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.