Skip To Content

    16 Of The Most Shocking Celebrity Deaths And How People Reacted

    "I remember waking up, opening Reddit, and reading that Robin Williams had died. I had to scratch my eyes to make sure I read that right. His movies were my childhood."

    The death of a celebrity is almost always shocking. And it's oftentimes an event that brings people together because of the shared experience.

    a memorial for David Bowie

    So, when Reddit user u/hockeysmyhoe recently asked the good people of r/AskReddit, "What celebrity death was the most unexpected?" they came back with some truly heartbreaking responses. Here's what they said:

    Note: This post contains mentions of suicide.

    1. Chadwick Boseman

    Chadwick Boseman on the red carpet for black panther

    "He hid his illness so well. Nobody knew." 

    HoopOnPoop

    "How true his circle must have been to him that not even a RUMOR leaked about his illness. Nothing. I don't remember even hearing speculation that he was sick."

    lettersfromowls


    2. Robin Williams

    Robin Williams on a red carpet, looking up

    "I remember waking up, opening Reddit, and reading that Robin Williams had died by suicide. I had to scratch my eyes to make sure I read that right. His movies were my childhood."

    SLAP_THE_GOON

    "I remember getting into bed at night and sobbing and telling my husband, 'This is so stupid. I didn’t even know him.' But of course, as my husband said, 'Know him personally or not, he had a huge impact on you growing up.'"

    takethesefriesaway

    3. Alan Rickman

    Alan Rickman at an event, smiling

    "I was really shocked by Robin Williams and Alan Rickman." 

    tittychittybangbang

    I sometimes forget Alan Rickman is dead and then just get sad over it." 

    birbdaughter

    4. Grant Imahara

    Grant at an event looking at the camera

    "Grant Imahara was like a freight train of pain." 

    ADashoDashi

    "This was the beginning of 'celebrities who are my age dying from something other than accidents, suicide, or the misuse of drugs.' This is what getting old feels like."

    XComThrowawayAcct

    5. Anton Yelchin

    Anton Yelchin in a suit looking at the camera

    "The fact that he had cystic fibrosis, too, for some reason makes it so much sadder, even though it wasn’t connected to his death. Life really fricked this man." 

    hockeysmyhoe

    "Oh yeah, that one was a shock. And it was just a horrifically sad accident. He was an amazing performer." 

    cuppajess

    6. Heath Ledger

    Heath in a tuxedo at the oscars

    "That was seriously out of nowhere, and right before a huge blockbuster success."

    lifehasloveliness

    "I remember when he was first cast as the Joker — a lot of people (including me) were very skeptical. How wrong we all were. Dude gave one of the greatest performances ever, and I don’t see how anyone ever does a better Joker. An amazingly talented man." 

    swentech

    7. Phil Hartman

    Phil Hartman wearing a hat and glasses, smiling in the rain

    "At the time, I was a tremendous fan and found it difficult to accept the news. Hell, that still makes me so depressed." —RonaldCSmith


    8. Brittany Murphy

    Brittany Murphy on a red carpet looking back over her shoulder

    "Yeah, I'm still shocked about this. And just... WHY?! Just why." 

    menala_

    "People are talking about her in Clueless, but she also voiced LuAnn in King of the Hill and was great." 

    BeatingsGalore

    9. Steve Irwin

    steve irwin holding a small crocodile

    "About a month before he died, I was in the Cayman Islands swimming with the stingrays. The guide was like, 'Stingrays are known as the kitten of the seas.' Of all the things he went up against, it was a fucking stingray that got him." 

    Kratsas

    10. Philip Seymour Hoffman

    Philip Seymour Hoffman on a red carpet wearing glasses looking up smiling

    "Thought he was a fabulous actor." 

    jsgzhaha

    "He was great and seemingly had a lot more to give. Sad stuff." 

    SolarMatter

    11. David Bowie

    David Bowie wearing a scar on a red carpet

    "I was not expecting David Bowie. He died right after an album release and didn’t tell the world he was sick. I named my cat Bowie that year." 

    GaryNOVA

    "He died two days after the release of Blackstar. It gives the album a whole new meaning." 

    Aycomi27

    12. Bob Saget

    Bob Saget on a red carpet wearing glasses and smiling

    "Oh dang, that surprised me a second time, TBH. IDK why I forgot." —heydesireee

    13. Naya Rivera

    closeup of Naya Rivera smiling

    "This one hit me. The ultimate love of a mother for her child. For those who do not know, she saved her child from drowning but then drowned after she got him in the boat." 

    fire_fairy_

    "Her son also said that she was calling out for help and that he tried to find a rope to throw her. I can't imagine how traumatizing that must be for a young child to have witnessed." 

    gentlybeepingheart

    14. John Ritter

    John ritter smiling on a red carpet

    "I remember when 8 Simple Rules aired that episode where he died. Such a sad episode. I was much younger at that time, and it was so hard to recover from." 

    chickenissogood

    15. Anthony Bourdain

    Anthony on the red carpet, smiling

    "I haven't watched a second of his shows since he died. It went from bringing me so much comfort and hope to being quite literally the opposite." 

    BlackLetterLies

    "Bourdain's death affected me more than other celebrities'. It's like I lost a friend I shared hundreds of meals with." 

    _WarmWoolenMittens_

    16. Norm MacDonald

    Norm sitting in a green room, smiling

    "Kind of a Norm thing to do, have cancer for about nine years and not tell anyone about it."

    Beigarth_Avenir1

    "Only time I ever cried about someone I never met. I still watch at least one Norm video per day. His humor shaped me. He never went for the obvious laugh; he relished being too smart for the room, even when met with silence."

    PolemicBender

    Note: Some entries have been edited for length and/or clarity.

    The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. Other international suicide helplines can be found at befrienders.org. The Trevor Project, which provides help and suicide-prevention resources for LGBTQ youth, is 1-866-488-7386.