COMMENTARY | In light of his recent and continued struggles with the law and his former employers, along with the fact that Ashton Kutcher is set to replace him, rumor has it that Charlie Sheen is set to make a permanent departure from Two and a Half Men. With Sheen’s time up, series creator Chuck Lorre reportedly will have Sheen’s character, Charlie Harper, killed off, according to CBS. Not the first, and certainly not the last, TV character to die, and with Sheen’s character possibly driving off of a cliff (a more fitting metaphor I cannot think of), what other TV characters have died on their shows? My top three are:
Will Lee played the beloved shopkeeper on Sesame Street and was a big part of my early childhood. He was a friend to all and a kind, grandfatherly soul who operated Hooper’s Store, the gathering place on Sesame Street. After Lee suffered a heart attack and passed away in 1982, the writers wrote his passing into the script.
Maria, Susan, Bob, and the others explained what happened to Big Bird, who was especially close to Mr. Hooper. The Sesame Street crew addressed his death in an honest and open manner, explaining that just because Mr. Hooper was never coming back didn’t mean that he was gone from your heart or your memory. I was a teenager when Lee passed away and hadn’t watched the show for a few years, but some characters and memories stick with you forever.
Dr. Mark Greene
When Anthony Edwards decided his time was up on ER, so it was for his character, Dr. Greene, as well. After a prolonged battle with cancer, Dr. Greene died of a brain tumor at the end of season 8. Among other plots, that season’s storyline documented Green’s battle with the disease, his treatment protocol, and the effect on him and his family. Having recently lost two relatives to cancer, it was a poignant, emotional story to follow. I thought the final scene, with him passing away in Hawaii, was a nice touch — in paradise, with your family by your side, “Somewhere over the Rainbow” playing in the background. We should all be so lucky.
Only Seinfeld could pull this off. George Costanza had second thoughts and cold feet about marrying his fiancé, Susan, ever since they became engaged. A cheapskate by anyone’s standards, George buys discontinued, discount invitations and envelopes for their wedding. Why were the invitations discontinued? The glue on the envelopes is toxic! Naturally, Susan is addressing and licking the envelopes when she is overcome by the toxin in the glue, passes out, and dies. In the cast’s typical narcissistic fashion, there are no tears: George looks confused yet relieved, Kramer calls her “Lily,” and they go grab some food. Only Seinfeld can make death funny.