The Seven Best/Worst Television Deaths In Aussie Drama History
They always take away the ones we love the most.
Spoiler alert: This article talks about Offspring, Neighbours, Home and Away, Love My Way, Blue Heroes and Packed To The Rafters. If you’re still planning on catching up with any of these shows, click away and click away NOW.
Losing a beloved character from TV can feel like losing a family member. But a hot family member, that you only have to see once a week — so, actually, better than your real family.
Last night, Channel Ten drama Offspring said goodbye to one of its main characters, allowing us to continue the proud tradition of losing our shit when an Australian character dies on TV. We have a history of coming together to collectively mourn the passing of these fictional people and, thanks to T-Wit and Facey, we can wail together in unison as the characters cross over. Like ancient villagers of yore, we walk through our digital townships, beating our bare breasts and wailing at the tragic unfairness of a show runner’s obvious disdain for us (or, actually, for for TV characters who are predominately white women. What’s up with that?).
With that in mind, let’s take a look back at some of the more memorable TV deaths. All together now: “WHHHHHHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY?”
Character: Too Soon.
Let’s start with the freshest one. For any of you who don’t have white female friends or sensitive gay men in your social sphere, you may not have heard that last night Patrick (played by Matthew Le Nevez) got hit by a car. He leaves behind his pregnant partner, Offspring heroine Nina (Asher Keddie), and a whole bunch of “inconsolable” fans. It’s been reported than Le Nevez’s departure was due to his burgeoning career in the US, prompting tweets like this.
Character: Helen Daniels
You could argue that Helen Daniels, played by Anne Haddy, was the dowager empress of Ramsey Street (unless you were Team Madge), having been on Neighbours since its inception. From her gilded throne at the end of the cul de sac, she watched for years as young lovers met, married, and moved to Queensland. When it came time for Haddy to leave the long-running soap, writers came up with the most gruesome death in TV history: forcing a feuding family into the same room to repeatedly watch a wedding video, before dying in front of (and permanently scarring) a young girl, her granddaughter Hannah.
Show: Home And Away
Character: Bobby Simpson
You can’t speak to deaths on Neighbours without mentioning deaths on Home and Away. The two soaps are the Kylie and Dannii of Australian TV: same same but different, locked in a friendly yet competitive battle for our collective love.
There have been many great deaths on H&A: Aisla, Shane (SHANE 4 ANGEL 4 LYF), Bella et al. However the death of beloved hoodrat Bobby Simpson (Nicolle Dickson) has to make the list because she was TAKEN BY SUMMER BAY ITSELF (or, an errant log floating in the waterway, it seems).
But the cool thing about dying in Summer Bay is you get to CGI yourself back from the afterlife to haunt Aisla:
Show: Love My Way
Character: Not telling.
NOPE. Still grieving this one. If you haven’t watched this series, you shouldn’t be here. Click on this, and actually pay for it; Australian TV of this calibre deserves your financial recompense.
In Love My Way, the shocking death of a young girl early in season one tears an almighty hole in the lives of the people who loved her. Claudia Karvan and Dan Wyllie do some of their best work as grieving parents, Frankie and Charlie, and their new partners (played by Asher Keddie and Brendan Cowell) are wonderfully awkward/lost in the face of unimaginable grief.
Can’t embed video, too sad.
Show: A Country Practice
Character: Molly Jones
Hello, young readers. Once upon a time, there was a weekly soap opera set in a magical place called Wandin Valley. It was a strange time, when TV executives knew that people would watch a drama set in a quaint country town, mainly populated by middle-aged people and sweet young things who weren’t lured to the bright lights of a big city. Also: no immigrants!
One character on this show was Molly (Anne Tenney), a very sweet woman who died after a ten-week battle with leukemia. The kicker here was that her death was rushed forward when execs realised she was going to die in non-ratings period, and as the saying goes: “If a popular character dies in non-ratings period, does anybody hear her fall/buy advertising?”
Since over 2.2 million people tuned in to watch her kick the bucket, the answer is yes. Those greedy execs have removed her death from YouTube, but here is some fan art that REALLY sums it up (or, this is what TV was like back then, maybe?)
Show: Blue Heelers
Character: Maggie Doyle
There was legitimately a period in the ’90s in which you weren’t legally allowed to appear on Australian TV without alluding to, featuring, or openly discussing Lisa McCune. I swear her image must have permanently been burnt into the printing press at TV Week magazine, such was her exposure.
Her portrayal as honest-but-fair policewoman Margaret ‘Maggie’ Doyle charmed the Logies off Australia, and her romance with local police hunk PJ defined a generation of cat ladies’ lonely romantic yearnings. Unlike many female characters on TV, at least she died kick-ass, guns blazing. Although we were spared the indignity of seeing her get shot.
Show: Packed to the Rafters
Character: Mel Rafter
Mel Rafter had it all: a hunky hubby, a car, and a mobile phone. Little did she know that the trifecta of privilege would also spell her DOOM.
It’s easy to poke fun at the (incredibly popular) Packed To The Rafters: it was cheesy, suburban, and light. But it ensconced itself into Australia’s TV-watching collective consciousness. When Mel Rafter shuffled off this mortal coil in what amounts to a road safety ad (DON’T TEXT AND DRIVE LADIES, OR YOU WON’T GET TO HAVE SEX WITH HUGH SHERIDAN), her loss was felt.
Show: The News
Character: Jaymes Diaz
And finally, the one awkward death on Australian TV that we could all enjoy, together.
Nic Holas mainly fills his time with the creative management of performance, media, and the arts. His writing has appeared in Hello Mr magazine and Cosmopolitan. You can find him on Twitter @longlivecanapes, or living out his fantasy life as a celebrity attache at utauberkoolja.com.