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John Byrne

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Joined: 11 May 2005
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Posted: 03 September 2020 at 8:58am | IP Logged | 1 post reply

Discussion online about how Disney is going to "deal with" the death of Chadwick Boseman in terms of the Panther franchise going forward.

It got me thinking about times in the Past when studios have had to deal with the unexpected demise of a lead character's actor.

The first that came to mind was ALIAS SMITH AND JONES, a BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID clone that tried to recast when one of its stars committed suicide. It was canceled soon after.

Likewise, CHICO AND THE MAN, tho it did not attempt to recast, did not survive the death of Freddie Prinz.

Were there others? Most often, changing the lead--James Bond, Tarzan, Sherlock Holmes--has been a more "organic" process.

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Andrew Bitner
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Posted: 03 September 2020 at 9:40am | IP Logged | 2 post reply

COVER UP, 1984-5, survived the unintentional suicide of lead Jon-Erik Hexum. Hexum pointed a gun full of blanks at his own temple, pulled the trigger, and was killed by the concussion of the blank at such close range. 
He only made seven episodes of the show, which completed 21 episodes in all. He's one of the few whose show survived his death, though I'm not sure if only one season counts as "surviving."

Supporting actors passing but the show going on is much more common--CHEERS survived the passing of Nick Colasanto and NIGHT COURT survived the passing of Florence Halop and Selma Diamond.


Edited by Andrew Bitner on 03 September 2020 at 9:47am
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John Byrne

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Posted: 03 September 2020 at 9:44am | IP Logged | 3 post reply

COVER UP, 1984-5, survived the unintentional suicide of lead Jon-Erik Hexum. Hexum pointed a gun full of blanks at his own temple, pulled the trigger, and was killed by the concussion of the blank at such close range. He only made seven episodes of the show, which completed 21 episodes in all. He's one of the few whose show survived his death.

Finishing a single season is not the same as surviving.

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John Byrne

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Posted: 03 September 2020 at 9:45am | IP Logged | 4 post reply

Remembering now Richard Harris' death, which seemed to have no impact on the Harry Potter films.
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Andrew Bitner
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Posted: 03 September 2020 at 9:48am | IP Logged | 5 post reply

Had the same thought, ergo the edit. I can't think of any TV show that has gone on after the death-not-departure of a series lead.

Edited by Andrew Bitner on 03 September 2020 at 9:48am
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Cory Vandernet
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Joined: 16 April 2004
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Posted: 03 September 2020 at 10:14am | IP Logged | 6 post reply

The only one I can think of is the Starz TV series SPARTACUS, the lead actor Andy Whitfield died of lymphona after the first season and was replaced by Liam McIntyre for seasons 2&3.
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Brandon Frye
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Joined: 17 November 2004
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Posted: 03 September 2020 at 10:15am | IP Logged | 7 post reply

The 2012 revival of the Dallas TV series didn't seem to recover from Larry Hagman's death. While Hagman's passing may not have been the sole reason for the cancellation, it most likely caused a ratings drop that led to the cancellation. 

I think whether or not a series can survive the loss of it's lead depends greatly on how much weight that lead carried in terms of popularity with the audience as opposed to the supporting cast.

Would Star Trek have survived it's first season if William Shatner had suddenly passed? Or would the popularity of the supporting characters (particularly Spock & McCoy) been enough to carry the ball? Personally, I would think no because as good as Leonard Nimoy and DeForest Kelley were, the dynamic of Kirk, Spock, and McCoy (as well as the great chemistry the 3 actors shared) was an integral part of what made the series work so well. 


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Rick Senger
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Posted: 03 September 2020 at 10:23am | IP Logged | 8 post reply

John Ritter's untimely death at 54 forced 8 SIMPLE RULES to shift its storyline. Whatever the artistic result (I can't opine as I barely caught any shows), it did continue for a couple seasons (Ritter did 31 episodes,the show ran for 76).
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Brian Floyd
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Joined: 07 July 2006
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Posted: 03 September 2020 at 12:15pm | IP Logged | 9 post reply

Brandon Frye, there is absolutely no way that DALLAS could have survived without Larry Hagman. He was definitely the star of the show.

LAW AND ORDER had several cast changes over its run, but I thought it went downhill after Jerry Orbach left due to illness and later died. Lenny Briscoe was the best written detective the show ever had, and Orbach played him brilliantly.

The most noticable case I can think of of a show surviving with an actor dying comes from Scotland. So I've never actually seen it, just know about it: TAGGART ran from 1983 to 2010, despite its lead actor Mark McManus (who played the title character) dying in 1994.

Can anyone think of a series where an actor died and they actually wrote the character out rather than killing them off? (No explanations for the character's absence don't count.)

 







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Eric Sofer
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Posted: 03 September 2020 at 1:00pm | IP Logged | 10 post reply

Cheers. Nick Colasanto. But he was remembered and referenced more than a couple times. I had to imagine he was pretty well loved on the set. Ah, but Andrew got that one. But Coach is worth a nod from me.

I recall that Phil Hartman died during NewsRadio, but I didn't watch it and do not recall the outcome of that situation.
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Vinny Valenti
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Joined: 17 April 2004
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Posted: 03 September 2020 at 1:59pm | IP Logged | 11 post reply

"The 2012 revival of the Dallas TV series didn't seem to recover from Larry Hagman's death. While Hagman's passing may not have been the sole reason for the cancellation, it most likely caused a ratings drop that led to the cancellation."

--

I did think that the way they handled his death was pretty brilliant, though - and I have to think that Hagman would have loved it.

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Bob Simko
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Joined: 16 April 2004
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Posted: 03 September 2020 at 3:45pm | IP Logged | 12 post reply

I think he would have been a big driver for the next phase of films, but I also
think the supporting cast they built is so strong they can keep they mythos
alive. I think recasting would be...less than successful.
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