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21 Actors Who Died During Production And Their Deaths Were Written Into Their TV Shows And Movies

I still weep over the 8 Simple Rules episode about John Ritter's death.

1. First, Carrie Fisher's death in 2016 was incorporated into Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker when Leia died right after reaching out to Kylo Ren one last time.

Lucasfilm / Disney / Everett Collection

Carrie died before The Rise of Skywalker began filming, so unused footage from The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi was used to create Leia's final scenes before her death.

2. Carrie's death was also written into Family Guy and Catastrophe — both of her characters died on those shows instead of being recast.

Fox / Everett Collection / Amazon Prime Video

On Family Guy, her character, Angela, was said to have drowned. And on Catastrophe, Carrie's character, Mia, died during the Season 4 finale, and the entire episode focused on her funeral. In fact, Catastrophe was Carrie's last TV role, since she finished filming Season 3 right before her death.

3. Debbie Reynolds' death in 2016 — just a day after Carrie Fisher's death — was written into Season 9 of Will & Grace.

NBC

On Will & Grace, Grace mentions that Debbie's character, Bobbi, died and she's still devastated by the loss. Debbie died before Will & Grace returned for the reboot, but during Season 9, the writers penned a tribute episode centered on Grace going home to celebrate Bobbi's birthday after her death. Also, during the final season, Grace and her niece Fiona, who was played by Debbie's granddaughter and Carrie Fisher's daughter, Billie Lourd, have a moment where they remember Bobbi.

4. Cory Monteith sadly died in 2013 in the middle of starring as Finn Hudson on Glee. The series had Finn die offscreen, and the show created a heartbreakingly beautiful tribute episode for Cory.

Fox

Production on Glee and the start of Season 5 was delayed following Cory's death so they could write "The Quarterback" and figure out how to say goodbye as characters and as a cast and crew.

5. After Luke Perry's death in 2019, his character on Riverdale was killed offscreen in a car accident during the Season 4 premiere.

The CW

During the Season 4 premiere, Archie learns that his father died while trying to help a woman whose car was stuck on the side of the road. Luke's 90210 costar and friend Shannen Doherty guest-starred in this episode as the woman Fred saves.

6. John Ritter died in 2003 while he was starring as the beloved Paul Hennessy on 8 Simple Rules, and his character died in the series as well.

ABC

John had filmed the first three episode of Season 2 before he died. The series took a hiatus after his death and returned with the episode "Goodbye," which was all about his character's sudden death.

7. Naya Rivera's death in 2020 will affect the upcoming season of Step Up. Naya's character was set to play a major role in the season, but now it's being rewritten.

YouTube Red / Starz / Via youtu.be

Some storylines for the upcoming season were already written, but since Naya's death, the new season has undergone changes.

8. Gilmore Girls star Edward Herrmann died in 2014, and his death was written into the Netflix reboot, Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life.

Warner Bros. / Netflix

On Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, we learn that Richard recently died and Emily, Lorelai, and Rory are still mourning the loss. We even see a flashback to Richard's funeral in "Winter."

9. Will Lee, who played the store owner Mr. Hooper on Sesame Street, died in 1982, and the series used his death to write a special episode addressing the death of a loved one called "Goodbye, Mr. Hooper."

Someone telling Big Bird that Mr. Hooper is not coming back and Big Bird asking, "Why not?"
PBS

In the episode, which aired almost a year after Will's death, Big Bird comes to terms with never being able to see Mr. Hooper again.

10. The West Wing star John Spencer heartbreakingly died in 2005 during the final season of the series, and a special tribute episode honored his life as well as his character.

NBC

On The West Wing, Leo suffered a heart attack and died the night Santos won the presidential election, and the episode "Requiem" was a tribute to John and his character. John was also celebrated during The West Wing reunion in 2020.

11. Lee Thompson Young, who was probably best known for starring on The Famous Jett Jackson, died while starring on Rizzoli & Isles as Barry Frost, and his character was written out of the show.

TNT

Production on Rizzoli & Isles was suspended following Lee's death, and at the end of Season 4, Barry was said to be on vacation. Later, Barry was killed in a car accident and his funeral was the focus of Season 5, Episode 2.

12. While the film has been delayed, Ghostbusters: Afterlife will address Harold Ramis's death in 2014. The movie will reportedly follow Egon's daughter and grandchildren, who inherited his house after his death.

Columbia Pictures / Everett Collection

While nothing has officially been confirmed, the new movie is said to follow Egon's family as they discover the Ghostbusters gear inside his house.

13. Carol Ann Susi, who was best known for voicing Howard's mom on The Big Bang Theory, died in 2014; her character died in her sleep while on vacation during Season 8.

CBS

The Big Bang Theory showrunners said that they couldn't bring themselves to replace the actor, so having Howard's mom die on the show as well was the best solution and a way to honor Carol Ann's work.

14. Miguel Ferrer's death in 2017 was written into seasons 8 and 9 of NCIS: Los Angeles.

CBS / Getty Images

During Season 8, Miguel's character, Owen Granger, was said to have left to take care of some business, and it's implied that he eventually dies. However, in Season 9, it's confirmed that Granger died and his daughter had found him.

15. Nicholas Colasanto, who played the beloved Coach on Cheers, died in 1985 while Season 3 of the series was airing. Coach was written off the show at the beginning of the next season.

NBC / Getty Images

Cheers simply said that Coach died and his character was replaced by Woody Harrelson's character, Woody Boyd, who was a "pen pal" of Coach's.

16. Following Adam West's death in 2017, his character on Family Guy also died during Season 17.

Fox / Everett Collection

In the episode "Adam West High," we learn that Mayor Adam West has died, and Brian petitions to change the name of James Woods High School to Adam West High. Now Sam Elliott voices the mayor on the show.

17. Nancy Marchand died while starring as Livia Soprano on The Sopranos in 2000. Her character died at the beginning of Season 3.

HBO

In the episode "Proshai, Livushka," the FBI wants Livia to testify against Tony, but she dies before she gets the chance. The episode focuses on Livia's death and funeral.

18. Glenn Quinn, who played Mark on Roseanne, died in 2002, and his death was written into the Roseanne reboot and The Connors.

ABC

At the beginning of the Roseanne, it's revealed that Mark died and Becky has had a hard time moving on from his death. Also, David and Darlene named their son Mark in his honor. Mark's death continues to be mentioned on The Connors.

19. Glenne Headly, who was best known for her work in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and Dick Tracy, died in 2017, and her death was written into Future Man, which she was starring on at the time.

Erin Simkin / Hulu / Everett Collection

Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, and the rest of the creative team behind Future Man elected not to recast the role and instead killed off her character.

20. Larry Hagman died in 2012 while reprising his role as J.R. Ewing on the Dallas reboot. The series killed off his character during Season 2.

TNT / Everett Collection

On the Dallas reboot, J.R. dies after being shot twice, which was a reference to the infamous "Who shot J.R.?" cliffhanger from the original series in 1980.

21. And finally, while we don't know how it's going to happen onscreen just yet, T'Challa from Black Panther will not be recast following Chadwick Boseman's death in 2020.

Marvel / Everett Collection

Kevin Feige has said that T'Challa won't be recast for Black Panther 2, and the movie will dive into the other characters we met in Black Panther. So it's going to be interesting to see how Marvel deals with Chadwick's absence in the sequel.

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