Characters Who Outlived Their Actors

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emuboy

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In television and movie series, it is reasonably common to 'kill off' a character whose actor is leaving a show or who is not returning to a sequel movie. Sometimes an actor will die in real life and this will be written into the TV show or sequel movie, for example when John Ritter died in 2003 his character Paul in '8 Simple Rules' died with him, and when Granddad died in 'Only Fools and Horses' in 1983 it was because the actor who portrayed him Leonard Pearce had died in real life.

More rarely however the opposite tactic is taken and a character is not seen but referenced, although the actor portraying him or her has died. Here are some examples; which other ones can you think of?

Meet the Parents - In the original 2000 movie 'Meet the Parents' we meet Pam's younger sister Debbie, played by Nicole DeHuff. Debbie met Pam's fiance Gaylord Focker, and probably wished she hadn't given he accidentally hit her in the face with a volleyball. In the 2004 sequel 'Meet the Fockers' Debbie doesn't appear, but her parents are babysitting her young son. In the final film of the series, 'Little Fockers' from 2009 a major plot point is that Debbie is in the process of divorcing her husband Bob Junior, who she married in the first film. While Debbie is still alive, the actress who played her in the first film died of pneumonia in 2005.

Home and Away - As to be expected with any long-running soap, the number of characters killed off is quite high, and there are a number of actors from the show who died prematurely. The character of Rebecca Nash (nee Fisher) did not leave the series by dying, but left to travel overseas with her husband. In an episode in the mid 2010s Rebecca was referenced as happily married with kids and living overseas, but in reality two of the actors who portrayed her - Belinda Emmett and Megan Connolly - both passed away in 2006 and 2001 respectively.

Are You Being Served? - When AYBS returned in 1981 after a hiatus of a year, Harold Bennett who played the elderly store owner Young Mr. Grace was in very poor health and too frail to continue in his role. An attempt was made to bring in Old Mr. Grace, a hitherto unseen character, but this didn't work for a number of reasons and was discontinued after one year. Harold Bennett died later in 1981, but for the final few years of the show Young Mr. Grace became an unseen character, referenced by staff and just out of sight, but never actually appearing. A short-lived early 1990s spin-off, 'Grace and Favor', started with Young Mr. Grace dying - over a decade after the actor who played him passed on.

Doctor Who - In an episode around 2010, Sarah Jane Smith (shortly before the actress who played her in real life Elizabeth Sladen passed on) spoke about former companions of the Doctor and what they were doing now. While not expressly stating so, she spoke of Harry Sullivan in the past tense, suggesting he had died like the actor who played him, Ian Marter. Among the other characters she spoke of were 1960s characters Ian and Barbara, and Ben and Polly, stating that all were still living. While Anneke Wills (Polly) and William Russell (Ian) were still alive at this time (and are still living at the time of posting), Jacqueline Hill (Barbara) and Michael Craze (Ben) both died in the 1990s.
 

Vader

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If you're going to talk about Doctor Who, then several of the actors who have portrayed him are dead - including William Hartnell, who played the original Doctor.

James Bond is set to outlive Sean Connery too...
 

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The father of Frankie in The Middle was still referenced after the actor passed, as was Jackie's mum in Friday Night Dinner.

Paul Walker's character in Fast and Furious is still referenced, last I heard.
 
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Bostonian

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Private Joe Walker was mentioned in Dad's Army after actor James Beck had died.
 

Lord_Flashheart

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Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) is an obvious one currently. Not sure how they will navigate that.

The Oracle in the Matrix movies was replaced in the 3rd movie after the death of the original.
 

sorted

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Leonard Nimoy and Spock? Maybe it doesn't count if they use a different (younger) actor for prequels.

Slightly strangely, Walter Koenig (born 1936) who was the original Chekov in Star Trek has outlived Anton Yelchin (born 1989 - 53 years later) who plays the same character in the reboots.
 

Tyler Durden007

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Dumbledore outlived Richard Harris, only to be killed when Michael Gambon took over.

Recently, the character Dominic Wilkinson in the Blacklist outlived Brian Dennehy
 

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