Off-screen deaths in TV and film can be as impactful as those on screen. These deaths can leave a lasting impression on viewers, whether due to unexpected circumstances or the sudden loss of a beloved character. From classic movies to modern TV shows, here are some of the most shocking off-screen deaths ever.
1. Tracy (the Mother) in How I Met Your Mother
The series finale reveals that Tracy McConnell, also known as “The Mother,” played by Cristin Milioti, had died of an unspecified illness, leaving her husband, Ted Mosby, a widower. The revelation of Tracy’s death is a turning point for Ted, who finally feels ready to pursue a relationship with his longtime love interest, Robin Scherbatsky, whom he had previously let go of to be with Tracy.
2. Luke Perry in Riverdale
When Luke Perry passed away in 2019, Riverdale was in the middle of its third season, and Perry was still portraying his character Fred Andrews. To deal with Perry’s death, the show’s producers decided to write his character off the show in a respectful manner. In the fourth season, it is revealed that Fred had been killed in a hit-and-run accident while helping a random guy on the side of the road. The episode is dedicated to Perry and serves as a tribute to the actor and his character.
3. The Girl in the red coat in Schindler’s List
Although she has no name and says nothing at all, the girl in the red coat is a significant character who appears in several scenes. In the movie, she is shown wearing a bright red coat, which is the only splash of color in the black-and-white film. While the fate of the girl in the red coat is not explicitly shown on-screen, it is implied that she was likely killed in a concentration camp along with millions of other Jews during the Holocaust. We see her wandering through the streets of the Krakow ghetto while chaos and destruction are taking place all around her, and then Oscar sees that bright red coat on a cart full of bodies. Her character serves as a powerful symbol of hope and the importance of remembering and honoring the victims of the Holocaust.
4. Sam Beckett in Quantum Leap
The last episode of Quantum Leap, titled “Mirror Image,” left the fate of Sam Beckett somewhat ambiguous. In the episode, Sam starts leaping uncontrollably through time and space, and eventually, it is implied that he is actually leaping through his own memories and experiences. In the final scene, he sees a reflection of himself in a mirror, and the image is that of a young Al, implying that he has leaped into his own past. The series ends with the implication that Sam may still be leaping, like in a closed loop, never being able to return home.
5. Rosie Beltzer in JoJo Rabbit
Rosie Beltzer, played by Scarlett Johansson, is the mother of the main character JoJo, a young boy who is a member of the Hitler Youth during World War II. The woman is secretly involved in the resistance movement against the Nazis, ultimately leading to her off-screen demise. Towards the movie’s end, JoJo discovers that his mother has been hiding a young Jewish girl in their attic. Unfortunately, their hiding place is discovered by the Nazis, and Rosie is arrested and soon after executed. When JoJo sees his mother hanging from the gallows, he begins to question the ideologies of the Nazi party and the world he has grown up in.
6. Finn Hudson in Glee
The TV show Glee dedicated an episode to honor Cory Monteith, who played Finn Hudson, after he passed away in 2013 from a drug overdose. In the episode called “The Quarterback,” the characters come together to mourn the passing of Finn, who died off-screen. The episode features musical performances and heartfelt speeches from the characters, with songs chosen to reflect feelings of grief and loss. The episode is widely regarded as the most touching tribute and emotional moment in the show’s history.
7. Guido in Life Is Beautiful
In the movie, Guido is a Jewish-Italian waiter who is sent to a concentration camp along with his son, Giosue. He uses his humor, wit, and imagination to protect his young son from the horrors of reality by turning it into a game. In the end, Guido is taken by a Nazi soldier into an alley, and shortly after, we hear gunshots. The movie ends with Giosue being rescued from the camp by American soldiers and reunited with his mother, who has also survived the war.
8. Tracie Mills in Se7en
Everyone knows the famous quote, “What’s in the box?” but not everyone remembers it comes from the thriller Se7en and involves one of the most hardcore off-screen deaths ever. There’s a crazy serial killer on the loose, and two cops, Mills and Somerset, are frantically trying to catch the sicko, but he always seems to be one step ahead. In the film’s climax, it is we learn that the antagonist, John Doe, played by Kevin Spacey, has murdered Mills’s wife, Tracie, and arranged for her head to be delivered to the detectives in a box as part of his twisted plan to punish the guy and forces the detective to shoot Doe.