How 22 TV Shows Handled an Actor's Death

A television showrunner can anticipate or plan for any number of things — say, a cast member walking away from the negotiation table and a role he/she long inhabited. But the sudden, tragic death of a key player is something one never can, or wants to, expect.

As Fox’s Glee in the coming weeks mourns series star Cory Monteith, who was found dead on July 13 at the age of 31, TVLine recounts how 22 other TV series responded to, and sometimes incorporated, a cast member’s death.

RELATED | Cory Monteith’s 10 Best Glee Moments

The path that Glee ultimately chooses won’t be determined for several weeks — if not longer, should Fox and the showrunners elect to push back the season premiere and allow the devastating news more time to sink in. One thing is certain, however: The musical comedy faces special circumstances, appealing as it does to a youthful demographic, swaths of which idolized or even “carried a torch” for Monteith. Viewers also will know the pain his on-/off-screen love, Lea Michele, herself must feel, every time they see Rachel.

Review this gallery of how other shows worked through similar tragedies (or in some cases didn’t), then share your latest thoughts on how the show might go on for Glee.

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!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

  1. sara says:

    The West Wing’s incorporation of John Spencer’s death always struck me. It was poignant but fit the tone of the show.

  2. slizabeth says:

    The way The West Wing handled John Spencer’s death was really poignant and beautiful. It was a fitting goodbye for “Leo.” One of my favorite episodes of the later seasons.

  3. Lois says:

    They have no choice but to push back the premiere, they were supposed to start filming season 5 next week and the cast and crew need time to grieve before the writers can even begin to find a way to rewrite the season so far. There has been talk among fans about an 8 Simple Rules-style tribute, which would give the fans some way to grieve too, but ultimately it depends on what the cast and crew can manage.

    • Josh says:

      It’s the only thing they can do…They can’t not mention it. And honestly, Glee is the perfect show to pay tribute to someone. I imagine the most tear-worthy episode of the show ever…When Lea sings, hearts will shatter :(

      • Meagan says:

        It all depends on how it is handled. The line between a touching tribute by those who loved him and an exploitation of their feelings for ratings can be a thin one and Glee producers should be careful about this.

      • Cheri says:

        But, Lea and Cory were boyfriend and girlfriend in real life. An actor or actress singing in tribute to a co worker is one thing but this is all together another subject. These actors were like family, so close, who knows how they will handle this. But, IMO, I would not assume that Lea Michele would be singing anything for the show either at this time. Who knows if the show would even continue to start filming on the 22nd of July as they were supposed to. Cory was not only her co star but her life mate. a huge difference.

        • rawley says:

          You’re completely right about this being more sensitive than these other shows listed, BUT Glee will continue. It will probably go on a hiatus like 8 Simple Rules, but it will continue. I think the new season will be grueling, but Glee will definitely be back.

        • ZisforZombie says:

          Yes – I completely agree with you. A lot of people have been talking about “when” Lea and crew will begin filming, but I don’t know if she would want to continue on a show where she met Cory. The Finchel relationship (to me) seemed like an ultimate Ross/Rachel type of thing, and I don’t know how the writers will be able to work around that.

          • Cheri says:

            That is the writers huge dilemma. Where do we go from here? What do we make as the main storylines? Cory was supposed to be heavily featured in the first few episodes. Fox had mentioned they would want to do a dedication or tribute to Cory sometime. But, that is a maybe. Cory was the glue of the show, on screen and behind the scenes. He was a prankster, made the cast and crew have a great time even when it wasn’t. As we all can see by all the well wishers, he made his mark on the world. I would think that his Glee family would want to at sometime give him a well deserved send off to the heavens. But, Lea is the other glue for Glee. The question is how, when if and if ever she will return to Glee. They all cried for days when the cast shot the graduation of seniors episode season 3. All I know is that Glee will never be Glee without Cory. Glee will be forever changed. It will have to become something else to survive.

  4. Jose says:

    Umm Andy Whitfield in Spartacus?……

    • Didi says:

      I completely agree…Andy should be here on this list.

    • sara says:

      They had already recast when Andy passed away. If he had recovered, the outcome would still have been the same: Liam McIntyre taking over the role, with Andy’s blessing.

    • Corey says:

      Didn’t they replace him on the show prior to his death? I could be wrong but I remember hearing something about him being consulted during the casting of his replacement.

  5. Didi says:

    You’ve got Anna Lee wrong. She was fired before she passed away. In fact, her family maintains her dismissal is part of what led to her passing

  6. July says:

    So… the by what you, Tv Line, suggest is that the show musn’t go on?

  7. cookie says:

    in the case of cory’s passing.. i do not fare well for the show. :/
    even if it is a HUGE hit. i’ve been a fan since s2 and quickly became addicted.. the character of finn was such an integral part of the series and made/had lots of connections to them all. not to mention the cast was very openly close. with social media it seemed the cast was always together. i’m deeply saddened and am not sure if the show will ever gain it’s Glee’ful’ness again.

    • slizabeth says:

      Do you think Lea will want to continue in the show after this? I wouldn’t blame her at all if she didn’t.

      • ade says:

        That’s what I was thinking; it might hurt her too much.. I wouldn’t be able to do it… poor, poor girl… #PrayforLea

      • Audri says:

        I’m sure that it will be difficult and while it would be understandable, the likelihood seems very very slim. To put it simply: the show must go on. Not only is she under contract, but it’s her job. That’s my opinion. Of course though, right now it’s all emotional, we can all speculate, and Ryan and co and everyone can talk, about the buissness side of this tragedy later……

        • Jen says:

          If they had any decency at all and if it is her wish to get out of her contract, then they should let her. “The show must go on” is not an excuse to run roughshod over her feelings. She may be a professional but she is a human being first. If she finds it therapeutic to stay with the show, then she should, but her feelings about it are paramount.

      • rawley says:

        I think she will. It’ll be difficult, but she’s a professional. She won’t just stop working because she’s grieving. I think she may take a hiatus but it would surprise me if she left the show altogether.

      • Alia says:

        It might actually be easier to write them both out as having eloped to live in LA or someplace than to write off Cory alone, since their love story was their major plot line.

        • Elle Lowe says:

          I like this idea – because the fans can imagine that Finn is off living a happy life. Also, it will let Lea have the time she needs to mourn & not be reminded of this tragedy every time she comes to work. I can’t even imagine all the memories they had on set and in the studio. It’s where they first met. Although I’d like a tribute type of episode, I’d prefer to imagine that Cory & Rachel are living happily ever after. And I would cringe to see Rachel/Lea have to pretend to love someone else on the Glee set anytime in the future.

  8. Kate says:

    Mr Hoopers death and how it was handled still sticks with me and I’m 50.

    • Colleen says:

      So agree Kate – I saw the Sesame Street tag when this article got tweeted and I teared up even remembering that clip.

    • The show will go on but like a few people have said this tv family needs time and we can’t say what is best for a cast that included young people who may have never dealt with the death of a loved one. All fans can do is give them the space and time that they need to grieve and find their way out of their present darkness. With a spirit such as this fine Canadian young man the light will come again because he will shower it down. Let family and friends grieve in private and let them come back to their fans when and if they are ready. Love and prayers to his family a mother should never bury their child it is not supposed to be this way and my energy goes to her and Lea Michelle as they traverse this painful road. God give them strength.

  9. katie says:

    They just need to say that Finn has moved to a good college elsewhere and is doing well and working towards his dream. They can’t kill him off. He was an inspiration and a favorite character for many people and letting him have anything less than his dream would be devastating and such a blow to the fans who are already mourning Cory.

    • Dan says:

      i agree.

    • Camille says:

      Ending the show would be even more painful to the fans. I think that what you said it’s fair. Although it would be hard to continue with the show, Fox probably won’t be cancelling the show, delay… yes, but end with it? I doubt. Damn Cory, you will be very missed… your handsome, talented and cute being will be missed on the screen. :(

      • GTS says:

        Why would they end the show? Or even delay it, considering its air date is over two months away? The show is mainly focusing on the high school in Lima, and even though is shows the characters in New York, it’s not as much. Some episodes haven’t had anything about NY. And, considering Finn wasn’t in much of the latest season, being in the army, just not having a storyline while Rachel was dating Brody, and not being able to film during his time in rehab, he would be pretty easy to casually write off.

    • Mike R. says:

      I respectfully disagree, I think they have to have him die. It wouldn’t make sense for Finn never to see Rachel again, and frankly for him not to end up with Rachel if he is still alive. Whatever happens I hope it is done respectfully.

      • Samantha says:

        I agree, sadly. Finchel was always a huge part of the show, and to simply have Finn move away would be a disrespect to Cory. And there’s no way they could recast, especially because of Lea and Cory’s real-life relationship. I’m still so stunned about all of this, and hope Fox and Ryan Murphy and Co. just give Finn/Cory a respectful and thoughtful ending that he deserves.

      • JS says:

        I respectfully disagree. The vast majority of people don’t end up with their high school sweethearts. People move on, change, grow…
        They should do a tribute show, but then have Finn move on with his life elsewhere.

        • Jan says:

          This has very little to do with Rachel ending up with Finn, more with the fact that for them to never see each other again is unrealistic, either he has to die, or there needs to be a time jump where they end things for good offscreen.

      • DeeKayTee says:

        I have to agree, I don’t think just writing him out of the show and saying that he lived happily ever after somplace else is going to cut it. I think a 4th wall tribute is needed and then I think they should find a way to respectfully have Finn pass away as well. It will be heart wrenching to watch and even worse to act out but out of respect for Cory, I think it needs to be done.

    • grace2552 says:

      I agree. In an ideal world, I’d like to see a 4th-wall-breaking tribute episode for Cory so the cast and his fans can properly mourn but then, yeah, why not let the character of Finn live on off-screen? I’d like to be able to think that Finn is off living his happily ever after, and I just feel like it’d be so painful to have to watch Rachel and Schue and Co spend the rest of the show’s run grieving for Finn, not to mention painful for the actors to have to play.

      • Fernanda says:

        I want to keep Finn alive in Glee too, but also Finn’s death could change a lot of stuffs in the show. Rachel could be more determinate to be a successful artist on Broadway, Blaine should definitely get back with Kurt. Sam would change his goals because of Finn’s death (remember that he still wants to be a stripper because he thinks he’s to dumb to accomplish any career in life). Sadly I don’t know how to recover of this pain. Glee without Finn is not Glee. I don’t care the two years agreement, the show could never return to a happy place again.

    • eaanl says:

      I think they should give the character a hero’s death. His birth father was supposed to be a hero but it turned out not so much. Have Finn do something really heroic off-scene and become the hero he always thought his dad was.

      • Angela says:

        That’s a nice idea. If they do actually have Finn die on the show, I’m more than fine with them going that route.

      • Lauren says:

        Nice idea.

      • Cheri says:

        But, this would be another death of Cory to the real life actors if hey go this route. I do not think that will ever happen. to close to reality.

      • Olivia says:

        I “like” (if I can put it that way) this idea. Something like George’s death in Grey’s Anatomy, that happens off screen but is totally heroic. Let Finn save someone’s life and go with the honors. Killing the character would be the lesser of two evils IMO, because having to mention Finn being very alive and happy somewhere every now and then would be really cruel to the cast, especially Lea, and to the audience as well. Dealing with his death once would of course be excruciating to act out and for us to watch but I think it needs to be addressed. Also, it gives the opportunity to properly honor Cory/Finn’s memory. Ignoring his passing seems wrong and somewhat disrespectful to me.

    • Audri says:

      No, if he was just away at college somewhere he would still come back, how would they explain why he can’t come home when his friends graduate highschool, or when his brother gets married or when the girl he loves has her opening night on broadway? I agree with you about a “hero’s death”. I mean this would (will) shake these characters lives compleatly but I think Finn Hudson’s death is the right way to go, it would feel unrealistic otherwise and to me seems like it would be more of a scab for his friends and co-stars then his death, to have the charecter around somewhere. I don’t think they need to break the fourth wall, I just don’t think it would fit in with glee, but a sweet episode to honer the charecter would be nice.

    • Melinda says:

      They can’t do that. They have to kill him off. You will never see him on screen ever again but if he’s alive that suggests that there’s a possibility that Rachel and Finn could still be thinking about each other, or together and they have to close that storyline. They can’t keep him alive on the show. They won’t keep him alive on the show. They’ll either pay him tribute or end it. They’ll probably do a tribute episode with all the cast members back.

      • Melinda says:

        It’s terribly saddening, what happened, and Glee will never be the same. I still can’t bring myself to rewatch episodes from season 1 without feeling horrible and possibly crying. But I think it would be more upsetting to still have him alive in the show with the false notion that he’s offsreen living his dream when we all know we’ll never see him. That’s not fair to the viewers or the cast members or Lea.

    • Harmony says:

      I agree. This is what should happen.

    • Sean C. says:

      Having everybody pretend that Finn is alive somewhere when they know Cory isn’t seems much harsher than dealing with his death.

  10. topoopon says:

    See also: Gimme a Break when Dolph Sweet died.

  11. Torontogirl98 says:

    I will always remember 15Love, 2 cast members died on that show. At the time I was very young and that was a huge shock to me.

    • fiona says:

      I remember this. it was so heart breaking. After John Ritter’s death and his 8 simple Rules tribute, the 15 love tribute was the next most painful to watch for me. Sebastien and Megan <3

      For Glee, they will take a few months to grieve. If they continue with the show, they need to do it in a way that respects Cory's memory. If Lea chooses to move on, her scenes will definitely make me bawl.

      • Angela says:

        I remember watching the “8 Simple Rules” episode dealing with John’s death and sobbing my eyes out. Emotional as hell, but very well done.

  12. I always wondered what happened to Mr. Hooper. He’s part of my childhood memories of Sesame Street.

    The show I always think of ending after the death of an actor was a time travelor show. Something about Voyager? And My Sister Sam.

    • Steven says:

      My Sister Sam ended just prior to Rebecca Schaeffer.

    • TVFan says:

      Jon-Erik Hexum was the star of Voyagers! The show was cancelled in 1983 after 1 season. He went on to star as a spy/model on Cover Up. During the first season, he played a game on set of Russian Roulette with a gun from the prop department. He eventually shot himself in the temple with a blank that killed him.

  13. Wenders says:

    I still can’t watch that episode of 8 Simple Rules where John Ritter dies without bawling my head off.

  14. bamabunny says:

    Ironically, “The Royal Family” was also Naya Rivera’s (Santana) series debut. As for “Glee,” Finn was already absent for the last two episodes of Season Four. They could easily write him off for the first few episodes (have him busy with college) as they wrap up senior year for Artie, Tina, Sam, Blaine, etc. Then do a time jump to the new school year where Finn’s off-screen death over the summer is addressed. Whatever is done, say what you will about the show but the cast and crew are family and they will do whatever is most respectful to Cory’s memory.

  15. Britta Unfiltered says:

    I still grieve Phil Hartmann. Newsradio was never the same without Bill, and The Simpsons was never the same without Lionel Hutz, Attorney at Law.
    I had no idea John Spencer died. I just started watching The West Wing for the first time about a month or so ago, and I’m somewhere around the middle of the third or fourth season right now. I can’t remember which. That bums me out, I was really digging Leo. He was by far my favorite character.
    I don’t see how they could keep Glee on schedule at this point. Major rewrites are probably going to have to be done, as I imagine the writers would have mostly had the season mapped out by now with at least a few scripts finished. And I think it would be weird if Monday came around, and they were like, “let’s all get to work on these rewrites.” They should take a week off to grieve, or more if they need it. I’m sure it will be fine with their viewers if they have to wait a few weeks longer to watch the show.

    • liz says:

      Re: The West Wing. Spencer doesn’t die until season 7 (the show’s last), and the show handles it really really well; feels honest to the character and respectful of his memory. I just rewatched the series myself and was struck by how well it was integrated. Don’t stop watching because of this, there’s lots of Leo left and by the time season 7 comes around, you’re going to be so invested in the Jimmy Smitts storyline the blow will be lessened.

      • lariet50 says:

        Just want to second what liz said – also be prepared to fight your way through season 5. :) God, I remember when John Spencer died, and we were all just like, how on EARTH are they going to deal with this?! And then they handled it so beautifully. Here’s hoping the powers that be over at “Glee” can handle this with even a fraction of that grace.

  16. itbean says:

    Lets not forget about Mac Cory on Another World. Also Timmy from Passions, whose characters death aired the same day the actor died during surgery.

  17. Andrew says:

    The difference here is that the star of the show is his fiancé. How can they do any type of goodbye to Cory without her totally breaking down? I think it has to be an offscreen thing where he has moved on. No way they write the death into the show. It wouldn’t be fair to ask Lea to act in any scenes involving a storyline like that.

    • Jan says:

      I agree, but how can you not write it into the show, and still have Rachel on the show, Rachel and Finn were clearly going to end up together, and to have Rachel never see Finn again would be unrealistic.

      • bamabunny says:

        Exactly. I thought about him just going away, but no way would he not show up for a New Directions reunion, or Rachel’s first Tony, or Kurt’s wedding (not saying he’ll say yes re: the cliffhanger but that’s another discussion for another day).

        • Audri says:

          I 100% agree with you. The other thing though, (and I mean this with so much respect for everyone involved) is that Lea is a professional. She wouldn’t be Lea talking about Corey she would be Rachel talking about Finn. When an actor is on set performing, that’s their job. I can’t even begin to imagine what she must be going through in real life, but in terms of glee, I think that when Ryan and co decide to go back to their offices to start to re-work their fifth season they will do what is best for the show. That’s their jobs. The show must go on.

    • JS says:

      I felt the same way about News Radio and Suddenly Susan, but those actors got through it. The cast/crew will need some time. Maybe delay the season to January…

    • Ben says:

      I doubt they will ‘ask Lea to do something’. Instead, I dare say Lea herself will play a significant role in deciding how Finn is to be farewelled. And whatever that decision is, I dare say Lea will enter into it willingly and it may even be cathartic for her – albeit that I doubt she will ever watch the actual episode where they deal with it herself.

      • Dana says:

        I totally agree with what you said. I think the cast will have a HUGE part in what happens. And My thought would be an episode without any songs really, and just show how grief can be handled in MANY different ways, and at the end, have ONE song, one well thought out and fitting song, be sung as tribute to him. I think a ”silent’ (in the sense of not a song every other scene) episode would be truly fitting

        • bamabunny says:

          Honestly, not even one song. It would be the first and only “Glee” episode without one. And it would illustrate that in some circumstances in life, there’s just nothing that CAN be sung.

        • Olivia says:

          I was thinking the same thing yesterday, no music (except maybe one ending song, not necessarily a performance). Like Buffy in ep 5×16, Joss Whedon explains in the episode commentary that no score or music of any kind was included to emphasize the heavy and tense ambiance surrounding Joyce’s death. Or The L Word ep 3×10; this was a show full of music but in this episode there is none, for the same reason as in Buffy I guess. The only “music” we hear is right after Dana’s death, as Alice falls to the ground crying and the singing flower she carries suddenly starts to play “You are my sunshine”. Although it was different because none of the actors actually died, so I have no idea what would be the best thing to do in Glee’s case.

      • Cheri says:

        OMG, how chilling that sounds. But, logical. Lea might be in 1 scene. The rest of the cast with the returning original cast members saying their goodbyes would be almost the entire episode with not one song sung. But, Cory loved music, so who knows.

  18. Lillian says:

    I vividly remember when Pete Duel, Alias Smith and Jones, committed suicide. I never warmed up to his replacement, Roger Davis.

    • Lisa says:

      I remember that too. Also Dan Blocker who played Hoss on Bonanza died after surgery while they were on their Christmas break. Bonanza was never the same after he passed away, although I think they went at least 2 more seasons.

    • SLH says:

      I thought of Pete Duel from alias Smith and Jones earlier today too I thought I was the only one who remembered him and his tragic loss. thanks for bringing him up thank you so much

    • tardis repairman says:

      Ironically, Roger Davis was already the narrator of the series before replacing Pete Duel.

    • IMHO says:

      That was the one I remembered, too. Very sad, and AS&J was never the same. I think that some of those mentioned in the article were easier to handle due to the age of the character – it is much easier to deal with a death then and probably something that the writers were more prepared for. In the case of Mr Monteith, I think they should wait for the coroner’s verdict and then either turn it into a PSA-type episode or have Finn return to college somewhere and quietly not be mentioned again. Given the type of storyline for the show, someone moving on and out of the show’s focus happens all the time.

  19. Of all of them on this list, 8 Simple Rules was the one that struck me the most – I was young when I lost my dad (university, not high school), and I liked that they showed the kids working through their issues throughout season 2 – it lent a lot of credibility and felt very realistic

  20. april-ann says:

    That was moving. Almost every one of those struck a chord with me. I don’t pretend to know what happens in the writers’ room when tragedy hits. But probably the only thing I do know is that it is best and classiest to have the character die as well if the character and portrayer were important and beloved. No recasts. No fakes. Dallas was always one of my favorite shows until “Jock” reappeared. When this failed and fans hated it, they scrambled to show us “Jock” wasn’t really Jock. They can replace (when done right) but not recast. I think the best example of that would be Cheers with their touching and fitting tribute to Coach and the introduction of Woody. The characters, the writing and especially those two actors, magic.

  21. As I watched reruns of West Wing at one time and Newsradio at another, I wondered about those two and it was so depressing finding out. Especially watching the Newsradio cast breaking up during filming. So rough.

    I don’t see how lea Michele could ever film one of those though, and so I hope they do something else. (even though I don’t watch Glee any more)

  22. Pretty much, they need to get this right in some way shape or form. A tribute episode is one thing but you had a TV couple like Rachel and Finn who were epic and up there with many great TV couples of the past.

    You are still going to need a valid reason for Finn to not be on screen and as the viewers, we all know why, but it has to be something plausible for the character if you aren’t going to kill off Finn (which I really hope they don’t do). Remember, one of his last moments in Glee was an epic beatdown of Brody saying “Stay away from my future wife.” As a writer, you can’t leave that statement hanging and not follow through in someway.

    Pushing back the premiere is probably the way to go but you still need to address it once the show begins. As a writer, I don’t envy anyone in that writers room. Because whatever they decide to do with Finn is really going to have a domino effect on all the regulars and even the characters that aren’t regulars.

    All I hope is that whatever they decide to do really does justice for Finn, and for Finchel.

    • Audri says:

      Very well said. I agree with most of it except about Finn Hudson’s potential death. I believe that it is the right way to go and ultimately the only explanation for things like Finn being absent from graduation or kurt’s wedding or rachel’s opening night. I have so much respect for everyone involved and right now they really just need to be able to mourn but whenever ryan and co and then eventually Lea and everyone else goes back to work then they are proffesionals and need to do whatever is best for the show. I will say it again: the show must go on.

      • Melinda says:

        I agree. I don’t think there’s anything you can say or any situation you can create which explains him not showing up for graduation or the army or him and Rachel not ending up together and not seeing each other. That would be completely ooc for Finn. He’s much too much of an integral part of the show for any story to explain why he’s suddenly gone.

  23. Fabe says:

    8 Simple Rules handled John Ritter’s death extremely well. Even though what happened was a tragedy, the series really stepped up to the plate and delivered some amazing storytelling. My Mom and I still get choked up when we see those episodes. I think the best way for Glee to deal with this, is do a tribute episode and have Finn die as well. I can only imagine the gut wrenching song Lea Michele will do. It’s just so sad.

    • A says:

      I agree. My heart breaks every time I watch it. It was a true comedy. It made me genuinely laugh and I could have seen it continue for so much longer, but it sadly could never fully recover from his death and be the show it once was. I still shed a tear at this exchange:

      Mom: “No one said life was fair.”
      Kate Henessy: “I know life’s not fair, but no one told me it would be this cruel”

  24. Justin Burnell says:

    Reblogged this on thehiltonburnellfiles and commented:
    Dallas’s Larry Hagman’s death was a shock in last year of November 2012. I always miss J.R. Ewing to this day.

  25. Andy says:

    John’s death on 8 Simple Rules was handled very well. And I think what they did the following season with the bringing in of James and David was wonderful. It’s disappointing that it ended after only more season. It was doing well creatively, and they even somewhat had it set up for another season. With Dr. Kroger on Monk, they also handled the death well, and bringing in Hector Elizondo for the final season was really nice.

  26. George says:

    Another really big soap death was Helen Wagner (Nancy) from “As The World Turns.” I believe she is still considered to have the longest streak of ANY actor consecutively playing the same role on ANY (US) television show. She was with the show from day 1, and it aired for 54 years. I believe she died just a few months after it was announced the show had been cancelled, and they addressed “Nancy’s” death (of natural causes IIRC) a few months later (which was just a few months before the show went off the air all together).

  27. chad says:

    Don’t forget Jerry Orbach who died during Law and Order Trial By Jury.

    • Esaul says:

      While that’s true, the show couldn’t really do much to endure his passing away. Due to the untimely (and very fortunate) death of Orbach, the ratings suffered and it was cancelled.

  28. jo says:

    Glee should be canceled. The only reason I even stuck around the disaster of the 4th season was because of Cory. He carries Glee. I could not bare watching without him. RIP Cory. Ugh. Still sucks

    • Lia says:

      I also liked his char a lot, but he didn’t carry Season 4. He had a nice storyline, aiming to maybe fill Morrison’s shoes if he had decided to leave, but sadly that ship has sailed.

    • amy says:

      Do you really think Cory would want his friends and coworkers to all lose their jobs?

  29. Kathryn says:

    The premiere should be pushed back to Spring 2014. Period.

    • Steven says:

      They did plan on Glee taking a long hiatus midseason so they should push the show till then and air 13 episodes of Rake in the Fall. I think they should kill off Finn. It just wouldn’t be realistic otherwise, but really we’re talking about Glee. When have they ever done anything realistically?

  30. DDB says:

    I was hoping to see Cover Up on the list. When I was younger, I always wondered why the male leads switched. It was horrifying to learn the true story behind Jon Erik Hexum’s passing.

    • april-ann says:

      Jon Erik Hexum had matinee idol looks. Just dreamy. An huge loss for sure, but Cover Up was justifiably too long ago (and not really big enough) to make this list. But I do recall Jennifer O’Neill (who is a good actress) and her not really acting when her character learned of his death. “Not coming back?” I cried right along with her.

  31. Only Fools and Horses also suffered loss during their running, losing Grandad (played by Lennard Pearce), which he also passed in the tv show and they had a funeral episode, with which the replacement character (Uncle Albert) was involved, and then stuck around after that episode. Then the barman also passed towards the end of the show’s running, in which the owner of the cafe took over the bar, and the barman was said to be in prison. Is was still a great show after these changes.

  32. Lynne says:

    Obviously heavy rewrites will need to be done for atleast the first couple episodes for the new season, considering Cory himself was set to return. I dont think they can have Finn live on offscreen. He had such a connection to Shue, Rachel and Kurt that they cant just randomly mention he is off at some college somewhere and is never seen again. But even though the writers are probably beginning to make a scenario where the characters and fans will say goodbye to Finn, obviously it will take time for the news to sink in. Wouldnt be surprised in the least if the season is delayed and Fox has to do some shifting in their schedule to allow the cast and crew time to grieve this horrible loss. But only time will tell, we will see in the coming weeks when/if details are released on how this will be handled by the show before it returns in the fall. Either way, I do not know if I could continue watching Glee after this. No matter what they do to Finn, it is not going to be the same without him and it will be extremely hard for myself to watch it continue without him. RIP Cory, it has already been less than 24hours since we have learned that we lost you and it has already been shown that you will be missed by millions.

  33. Daley H. says:

    Option 1: Kill off Finn Hudson
    Option 2: Recast Finn Hudson
    Option 3: Cancel ‘Glee’

    Most likely they’ll be going with Option 1. Sad day to be a Gleek.

  34. Lara says:

    I’m really afraid of Glee doing a tribute episode of any kind, b/c whenever it does one of these special episodes (see: school shooting), it just ends up exploiting a tragedy for ratings and Emmy nominations.

  35. Dana says:

    The season premiere should be pushed back for a couple of months. Give the cast time to grieve. I would love to see the first 2 episodes of the season focus on the glee club dealing with Finn’s death. Something like as the first episode begins Rachel gets a phone call and just sits there in stunned silence. Cut to a scene where she goes back to McKinley and tells shuster. Basically the first episode of eveyone finding out and trying to cope and deal with what has happened. then the second episode the funeral and the aftermath and just reaaly coming to terms with it all. the writers have a good chance to give Cory/Finn the send off that he deserves. Hope they dont screw it up.

    • Lia says:

      I liked your idea. Reminds of Kutner’s death on House.

    • april-ann says:

      As good an idea as you have, I have to disagree about the season premiere being pushed back a couple of months. I am so sorry if I come across as disrespectful because I am not, I greatly respect that we have tragically lost a talented, beloved actor. As sad as this is, that’s just not the way it works. It is never the responsibility of the fans when something tragic happens. It is not the responsibility of the fans to give the cast “time to grieve”. It’s called acting and it is called professionalism. Someone long ago coined the phrase “The Show Must Go On”, and it has lasted through the ages because that phrase has always been respected for a reason.

      • Miranda says:

        Sure, the show must go on, but no one ever said the show must go on, right away. That would be extremely disrespectful to everyone that cared for Cory. Give them a few weeks. When Emily Deschanel had her baby they managed to accommodate her schedule by shortening that season of Bones. Why can’t they at least push the premiere date back a month? Who is it honestly going to hurt. To be frank, it’s rather insensitive of you to say it’s just acting, and not the responsibility of the fans to let people grieve. It damn well better be. They have the right to take the time off, just like any other person, in any other job would be given that. Besides, the fans don’t choose if the cast is given time to grieve, it’s the network that does.

        • april-ann says:

          No, Hon, that’s nice but I’m so sorry. It’s not the responsibility of the fans. The very essence of the meaning is that the show does go on, right away. Or at least as originally planned no matter the tragedy. Tragedies have happened for centuries and will continue to happen for centuries to come. We’re not talking about accommodating any actor’s schedule for the betterment of a show. A fitting tribute is in order but the show must go on. It is not disrespectful to Cory or to anyone who cared for Cory. If he was a consummate professional he would have it no other way. It hurts the credibility of the profession if they do otherwise. And it would be disrespectful to Cory and Cory’s chosen profession. The show must go on.

      • Audri says:

        I have been saying the same the same thing about how the show must go on, and I just want to go on record as having said that I have nothing but respect for everyone involved and I can’t even imagine what they must all be going through, and there is no way they are going to start filming in two weeks, it would take Ryan and co longer than that for re-writes if they went back to work tomorrow which should not and will not happen. Period. But whenever they do go back to work (all of them not just Ryan and co) then they are proffesionals and will do what is best for the show because that’s their jobs. Will it or should it happen right away? No. But it will happen eventually and then, yes. The show must go on.

      • Anna says:

        What you are coming off as is selfish. I would rather they take a few months off to regroup than to clumsily piece together episodes to satisfy selfish fans like you.

        • april-ann says:

          I’m not selfish. I don’t watch the show. Haven’t since halfway through the second season. I won’t tune in when the new season begins, or ever again probably. This is work. When work becomes based on emotion it always shows and most always tanks. If those talented are to earn what they are paid, there will be no need to clumsily or hurriedly put something together. It’s their job to be able to handle what is thrown their way and handle it in a professional manner. No one else gets to take a few months off work to “regroup” when something unexpected/horrible happens. It’s not the responsibility of the fans, no matter how gracious the fans might be in saying “hey, take a few months off work”. The show must go on. It means responsibility and respect for the very profession. You’re the selfish one for not respecting the profession.

          • Lois says:

            It’s actually impossible for them to get back to work right away. The show was starting filming next week, everything needs to be re-written. All production on the new season has halted. Interviews that were supposed to take place for the new season have been cancelled, even if their other commitments haven’t. The writers, crew and cast are a family and the show will go on, but not immediately. The main actress of the show will be devastated, as will the rest of the cast. It’s not feasible for them to go back to work immediately.

          • Hey says:

            But Lea is Cory’s real-life partner.

  36. Cort says:

    Daniel Goddard (Y&R’s Cane), posted a pic of himself and Jeanne Cooper (Mrs. C :( )this weekend with a message that they would start filming Mrs. Chancellor’s memorial this week and it should air in September. Just an FYI since you said her fate was still TBD.

    • Chicago Dan says:

      Y&R always intended for Katherine to die off-screen. The writers wanted to wait so they could craft a special story that would address her passing as well as the impact of “her will, etc.” on the key characters on the canvas. There was never a doubt about her fate. It’s still chilling to see Jeanne Cooper’s last scene – climbing the stairs and saying ‘good night.” Perfect ending to a daytime legend.

    • Matt Webb Mitovich says:


  37. Lia says:

    Season 4 was already an experiment because if the show is about the Glee club, it has to accept that its cast has to change regularly since it is set in a high school and they already did it once, so we have an idea how time works in that world. They know the Original Cast still draws a lot of fans and that’s why we had 2 locations instead of one (it would be a stupid idea to write off the best voices of a musical show). They could write Finn off making him go to another college, etc. and that could lead to an offscreen (of course) reunion with Rachel when Lea decides to leave – she could join a cast, go on tour and he would go with her and we would only hear of them at all from the characters getting news of her success. They can make a special episode like some suggested recognizing the actor’s passing and it would be implied Finn passed too until they feel they need to say something, however I believe it is not a very good idea since the show has not only Finn’s friends, but also his family and they would have to mention him eventually or suffer the consequences of his absence. Or they could make Finn die – they almost did that to Quinn, remember? We knew she would come back, but by making it an accident will allow the characters to mourn properly.
    In a nutshell: as a gleek, the show may end or not in S5, but if it is because of what happened to Cory, the show wasn’t meant to last anyway and I don’t want to believe that’s the case. The one who will feel the weight of his absence is Lea/Rachel and we don’t need something like make 2 characters die because one left like Shonda Rhimes did on Grey’s Anatomy (Lexie and Mark because Chyler Leigh decided to leave, Eric Dane’s char storyline was done for good).

  38. steven says:

    I know he was just a guest star for a couple of episodes of Smallville, but when Christopher Reeve died, his character, Virgil Swann, died as well.

  39. Tasha says:

    I think that Glee would wait at least a few weeks before they address the fate of Finn. Considering that Finn was not seen in the last two epidsodes of season four, his absence will have to be explained. Keeping him alive off screen can’t be an option. Finn always said that he and Rachel were the endgame. To have him go off to college and never be heard from again would not make sense. I just hope whatever the Glee producers have planned will be respectful.

  40. I thought it would be nice if the “originals” all came back for the episode if they choose to have Finn die onscreen. They can all eventually meet up in the choir room with Mr. Schue/

  41. Meg says:

    Anna Lee and John Ingle passing still gets me. First time I cried while watching a TV show was the tribute to Anna Lee. The only thing that didn’t make it perfect was the fact that it was during that brief period when Edward was recast.

  42. kathie says:

    when richard crenna’s character died on “judging amy”. he had died of throat cancer and on the show he died of a heart attack. the episode was done with class and as a result, very sad.

  43. Babybop says:

    I bawl every time I see the “Goodbye” episodes of 8 Simple Rules. Heartbreaking. They continued to pay tribute to him in the final season, and I think they handled it very well… Just thinking about it makes me tear up!

  44. This is a terrible tragedy, no debate. I do feel as though, after the writers go back to work and map out the season again because of Monteith’s death, it’s going to lead to a new creative surge. I think everyone is going to really bring it to honor and pay tribute to their former castmate. Not that awards matter at a time like this, but I can see Lea Michele pouring so much of her genuine grief into her performance that she ends up nominated for an Emmy for her work this season.

  45. dee123 says:

    I know that Ryan Murphy has stepped back from Glee a bit with AHS and The Normal Heart going on but he needs to come back to handle this. Hopefully he will.

  46. S. says:

    Technically, Freddie Prinze didn’t commit suicide. He did leave a suicide note, yes, but he had a habit of playing around with the gun, mainly as “joke” to scare people. Earlier the same day Prinze had put the gun to his head in front of his secretary, then faked shooting himself as a joke. He death was later determined to be accidental.

  47. anna says:

    The only way to handle it is to kill Finn off screen in a car accident or something and then have Rachel, Kurt and everyone else still dealing with the aftermath a few months later and we’ll see how they’ve coped and how it’s affected their lives etc.

    • Sheila says:

      This. There’s no good reason to have the actors reliving pain by having to act out learning of Finn’s death. Let it have already happened and let the characters deal with that.