions in a few subsequent episodes are not referred to again.
Dick Powell Host/Occasional star The Dick Powell Show 41 1963-01-02 Lung cancer 2 Replaced by several other actors who served as guest hosts (at which point the series was renamed The Dick Powell Theatre), until the series was cancelled at the end of the season.
Larry Keating Roger Addison Mister Ed 81 1963-08-26 Leukemia 4 Character written out without explanation.
John Larkin Major General Wiley Crowe Twelve O'Clock High 25 1965-01-29 Heart attack 1 Character written out without explanation.
Henry Kulky Chief Curly Jones Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea 22 1965-02-12 Heart attack 1 Character written out and replaced during the second season by Chief Sharkey, portrayed by Terry Becker.
Dorothy Kilgallen Panelist What's My Line? 784 1965-11-08 Combined drug and alcohol overdose 24 Died on the day following the Sunday, November 7 broadcast. Her place on the following Sunday's live broadcast was taken by Kitty Carlisle, a panelist from To Tell the Truth (which, like What's My Line?, was produced by Goodson-Todman Productions) and subsequently by guest panelists.
Alice Pearce Gladys Kravitz Bewitched Approximately 60 1966-03-03 Ovarian cancer 2 Character recast with Sandra Gould filling the role, starting with Season 3. With Season 2 production still continuing when Pearce died, an interim character – Harriet Kravitz (Mary Grace Canfield), Gladys' sister-in-law – is introduced, with the explanation that Gladys is away visiting her mother, while Harriet visits with Abner to keep house.
Ann Sheridan Henrietta Hanks Pistols 'n' Petticoats 21 1967-01-21 Cancer 1 Character is absent in the last five episodes. Afterwards, the series was canceled.
Smiley Burnette Charley Pratt Petticoat Junction 1967-02-16 Leukemia 4 Character retired without explanation, and replaced by Floyd Smoot (Rufe Davis) and later, Wendell Gibbs (Byron Foulger).
Charles Bickford John Grainger The Virginian 18 1967-11-09 Pneumonia and blood infection 6 Character either written out or killed off and replaced by his brother, Clay Grainger, portrayed by John McIntire.
Marion Lorne Aunt Clara Bewitched 27 1968-05-09 Heart attack 4 Character written out without explanation and replaced during the sixth season by Esmeralda, portrayed by Alice Ghostley.
Bea Benaderet Kate Bradley Petticoat Junction 163 1968-10-13 Lung cancer 5 No on-screen acknowledgement or direct comment on her death is ever made. The character of Kate Bradley is said to be "out of town." Kate's absence is alluded to in passing in the season seven premiere episode when her daughters, Billie Jo and Bobbie Jo (Meredith MacRae and Lori Saunders) comment wistfully, "Mom taught us to swim in that very same water tower." And in another episode, a special hotel guest is said to be staying in the "Kate Bradley Memorial Suite." Benaderet's character was replaced by Dr. Janet Craig, played by June Lockhart.
Barton MacLane General Martin Peterson I Dream of Jeannie 35 1969-01-01 Double pneumonia 4 Character written out without explanation and replaced during the fifth season by General Winfield Schaeffer, portrayed by Vinton Hayworth.
Robert Taylor Host Death Valley Days 1969-06-08 Lung cancer 17 Replaced by Dale Robertson.
Barbara Pepper Doris Ziffel Green Acres 30 1969-07-18 Coronary thrombosis 4 Character recast; role taken over by Fran Ryan.
Inger Stevens Vanessa Smith The Most Deadly Game 1 1970-04-30 acute barbiturate poisoning 1 Died more than five months before series premiere and her character was recast, with Yvette Mimieux taking over the part. The premiere was postponed from September to October and ultimately the series was canceled after production of 13 episodes. The pilot episode with Stevens was never broadcast.
Frank Silvera Don Sebastian Montoya The High Chaparral 14 1970-06-11 Accidental electrocution 3 Character written out.
Arthur Leslie Jack Walker Coronation Street 1970-06-30 Heart attack Character killed off with a heart attack.
Pete Duel Hannibal Heyes (Joshua Smith) Alias Smith and Jones 33 1971-12-31 Suicide by ballistic trauma 2 Character recast with Roger Davis, the series' narrator.
Dan Blocker Hoss Cartwright Bonanza 400-plus 1972-05-13 Pulmonary embolism following surgery 13 No on-screen acknowledgement was given, although Hoss' death is alluded to in at least two episodes. A previous character – Candy Canaday, played by David Canary – returns to the series to replace Hoss; however, Blocker's death was partially cited as a reason for the series' ratings going into decline in the fall of 1972 and eventual cancellation.
Roger Delgado The Master Doctor Who 37 1973-06-18 Traffic collision 10 Character regenerated.
James Beck Private Joe Walker Dad's Army 58 1973-08-06 Pancreatitis 6 Character written out during the episode The Recruit with a letter saying he'd "gone to The Smoke". Character was never seen or referred to again.
Glenn Strange Sam Gunsmoke 238 1973-09-20 Lung cancer 14 Character killed off.
Patricia Cutts Blanche Hunt Coronation Street 2 1974-09-06 Suicide by barbiturate poisoning Character recast, role taken over by Maggie Jones.
Barbara Colby Julie Erskine Phyllis 3 1975-07-24 Ballistic trauma, inflicted during drive-by shooting 1 Character recast with Liz Torres taking over the role.
Graham Haberfield Jerry Booth Coronation Street 1975-10-18 Heart failure Character killed off with a heart attack.
Freddie Prinze Chico Rodriguez Chico and the Man 62 1977-01-29 Ballistic trauma to the head, self-inflicted 3 Episodes completed prior to Prinze's death were aired on schedule. The first aired episode after Prinze's death included an on-air acknowledgement from James Komack (the series' creator and executive producer) thanking everyone for their kind words and outpouring of sympathy. Following the airing of Prinze's last completed episode, for the rest of season three, Chico's absence is explained as being "away" (either on business or visiting his father), with completed scripts focusing on other characters and Chico's lines either removed or rewritten for other characters. Starting with Season 4, Chico was replaced by a 12-year-old boy named Raul (Gabriel Melgar), while other characters initially continued to explain that Chico was away. Finally, in the very special episode "Raul Runs Away," aired January 20, 1978 (nearly one year after Prinze's death), it is explained that Chico had died but with no explanation of the circumstances. However, the ratings declined and, with Prinze's death a primary factor, the series was cancelled in the spring of 1978.[1]
Diana Hyland Joan Bradford Eight is Enough 4 1977-03-27 Breast cancer 1 Character killed off before the beginning of the next season. Joan's death is addressed in the second-season premiere, and a new character, played by Betty Buckley, is introduced early in the second season.
Zara Cully "Mother" Olivia Jefferson The Jeffersons 1978-02-28 Lung cancer 4 Character killed off and addressed briefly in an early Season 5 episode.
Will Geer "Grandpa" Zeb Walton The Waltons 1978-04-22 Respiratory failure 6 Character killed off, with his death addressed in the seventh-season premiere.
Arthur Brough Mr. Ernest Grainger Are You Being Served? 34 1978-05-28 6 Character written out without explanation and replaced by Mr. Tebbs, portrayed by James Hayter.
Karl Swenson Lars Hanson Little House On the Prairie 1978-10-08 Heart attack 4 Character killed off, as having died from complications of a stroke he had suffered after the series' main setting, Walnut Grove (the town which he founded), had fallen into an economic depression. The final episode that featured his character aired eight days after his death.
Jack Soo Detective Nick Yemana Barney Miller 1979-01-11 Esophageal cancer 5 Character written out without explanation, though some episodes alludes having Yemana had passed on. His last appearance was season 5 episode 9 "The Vandal". The fourteenth episode from fifth season The Voice Analyzer was aired on the same day Jack Soo died. A special tribute episode, with Soo's castmates giving out-of-character tributes to him, was aired in the spring of 1979.[2]
Richard Beckinsale Stan Bloomers 5 1979-03-19 Coronary artery disease 1 Scheduled filming for 6th episode cancelled.
Bob Clayton Announcer The $20,000 Pyramid approx. 1040 1979-11-01 Cardiac arrest approx. 5 Replaced by Steve O'Brien.
Mary McCarty Nurse Clara "Starch" Willoughby Trapper John, M.D. 22 1980-03-30 Heart attack 1 Character retired; in the Season 2 premiere, it is explained Starch had gotten married, moved away and retired. Afterward, the character is replaced by Nurse Ernestine Shoop (Madge Sinclair).
Jim Davis Jock Ewing Dallas 75 1981-04-26 Multiple myeloma 4 Character killed off with a helicopter crash after an extended absence.[2]
Harold Bennett Young Mr. Grace Are You Being Served? 50 1981-09-11 Heart attack 9 Character never seen again, but continued to be referred to. The character was killed off in the first episode of the spinoff series Grace & Favour.
Johnny Jacobs Announcer Treasure Hunt 25 1982-02-08 1 Replaced by Tony McClay, who had served as Jacobs' fill-in.
Michael Thoma Greg Cranfield Fame 7 1982-09-03 Cancer 1 Mr. Cranfield was due to be sacked but the pupils forced the school board to reconsider. His job was saved but the actor died shortly after the episode was filmed. In the episode "Tough Act to Follow", the character died of a heart attack; the episode was dedicated to Thoma.
Will Lee Mr. Hooper Sesame Street 1982-12-07 Heart attack 15 Character killed off, with his death addressed in a very special episode, aired almost a year after his death. Shows featuring Mr. Hooper that were taped prior to Lee's death were aired, with no acknowledgement of the reason for his absence from between his final aired appearance (in early 1983) until the airing of the "Goodbye, Mr. Hooper" episode on November 24, 1983.
Carolyn Jones Myrna Clegg Capitol 108 1983-08-03 Colon cancer 2 Temporary substitute Marla Adams played Myrna Clegg during periods when Jones was too ill to perform. At the time of Jones' death, Marla Adams was cast in The Young and the Restless and the role was assigned to Marj Dusay, who continued in the part for nearly four years, until Capitol's cancelation in March 1987.
Peter Dudley Bert Tilsley Coronation Street 1983-10-20 Heart attack Character killed off with a heart attack.
Jessica Savitch Host Frontline 1983-10-23 Drowned in a car accident 1 Replaced during the second season by Judy Woodruff.
Michael Conrad Phil Esterhaus Hill Street Blues 1983-11-22 Urethral cancer 4 Character killed off while having sex with Grace Gardner. Episodes completed prior to his death were aired, with the first episode completed after Conrad's death addressing Esterhaus' death.
John Comer Sid Last of the Summer Wine 47 1984-02-11 Throat cancer 7 Character killed off, death mentioned on screen in following episodes.
Jack Howarth Albert Tatlock Coronation Street 1984-03-31 Liver complaint Character killed off with a heart attack.
Jack Barry Host The Joker's Wild 1984-05-02 Cardiac arrest Replaced by Bill Cullen.
Bernard Youens Stan Ogden Coronation Street 1984-08-27 Gangrene Character killed off with gangrene.
Ève Gagnier Cannelle Passe-Partout 125 1984-09-19 Kidney Complications 2 Character recast; replaced by Lucie Beauvais.
Toke Townley Sam Pearson Emmerdale 1984-09-27 Heart attack Character killed off in his sleep.
Charlotte Long Eloise The Tripods 1984-10-06 Car crash 1 Character briefly recast, with Cindy Shelley appearing as Eloise during a dream sequence.
Jon-Erik Hexum Mac Harper Cover Up 7 1984-10-18 Ballistic trauma to the head, accidentally self-inflicted with a blank cartridge 1 Character killed off and replaced by Jack Striker, portrayed by Antony Hamilton.
Lennard Pearce Grandad Only Fools & Horses 26 1984-12-15 Heart attack 4 Character killed off. Pearce died while filming the series four episode "Hole in One" (several scenes were subsequently re-shot with Buster Merryfield).
Nicholas Colasanto Coach Ernie Pantusso Cheers 71 1985-02-12 Heart ailment 3 Character killed off at the beginning of the next season and replaced as bartender by Woody Boyd, portrayed by Woody Harrelson.[2]
Dolph Sweet Carl Kanisky Gimme a Break! 88 1985-05-08 Cancer 4 Character killed off, and his character's death was addressed in the fifth-season premiere.
Selma Diamond Selma Hacker Night Court 1985-05-13 Lung cancer 2 Character killed off and addressed in the third-season premiere.
Samantha Smith Elizabeth Culver Lime Street 4 1985-08-25 Crash of Bar Harbor Airlines Flight 1808 1 Production initially continued, but series cancelled after airing only five out of eight episodes produced.
Sidney Clute Detective Paul LaGuardia Cagney & Lacey 80 1985-10-02 Cancer 4 Character written off, with an explanation onscreen that he retired and moved away. As a tribute, Clute's name was kept in the opening credits until the series finale.
Johnny Olson Announcer The Price is Right 1985-10-12 cerebral hemorrhage 13 Replaced in February 1986 by Rod Roddy (on-air auditions were held in the interim).
Bill Scott Gruffi Gummi Disney's Adventures of the Gummi Bears 13 1985-11-29 Heart attack 1 Character recast for the second season; taken over by Corey Burton.
Anne Baxter Victoria Cabot Hotel 1985-12-12 Stroke 3 Character killed off.
Florence Halop Florence Kleiner Night Court 1986-07-15 Lung cancer 3 Character killed off and addressed in the fourth-season premiere. Her successor was played by 32-year-old Marsha Warfield, who remained for the rest of the series run.
Ted Knight Henry Rush The Ted Knight Show 1986-08-26 Colorectal cancer 6 Series cancelled; production was to have resumed in September 1986, with Knight planning on returning to work. First-run episodes that were completed prior to his final illness were aired on schedule through the end of the 1986-1987 season.
Roger C. Carmel Cyclonus, Bruticus The Transformers 1986-11-11 Congestive heart failure 3 Bruticus written out. Replaced as voice of Cyclonus during the fourth season by Jack Angel.
Joe Gladwin Wally Batty Last of the Summer Wine 45 1987-03-11 9 Character killed off, death mentioned on screen in following episodes.
Eamonn Andrews Host This Is Your Life 1987-11-05 heart failure Had completed recording of his last edition of the show six days previously on 30 October. This and two others that had yet to be broadcast, were postponed until, with his widow's permission, they were broadcast in January 1988. Replaced by Michael Aspel.
Jack Clark Announcer Wheel of Fortune 1988-07-21 Bone cancer 8 Replaced by M.G. Kelly, and later by Charlie O'Donnell.
Jack Haig Monsieur Roger LeClerc 'Allo 'Allo! 51 1989-07-04 Cancer 5 Character written out as preferring to leave René's Café to go back to prison (where he came from at the start of the show) because the food was better there. Replaced by his brother Ernest LeClerc, portrayed by Derek Royle.
Derek Royle Monsieur Ernest LeClerc 'Allo 'Allo! 8 1990-01-23 Cancer 6 Character recast, role taken over by Robin Parkinson.
Jim Henson various Muppets, most notably Ernie and Kermit the Frog Sesame Street 1990-05-16 Streptococcal toxic shock syndrome 21 Some characters recast with other Muppet performers, most notably Steve Whitmire, who assumed the roles of Ernie and Kermit. A number of other characters, however, were retired outside of special occasions.
Kevin Peter Hall Harry Harry and the Hendersons 16 1991-04-10 AIDS-related pneumonia 1 Character recast with Dawan Scott taking over the role.
Arthur Pentelow Henry Wilks Emmerdale 1991-08-06 Heart attack Character killed off with a heart attack.
Redd Foxx Alphonso Royal The Royal Family 7 1991-10-11 Heart attack 1 Character killed off. The show was retooled with Jackee Harry being brought in as Al and Victoria's other daughter, who moved in with the Royals to help them overcome Al's loss. Despite this move being well-received, the show was cancelled at the end of the season.
Richard Hunt Various Muppets Sesame Street 1992-01-07 AIDS complications 23 Hunt performed his characters in many episodes for season 23, filmed in fall 1991 and aired after his death in 1992.
Larry Riley Frank Williams Knots Landing 111 1992-06-06 AIDS-related kidney failure 13 No on-screen explanation given.
John Hancock Ike Johnson Love & War 7 1992-10-12 Heart attack 1 Character killed off and replaced by his brother Abe, portrayed by Charlie Robinson.
Werner Stocker Darius Highlander: The Series 5 1993-05-27 Brain cancer 1 Character killed off in the episode that aired only a few days before his death. Was originally planned to appear in flashbacks in subsequent episodes, but had to be completely written out instead.
James Hunt Color commentator Grand Prix 1993-06-15 heart attack Replaced by Jonathan Palmer
Raymond Burr Perry Mason Perry Mason (TV film series) 26 1993-09-12 Cancer Character was written out as being out of town in the final four films (which were retitled A Perry Mason Mystery) and was replaced first by Paul Sorvino as Anthony Caruso, then by Hal Holbrook as Wild Bill McKenzie.
Mark McManus Jim Taggart Taggart 31 1994-06-06 Alcohol induced liver failure 11 Character disappears and is subsequently killed off.
Robert Lansing Capt. Paul Blaisdell Kung Fu: The Legend Continues 24 1994-10-23 Cancer 2 Character written out.
Dominic Lucero Himself Roundhouse 52 1994-07-01 Lymphoma 3 His characters were written off the series
Hugh O'Connor Lonnie Jamison In the Heat of the Night 1995-04-07 Ballistic trauma, self-inflicted 8 Final TV movie, which had already completed production, was dedicated to O'Connor when it aired about a month after his death.
Kōhei Miyauchi Kame Sennin Dragon Ball Z 1995-06-02 abdominal varices Final role recorded only 3 months before his death. Character recast; replaced by Jōji Yanami for a single episode then Hiroshi Masuoka thereafter in Dragon Ball GT
Linda Gary Aunt May Spider-Man 28 1995-10-05 Brain cancer 3 Character recast for the fourth season; taken over by Julie Bennett.
Kei Tomiyama Yang Wen Li Legend of the Galactic Heroes 72 1995-09-25 pancreatic cancer 3 Character killed off but had already completed his lines just before his death; taken over by Hozumi Gōda for spin-off series
Tomozou Sakura Chibi Maruko-chan 2 Taken over by Takeshi Aono
Doris Grau Lunchlady Doris The Simpsons 1995-12-30 Respiratory failure 7 Character initially retired, but brought back years later with Tress MacNeille as the new voice actress.
David Doyle Lou Pickles Rugrats 1997-02-26 Heart attack 5 Character recast; replaced by Joe Alaskey.
Iain Anders Superintendent Jack McVitie Taggart 39 1997-09-05 Infection following a short illness[3] 14
Dermot Morgan Father Ted Crilly Father Ted 1998-02-28 Heart attack 3 Morgan had already completed filming on the final episode of the show.
Phil Hartman Bill McNeal NewsRadio 75 1998-05-28 Ballistic trauma, inflicted by his wife, Brynn Hartman 5 Character killed off with a heart attack at the beginning of the season in a tribute episode. Replaced for the fifth (and final) season by long time friend Jon Lovitz as Max Louis.
Troy McClure, Lionel Hutz, et al. The Simpsons 54 10 Major recurring characters of Troy McClure and Lionel Hutz retired, occasionally being used in background shots.
Phil Leeds Judge Dennis 'Happy' Boyle Ally McBeal 5 1998-08-16 Pneumonia 2 Character killed off.
Gene Siskel Host Siskel & Ebert 1999-02-20 Complications from brain surgery Show renamed to Roger Ebert & the Movies, with Ebert accompanied by guest critics; Richard Roeper later joined Ebert as permanent co-host.
David Strickland Todd Stities Suddenly Susan 1999-03-22 Suicide by hanging 3 Character went missing and it is hinted that he died off-screen.[4]
Jill Dando Crimewatch 1999-04-26 murdered
Buster Merryfield Uncle Albert Only Fools & Horses 1999-06-23 Brain tumour 7 Merryfield died in 1999 and Albert's death was written into the next episode.
Bill Owen Compo Simmonite Last of the Summer Wine 186 1999-07-12 Pancreatic cancer 21 Character killed off with a heart attack and addressed in a special episode. Bill Owen's son Tom Owen plays character's on screen son Tom Simmonite in following episodes.
Mary Kay Bergman Liane Cartman, Sheila Broflovski, et al. South Park 44 1999-11-11 Suicide by Gunshot Recast with other voice actresses.
Madeline Kahn Pauline Fox Cosby 60 1999-12-03 Ovarian cancer 4 Character presumably killed off. A special tribute episode, with Kahn's castmates giving out-of-character tributes to her, was aired a few weeks after her death.
Nancy Marchand Livia Soprano The Sopranos 2000-06-18 Lung cancer and emphysema 3 Character killed off.
Myles Ferguson Scott Linton Edgemont 13 2000-09-29 Car accident 1 Character written out without explanation.
Kenneth MacDonald Mike Only Fools and Horses 30 2001-08-07 Heart attack 9 Character written out with the explanation of being in prison for fraud.
Kathleen Freeman Mrs. Gordon As Told by Ginger 2001-08-23 Lung cancer 2 Character written out as having retired. Original ending of episode "No Hope For Courtney" was to have Mrs. Gordon come back to work as a teacher.
Graeme Strachan Host/Carpenter Our House 2001-08-29 Helicopter crash 9 A tribute episode to Shirl was aired a couple of weeks after his death and the series was later cancelled.
Gordon Wharmby Wesley Pegden Last of the Summer Wine 139 2002-05-18 Lung cancer 23 Character killed off, death implied on screen in following episodes.
Josh Ryan Evans Timmy Lenox Passions 302 2002-08-05 Complications of heart surgery Character was killed off in the episode that aired the day of his death. The character was originally planned to be brought back in later episodes, but had to be written out instead.
Yō Inoue Ryo Bakura Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters 2003-02-28 lung cancer Character recast; replaced by Rika Matsumoto.
Lynne Thigpen Ella Mae Farmer The District 2003-03-12 Cerebral hemorrhage 3 Character killed off from the cancer she was in remission from. Third season finale included a tribute to her character.[2]
Luna the Moon Bear in the Big Blue House 4 Series ended and United States airings of the show were put on a three-year hiatus. Was later replaced with Breakfast with Bear.
Thora Hird Edie Pegden Last of the Summer Wine 152 2003-03-15 Stroke 24 Character killed off, death implied on screen in following episodes.
Harry Goz Captain Hazel "Hank" Murphy Sealab 2021 2003-09-06 Multiple myeloma 3 Character written out as having left Sealab to fight in "The Great Spice Wars". Replaced by his son Michael as Captain Bellerophon "Tornado" Shanks.
Jaclyn Linetsky Caillou Caillou 2003-09-08 Traffic accident Character recast; replaced by Annie Bovaird.
Megan O'Connor 15/Love Both characters killed in a plane crash.
Vadim Schneider Sébastien Dubé
John Ritter Paul Hennessy 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter 2003-09-11 Undiagnosed aortic dissection 2 Character dies of implied heart attack, with his death explained in a subsequent episode. A new character, portrayed by James Garner, was introduced to replace Ritter's character.[2]
Clifford Clifford the Big Red Dog 68 Series ended; replaced by prequel Clifford's Puppy Days with the title character voiced by Lara Jill Miller.
Tony Capstick Policeman Last of the Summer Wine 33 2003-10-23 25 Character written out, and replaced by another policeman, portrayed by Louis Emerick.
Rod Roddy Announcer The Price is Right 2003-10-27 Colon cancer 19 Replaced in April 2004 by Rich Fields (on-air auditions were held in the interim).
Richard Biggs Milo Morton Strong Medicine 2004-05-22 Aortic dissection 5 Character killed off.
David Bailey Alistair Crane Passions 2004-11-25 drowned in his pool Character recast with John Reilly taking over the role.
Jerry Orbach Lennie Briscoe Law & Order: Trial by Jury 2 (Trial by Jury)
282 (all Law & Order programs)
2004-12-28 Prostate cancer 1 Character never seen again; character's off-screen death mentioned on other shows within the Law & Order franchise.
Stan Richards Seth Armstrong Emmerdale 2005-02-11 Emphysema Character killed off with a heart attack while flying home from Australia.
Richard Whiteley Host Countdown 2005-06-26 endocarditis Replaced by Des Lynam
John Spencer Leo McGarry The West Wing 155 2005-12-16 Heart attack 7 Character killed off with a heart attack; running mate Matt Santos (portrayed by Jimmy Smits) wins presidential election.[5]
Mako Iwamatsu Iroh Avatar: The Last Airbender 31 2006-07-21 Esophageal cancer 2 Voice work already completed for the second season, had one non-speaking appearance in the beginning of the next season and was then recast with Greg Baldwin, who accurately imitated his predecessor's voice and voiced the character for the third and final season, along with two guest appearances in season two of the sequel series.
Steve Irwin Crocodile Hunter The Crocodile Hunter 2006-09-03 Fatal stingray injury 5 Series cancelled. In 2018, the remaining family members starred in the series, Crikey! It's the Irwins, following their work at the Australia Zoo.
Christopher Allport Andrew Campbell Mad Men 2008-01-25 Avalanche 1 Character killed off with a plane crash.
Ashley Callie Lee Haines Isidingo 500+ 2008-02-15 Traffic Accident 11 Character went missing and later dies off-screen without specifying her cause of death.
Mark Speight Presenter SMart 173 2008-04-07 Suicide by hanging 14 A special tribute to Mark Speight was broadcast. Along with the final two series' new format, guest presenters appear each week to assist the two presenters, Kirsten O'Brien and Mike Fischetti.
Stanley Kamel Dr. Charles Kroger Monk 46 2008-04-08 Heart attack Character killed off with a heart attack and replaced as Adrian Monk's psychiatrist by Dr. Neven Bell, portrayed by Héctor Elizondo.
Clive Hornby Jack Sugden Emmerdale 2008-07-03 Cancer Character killed off with a heart attack.
Kathy Staff Nora Batty Last of the Summer Wine 246 2008-12-13 Brain tumor 29 Character written out as visiting Australia, and replaced by Barbara Young as her sister, Stella, who is house-sitting for her.
Wayne Allwine Mickey Mouse Mickey Mouse Clubhouse 99 2009-05-18 Complications caused by diabetes 3 Character recast for season 4; replaced by Bret Iwan as the current voice of Mickey Mouse.
Maggie Jones Blanche Hunt Coronation Street 2009-12-02 Character killed off.
Charlie O'Donnell Announcer Wheel of Fortune 2010-11-01 Heart failure 22 Replaced in June 2011 by Jim Thornton (on-air auditions were held in the interim).
Elisabeth Sladen Sarah Jane Smith The Sarah Jane Adventures 53 2011-04-19 Cancer 5 Production suspended before the commencement of filming of three planned 2-part serials, resulting in an abbreviated broadcast season and leaving some story arcs and plot points unresolved.
Andy Whitfield Spartacus Spartacus: Blood and Sand 2011-09-11 Non-Hodgkin lymphoma 4 Character recast with Liam McIntyre taking over the role.
Betty Driver Betty Williams Coronation Street 2,800-plus 2011-10-15 Pneumonia Character killed off with an illness.
Ian Abercrombie Chancellor Palpatine/Darth Sidious Star Wars: The Clone Wars 29 2012-01-26 Kidney Failure 5 Character recast with Tim Curry taking over the role.
Ernest Borgnine Mermaid Man SpongeBob SquarePants 15 2012-07-08 Kidney Failure 8 Status unknown; possibly written out (alongside Barnacle Boy)
Jerry Nelson The Count and other characters Sesame Street 2012-08-23 Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease 43 Many of Nelson's characters recast; taken over by Matt Vogel. An episode loosely inspired by Jerry's death and centered on The Count aired in 2013.[6]
Larry Hagman J.R. Ewing Dallas 356 (original series)
17 (revival series)
2012-11-23 Acute myeloid leukemia 2 Character killed off with two fatal gunshot wounds (a reference to the "Who shot J.R.?" cliffhanger of the original series), an episode revolving around his funeral, and an episode detailing his master plan.[2]
Jeanne Cooper Katherine Chancellor The Young and the Restless 1,296 2013-05-08 Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease 40 Character killed off by dying in her sleep.
Richard Thorp Alan Turner Emmerdale 2013-05-22 Character killed off in his sleep.
Cory Monteith Finn Hudson Glee 81 2013-07-13 Heroin and alcohol overdose 5 Production delayed; character killed off in a special tribute episode without specifying cause of death.
Lee Thompson Young Barold "Barry" Frost Rizzoli & Isles 2013-08-19 Suicide by Gunshot 4 Production suspended; character was said to be on vacation at the end of the 4th season, then later killed off in a car accident on the way home and was given a funeral in a fifth season premiere.
Marcia Wallace Edna Krabappel The Simpsons 178 2013-10-25 Pneumonia 25 Character retired, later killed off screen. Edna's death (which includes previously recorded dialogue by Wallace) is acknowledged in the 25th-season episode "The Man Who Grew Too Much."
Christopher Evan Welch Peter Gregory Silicon Valley 5 2013-12-02 Cancer 1 Character killed off while taking a trip in the Serengeti after suffering a implied heart attack while running away from a tent incident.
Don Pardo Announcer Saturday Night Live 726 2014-08-18 Natural causes 38 Replaced by former SNL cast member Darrell Hammond.
Carol Ann Susi Debbie Wolowitz The Big Bang Theory 39 2014-11-11 Cancer 8 Character killed off in her sleep while on vacation in Florida.[2][7]
Anne Kirkbride Deirdre Barlow Coronation Street 1,439 2015-01-19 Breast cancer Character killed off, possibly with a brain aneurysm.
Shirley Stelfox Edna Birch Emmerdale 2015-12-07 Cancer Character killed off with ovarian cancer.
Alan Young Scrooge McDuck Mickey Mouse 2 2016-05-19 Natural causes 3 Character recast; role taken over by several different actors (in particular David Tennant who voices him in the DuckTales reboot).
Anton Yelchin Jim Lake Jr. Trollhunters 2016-06-19 Blunt traumatic asphyxia 3 Character recast; role taken over during season 3 by Emile Hirsch. The series premiered in December 2016, six months after his death. Yelchin had recorded dialogue for three seasons, the last of which aired in 2018.
Carrie Fisher Angela Family Guy 32 2016-12-27 Cardiac arrest 15 Character killed off with implied drowning in Season 17 episode, Pawtucket Pete.
Mia Catastrophe 6 4 Character killed off in Season 4, Episode 6
Miguel Ferrer Owen Granger NCIS: Los Angeles 105 2017-01-19 Throat cancer 8 Character initially disappeared to take care of "unfinished business" and then later died due to cancer.
Bill Paxton Detective Frank Rourke Training Day 13 2017-02-25 Complications from heart surgery 1 Series cancelled.[8]
Glenne Headly Diane Futterman Future Man 5 2017-06-08 Pulmonary embolism 1 Character killed off.
Adam West Mayor West Family Guy 117 2017-06-10 Leukemia 15 Character killed off and has appeared as a ghost. West had recorded his voice for 5 future episodes which they plan to use.[9]
John Dunsworth Jim Lahey Trailer Park Boys 99 2017-10-16 12 Series ended. Replaced with Trailer Park Boys: The Animated Series.
Hiromi Tsuru Bulma Dragon Ball Super 2017-11-16 aortic dissection Character recast; replaced by Aya Hisakawa for all future Dragon Ball roles
Dokin-chan Soreike! Anpanman Character recast; replaced by Miina Tominaga
Anthony Bourdain Himself (host) Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown 2018-06-08 Suicide Series ended.
Barry Elliott Barry Chuckle Chuckle Time 12 2018-08-05 Bone cancer 1 Series cancelled.
Unshō Ishizuka Narrator, Professor Oak, et al. Pokémon 1,032 2018-08-13 Esophageal cancer 21 Characters recast; roles taken over by Kenyu Horiuchi.
Kristoff St. John Neil Winters The Young and the Restless 1,697 2019-02-03 Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy 46 Character killed off with a stroke.
Luke Perry Fred Andrews Riverdale 42 2019-03-04 Stroke 3 Character killed off with a off-screen hit-and-run accident in the season 4 premiere.
Cameron Boyce Zach Mrs. Fletcher 6 2019-07-07 Seizure 1 Series ended.
Russi Taylor Minnie Mouse Mickey Mouse 2019-07-26 Colon Cancer 5 Series ended; replaced by The Wonderful World of Mickey Mouse with Minnie recast by Kaitlyn Robrock.
Mickey and the Roadster Racers 2 Character recast; taken over by Kaitlyn Robrock.
Various characters (most notably Martin Prince) The Simpsons 30 Certain characters recast, including Martin Prince; taken over by Grey DeLisle.
Linda Porter Myrtle Vartanian Superstore 35 2019-09-25 Cancer 5 Character killed off.
Brian Dennehy Dominic Wilkinson The Blacklist 9 2020-04-15 Cardiac arrest 7 Character recast; taken over by Ron Raines.
Fred Willard Pop Pop The Loud House 7 2020-05-15 Heart attack 5 Replaced by Christopher Swindle for the episode "Resident Upheaval". According to Swindle, the crew is still looking for a replacement voice actor for the character. [10]
Naya Rivera Collette Jones Step Up 20 2020-07-08 Accidental drowning 3 Character recast; taken over by Christina Milian.[11]
Chadwick Boseman T'Challa / Star-Lord What If...? 4 2020-08-28 Colon cancer 1 Character returned to his own universe and wasn’t brought back.
Archie Lyndhurst Ollie Coulton So Awkward 6 2020-10-01 Brain hemorrhage caused by acute lymphoblastic leukemia 6 Filming completed on the last episode.
Bobby Ball Frank Not Going Out 21 2020-10-28 COVID-19 11 TBD. Twelfth season currently in production.
Alex Trebek Host Jeopardy! 8000+ 2020-11-08 Pancreatic cancer 37 To be replaced; no official replacement named yet (on-air auditions are being held in the interim).
Kirby Morrow Cole Lego Ninjago 2020-11-18 Accidental substance overdose 14 TBD
Christopher Plummer Howard Lawson Departure 12 2021-02-05 Complications from fall 2 TBD. Second season currently in production.
George Segal Albert 'Pops' Solomon The Goldbergs 2021-03-23 Complications from bypass surgery 8 Character killed off.
Jessica Walter Malory Archer Archer 110 2021-03-24 Undisclosed 12 Walter finished recording lines for season twelve, the season ending with her character retiring to an unlocated island with her husband. [12]
Helen McCrory Elizabeth 'Polly' Gray (née Shelby) Peaky Blinders 30 2021-04-14 Cancer 6 TBD. Sixth season currently in production.
Stelmaria, Asriel’s dæmon His Dark Materials 4 3 TBD. Third season currently in production.
Philece Sampler Rokuta Kamado Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba (English dub) 1 2021-07-01 Heart attack 2 TBD. Second season currently in production.
Ed Asner Carl Dug Days 5 2021-08-29 1 TBD.
Norm Macdonald Yaphit The Orville 2021-09-14 Acute leukemia 3 TBD. Third season currently in production.
Willie Garson Stanford Blatch And Just Like That... 2021-09-21 pancreatic cancer 1 Character written out as having moved to Tokyo.
Gaspard Ulliel Anton Mogart/Midnight Man Moon Knight 2022-01-19 Ski accident TBD.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Snauffer, Douglas; Thurm, Joel (2008). The Show Must Go on: How the Deaths of Lead Actors Have Affected Television Series. McFarland. p. 78. ISBN 978-0-7864-3295-0.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Mitovich, Matt Webb (2019-03-05). "How TV Shows Handled Actors' Deaths". TVLine. Retrieved 2019-03-17.
  3. ^ "Iain Anders".
  4. ^ "'Suddenly Susan: From High Ratings To Tragedy". Trendchaser. Retrieved 2018-10-03.
  5. ^ Steinberg, Jacques (April 10, 2006). "'West Wing' Writers' Novel Way of Picking the President". The New York Times.
  6. ^ ""I Am the Count": Sesame Street's Jerry Nelson Tribute". 31 October 2013.
  7. ^ "The Story Behind 'Big Bang Theory's' Tribute to Carol Ann Susi". The Hollywood Reporter. 19 February 2015. Retrieved 2019-03-17.
  8. ^ Mitovich, Matt Webb (17 May 2017). "Training Day, Ransom Cancelled at CBS". TVLine.
  9. ^ "'Family Guy' Producer Reveals Plans for Adam West's Character". Retrieved 2019-03-17.
  10. ^ Swindle, Christopher [@Swindletopher] (2021-01-29). "@VincentSophuok Awe, thank you so much! It was an honor, but in this case I filled in for just one episode and someone else will take over the role! Hope you enjoy it!" (Tweet). Archived from the original on 2021-08-13. Retrieved 2021-10-30 – via Twitter.
  11. ^ Trepany, Charles. "Christina Milian to take over Naya Rivera's role in 'Step Up' show: 'I have massive shoes to fill'". USA TODAY. Retrieved 27 March 2021.
  12. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (25 March 2021). "Jessica Walter Leaves Behind One Final Season Of FXX's 'Archer'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 27 March 2021.

External links[edit]