2013-10-14 09:40:52 UTC
When Glee star Cory Monteith passed away on July 13 at the too-young age
of 31 due to a lethal combination of drugs and alcohol, many wondered how
the show would deal with his shocking death. While the original concept
from creator Ryan Murphy was to directly address the actor's drug issue,
the episode called "The Quarterback" -- which airs this Thursday -- will
now simply pay tribute to the beloved character of Finn Hudson. While we
don't know yet how his character will have died, or if the show will ever
tell us, Glee will say goodbye to both Finn and Cory the best way they
know how: by singing about it. The episode will feature a series of
musical goodbyes, including a number from Monteith's on and off-screen
love Lea Michele.
Of course, Glee is hardly the only series that has had to deal with the
loss of a cast member, unexpected or otherwise. Here's what other shows
did when they lost a star:
During rehearsals for an episode of Season 2 of the ABC sitcom 8 Simple
Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter, Ritter had experienced discomfort
and crew members took him to a nearby hospital. He died suddenly the
following night after a misdiagnosis of a heart attack. He was 54.
Ritter's unexpected death was written into the show (his character Paul
collapsed and died) in the one-hour episode "Goodbye," which paid tribute
to both Ritter and his character. The show went on without Ritter,
changing the title to simply 8 Simple Rules, but only lasted one more
One of the most shocking deaths in Hollywood history, Hartman was shot
and killed by his wife Brynn Hartman, who in turn, took her own life. The
beloved SNL alum was 49 years old. Hartman's shocking death was addressed
in the first episode of Season 5 of the NBC sitcom NewsRadio, on which he
played the egocentric anchor Bill McNeal. In the episode, titled "Bill
Moves On," his colleagues all say goodbye to Bill, who had suddenly died
of a heart attack. Hartman had also voiced many iconic characters on The
Simpsons, including Troy McClure and Lionel Hutz. After his death, the
animated series retired the characters. His last appearance was in the
episode "Bart the Mother," which aired posthumously.
One of the more likable reality stars to appear on MTV in recent years,
Gandee appeared on the station's "redneck" answer to Jersey Shore, the
hit series Buckwild. After Season 1 of the show, Gandee died due to
carbon monoxide poisoning during an off-road driving accident, which also
killed his uncle and friend. In response to the deaths, MTV decided to
cancel the series. Gandee was 21 years old.
Hagman, who played the iconic J.R. Ewing in both the original Dallas and
the 2012 TNT reboot, died at the age of 81 stemming from complications
from acute myeloid leukemia. Hagman passed away during the middle of
production of Season 2 of the Dallas update. In response, Hagman's
character J.R. was killed off on the show and the episode titled,
fittingly, "J.R.'s Funeral," revolved around the character's funeral and
the goodbyes from all those around him. The opening credits for the
episode were changed to pay tribute to both Hagman and J.R.
The original run of Dallas had its own share of tragedy to deal with when
Davis, who played Ewing patriarch Jock, died at the age of 71 after
battling cancer. Davis passed away during the fourth season of the hit
drama. In Season 5, Davis' Jock was kept alive off-screen (his character
was doing business in South America), but was eventually killed off when
the writers had him perish in a plane crash.
Spencer, who won an Emmy for his role as White House chief of staff Leo
on The West Wing, died midway through Season 7 when he suffered a heart
attack at the age of 58. Subsequently, his character would also die from
a heart attack on Election Night. Spencer's name would appear in the
opening credits for the duration of the show's run.
Marchand, who played the mean-spirited Soprano matriarch Livia, passed
away during the second season of The Sopranos from lung cancer and
emphysema at the age of 71. Her character would eventually pass away in
Season 3, but the show would use computer-generated images for scenes
between Livia and her son Tony (James Gandolfini). In later seasons and
episodes, Livia appeared in dreams and flashbacks played by actress
Laurie J. Williams.
The titular Chico of Chico and the Man, actor and comedian Prinze died at
the age of 22 due to a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The sitcom continued
on without their leading man (who died at the end of Season 3), but did
not introduce death into the equation immediately. Instead, Prinze's
Chico was off-screen as the other characters on the show explained that
he was visiting his father in Mexico.
While many still speculate about the cause of death of George Reeves at
the age of 45 in 1959 (while it was ruled a suicide via gunshot wound,
many believe he was murdered), it was clear that the show Adventures of
Superman could not go on without him. The show attempted spin-offs and
re-casting Superman, but was eventually canceled.
Before production of the Starz drama Spartacus began in 2010, leading man
Andy Whitfield was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and began
treatments, putting the show on delay. Months later, the actor announced
he was cancer-free, but that same September the cancer returned and
Whitfield had to leave the series permanently. He died from the disease a
year later at the age of 39. While his role was re-cast and played by
actor Liam McIntyre, the network paid tribute to Whitfield with a
After the Emmy-winning actor Conrad -- who played the beloved Sgt.
Esterhaus on Hill Street Blues -- died from cancer at the age of 58, the
show's writers had his character die off screen during Season 4 by having
him pass away during sex. His famous line "Let's be careful out there"
was also retired from the series. If you're gonna go, what better way to
have your character sent off, too?
For 12 years, the Emmy-nominated Orbach played the lovable detective
Lennie Briscoe on Law & Order until his death in 2004 at the age of 69
from a battle with prostate cancer. While the iconic show carried on
without him, NBC paid tribute by airing his last episode the day after he
passed. (While Briscoe's death was never addressed head on, it was
confirmed in later seasons that he did pass away). Orbach was also seen
two episodes of the short-lived L&O spin-off Trial By Jury.
As Coach, Colasanto was a name everyone knew on Cheers. The actor, who
had been diagnosed with heart disease years before nabbing the role on
the sitcom, had to stop working during Season 3 as his illness worsened.
He died of a heart attack at the age of 61, just a few months after
filming his final episode. While his character was replaced by Woody
Harrelson, the show addressed Coach's death in Season 4 and paid tribute
to Colasanto by adding a picture of Geronimo that the actor had kept in
his dressing room to the bar set.
The passing of Sesame Street's Mr. Hooper was how an entire generation
learned about death. When Lee died at the age of 74 from a heart attack,
the children's show decided to say goodbye to their beloved Mr. Hooper,
too. The episode about his death and how those around him were dealing
with, called "Farewell, Mr. Hooper," is widely regarded as one of the
best, and most important, episodes of television produced for any age.
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