As you probably know, TMZ is reporting that the CBS sitcom Two and a Half Men will be killing off Charlie Sheen‘s character, Charlie Harper, in a very gruesome manner. Apparently, the character’s death is being called a “meat explosion” resulting from being pushed in front of a Paris‘ subway train by his longtime stalker Rose. While the sitcom death may be one of the more inventive ways in which a character has been eliminated, it is far from the first. Here are nine more famous sitcom character deaths.
When actor John Ritter died of a congenital heart defect while on the set of 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter, producers scrambled to salvage the series. As a result, they killed of his character in a similar manner to the actor’s death, and brought David Spade and James Garner as two new characters. Unfortunately, the show was never able to bounce back after the loss.
On a side note, I’m not sure what’s sadder: Ritter’s death, or the fact that someone made this tribute video.
Despite the fact that it was a hit show, you’ve probably never heard of Chico and the Man. That’s because actor Freddie Prinze (Chico) killed himself at the height of the show’s popularity. The show continued on, with producers bringing in a 12-year old replacement, and explaining that the Chico character had moved in with his father in Mexico. Eventually, it was revealed that the character was actually dead, but no explanation was given as to how he had died. Luckily, by the time the character’s death was acknowledged, no one was watching anyway.
Just because your name is in the title of a show does not mean you can’t be replaced. Just ask Valerie Harper, who was fired from her own show after “creative differences” arose. The show was then renamed Valerie’s Family, and later The Hogan Family. But despite the multiple name changes, one thing it was never called was “good television.”
When actor Nicholas Colasanto died of heart problems during the third season of Cheers, producers took the Chico and the Man route, explaining away Coach’s absence rather than confronting it head on. But by the forth season, they could no longer ignore the elephant in the room. Coach’s death became part of the plot, as did the addition of his replacement, Woody, who went on to become one of the show’s most popular characters.
When All in the Family morphed into a show called Archie Bunker’s Place, actress Jean Stapleton’s character, Edith, became less and less involved. Rather than take a backseat to her costars, she decided to leave the show. Soon after, producers killed the character off with a stroke, the result of which is one of the most depressing moments in sitcom history. Unless your sitcom is named Louie, depressing really isn’t an adjective you want people to use when describing your show.
Dan Conner’s death via heart attack wasn’t acknowledged until the final episode of the show, which means a lot of people probably don’t even know he was killed off. After all, because the final season was such a bizarre train wreck involving lottery winnings and fantasy scenarios, most people had already stopped watching.
When actor Phil Hartman was shot and killed by his wife, producers were forced to kill off his NewsRadio character, a.k.a. Bill McNeal, with a heart attack. A heart attack isn’t very inventive, but the whole murder-suicide route probably wouldn’t have gone over too well. Hartman was replaced by his close friend Jon Lovitz, but the show was never able to recover.
Of all the deaths on this list, Henry Blake’s may be the most famous. After actor McLean Stevenson decided to leave the show to pursue a lead role on his own sitcom, M*A*S*H writers decided to kill off his character rather than simply write him off the show. Luckily, a show that revolves around the Korean War allows for that sort of thing, and Henry Blake was killed in a plane crash over the Sea of Japan, a twist that caught both the audience and the show’s cast by surprise.
In perhaps the greatest sitcom death of all time, Susan Ross (Heidi Swedberg) died after licking hundreds of cheap-toxic envelopes purchased by her fiancé George Costanza. The bizarre death was one of the darkest comedic moments in the history of network TV, and was only heightened by the fact that Costanza seemed more relieved than saddened by his partner’s death.