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12 Major TV Characters Who Were Killed Off-Screen – TheFantasyTimes

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By Jitin Gambhir

12 Major TV Characters Who Were Killed Off-Screen



From the sixth incarnation of the Doctor in Doctor Who to the mother in How I Met Your Mother, numerous significant TV characters have met their demise off-screen. It is customary for TV characters to receive a grand, dramatic death scene when they bid farewell to this world. Ned Stark was publicly beheaded in Game of Thrones, while Glenn Rhee was brutally beaten with a baseball bat wrapped in barbwire in The Walking Dead. When a beloved TV character meets their end, producers usually exploit the emotional impact of their death to the fullest. However, this is not always the case. Not every major TV character meets their demise on-screen. In the finale of Quantum Leap, an ominous caption reveals that Dr. Sam Beckett “never returned home.” In the final season of Succession, the audience witnesses Logan Roy’s sudden passing over the phone, alongside his children. In House of the Dragon, Daemon Targaryen follows the Crabfeeder into a cave and emerges with his remains. Several major TV characters, such as Breaking Bad’s Steve Gomez and Game of Thrones’ Stannis Baratheon, have been killed off-screen. RELATED: 10 Iconic Movie Characters Who Met Their Demise Off-Screen 12 Morris O’Brian (24) Since 24 unfolds in real-time, there is little room for off-screen character deaths. However, Chloe O’Brian’s ex-husband Morris, introduced in season 5, met his demise off-screen between seasons. In the limited series Live Another Day, which serves as 24 season 9, it is mentioned that Morris died in a car accident. Morris’ character primarily existed to create conflict for Chloe, and his death achieves the same effect as she fears the car crash was intended for her. 11 Francine West (The Flash) Between The Flash season 2 episodes “The Reverse-Flash Returns” and “Fast Lane,” Wally West’s mother Francine succumbs to her illness and passes away. This may have been a sudden turn of events if the show had not properly foreshadowed Francine’s death throughout the season. When she first revealed her illness, she only had a few months to live. “The Reverse-Flash Returns” hinted at Francine’s imminent demise, and she managed to reconcile with both of her children before her passing. 10 The Sixth Doctor (Doctor Who) It is customary for each actor playing the Doctor in Doctor Who to regenerate into their successor on-screen, but this was not the case for the Sixth Doctor, portrayed by Colin Baker. After then-BBC boss Michael Grade fired Baker from the role, the actor refused to return for the regeneration scene. Baker later expressed regret for not reprising the role for the regeneration, acknowledging that his decision was “brutally selfish” and that he had “forgotten about [the fans].” As a result of this behind-the-scenes drama, the regeneration of the Sixth Doctor into the Seventh Doctor was never shown on-screen. 9 Stannis Baratheon (Game Of Thrones) Upon arriving at Winterfell, Stannis Baratheon’s army is decimated by Ramsay Bolton’s forces in Game of Thrones. Stannis himself is confronted by Brienne of Tarth, who executes him in the name of the “rightful” King Renly. The scene cuts away just as Brienne’s blade descends upon Stannis. Considering the on-screen brutality that Game of Thrones is known for, it may seem like an odd creative choice to imply Stannis’ off-screen death, but the moment’s shock value remains intact. 8 Hoss Cartwright (Bonanza) When actor Dan Blocker passed away in 1972, the producers of Bonanza decided to kill off his character instead of recasting it. For the remainder of the series, Hoss Cartwright and his demise were rarely mentioned, likely out of respect for Blocker. Hoss’ death was finally explained in the TV movie Bonanza: The Next Generation, which revealed that he drowned while attempting to save a woman’s life. This explanation aligns perfectly with Hoss’ warm, gentle, and caring characterization. 7 Sophia Peletier (The Walking Dead) Carol Peletier’s daughter Sophia goes missing at the start of The Walking Dead season 2, and the first half of the season revolves around the group’s extensive search for her. However, in the shocking midseason finale, “Pretty Much Dead Already,” it is revealed that an undead Sophia is among the walkers that Hershel has been keeping in his barn. This twist is one of the most disturbing moments in The Walking Dead and is made even more terrifying by Rick’s willingness to step forward and shoot her. 6 Edna Krabappel (The Simpsons) Following the passing of voice actor Marcia Wallace, The Simpsons producers decided to retire the character of Bart’s teacher Edna Krabappel instead of recasting the role. Wallace’s memory was honored with a heartfelt chalkboard gag, “We’ll really miss you Mrs. K,” and the character’s death was confirmed in the season 25 episode “The Man Who Grew Too Much.” Ned Flanders, who had secretly married Edna, is shown mourning her loss with Nelson Muntz. This scene serves as both a tribute to the late actor and to the iconic character she brought to life. 5 Lt. Colonel Henry Blake (M*A*S*H) In the season 3 finale of the classic Korean War-based sitcom M*A*S*H, titled “Abyssinia, Henry,” Lt. Colonel Henry Blake is given an honorable discharge and the doctors throw him a going-away party before he is sent home. In the jaw-dropping final scene, Radar solemnly announces that Henry’s plane was shot down over the Sea of Japan and there were no survivors. This downbeat and depressing ending sparked controversy at the time, but it was crucial for the show to depict the harrowing realities of war. 4 Steve Gomez (Breaking Bad) The Breaking Bad episode “To’hajiilee” ends on a suspenseful cliffhanger as Hank Schrader and his DEA partner, Steve Gomez, engage in an intense firefight with Jack Welker and his neo-Nazi gang in the desert. In the next episode, “Ozymandias,” Gomez has already been shot dead when the action resumes. His off-screen death, followed swiftly by Hank’s on-screen death, is the first of many explosive moments in “Ozymandias” — arguably Breaking Bad’s most thrilling and climactic episode. 3 The Original Beth & Summer (Rick And Morty) In the sixth episode of Rick and Morty, titled “Rick Potion No. 9,” the titular characters make such a disastrous mistake that they are forced to abandon their reality and move to a universe where they are meant to die, taking their dead selves’ place alongside identical versions of their family. The Cronenberg-infested world that Rick and Morty leave behind continues to haunt them throughout the series. In the season 6 premiere “Solaricks,” Morty returns to his original dimension and discovers that Beth and Summer, his original mother and sister, have died off-screen, leaving Jerry alone. 2 Pierce Hawthorne (Community) Chevy Chase departed from the cast of Community after season 4, but his character Pierce Hawthorne continued to have a presence in the series. In the season 5 episode “Basic Intergluteal Numismatics,” Shirley delivers the news of Pierce’s off-screen death. In the following episode, “Cooperative Polygraphy,” the study group takes a polygraph test, per Pierce’s will. This episode keeps the spirit of Pierce alive even after the character has exited the ensemble. Interestingly, it also paves the way for another cast member, Donald Glover, to leave the show. 1 Tracy McConnell (How I Met Your Mother) After nine seasons of building up to Ted Mosby meeting the love of his life, the divisive How I Met Your Mother finale briefly depicts Tracy McConnell’s terminal illness and death in a montage and a few lines of voiceover narration. Tracy’s illness is foreshadowed a few episodes earlier with the line, “What mother is going to miss her daughter’s wedding?” causing Ted to cry. Her death certainly evokes strong emotions, but it feels like a convenient plot device to clear the way for Ted to end up with Robin.

From the sixth Doctor in Doctor Who to the mother in How I Met Your Motherplenty of significant TV characters have died off-screen. It’s common for TV characters to get a big, dramatic death scene when they go gently into that good night. Ned Stark was publicly beheaded in Game of Thrones. Glenn Rhee was beaten to death with a baseball bat wrapped in barbwire in The Walking Dead. If a beloved TV character is going to die, the producers usually milk that death for all the dramatic impact they can. But that’s not always the case.

Not every major TV character’s death takes place on-screen. An ominous caption at the end of the Quantum Leap finale reveals that Dr. Sam Beckett “never returned home.” In the final season of Successionthe audience experiences Logan Roy’s sudden passing over the phone at the same time as his kids. After House of the Dragon established the Crabfeeder as the big bad, Daemon Targaryen followed him into a cave and emerged with his remains. From Breaking Bad’s Steve Gomez to Game of Thrones’ Stannis Baratheon, a bunch of major TV characters have been killed off-screen.

RELATED: 10 Beloved Movie Characters Who Were Killed Off-Screen

12 Morris O’Brian (24)

Morris talks to Chloe in 24

Since 24 takes place in real-time, there’s not much room for the writers to kill characters off-screen. But Chloe O’Brian’s ex-husband Morris, first introduced in season 5, was killed off-screen in between seasons. In the Live Another Day limited series that acts as 24 season 9, it’s mentioned that Morris died in a car accident. Morris’s character mainly existed to create conflict for Chloe, and his death did the same, as she fears the car crash was intended for her.

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11 Francine West (The Flash)

Francine looking concerned in The Flash

Between The Flash season 2 episodes “The Reverse-Flash Returns” and “Fast Lane,” Wally West’s mother Francine succumbed to her illness and passed away. This might have been an abrupt turn if the show didn’t handle it right, but Francine’s death was heavily foreshadowed throughout the season. When she first revealed her illness, she only had months to live. “The Reverse-Flash Returns” telegraphed Francine’s imminent demise, and she managed to make peace with both of her children before she died.

10 The Sixth Doctor (Doctor Who)

Colin Baker reaching out in Doctor Who

It’s traditional for each Doctor Who actor to regenerate into their successor on-screen, but that wasn’t the case for the Sixth Doctor, played by Colin Baker. After then-BBC boss Michael Grade fired Baker from the role, the actor refused to return for the regeneration scene. Baker later stated (via Radio Times) that he regretted the decision not to reprise the role for the regeneration, saying that it was “brutally selfish” and he “forgot about [the fans].” As a result of this behind-the-scenes drama, the Sixth Doctor’s regeneration into the Seventh Doctor was never shown on-screen.

9 Stannis Baratheon (Game Of Thrones)

Stannis leans on a tree in Game of Thrones

Upon arrival at Winterfell, Stannis Baratheon’s army is decimated by Ramsay Bolton’s forces in Game of Thrones. Stannis himself is confronted by Brienne of Tarth, who executes him in the name of the “rightful” King Renly. The scene cuts away just as Brienne’s blade comes down to slice and dice Stannis. Considering all the on-screen brutality that Game of Thrones is notorious for, it seemed like an odd creative choice to sanitize Stannis’s death and imply it was happening off-screen, but the shock factor of the moment still lands.

8 Hoss Cartwright (Bonanza)

Hoss looking off-screen in Bonanza

When actor Dan Blocker passed away in 1972, the producers of his TV series Bonanza decided to kill off his character instead of recasting it. For the remainder of the series, Hoss Cartwright and his demise were barely mentioned, likely out of respect for Blocker. Hoss’s death was finally explained in the TV movie Bonanza: The Next Generationwhich revealed he drowned while trying to save a woman’s life. This explanation perfectly lines up with Hoss’s warm, gentle, caring characterization.

7 Sophia Peletier (The Walking Dead)

Undead Sophia comes out of the barn in The Walking Dead

Carol Peletier’s daughter Sophia goes missing at the beginning of The Walking Dead season 2, and the first half of the season revolves around the group’s extensive search to find her. However, in the shocking midseason finale, “Pretty Much Dead Already,” it’s revealed that an undead Sophia is among the walkers that Hershel has been keeping in his barn. This is one of The Walking Dead’s most disturbing twists, made even more terrifying by Rick’s willingness to step forward and shoot her.

6 Edna Krabappel (The Simpsons)

Bart writes on the chalkboard in The Simpsons

After the passing of voice actor Marcia Wallace, the producers of The Simpsons chose to retire the character of Bart’s teacher Edna Krabappel instead of recasting the role. Wallace’s memory was honored with a heartfelt chalkboard gag, “We’ll really miss you Mrs. K,” and the character’s death was confirmed in the season 25 episode “The Man Who Grew Too Much.” Ned Flanders, whom Edna married in secret, is shown mourning her loss with Nelson Muntz. This scene works as both a tribute to the late actor and a tribute to the iconic character she brought to life.

5 Lt. Colonel Henry Blake (M*A*S*H)

Henry smiles in MASH

In “Abyssinia, Henry,” the season 3 finale of the classic Korean War-based sitcom M*A*S*HLt. Colonel Henry Blake is given an honorable discharge and the doctors throw him a going-away party before he’s sent home. In the jaw-dropping final scene, Radar solemnly announces that Henry’s plane was shot down over the Sea of Japan and there were no survivors. This downbeat, depressing ending caused controversy at the time, but it was important for the show to depict the harrowing realities of war.

4 Steve Gomez (Breaking Bad)

Steve Gomez with a shotgun in Breaking Bad

The Breaking Bad episode “To’hajiilee” ends on an alarming cliffhanger as Hank Schrader and his DEA partner, Steve Gomez, get into an intense firefight with Jack Welker and his neo-Nazi gang in the desert. The next episode, “Ozymandias,” picks up a few moments later when Gomez has already been shot dead. His off-screen death, quickly followed by Hank’s on-screen death, is the first of many explosive moments in “Ozymandias” — arguably Breaking Bad’s most thrilling and climactic episode.

3 The Original Beth & Summer (Rick And Morty)

Jerry and Morty sit by a campfire in Rick and Morty

In just the sixth episode of Rick and Morty“Rick Potion No. 9,” the title characters mess up so badly that they have to abandon their reality and move to a universe where they’re due to die so that they can take their dead selves’ place alongside carbon copies of their family. The Cronenberg-infested world that Rick and Morty left behind has continued to haunt them throughout the series. In the season 6 premiere “Solaricks,” Morty returns to his original dimension and finds Jerry alone following the off-screen deaths of Beth and Summer, Morty’s original mother and sister.

Pierce talks to Jeff in Community

Chevy Chase left the cast of Community after season 4, but that wasn’t the last that audiences heard from his character, Pierce Hawthorne. In the season 5 episode “Basic Intergluteal Numismatics,” Shirley delivers the bad news that Pierce has died off-screen. In the following episode, “Cooperative Polygraphy,” the study group takes a polygraph test, per Pierce’s will. This episode kept the chaotic spirit of Pierce alive after the character had departed from the ensemble. It also, ironically, paved the way for a different cast member, Donald Glover, to exit the series.

1 Tracy McConnell (How I Met Your Mother)

Ted reads to Tracy in How I Met Your Mother

After spending nine seasons building up to Ted Mosby meeting the love of his life, the polarizing How I Met Your Mother finale brushed over Tracy McConnell’s terminal illness and death in a brief montage and a couple of throwaway lines of voiceover narration. Tracy’s illness was foreshadowed a few episodes earlier with the telling line, “What mother is going to miss her daughter’s wedding?” causing Ted to cry. Her death certainly tugged on the heartstrings, but it seemed like a convenient way for the writers to get her out of the picture so that Ted could end up with Robin.

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