Nashville Season 5 Rayna Dies Dead

Nashville Hard Truth: Rayna's Gotta Die

Prepare yourselves, y’all, because — to borrow from a title of a recent Nashville episode — what I’m about to say is sure gonna hurt.

The recent news that Connie Britton might only be in 10 of Nashville‘s upcoming 22 Season 5 episodes on CMT has got me worried. And what do chronic worriers do? We play scenarios out to their most dire conclusion, then try to prep ourselves for the onslaught of emotions that will accompany the inevitable heartbreak.

Guys… what if Nashville kills off Rayna?

But hold on, let’s not jump to the series throwing dirt on its lead character’s grave just yet. There’s an argument to be made that Rayna, even more so than Juliette, has been the heart of the drama since it began. She is the First Lady of Country Music, the head of a record label, the soulmate of a man who has waited decades to call her his missus. Doesn’t that, alone, make her bulletproof?

But that love for Deacon may be the very thing that sends Rayna to the Grand Ole Opry in the sky. After everything the Claybournes have been through in the past four seasons, to split them again for any relationship reason (cheating, misunderstanding, friction related to careers or the kids) would be to take the show down a path it’s trod several times. The couple has survived so much, isn’t death pretty much the only believable way the show can write Britton, if need be, out of the action after 10 episodes?

The more I think about it, the more I feel like that’s the only avenue the show can take while staying true to the characters we love. Don’t get me wrong — I don’t want a Rayna-free Nashville any more than I wanted a Mulder-less X-Files. But when David Duchovny’s requests for a lighter Season 8 load were met back in 2001, we wound up with Doggett and Reyes and whale sounds and bat boy and other assorted forms of space-filler. And at least Mulder’s reason for being gone for most of Season 9 was a life-or-death mission to protect his infant son that sent him on the lam. What’s Rayna going to do, go on Highway 65 talent-finding trips that last several episodes? Or break up with Deacon again, necessitating in some offscreen time so she can lick her wounds?

Please know this: I don’t want Rayna to go. I want her in all 22 episodes. In fact, I want her in 23 episodes — even if that 23rd hour were just Rayna sacked out on the couch, dipping a spoon into a pint of Häagen-Dazs and watching HGTV while Deacon adoringly rubbed her feet.

But I’m aware that the death of a beloved central character has gotta be catnip to new showrunners Marshall Herskovitz and Ed Zwick, who are known for killing us softly and bathing in our tears. (R.I.P., thirtysomething‘s Gary). I also know that Juliette is a strong enough character — and Hayden Panettiere a more than capable actress — to carry the series in Rayna’s absence, though I do prefer them singin’, sassin’ and standin’ tall together.

Hey, maybe Britton and the series will work out a deal for her to appear in every (or almost every) episode, and all my worry will be for naught. Maybe the series’ writing staff will find some heretofore-unknown way to have a major character appear in less than half the season without leaving a yawning void. Maybe Megan Fox will come in to cover as head of Highway 65 when Rayna’s assigned to a lengthy jury-duty stint.

I might even believe those possibilities. If I didn’t know better.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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80 Comments
  1. Shira says:

    If Rayna dies then Nashville should die with her. The show can survive without her but it will be ‘Nashville’ but a spin off. I personally don’t think it should survive without her but be relaunched as a different show (which I’ll probably download music the music from but won’t watch). Sorry, love the ensemble as a whole but I love it with Rayna setting the tone. Deacon or Juliette or young artists trying to make it in music city aren’t my kind of Nashville.

    Also, although Killing off Rayna may “make sense” story wise, it is the worst message this show can send about this truly wonderful character. There is always a price to success but it shouldn’t necessarily be death. I want Rayna as a living complicated legend even if she’s off screen and not another dead female character.

  2. kdn1231 says:

    I think this is a far assessment, if Rayna is only going to be in 10 episodes for the rest of the series, then she will have to die. They could send her on tour and have phone calls and stuff, but what happens in season 6? And if they choose to kill her then, that would lose all the impact of her death since viewers would have gone months without Rayna being on screen.

    So I agree, either she dies in her 10th episode or they have to get her to sign on for more episodes. Good luck to the writers and the rest of the team, both options are going to be tough.

    • ABG. says:

      Season 6 is not that likely anyways.
      I bet they’ll find a way to keep her for about 13 episodes spread through the season so they can end the show without killing her.

  3. steven says:

    Just have Rayna go on a world tour.

  4. Jason says:

    If she dies then what was the point of this show even coming back. It’s Castle all over again. Only this time there would be no stopping it as it would happen mid-season. Send her on a world tour. Or better yet, just space out her appearances through the season. Hayden was gone for a long time and the show survived, (even if it didn’t thrive).
    Everyone’s outcry over the Juliet cliffhanger and lack of resolution is going to turn into regret over the show even returning. Another option would have been, NOT DOING 22 EPISODES! I can count on one hand the number of cable shows doing seasons that long. If they want to cut costs, just do ten per season. Give it some closure and if it happens to do well, do another ten. They are overreaching by a mile in my opinion.

    • Wayne says:

      Totally agree. As much as I liked this show I was fine with th abc cancellation. Other than that ridiculous last scene everything was pretty wrapped up. I don’t think this Second lease on life will go well with all these compromises… and they should have just left it.

    • johnhelvete says:

      I completely agree about doing 22 episodes. Lionsgate and CMT seemed to want to make a statement that the show was going to be exactly the same quality as the version that aired on ABC and they over reached. 13 episodes (shown continuously) or 16 episodes (shown in a split season format) would have been the logical way to go.

    • Syl says:

      Exactly my thought

    • Shira says:

      Completely agree! Even big networks adopt the short seasons format more and more. It’s better for the stories, cast and viewers. Connie has been very vocal from season 1 about her struggles with the 22 episodes format. 10-13 episodes would have solved the problem for her, cut cost and give everyone an opportunity to see if the show has what it takes to last beyond another season.

  5. Jake L. says:

    The solution is obvious: reduce the episode order to 10 (which is a more standard thing for cable anyway) and don’t give us a show without Rayna in it. This would also prevent some of the stupid side-storylines since they wouldn’t have any room for filler. But, they won’t.

    • Lauren says:

      This is my favorite idea. Maybe do 13 like the AMC shows usually do. Trim the fat, get rid of unnecessary B stories and convince Britton that it won’t be as big of a time suck.

  6. sre says:

    I really hope her 10 episodes are spread throughout the season with some sort of business related explanation of her absence. I agree they CANNOT split up Deacon and Rayna again. But Lord help us (and our tear ducts) if they kill her off. Deacon was a mess when he thought he was going to die. I can’t imagine what he’d be like if Rayna passed.

  7. Max says:

    As long as it’s in a car crash taking both bratty daughters with her!

  8. quang says:

    I had the same thought when hearing the news; that the reduced episode order means that Rayna has to be killed off. If it was any other character, they could easily explain it away by having the character go on tour and or find success in another state (like Zoey). They can’t do that with Rayna because her family makes up a third of the cast list. The stories for Deacon, Maddie and Daphne depends on her being around, and the same goes for her record company. Her absense will prove too glaring that they’ll have to write towards it rather than against it, especially in this sure-to-be last season. The last show that wrote around a main character’s extended absence was Michael Vaughn in Alias, but they got away with it becasue the fans were used to them always killing and bringing back characters.

  9. Beverley says:

    If Britton is leaving the show…Put Rayna in a car crash when she finds out all the evils of her sister and have reconstructive surgery on her face. Like in the movie”Shattered” Find a suitable actress to fill her shoes.. Laura Bell Bundy please!!!!!!

  10. Nan says:

    But why does she want to leave in the first place? What does Deacon do if they in fact kill her off? where does the show go from there the whole show was basically about their relationship. Does Juliette and Avery took over being queen and king of country music…what?

  11. Summer says:

    Is it possible that she’d appear in like every other episode? Or is it confirmed that she’s just doing the first ten episodes of the season?

  12. Jen says:

    There’s no need to kill her off. None. And nothing has said that she’s doing 10 consecutive episodes. What if her ten episodes are spread out throughout the season? She could be in every other episode, and still be a major player in the series.

  13. Longmire4ever says:

    10 episodes is fine. She was supposed to be on tour anyway. I do not se a problem with her character going back out on tour! All the characters are on tour at one point. It is too much pressure on Juliette character to make her carry the show for all twenty two episodes. We need Rayna character in as many as she can film. A season film is necessary to tie up the loose ends.

  14. drhenning says:

    I am curious what Connie Britton has in the hopper or is it budget issues with the new season making a reduced role???

    • iHeart says:

      hmmmm has she signed on to another Ryan Murphy project recently?

    • brandydanforth81 says:

      I think budget and her saying she’s not fm fatale filming in TN after anti gay laws were passed plus she’s admitted she’s not really a singer.

      • She holds her own, though. Some of the greatest Country singers did not have what you would call a good voice–Johnny Cash, Chris Kristofferson, Kitty Wynn would not have made it on American Idol for sure, but they had the “It” thing. And Connie projects that as well as anyone. And Hayden has been a complete revelation, maximizing her talent. They all don’t sound like Patsy or Willie, but they don’t have to with other compensatory attributes.

  15. It would be such a huge bummer if they went the death route. why can’t Rayna and Deacon just be happy? I would much rather have her go tour and appear throughout the season, then have this one be the last since she is done.

  16. shar says:

    Nashville will not be the same without Rayna and Deacon. If Rayna goes, so the show needs to go. The only reason I watch Nashville is Rayna and Deacon, and Juliette and Avery.

  17. Celina says:

    I don’t think killing her is the way… the fans don’t deserve that. They should do like Scrubs, always talking about Carla, but never showing her again. I don’t care, as long as they don’t kill the character off.
    “Rayna is traveling”
    “Rayna is with her daughters”
    “I have a meeting with Rayna”
    Etc

  18. RD says:

    Have her murdered by an insane fan. Makes a change from cancer or an air/car crash. And it’s quite feasible enough,too.

  19. franktierney says:

    What if she’s in 10 episodes throughout the duration of the season. She doesn’t need to be in every episode but can still be a force on the show. It does not mean that she’s only around the first 10 episodes… just saying.

  20. CHERYL R. GAY says:

    NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😞😞😞😞😞😞😥😞😪😪😪😪😪😪!!!THEN DEACON WILL DRINK HIMSELF TO DEATH!!! NOBODY IS THINKING OF THE GIRLS!!!!! PLEASE! PLEASE! PLEASE DONT KILL RAYNA!!!!

  21. ToyCannon says:

    They should have Rayna in the first couple episodes as she prepares for her first international tour. Luke and Layla can also be said to be part of the tour. Then bring Rayna back for the last 8 episodes and give our story a HAPPY ENDING.

  22. Denise says:

    No Rayna can not die off. NO.

  23. Jim says:

    If I didn’t know better . . . but I do. I HATE that this is happening. Honestly, it’s very not cool of Connie Britton to do to us the audience or the show and all the people who work on it after what it just went through to get renewed. She could do the full year. It would be much more cool of her. I’d like her better. Never ever thought of her as anything less than a class act in all the years she’s been working in television. Until now.

  24. Carla Krae says:

    Part of this depends on if it’s “the first 10” or “10 spread throughout”. If Connie just has a reduced schedule, then nothing has to happen to Raina.

  25. MJ says:

    This is the exact rationale they used for Derek Shepherd — a love so great that nothing could explain separation other than death. I would be surprised if they have her go on tour as an explanation, because having characters go on tour is part of the fun and the story. It would be weird if they just stopped following her and still followed everyone else on tour. But not out of the question. My sense is that if negotiations are still ongoing, it’s a money thing.

  26. franktierney says:

    Honestly, we forget that we went much of the season without Jueliette Barnes and everything worked out just fine. So who knows… maybe they could use her in the back half of the season and end the series properly.

  27. iHeart says:

    you know I’m starting to think that this may have been the real reason that ABC cancelled it. we had been waiting forever for Rayna and Deacon to be together at last but now this happens, I am starting to question why I even watched in the first place

  28. A fan of TV says:

    If the show kills Rayna, I hope Juliette’s the one that does it, and not by accident necessarily, though it would fit Juliette’s tragic pattern either way. Seems the most fitting way for one Queen of Country to make way for the next one.

  29. Boiler says:

    Unless something unknown has changed Lionsgate said that they expected all actors to return for a full season. Where did all this start??

  30. Allysa says:

    Am I the only person here tho thinks Rayna is a selfish b!tc#???? I’d be glad to see her go.

    • Andrea says:

      No, Allysa, you are not the only one. I’ll go one step further and completely disagree with the notion that Rayna is the center of the show. When the series started, that was true, but Lamar is dead, Tandy is gone, and Teddy is in the clink. The show has expanded far outward to focus on Scarlett and her life, Deacon and his health, Gunnar/Scarlett, Juliette/Avery, and Will/Kevin. The show is now much more representative of the lives of various people as they live and work in a specific industry. Rayna is a participant in the industry, but she isn’t the center of it. She doesn’t make it go. Her lack of success with Hwy 65 proves that. Country music, or any music for that matter, does not circle only around one person, and I’m glad Nashville no longer does that either.

  31. Juke says:

    I’d prefer to send her off on a European tour that never ends. Deacon and her girls can “visit” her from time to time, but we don’t need to see the visits.

  32. Kavita says:

    Maybe she’ll be in a coma?? Don’t kill her off!! I love Rayna!

  33. Kevin says:

    Kill Rayna, kill the show, i won’t watch after that…

  34. If Britton doesn’t want to stay, she can leave NOW

  35. NP says:

    Killing Rayna is obviously the only way to handle it if she’s not coming back for the full season if Deacon is staying. As long as Deacon stays, it will all be fine

  36. chadcronin says:

    No. She better be in most episodes. We’ve had enough real life drama this year

  37. Ben says:

    CMT should do everything in their power to sign Connie Britton to a deal where she still appears in half the episodes a season, or something, if its about her wanting time to do other things or wanting to spend less time in Nashville.

    Sometimes someone wants to leave and if they do you can’t help it, and if CB wants out, I don’t really see a way around killing Rayna. Which, I think, is also killing the show.

  38. Larc says:

    I don’t think there will be any option other than Rayna’s death, whether from a health crisis, accident or murder. But I’m far from anxious to see all the drama that will result from it. If it happens, maybe they can advance the story several months to let the immediacy wear off some.

  39. RichieS says:

    Looks like she may be going to Netflix to be on Kyle Chandler’s Bloodline. His character just had his wife leave him, so there ya go.

  40. John NYC says:

    That would NOT be addition by subtraction. As much as I like Hayden.

  41. I imagine that the showrunners would only kill her off if Connie adamantly refused to extend her contract. Did CMT restructure their contracts with less pay? If so, maybe it’s her agent’s attempt to get a higher salary for her. It certainly won’t be the same show without her. It took me a year of grieving after the ending of FNL. I hope that this coming season makes me fall in love with the Stella sisters again. Less drama, more singing. And some realization by Sam Palladino’s character will never be able to have a stable relationship unless Scarlett gets some serious therapeutic intervention to deal with all her insecurities and passive aggressive defense mechanisms. I know that Will Chase is gone, but will his son Colt be in the cast? And all I can say about Layla is “Bye Felicia.” And please let them show that the entire population of Nashville is not homophobic, and allow Will find his place and live his truth without constant conflicts and back stabbing. He and his boyfriend need to settle down, write beautiful songs together, and have the peace and joy that many lovers should be allowed.

  42. I’m not all that upset by this honestly. I don’t think they should kill off Reyna, because that would be overkill, they could just space out her 10 episodes throughout the season but honestly, I like the rest of the cast’s voices more and it doesn’t seem like Connie Britton really wants to be there anymore, so they should just let her go, the rest of the cast is more than talented enough to make up for her absence.

  43. Paul Irving says:

    I do like the Nashville series. But the character “Reyna” has always seemed to me to be not very well portrayed. She always seems contrived and dors not have a natural flow about her

  44. Sissy says:

    If something bad happens to Rayna, I don’t think I can watch Deacon’s emotional trauma. Even though I wasn’t a fan of his sister, when she died after the life-saving surgery his emotions left me a basket-case. He is definitely a good male crier. Those eyes with tears, ok, I won’t be able to bear it.
    So Rayna gets a gig as a judge on a major network singing competition and moves the entire family to Hollywood. There she will be working all the time and Deacon will become a house-husband and father to the girls. Well, just Daphne, who of course, hates living in California until she gets a great part on a Disney series. The tables are turned and now Maddie is envious of her little sister’s great life. Meanwhile, Deacon channels all of his inner demons and issues into writing award winning songs.
    Meanwhile, back in Nashville….

  45. RichieS says:

    Maybe CMT is cutting cast members for budgetary reasons and if this is true I still applaud them for rescuing this wonderful show. But if this is not the case I would love to see Laura Bernanti return as well as Chaley Rose. Both actresses are triple threats in that they can sing, act, and are great looking.

  46. Kristen says:

    Quite frankly, Nashville shouldn’t carry-on without either Deacon or Rayna. With that being said, I would much rather the series end with Rayna’s departure, rather than try to continue without her there. There is NO reason why Rayna should have to die or disappear just so the series can continue.

  47. Most cable networks only do 10 episodes. Nashville lost this household when they made Deacon into a mean, hateful person instead of letting them be happy for awhile. We don’t get CMT on our Comcast plan so can’t say that we care.

  48. I wonder if she might be leaving because of the law Tennessee passed; if so, will she leave America if Hillary doesn’t get elected

  49. Randy says:

    Rayna leaves, so do I and a HUGE number of people I know, not to count their friends. Might as well put on another cooking show…… (yawn) Work it out people!!!