In addition to dealing with ongoing change, those who make movies and television programs occasionally have to cope with tragic events like the passing of a performer. It happens frequently, and many TV shows have varied approaches to it.
These TV programs dealt with the unfortunate loss of one of their actors by bidding their individual characters farewell. We’ll be looking at terrible situations where a character’s demise was caused by an actor passing away for this list. In addition to Reg E. Cathey on Luke Cage, David Rappaport on Captain Planet and the Planeteers, Roger Delgado from Doctor Who is also on our list.
Here are 12 instances in which directors and showrunners dealt with the passing of an actor:
12. Lisa Banes on The Orville
Born: July 9, 1955
Died: June 14, 2021
Cause of Death: Manslaughter
A moped hit The Orville actress Lisa Banes and she died at 65 years old. Banes was best known for starring in the films Gone Girl and Cocktail. But she appeared in over 80 movies, TV shows, and Broadway stage productions.
The television show The Orville follows the adventures of the mid-level exploratory starship U.S.S. Orville and its crew. Seth MacFarlane’s popular space adventure series is set 400 years in the future. The human and alien crew contend with the difficulties of daily living and space travel. Lisa Banes played the alien Xelayan delegate Speria Balask.
In 2021 Bane was in the crosswalk and hit by an electric scooter. She died at Mount Sinai Morningside Hospital due to a traumatic brain injury. The rider Brian Boyd, 27, fled the scene but was later arrested. The dude admitted to manslaughter and was given a sentence of up to three years in prison on November 30, 2022.
The pandemic and the move to Hulu delayed the third season of “The Orville” to June 23, 2022. The episode “Gently Falling Rain” honored her with the title card “In Memory of Lisa Banes, 1955-2021”.
11. Henry Kulky on Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea
Born: August 11, 1911
Died: February 12, 1965
Cause of Death: Heart attack
Henry Kulky the former wrestler turned actor in Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea died on February 12 1965 at 53. According to the New York Times, he collapsed and died at a bar in Oceanside California. Reports later said he was studying a script. Kulky was a seasoned actor with more than 500 film and television roles.
He honed his acting abilities while playing the wrestler “Bomber” Kulkavich. Kulky started wrestling in Argentina as a teenager and amassed 172 victories. After that, he relocated to California to continue wrestling. While there, he met wrestler-turned-actor Mike Mazurki, which led to acting roles like The Robe, A Star Is Born, and Fireman Save My Chi. He later starred in the science fiction show based on the 1961 film Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. It starred Richard Basehart as Admiral Harriman Nelson. He and his team explore the ocean in a futuristic nuclear submarine. In this vision of the not-too-distant future of the 1970s, Nelson and the Seaview crew fight evil as part of a covert mission to defend the globe from attack.
Irwin Allen created the series, which used the film’s sets, costumes, props, special effects models, and footage. Its longest-running series, broadcast on ABC from 1964 to 1968, featured underwater adventures. It’s the first and longest-running of Irwin Allen’s four science fiction television shows. The others are Land of the Giants, The Time Tunnel, and Lost in Space. After Kulky’s death, Terry Becker took over as Chief Petty Officer Francis Ethelbert Sharkey.
10. Roger Delgado on Doctor Who
Born: March 1, 1918
Died: June 18, 1973
Cause of Death: Car crash
Doctor Who actor Roger Delgado died in 1973 in a car accident at 55 years old. Time and Relative Dimension In Space, or TARDIS, is the name of the spaceship that the Doctor and his many companions use to travel through time and space. The Doctor is a Time Lord from the alien race whose home planet is Gallifrey. The Doctor occasionally “regenerates” or transforms into a new form.
Before becoming known as the first actor to play the Master Delgado had a long history of playing villains in various television, radio, and film roles. He’s a recurring villain in the British science fiction television program Doctor Who and its related spin-off works. They are a rebellious alien Time Lord who was the Doctor’s boyhood friend before becoming his archenemy. Sacha Dhawan most recently portrayed them.
Delgado played the bad guy in other British action-adventure TV shows like The Saint, The Champions, and Danger Man (1961). Delgado, 55, died in Nevşehir, Turkey, while filming a television mini-series. He was killed when his car went off the road into a ravine. Delgado’s passing was one of the factors, that led Jon Pertwee to leave Doctor Who the following year. Pratt became the second actor to play the Master when he took the place of the late Roger Delgado in 1976. Pratt drew accolades for the performance mainly due to the limitations of his mask and costume.
9. Ted Cassidy on The Incredible Hulk
Born: July 31, 1932
Died: January 16, 1979
Cause of Death: Complications from Cardiac Surgery
The Incredible Hulk narrator Theodore “Ted” Cassidy died after complications from surgery at 46. Dr. David Banner, a supposedly deceased scientist who possesses the extraordinary capacity to transform into a formidable entity known as The Incredible Hulk, searches the globe for a solution to his “Problem.” while also being pursued by Jack McGee, a reporter. Along the trip, Banner meets new people, develops relationships with them as Banner, and defends them as The Hulk when necessary. However, Banner must continue traveling until he is confident in his ability to “control the raging spirit that dwells within.”
The 6 ft 9 in (206 cm) actor played strange characters in shows like Star Trek and I Dream of Jeannie. In the middle of the 1960s, he also played Lurch on The Addams Family. Kenneth Johnson was producing The Bionic Woman and hired Cassidy for the role of Bigfoot. Johnson was so impressed that he requested he work on his other television project. Along with providing the narration for the first two seasons of The Incredible Hulk he also provided The Hulk’s voice (mainly grunts).
Later Cassidy underwent surgery to have a benign tumor from his heart removed in Los Angeles. A few days later, while he was recovering at home, complications occurred. He returned to the same hospital, where he passed away on January 16, 1979, at the age of 46. Johnson asked Charles Napier if he would like to take over as the voice of the Hulk and he agreed. Johnson kept Cassidy’s voice for the opening titles as a tribute.
8. Charlotte Long on The Tripods
Born: October 9, 1965
Died: October 6, 1984
Cause of Death: Traffic Collision
Charlotte Long, one of the guest stars of the British sci-fi show The Tripods, passed away at 18 years old after a car accident. The Tripods is a franchise created by John Cristopher about aliens conquering humanity. The aliens known as Tripods, are three-legged walking machines piloted by Masters. Human society is pastoral, with artifacts from the Modern Age still used. At puberty, cranial implants are installed. This suppresses curiosity and creativity, leaving the recipients calm and docile. Two boys question the right of the Tripods to rule humanity. So they flee to join the human resistance in the White Mountains.
After Will becomes ill the three companions hide at the Chateau Ricordeau. Will ends up in a romantic triangle with Eloise the daughter of the count and the Duc de Sarlat. Charlotte Long played Eliose.
Long’s auto had broken down and was parked on the hard shoulder of the road. A lorry driver sneezed and lost control of his truck on the M4 highway. The truck collided with the car. Three days after being hurt she died from her injuries. For the second season of The Tripods, Cindy Shelley took her place.
7. David Rappaport on Captain Planet and the Planeteers
Born: November 23, 1951
Died: May 2, 1990
Cause of Death: Suicide
One of the voice actors on Captain Planet, David Stephen Rappaport, committed suicide at 38. He suffered from achondroplasia and stood tall at 3′ 11″ (1.19 m). Ted Turner and Barbara Pyle created the animated series Captain Planet & the Planeteers, which ran from 1990 to 1996. In the show, Gaia, the Planet’s Soul, gathers a group of five young “planeteers” from different countries who may call upon Captain Planet to assist them in resolving ecological and other global issues “by their powers combined.” The program received high praise for how it addressed complex subjects like drug abuse, HIV/AIDS, bullying, and deforestation while still educating and entertaining its young audience. Other concerns it addressed included pollution, poaching, and deforestation.
In addition to the television shows L.A. Law, The Wizard, and Captain Planet and the Planeteers, he also acted in the movies Time Bandits and The Bride. Later in life, Rappaport battled with depression.
He had finished filming for the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “The Most Toys” as collector Kivas Fajo. The sequences Rappaport filmed were scrapped after he attempted suicide while filming. The producers recruited actor Saul Rubinek to fill in for him and finish the show. The Season 3 Blu-ray Disc of Star Trek: The Next Generation contains the sequences starring Rappaport as Kivas Fajo.
On May 2, 1990, Rappaport shot himself. At the time of his death, he was also the voice of MAL on Captain Planet and the Planeteers. MAL is the artificially intelligent henchman and husband of mad scientist Dr. Barbara “Babs” Blight. He can break into other computer networks, seize control of them, and rewrite them for her. MAL is used by Dr. Blight to operate and power the equipment in her experiments and the vehicles she uses to travel. After Rappaport’s death, Tim Curry took over as the voice of MAL.
6. Ken Steadman on Sliders
Born: June 26, 1969
Died: September 20, 1996
Cause of Death: Dune Buggy Accident
A 27-year-old actor was killed after his dune buggy overturned on the set of the sci-fi TV show Sliders. The show centers on a gang of adventurers who “slide” between parallel universes using a wormhole known as an “Einstein-Rosen-Podolsky bridge.” Sliders aired for five seasons between 1995 and 2000.
The episode had the Sliders visiting a desert world where water is scarce and they help protect a woman who could detect water underground. Steadman guest-starred as Cutter. A dune buggy carrying Steadman and another actor overturned on a dry lake bed close to Adelanto California.
The county coroner’s office reported that Kenneth Keith Steadman was transported by helicopter from the set on El Mirage Dry Lake to San Bernardino County Medical Center. Shortly after arriving at the hospital, he was declared dead. According to officials, there were seat belts on the dune buggy Steadman was operating, but neither guy was buckled up at the time of the collision.
5. Carol Ann Susi on The Big Bang Theory
Born: February 2, 1952
Died: November 11, 2014
Cause of Death: Cancer
Carol Ann Susi, who was best known for portraying Mrs. Wolowitz on CBS’ The Big Bang Theory, passed away from cancer at 62. The show was about Leonard and Sheldon. They’re the kind of ”beautiful minds” that comprehend how the universe functions, who are both great physicists. However, none of that brilliance helps them communicate with others, especially women. When a free-spirited beauty named Penny comes in next door, everything starts to change. The half-hour comedy ran from 2007 to 2019 on CBS.
Probably Carol Ann Susi’s first and last roles were the most well-known for her; she made her acting debut as the recurring part of the efficient yet likable intern Monique Marmelstein on Kolchak: The Night Stalker. Her fame increased when she gave the voice to the recurring off-screen character Mrs. Wolowitz, the mother of Howard Wolowitz, on the television series The Big Bang Theory. This was more than three decades and innumerable supporting parts afterward.
After Susi passed away The Big Bang Theory decided to kill the character on the series. An episode included a tragic side story in which Howard’s mother died suddenly while on a Florida vacation. “Every time you spoke, we laughed,” a message that praised Susi said at the end of the show. “You will always be in our hearts”.
4. Glenne Headly on Future Man
Born: March 13, 1955
Died: June 08, 2017
Cause of Death: Pulmonary Embolism
Glenne Aimee Headly passed away in 2017 after complications from a pulmonary embolism at the age of 62. Headly had a recurring role as Diane Futturman in Hulu’s half-hour science fiction comedy Future Man, with Ed Begley Jr. and Josh Hutcherson. The show follows an underachieving janitor who is recruited to save the world. It premiered on November 14, 2017, on Hulu and ran till 2020.
She was known for her roles in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Dick Tracy, and Mr. Holland’s Opus. She received numerous awards and nominations. In 2017, she starred in The Circle and Just Getting Started, her final film role. After her death, her character was reprised as a younger woman played by Gwen Hollander.
3. Reg E. Cathey on Luke Cage
Born: August 18, 1958
Died: February 09, 2018
Cause of Death: Lung Cancer
Luke Cage actor Reginald Eurias Cathey died on February 9, 2018, at the age of 59 from lung cancer. The show followed Luke Cage. Thanks to a botched experiment, he’s a superhero with superhuman strength and indestructible skin. Cage runs away and tries to start over in contemporary Harlem, New York City. However, he is quickly drawn out of the shadows and forced to fight for the city’s center, forcing him to face a past he had hoped to forget.
Cathey was best known for performing in The Wire’s Norman Wilson, Oz’s Martin Querns, Square One Television’s game show announcer, and House of Cards’ Freddy Hayes. The latter role earned him three consecutive nominations for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series, including a victory in 2015.
He played the role of James Lucas, Luke Cage’s father, on the Netflix superhero show. “Reg E. Cathey was part of the heart and soul of Season Two,” Luke Cage showrunner Cheo Hodari Coker said. “We didn’t feel obligated to dedicate the season to him just because he died — we felt obligated because we loved him, and he was a galvanizing force.”
2. Ray Stevenson on Ahsoka
Born: May 25, 1964
Died: May 21, 2023
Cause of Death: Unknown
Ray Stevenson died four days before his 59th birthday on 21 May 2023 of unknown causes. The upcoming show Ahsoka is set after the fall of the Galactic Empire. Former Jedi Knight Ahsoka Tano investigates an emerging threat to a vulnerable galaxy. Stevenson was cast to play the evil Baylan Skoll.
Stevenson was well-known for his parts in the Divergent trilogy, the Thor movie franchise, and various UK television programs like Band of Gold, Peak Practice, and Murphy’s Law. Stevenson will return to Star Wars again in the upcoming Ahsoka television series. Since the show’s first season’s postmortem appearance was shot before his passing, it implies that he won’t appear in any more episodes.
1. Gaspard Ulliel on Moon Knight
Born: November 25, 1984
Died: January 19, 2022
Cause of Death: Skiing Accident
Gaspard Ulliel, one of the stars of the Marvel show Moon Knight, passed away as a result of a skiing accident in the Alps at 37. The mini-series centers on Steven Grant, a mild-mannered clerk at a gift shop who starts having blackouts and flashbacks to a different existence. Steven learns he has dissociative identity disorder and that the assassin Marc Spector shares his body. They must negotiate their several identities while being thrown into a dangerous mystery involving the great gods of Egypt as Steven/Marc’s foes close in on them. The French actor played Anton Mogart. He’s a wealthy and dangerous collector of ancient artifacts. In the comics, the character is a villain named “The Midnight Man”.
Ulliel was well-known for his performances in movies and television shows as well as advertisements for Chanel perfume. The actor was involved in a collision with another skier on the slopes in the Savoie region. He was taken to a hospital in Grenoble after suffering significant brain damage, but the next day he passed away there. Marvel paid tribute to the actor with a title card at the end credits and dedicated the episode to him.
What other ways have TV shows handled the tragic loss of their actors? Please tell us in the comments below.