Top 5 Touching TV Sitcom Tributes
Script written by George Pacheco
These are the saddest and touching tv sitcom tributes to cast members who died. For this list, we'll be ranking the most memorable and emotionally impactful instances when sitcoms were forced to address the real life deaths of cast members within their fictional universes. We won't be including non-sitcom shows such as "Sesame Street" for this list, and we're also going to include a spoiler alert, as we're likely going to be delving into some pretty heavy plot points throughout this list.
Top 5 Touching T.V. Sitcom Tributes to Cast Members Who Died
Sometimes, art imitates life in its most tragic aspects. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we'll be counting down our picks for the Top 5 Touching T.V. Sitcom Tributes to Cast Members Who Died. For this list, we'll be ranking the most memorable and emotionally impactful instances when sitcoms were forced to address the real life deaths of cast members within their fictional universes. We won't be including non-sitcom shows such as "Sesame Street" for this list, and we're also going to include a spoiler alert, as we're likely going to be delving into some pretty heavy plot points throughout this list.
#5: Frances Bay
"The Middle" (2009-)
"The Middle" is known for its irreverent sense of humor, and it was this same quality that ran through the show's tribute to character actress Frances Bay on the episode titled "The Map." Bay had portrayed the boozin' and chain-smoking Aunt Ginny on the show, and The Heck Family balance out a respect for how good she looked with their own kooky plans about freezing their heads and avoiding death. They turn the discussion back to Ginny's long life, achievements and bitchin' cheesecake, with the takeaway being how the conversation is respectful to Bay's character on the show, while also being really, really funny. Say hi to Patton for us, Aunt Ginny.
#4: Nicholas Colasanto
Nicholas Colasanto was the heart and soul behind the early seasons of "Cheers," a befuddled yet lovable father figure to the bar's wacky cast of characters. His character of "Coach" was initially written out as being on vacation after Colasanto suffered a fatal heart attack, but his death was eventually referenced when Coach's "pen pal," Woody Boyd visits Cheers, and takes the open bartender position. Colasanto's presence was never forgotten on "Cheers," right until the show's classic final episode, when Sam Malone lovingly adjusts a picture of Geronimo, originally taken from Colsanto's dressing room, on the wall of the bar, before closing the lights one last time.
#3: Phil Hartman
Phil Hartman was a comedy giant, whose presence still permeates the lives of fans and friends alike. The cast of "NewsRadio" offered up a fitting, emotional sendoff to Hartman on their fifth season premiere, "Bill Moves On," when the group gathers after the funeral services for Hartman's character, Bill McNeal. The episode perfectly balances tearful memories of McNeal together with the sort of witty comedy Hartman loved, with an extra emphasis on how Andy Dick's character, Matthew, is in denial about Bill's death. "Bill Moves On" is a fine tribute; the sort of television which, at least for a moment, softens the sting of one truly tragic loss.
#2: Selma Diamond & Florence Halop
"Night Court" (1984-92)
The hit sitcom "Night Court" lost not one, but two beloved characters during its nearly decade long run, resulting in two separate periods of mourning for the remaining cast members. Selma Diamond and Florence Halop were two of a kind: feisty and sharp comedic foils who had endeared themselves to both audience and cast alike. Halop was actually cast in the third season to replace Diamond, who had died of lung cancer, only to have the disease claim her own life a year later. "Night Court" aired touching tributes to both actresses on the third and fourth season debuts, and eventually replaced Halop with Marsha Warfield, who stayed on until the series ended in 1992.
#1: John Ritter
"8 Simple Rules" (2002-05)
John Ritter was another huge comedic voice who was taken from us far too soon. He also received touching tributes from more than one series, as both "Scrubs" and "8 Simple Rules" did their best to memorialize one of TV’s most beloved actors. The second season 2-part episode of "8 Simple Rules" titled "Goodbye" is particularly difficult to watch, as the sitcom suddenly turns into a real life drama. It's clear that the actors on screen are dealing with some real levels of grief, and we the audience can cry right along with them as the characters process their feelings.