R.I.P. Chico Rodriguez, Susan Ross and Dan Conner: A Brief History of 13 Shocking Sitcom Deaths

(If you have yet to watch this week's episode of How I Met Your Mother and you plan on doing so, then, yes, spoiler alert!)

How I Met Your Mother went down a road rarely traveled on Monday when they, quite surprisingly, killed off Marshall's dad. Even though the nature of sitcoms is supposed to be lighthearted (hence, not a drama), death sometimes seeps its way into the narrative for a number of reasons. The most sad, obviously, is when the actor portraying the character dies during production and has to be written out of the show. Other reasons, though, from contract disputes to -- as in the case of HIMYM -- a darker narrative have been a good enough excuse to kill off a sitcom character. Here now a brief history of sitcoms and how they deal with the death of a character.

(Remember, these are all main or recurring characters on sitcoms, so no one episode characters and, no matter how funny Beverly Hills: 90210 could be, no Scott Scanlon. If we've missed any, let us know in the comments.)

Coach on Cheers

For three seasons of Cheers, Coach (Nicholas Colasanto) was the lovable, though somewhat dimwitted, bartender who used to be the Boston Red Sox's third base coach at the same time Sam Malone was a relief pitcher. After Nicholas Colasanto died from heart problems during the third season, Coach's death was not immediately acknowledged. Excuses for his absence were made during conversation and some of his earlier filmed scenes were used as the cold open for the show. At the beginning of the fourth season, Coach's death was part of the storyline and the bartender role was filled by Woody Harrelson. This is Coach's final scene on Cheers.

Valerie Hogan on Valerie

Note to Conan O'Brien: Just because the name of your new show is called Conan, that doesn't mean you can't be replaced and the show's title be changed to Conan's Family. After two seasons, the producers of Valerie made the decision that they wanted to show to be more family oriented and focus on the hijinks of the younger cast members (including Jason Bateman), in an effort to pair the show up with Perfect Strangers. The star of the show, Valerie Harper, did not agree with this new tone and was fired -- on the show Valerie died in a car accident. Valerie (which would later be renamed Valerie's Family then The Hogan Family) lasted four more seasons without the title character. As usual, pretty much every wrong in the world can eventually be traced back to Balki Bartokomous.

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  • FilmmakerMike says:

    Correct, but it wasn't inexplicable -- they both died. Night Court had TWO actresses playing bailffs die between back-to-back seasons. Selma Diamond died after Season 2 and Florence Halop died after Season 3. Both died of cancer.

  • Nick says:

    Nurse Laverne Roberts on Scrubs played by Aloma Wright. Not only was it unexpected when she got in the accident and died but she came back as another nurse who just happened to look like Nurse Roberts. The death itself was not shocking but the incident happened at the end of one of Scrubs funnier episodes.

  • magicjill says:


  • Lindsay says:

    I instantly thought of Brendan Fraser's death on Scrubs. To this day, even though I know what's coming, I still tear up. It was one of the most heartbreaking and beautifully written episodes.

  • Bryan says:

    What about Shawn Hunters father on Boy Meets World? Died in season 4.

  • Spectre says:

    Anyone else remember David Strickland from Suddenly Susan?

  • Amanda says:

    I never got to see the Edith scene. Heartbreaking.

  • David says:

    Where is Chef on South Park?

  • Marcus Tee says:

    Ever look a word up?
    Adjusted or located in relation to surroundings or circumstances; sometimes used in combination.
    It's a synonym for oriented.

  • Marcus Tee says:

    It means:
    Adjusted or located in relation to surroundings or circumstances; sometimes used in combination.
    It's a synonym for oriented.

  • Louise Kelly says:

    We should also remember that John Ritter's death was also acknowledge in Scrubs. He appeared twice in the show once in a full episode and also in a flashback daydream that JD, is famous for. Scrubs honoured him by centering a full episode on his characters death but also mentioning it in the following episodes.

  • Ryan says:

    You forgot Maude Flanders on the Simpsons!!!!

  • Phil Riley says:

    "The Hogan Family" and "Perfect Strangers" are not connected in any way.
    HF was on NBC and PS was on ABC. I don't know what show you were thinking of, or if you just wanted to take a shot at Balki (for irrational reasons) but you need to edit your article.

  • H says:

    THAT'S a good one - especially since I kept thinking they would inexplicably bring her back in the way they handle most big plot twists. Lisa going vegetarian and Maude's death are two very rare, consistent plot changes.

  • Tego Livi says:

    It would've been difficult to pair "Valerie" with "Perfect Strangers" since the former was on NBC and the latter was on ABC. Also, there is no such word as "orientated."

  • Ribelin2000 says:

    Plus, Valerie and Perfect Strangers were on two different nights (Sunday and Wednesday, respectively). So they couldn't possibly be "paired up".

  • Mike Ryan says:

    I didn't mean paired up on the network. The producers of Valerie also produced Perfect Strangers. Perfect Strangers was making more money for them, so, they wanted to pair them up in style. Sorry for any confusion.

  • Ashley says:

    What about Jack Arnold from The Wonder Years?

  • Melba says:

    Speaking of discipline, don't take on too much when it comes to social networking.

  • Bryan says:

    Networks have had shows made by the same people that are connected. Bionic Woman and Million Dollar Man did a crossover yet were on different networks. And more recently, even though they started on the same network, Buffy moved networks but they still ended up doing a bit of crossing over with Angel
    I'll admit though, sitcoms would have next to no reason to do this.

  • solife says:

    Don't forget James from GoodTimes. That episode still makes me cry.

  • OldTowneTavern says:

    The British use "orientated".