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Died During Production
aka: Author Existence Failure

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This person just got around to the bare bones of the next story.
"Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales was expected to clock in at anywhere between 100 and 120 chapters. Unfortunately, the dude only managed to finish 24 tales before he suffered an insurmountable and permanent state of writer's block commonly known as death."

A fandom's worst nightmare: a creator dies before completing their work, leaving it orphaned.

If readers are lucky, the author had enough warning or foresight to keep notes on their plans for the rest of the series or at least fill someone else in on the most relevant plot points, so that their work can be continued by another author, or possibly even several. This may result in the series Jumping the Shark if the replacement isn't very good, but at least you have closure. Worse would be if the series just isn't popular enough to justify going through the effort to find a new author, leaving fans to wonder What Could Have Been.

This can also happen with individuals who play a major role in creating a group work; for instance, directors. In any case, it gets to be pretty sad that so many people lose their jobs because of one person's death, but if the work was good enough it's likely that those who worked on it won't have too much trouble finding another job.

If the author is still alive but decides to quit, they're preventing a Franchise Zombie.

Please note that this trope applies when a creator (writer, director, etc.) ceases work on a project, not a participant (actor) unless they had significant input, such as being a series regular or a key supporting cast member.

Also note that since all creators are mortal, this is not merely when creators die, it's when they die with works still in progress.

This might result in The Character Died with Him (where the show goes on without the character a dead actor portrayed), Actor Existence Limbo (where a character previously with a voice role does not have a voice in future episodes) or Fake Shemp (where there is an attempt to disguise the absent actor).

Not to be confused with Death of the Author (a criticism trope), Apocalyptic Log or Creator Killer (where the author merely falls from grace and loses their reputation as a result of a failed work).

See also Swan Song (when the production is the creator's very last creation), Fatal Method Acting (when this happens because of the production), and Posthumous Credit (when someone gets credited on a work after their death).

Example subpages:

Other examples

    open/close all folders 

  • A 2024 Super Bowl Special commercial for the gambling service FanDuel and their "Kick of Destiny" promotion (where fans could bet on whether or not Rob Gronkowski would miss a field goal he would take in the middle of a commercial break) featured Carl Weathers, who died in February 2024 before the game. Afterwards, FanDuel announced that they would adjust the ad.

    Anime & Manga 
  • When Osamu Tezuka died, he left his life's work Phoenix unfinished, which he had great plans for. Had he stayed alive to finish it, the separate stories of each time period in each volume would eventually converge at a central point, the "present", and tying all the loose ends of the Phoenix's story together.
  • Happened the same with the other great mangaka legend, Shotaro Ishinomori, who left his most famous manga Cyborg 009 unfinished, taking a long hiatus and promising to create an end for it exactly in the year 2000... But he died early in 1998. Fortunately, in 2012, Shogakukan announced the story would reach a proper conclusion based on Ishinomori's original concept notes, sketches, and a novel draft. It was illustrated by Masato Hayase and Sugar Sato and written by Ishinomori's eldest son Jo. Unfortunately, the finished product resulted in a huge Broken Base over liberties that Ishinomori's son had taken with his father's storyline.
  • Ken Ishikawa, the creator of Getter Robo. Though he did leave some notes behind, they were apparently only for Getter Robo Hien — a prequel. The cliffhanger ending of Getter Robo Āḥ, the latest series chronologically, has yet to be resolved.
  • The director of The 08th MS Team, Takeyuki Kanda, died while the OVA was still being produced. One effect of that was that it took over three years to finish it, making it the longest-running single Gundam production until Gundam Unicorn, except the long-running period for that has been planned from the start.
  • And a decade and a half later, Umanosuke Iida, aka the guy who took over for Kanda... died while working on another series, Towa no Quon.
  • Kaoru Tada's manga, Itazura Na Kiss was left incomplete when she passed away in 1999 after a tragic accident. Luckily, she had the ending semi-planned out, and it was used for the anime adaptation in 2008.
  • Yoshito Usui of Crayon Shin-chan was tragically killed in a hiking accident in September 2009. The anime (which mostly uses original stories not found in the manga anyway) was put on hiatus for a few weeks after his death, but it was later announced it would continue. It is confirmed Usui’s longtime team of assistant manga artists will carry on the manga.
    • Aside from Keiji Fujiwara, who retired from his role as Hiroshi Nohara nearly four years before he lost his battle with cancer, several voice actors from the anime died during the show's run.
      • Kaneto Shiozawa, the voice of Buriburizaemon, died of injuries sustained in a fall over the Golden Week holiday in 2000. This led to the character being unvoiced for 16 years until Hiroshi Kamiya was brought in as his voice actor.
      • Ginzo Matsuo, who voiced Ginnosuke Nohara, died in 2001. After his passing, Yuichi Nagashima took over.
      • Sayuri Yamauchi, who voiced Nanako, died in 2012. Shizuka Itō took on the role the following year.
      • Rokurō Naya, who voiced Enchou-sensei, died in 2014, Junpei Morita took over a year after the former's passing.
  • Keiko Tobe, the mangaka of With the Light, died of an unspecified illness in late January 2010, leaving the manga unfinished.
  • Satoshi Kon suddenly died while making a film called Dreaming Machine, which he described as aimed at a younger audience but accessible to his older fans, with a cast made entirely of robots. Kon learned that he had late-stage pancreatic cancer in April 2010, but initially didn't tell anyone because he didn't want to disturb them — cancers are still something of a taboo in Japan. He later regretted this decision and verbosely apologized to everyone in his farewell note (he ended it with an apology for "leaving while everyone else was still working") after his producer Masao Maruyama promised to him to finish the movie. Sadly, the film was cancelled.
  • Tomoko Kawakami reportedly spoke to Kunihiko Ikuhara to see if they'd work together for Ikuhara's anime Penguindrum (as she'd previously voiced the titular heroine of Revolutionary Girl Utena). Sadly, Kawakami succumbed to ovarian cancer in 2011.
  • Barefoot Gen was discontinued in 2009 due to author Keiji Nakazawa developing cataracts and vision problems, and he died of cancer just three years later.
  • Despera went to Development Hell due to the director Ryutaro Nakamura's health issues and later death in June 2013. Later on, however, series artist Yoshitoshi Abe announced they had found a new director, though who it is is currently unknown and no other news has been released.
  • Inu × Boku SS creator, Cocoa Fujiwara passed away on March 31, 2015, of an unspecified illness while working on "Katsute Mahō Shōjo to Aku wa Tekitai Shiteita".
  • The Mobile Suit Gundam SEED movie was placed on indefinite hold, heavily believed to be cancelled outright, following GS/GSD head writer Chiaki Morosawa's death from an aortic dissection in February 2016. It was announced to be back in production in 2021 by her surviving husband Mitsuo Fukuda after his late wife's script was completed by new contributors and himself (basing it on the hundred drafts she went through while initially planning the movie).
  • Shindere Shoujo to Kodoku na Shinigami began in 2011, but went on an indefinite hiatus in 2013 due to its writer Masaki Himura's poor health. Himura passed away in 2015 before the manga could be properly finished; she was also in the middle of writing another work, Nyuuin Note, before she died.
  • The author of Highschool of the Dead, Daisuke Sato, passed away at age 52 due to ischemic heart disease, severely lowering its chances of returning from its extended hiatus. Illustrator Shoji Sato maintains that, while not impossible, continuation has become more difficult in light of the former's passing.
  • The Rose of Versailles anime's director Tadao Nagahama died after producing 18 episodes, so Osamu Dezaki took over for the remaining ones.
  • Aya Hisakawa replaced Hiromi Tsuru as Bulma after Dragon Ball Super, following the latter's death from heart problems on November 16, 2017. In addition, Rei Sakuma and Mina Tominaga, who also play Butterko and Rollpanna respectively, on the show in question, took over her other famous role, which was Dokin-chan on Anpanman (Sakuma temporarily voiced her in the 2017 Christmas special, and Tominaga would later fully take over for future productions following the special).
  • Studio Wanpack closed at the end of February 2018 following the death of founder Koji Yamada two months earlier.
  • Modest Heroes clocks in at just under an hour because Isao Takahata was going to do a segment for the film, but he died before production could get underway.
  • Sadly, Chibi Maruko-chan has a history of this:
    • Subverted with Tomozou's previous VAs; Kei Tomiyama died from pancreatic cancer in September 1995, by that time, Takeshi Aono had already took over his role when the anime returned eight months earlier after a three year hiatus. Aono eventually voiced Tomozou for 15 years, before retiring from voice acting in 2010 due to health issues and Bin Shimada eventually took over the role from then on. Aono later died in 2012 from complications of a stroke.
    • Sakiko's voice actress Yūko Mizutani died from breast cancer in May 2016. Machiko Toyoshima ended up taking over the role.
    • Momoko Sakura, the creator of Chibi Maruko-chan, died of breast cancer in August 2018 while the anime adaptation of said manga was still on the air. But unlike the Shin-chan and Sazae-san examples, Momoko had little involvement in the anime after 1996 (which was when the original manga ended although it was brought back four times, in February 2003, in April 2009, in December 2018 and in October 2022, with the last two issues been published after her death, and the last one are done by her assistants) only returning to the show to write three Milestone Celebration episodes. *
    • Maruko's VA TARAKO passed away on March 4, 2024, causing the show to go on hiatus and air reruns until Maruko gets a new voice actress, only airing one new episode featuring her final performance of the title character on March 24th.
  • An In-Universe Example, this is actually a major theme of Re:CREATORS, where two of the main characters (Meteora and Altair) fall under this trope. Their Creators died before they could meet them, with Altair herself coming into existence due to her Creator's despair and passion upon creating her before she died of suicide, being the very citing incident to spark off the show's events.
  • This happened twice to Sazae-san: first in 1992 when the creator Machiko Hasegawa died and again with Ichirō Nagai, the voice actor for Namihei. While the show continued without Machiko, Namihei is now voiced by Chafurin.
  • Pretty Cure:
  • Shaman King: While the Latin American dub of the 2021 reboot brings back a lot of the 2001 anime's voice cast, actress Monica Villaseñor fell ill before she could fully reprise her role as Hao Asakura and could only voice him as a baby during the opening flashback. Eventually she passed away and the role was given to Ivan Bastidas.
  • Several animators, including Yasuhiro Takemoto, the director of the anime adaptation of Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid were murdered in a 2019 massacre and arson targeted at their production company, Kyoto Animation, leaving an announced second season unfinished. This also impacted an anime adaptation of light novel 20 Seiki Denki Mokuroku, a new movie based on Free! and the second Violet Evergarden movie. Of these, Violet Evergarden was able to be completed by a different team, but wound up being delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic shutting down theaters. The second season of Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid was eventually released in 2021, with Tatsuya Ishihara taking over as director. Finally, the Free! movie was delayed, but it managed to be released in two parts from 2021 to 2022.
  • Gabe Khouth, the voice of Ken Midori in Beyblade Burst, died in a motorcycle accident just as Season 4 began airing. Some episodes featuring him had to be excised from the English dub of that season as a result.
  • Kentaro Miura wrote Berserk from 1989 onward more or less continuously, with some increasing Schedule Slip as the series ran on, before he died of an acute aortic dissection on May 6, 2021. Despite its long run, the series was still far from a conclusion at his time of death. Fortunately, the point where he left the manga is at worst bittersweet, what with the manga having stopped at the end of Guts' journey to fix Casca's mind, which was successful, though she still has some mental issues from her trauma, she's at a stage where she can safely begin to make a recovery. On the other hand, Griffith and the God Hand are still out there, and will eventually take over the world if not stopped, though vision of the past implies that they can be killed. In June 2022, it was confirmed that the manga would continue under the supervision of Miura's assistants and his longtime friend and collaborator Kouji Mori.
  • Ojarumaru creator Rin Inumaru tragically took her own life by jumping off the 14th floor of her apartment in September 2006, likely due to the severe stress she was under at the time. Ojarumaru itself has Outlived Its Creator and is still running as of 2021.
  • Philece Sampler, who voiced Rokuta Kamado in the English dub of Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, suffered a fatal heart attack on June 30, 2021, just as the second season was being produced. It remains to be seen if the role will be recast.
  • Kayaharuka died of suspected pancreatic cancer on July 6, 2021, and Square Enix announced the cancellation of their manga, the manga adaptation of The Misfit of Demon King Academy, the next day. Unusually for this trope, the company wasn't aware that they were dead at the time of the announcement, as the decision to cancel the manga was made in advance so the author could undergo treatment for their cancer.
  • Masakazu Yokoyama, the original sound effects editor of Case Closed passed away on 3 March 2020 with episode 974 being his last credited episode, and as of episode 975, Yokoyama's former colleague from his days at E&M, Takahisa Ishino of Chura Sound took over his position as show's sound effects editor along with Yokoyama's daughter, Aki, who had been assisting her father since episode 345.
  • Hiroto Wada, the creator of the Lilo & Stitch spin-off manga Stitch & the Samurai, died from a cerebral hemorrhage and other contributing factors on July 18, 2021, at just 46 years old while he was working on his third and final manga Yankee Mito Kōmon. He only managed to complete ten chapters of Yankee in total before his sudden passing, and his death was just three days before its first and only tankōbon was published. Kodansha published the final completed chapter in the seventeenth 2021 issue of Evening on August 10.
  • Takao Saito, creator of Golgo 13, the world's longest-running manga still in production, died of pancreatic cancer on September 24, 2021. Similar to how Yasuo Yamada passed on his role as Lupin III, Saito specified in his will that production continues under a company he formed for the purpose, Saito Productions.
  • Pokémon: The Series:
    • In the original Japanese version, Giovanni's seiyuu (Hirotaka Suzuoki) died during Battle Frontier. He was replaced by Kenta Miyake.
    • Unshō Ishizuka, who voiced Professor Oak and the narrator in Japanese, and who had a few voices for Pokemon retained in the English dubnote , passed away from esophageal cancer in 2018. He was replaced by Kenyū Horiuchi for Oak and the narrator, while his audio tracks for the Pokemon remained in use throughout the series, though those he only recently started voicing (like Kiawe's Charizard) were recast to other actors. His original narration for Pokémon: The First Movie was also retained in its remake Mewtwo Strikes Back—Evolution.
    • In the German dub, Ash's second voice actress, Veronika Neugebauer, died after season 11. Caroline Combrinck, the voice of Ash in the first three seasons, returned to the role until she was replaced by Felix Mayer in Sun & Moon.
    • In the Latin Spanish dub, Jessie's voice actress, Diana Pérez, who'd voiced her from the very beginning of the anime, died after season 1 of Journeys. She was replaced by Rebeca Gomez.
    • In the English dub, Ren and Inteleon's voice actor, Billy Kametz, died during the dubbing of Pokémon Journeys: The Series. He was succeeded by Barrett Leddy, and Billy's final recorded episode — fittingly, Ren's focus episode — had an In Memoriam dedication.
    • Daisuke Jinbo, the sound effects editor for both the original anime and Pokémon Horizons: The Series passed away in July of 2023 as confirmed in these tweets by a couple of industry people who had worked with him in the past, leaving fellow ex-Swara Pro employee Kenji Koyama note  to fully take over Jinbo's position as the series' sound effects editor. That said, Jinbo's still credited in current episodes along with Koyama likely out of respect for his contributions.
  • The original Japanese version of Shimajiro: A Wonderful Adventure had this occur twice during its run:
    • The voice of Michiyo Sorano went from Sayuri Yamauchi to Hiroko Nishi after the former's death from cancer in 2012.
    • Nyakki's voice actress, Saori Sugimoto, passed away on October 21, 2021, due to heart failure caused by anorexia.
  • Masaaki Tsukada, the voice actor for Shigekuni "Genryusai" Yamamoto from Bleach, passed away in 2014. Binbin Takaoka replaced him in Bleach: Brave Souls, and reprised this role for the 2022 anime adaptation of the Thousand-Year Blood War Arc.
  • After Sayaka Kanda died in a suspected suicide on December 18, 2021, Idoly Pride announced that her character in the franchise, Mana Nagase, would continue on as The Voiceless.
  • Mia Ikumi died while Tokyo Mew Mew New was being produced for a July 2022 release.
  • The Doraemon anime suffered from this when both people behind Fujiko A. Fujio died in 1996 and 2022, respectively.
  • Leiji Matsumoto passed away in February 2023 while Zero Century was still in production albeit having been postponed due to various circumstances that prevented the first film from being screened three years prior.
  • Series creator Akira Toriyama passed away on March 1, 2024 from acute subdural hematoma during Dragon Ball DAIMA's production, leaving it the final Dragon Ball project made with his involvement.

  • The exact history of the creation of the 15th century Ghent Altarpiece is unclear, but modern historians mostly believe that the initial design and literal framework were completed by Hubert van Eyck before his death in 1426, with the final painting being the work of his younger brother Jan. Unfortunately, the evidence is thin — no works definitely by Hubert survive for comparison — but the popular image is of Hubert training his brother and laying the groundwork for Jan to take Flemish painting into a new golden age.
  • Georges Seurat died with his final painting, The Circus, incomplete.

    Comic Books 
  • Hergé stipulated in his testament that all his series, Tintin, Quick and Flupke and Jo, Zette and Jocko were to be discontinued after his death. Although Tintin and the Picaros is a decent ending to the series (there's nothing "final" about it, but it doesn't leave the reader on a cliffhanger), Hergé planned to have one more final story. He was still working on a very rough draft of Tintin - Tintin and Alph Art when he died. Unfortunately, he never told anyone exactly how he planned to end it, and the incomplete story ended on a colossal Cliffhanger.
  • Fellow comic book author Edgar P. Jacobs died while working on the second part of "Professor Sató's Three Formulae", the last volume of his Blake and Mortimer series. Unlike Hergé, however, he had left plenty of notes and a complete outline of the story, which made it possible for another artist, Bob de Moor, to complete the story three years after Jacobs' deathnote . Because he suspected he wouldn't finish "Three Formulae", Jacobs left the copyright of the series relatively open so it would eventually have an ending, (leading to Olrik being Killed Off for Real). Which worked, but also led to new Blake and Mortimer adventures made by two different writer/artist teams. One team actively tries to ignore established canon. The other team was very good... but one of its members, René Sterne, died while working on the first volume of the dyptich The Curse of the Thirty Denarii. The volume was eventually finished by Sterne's girlfriend, Chantal de Spiegeleer, and the second part made by another artist.
  • Steve Gerber died of complications from pulmonary fibrosis, after plotting the penultimate issue of his Doctor Fate story in the Countdown to Mystery miniseries in his hospital bed. The final issue features four hypothetical endings, written by some of Gerber's friends in the industry.
  • Drew Hayes, the author of Poison Elves, had been planning to create new issues of the comic after having had to stop working on it due to his poor health. He died of a heart attack in 2007 before he had a chance to create more than a few sketches for the new stories.
  • Archie Goodwin and Walter Simonson had plans for one final Manhunter story. When Goodwin died before completing the dialogue, Simonson looked at the script and decided it could be done as a "silent story" as a tribute to Archie. The story is included in the Manhunter collected edition.
  • René Goscinny died of a sudden heart attack while working on the Asterix story Asterix in Belgium. It took a great deal of soul-searching by Albert Uderzo over whether or not to complete it. Uderzo did, and then as a tribute to Goscinny continued their work alone. At a certain point in Astérix in Belgium it begins to rain and does not stop for the remainder of the story. The rain was added by Uderzo to mark the point in the work where Goscinny left off when he died.
    • Goscinny died while an album from his other major series, Lucky Luke, was in the publication stages, that being 1977's The Singing Wire. Other writers replaced him, with varying results.
    • Goscinny's death also happened while the production of Lucky Luke: Ballad of the Daltons was in the finishing stages. It caused the doom of his animation studio Studios Idéfix, which only produced this film and The Twelve Tasks of Asterix prior to it.
  • Mike Wierningo died working on an issue of What If? featuring the Fantastic Four, having only drawn seven pages. It was finished by a group of different artists doing a couple of pages each and published a year later, with the proceeds going to charity. Additionally, before he died, he was in the planning stages of a collaboration with Warren Ellis. Ellis refuses to reveal any hints as to what the project was even about.
  • Edward Gorey's death left his last work, "The Izzard Book" (a collection of words beginning with Z, with pictures), poignantly unfinished: The illustrations become increasingly (and randomly) rough and sketchy until there's nothing left. He also died before doing the illustrations for The Admonitory Hippopotamus.
  • Within the same issue of an X-Wing Rogue Squadron comic, there is a sudden Art Shift. The reason for the abrupt shift into a fairly unpleasant style is that the artist, Edvin Biukovic, had to quit due to health problems, which he later died from.
  • Cerebus the Aardvark: Although Dave Sim did not die while making Cerebus, he had "planned ahead" (using this term very loosely) in case this happened. He had mentioned in interviews that, if he DID die before completing the series, the series would continue all the way to issue 300, but all subsequent issues would only have the background art (by Sim's colleague Gerhard). There would be no characters or text/narrative of any kind.
  • Willy Vandersteen left very specific instructions behind for the continuation of his Suske en Wiske franchise after his death. No character could ever age, or change, no main character may ever be dropped or added, and sex is a taboo, and a number of situations may never be altered (Lambik and Sidonia may never wed). Vandersteen died in 1990 but had given up artistic control of the Suske en Wiske franchise in 1972; to this day his wishes remain the guiding principles of the comic — though it must be said that his successors have seriously pushed it in almost unrecognizable directions.
  • Gaston Lagaffe ended after André Franquin's death in 1997.
  • Jack Kirby started a project called Phantom Force shortly before he died. Image Comics published the first two issues, with many of their top artists (Todd McFarlane, Erik Larsen, Jim Lee, Jerry Ordway, Jim Valentino, and Keith Giffen, among others) inking Kirby's pages. The story arc was finished by Kirby collaborator Greg Theakston.
  • Dudley Watkins died at his drawing board in 1969. As a result, several notable strips from DC Thomson's weekly anthology comics needed new artists immediately. An incomplete Biffo the Bear strip was completed by David Sutherland, who took over as its artist from then on. Desperate Dan became a reprint, so hard was it to find a suitable replacement (Ken Harrison eventually took over in 1983). The Beezer's cover star Ginger and The Topper's cover star Mickey the Monkey both also had to be taken on by other artists. Biffo and Mickey were removed from the covers a few years later.
  • Ric Hochet: Co-creator Tibet passed away in 2010. Similar to Tintin and Alph-Art, the album has been released in an incomplete state. Duchâteau is still around, but a reboot entitled The New Adventures of Ric Hochet was made in 2015 with new writers.
  • The Marvel parody series What-The has an in-universe example: The super-crossover-all-in-multibrawl-megaevent leads to the author "keeling over by a heart attack. Moral: Team-books kill."
  • Wonder Woman (1942): Wonder Woman creator William Moulton Marston died of cancer in 1947, and despite working under a pen name which he shared with Joye Murchison on the comic DC did not keep Murchison on as writer, and instead replaced him with Robert Kanigher who had a very different take on the Amazon princess and the rest of the cast, and placed everyone he didn't put on a bus in far more traditional gender roles.
  • Chilean screenwriter and cartoonist Marco Rauch, founder of the publisher Mythica Ediciones, passed away in April 2020, leaving many projects on hold, such as the third — and final — volume of the epic fantasy comic Cronicas de Myhtica, as well as new volumes of his most successful work, Zombies en la Moneda, and a possible spin-off called Zombies in the White House.
  • German illustrator and comic artist, Harald Siepermann (responsible for the character designs in the Alfred J. Kwak franchise alongside finalizing Alfred's design) passed away from cancer on February 16, 2013, after a long period of illness. Gijs van der Lelijk took over as the main illustrator for the "Alfred J Kwak" franchise beginning in 2016.
  • The Spanish illustrator and comic artist Francisco Ibáñez died partway through his work on the Mortadelo y Filemón comic París 2024, which was still in a preliminary state.

    Comic Strips 
  • Bil Keane of The Family Circus died of heart failure in 2011. His son Jeff Keane is continuing it, having assisted Bil with it in his final years.
  • Similarly, after B.C. and The Wizard of Id creator Johnny Hart died in 2007, both of his strips went to his grandson, Mason Mastroianni.
  • The newspaper comic Peanuts narrowly averted this. Charles M. Schulz died the day before the final Sunday strip was published; he was aware of his failing health and had planned to conclude the strip precisely where it actually ended.
  • Krazy Kat was created during an era when cartoonists had virtually no creative control over their work. So when creator George Herriman died during the comic's run, it was expected that the strip would be passed to a new artist by the newspaper. But in a then-unprecedented move, the publisher ended the strip with Herriman's death. It turned out that they had tried to find a replacement in the event of the author's passing, but they could never find a cartoonist who could replicate Herriman's one-of-a-kind style.
  • Jucika's creator Pál Pusztai died of heart failure a day after his magazine had published what turned out to be his last comic, in September 1970. A poetry collection about the comic also went unreleased out of respect — at least until someone finally published it in 2009.
  • Elzie Segar wrote and drew Thimble Theater, which you know as Popeye, along with his other strip Sappo, until near the end of his life in 1938. He'd started giving the work to assistants but still handled the storylines. He was drafting a comeback for the wildly popular Sea Hag when leukemia complicated by liver failure caught up with him and killed him. He was 46.
  • Redeye ran from 1967 until the death of Mel Casson in 2008, after the series originally averted this trope following the death of the series' original creator, Gordon Bess.
  • You Can With Beakman and Jax, the inspiration for Beakman's World, ended its run after Jok Church died of a heart attack.

    Fan Works 
  • Archive of Our Own has taken a proactive stance regarding this possibility for its thousands of members. Among the tools available to fic writers on the site is the option to appoint their "fannish next-of-kin" — another author on the site who will be permitted to assume control of the writer's account and works in the event of their death. Both parties must agree to the 'inheritance' ahead of time.
  • ALEO, a fanfic writer for Supernatural and NUMB3RS, was killed after being struck by a bus, which leaves any new story she would have written for either fandom to never happen and her brother left her profile up so that her work can still be appreciated.
  • Larry Huss, notorious for his Harry Potter and Naruto fanfictions, passed away from cancer in January 2016. His son and editor/prereader/beta/etc. of his fanfic, Nathan Huss, announced that his unfinished stories would remain as such.
  • SoulSonicResonace25, well-known for his Naruto crossover stories, was shot dead in 2015. His brother KingSora3 has announced since that he has taken over his account and continued some of his stories, including unpublished ones, while rewriting others and leaving some up to adoption.
  • Brian Randall, a noted fanfiction author, died of suicide in 2014, leaving three fics incomplete, including Kyon: Big Damn Hero.
  • Cody Scheetz, a prominent writer on the Deadfrontier forums, died in a gun accident halfway through writing the second novel of the Biohazard Nation series. In addition to the story never being resolved, plans to pitch the series for dead tree publication were abandoned since he'd expressed wishes not to publish until he'd had the chance to revamp his earlier writing.
  • A noted AU, Parlor Tricks, in the Avatar: The Last Airbender fandom, is a retelling of Aang's storyline in a 1920s 'verse. It was cut short just around the time the Earth King equivalent was introduced. The author, Lyralocke, died somewhat unexpectedly of heart problems.
  • Ghost, the artist behind Art Of The Pony, passed away in 2013 due to an undisclosed illness. As if that wasn't sad enough, this heart-crushingly appropriate image was the last thing she posted to her blog.
  • Jim Bader, also known as Shadowmane, the author of fanfics such as Lum Sum Purple (a Ranma ½ / Urusei Yatsura crossover where Shampoo is the one who opposes Lum in the tag game and ends up accidentally married to her), died on November 17, 2014. While this author has posted his fanfictions onto their Fanfiction.Net account, they have no intention of continuing them.
  • While nothing happened to the author, we do get a meta version; the Glee fic Sister Directions was deleted after the death of Christina Grimmie, whom the author had cast as main character Freya. To make matters worse, a new chapter had been scheduled for the same night the singer was murdered.
  • TLKIII:Shadows: The story was left on right on a cliffhanger back in 2010 when the artist passed away. According to this, she passed due to heart failure brought on by a cold.
  • The third volume of The Queen Who Fell To Earth is unlikely to ever be finished, as the author announced that he had been diagnosed with lung cancer in February 2016 and then stopped updating. Apparently, he passed on in April of that year. Another author, viningc, later posted an authorized final chapter for it on his own account and then a sequel set on Pern.
  • The original version of A Glass of Wine by Dale Carson, also known as 94saturn, remains unfinished due to Carson's death in mid-2009 following complications with diabetes.
  • OrionPax09, known for his series of fanfics in the Superwomen of Eva series, was reported to have passed away in June 2022 following a long, undisclosed illness. His death left many works in the series unfinished. Downplayed when it was later confirmed by a private email that he was alive but had retired from the internet due to a severe mental breakdown.
  • Author becuzitswrong — tthfanficspacebattlesfanfiction dot net, passed away in 2016note , leaving behind a handful of finished stories and a large body of well-reviewed unfinished works including Memories of Iron and Life's Ending, Life's Beginning.
  • Jordan Williams, known as Loyal among the brony fandom, wrote the story Archmage, as well as its three sequels Square One, Ascendancy, and Beyond the Crystal Mirror, but was never able to complete them before he took his own life in mid-2017.
  • The Miraculous Ladybug fic author Maerynn died in a car accident in February 2018, leaving a number of fics incomplete. However, they were mostly collaborations, and as of November 2018, one of them, Under Lock and Key , was completed by the other author based on her notes.
  • Spoofed in P*R*I*M*A*R*C*H*S, where the Emperor of Mankind! obliterates the writer at the keyboard for back-chatting him. He gets better.
  • Freedom Guard, the creator of Vandread Halo, died before he could finish the Second Stage. How it was intended to be resolved remains unknown.
  • Arsinoe de Blassenville, author of several Dragon Age and Harry Potter fics, succumbed to cancer in 2016. Most of her works (including Victory at Ostagar) were completed before her death, but she did leave an unfinished collection of Dragon Age short stories, Dragonsteeth.
  • MythrilMoth, author of many, many fics for My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, Miraculous Ladybug and a number of other series, passed away in his sleep due to health complications on May 6, 2019. His friend Zef has since announced that he himself will be finishing MythrilMoth's story Persona EG, and that the other stories are open to adoption, but any continuation will require his personal approval.
  • Master Mr B, writer of Animal Crossing Adventures and Friendship is Magic: The Seventh Element, which are fanfiction of Animal Crossing: New Leaf and My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic respectively, apparently died due to heart failure, as revealed by a user named Glaicerglass0415 in the review page of Animal Crossing Adventures. This ultimately left both stories in an unfinished state, with Animal Crossing Adventures stuck on the second part of the Turnabout Crossing arc and Friendship is Magic: The Seventh Element stuck on chapter 167. In the case of Animal Crossing Adventures, according to Glacierglass0415, before Master Mr B’s passing, he had considered doing an entire reboot of the story due to Animal Crossing: New Horizons being announced and had given Glacierglass0415 the okay to make fan made arcs that, should they be good enough, would make it into the reboot. As such, Glacierglass0415 has since made plans to include two fan-made arcs to the Animal Crossing story that take place after the unfinished Turnabout Crossing arc, which are Tom Nook at The Ocean, (consisting of a whopping 8 parts) and Animal Town in Autumn, (a 3 part arc) and then said while they can’t say they will be close to or at all to Master Mr B’s writing, they did state that the two arcs will tell a story that reflects loss, especially the Animal Town in Autumn arc.
  • TTHFanfic author Cordyfan passed of COVID complications in late November 2021, leaving Key To the Stars, part of his Cordelia-centered "A Different Future" series, unfinished.
  • Darth Link 22, known for his My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfics, passed away on February 27, 2022, after a bad fall and the head injury that resulted, leaving seven stories — Direction and Through the Mirror (from The Nuptialverse), Integration (sequel to Aftermath of the Games), About Last Month (sequel to About Last Night (My Little Pony)), and three others — incomplete.
  • Abe Yates, who portrayed Fregley in the Diary of a Wimpy Kid fan-film "Freshman Year" died in December 2021, three months before the film was uploaded to YouTube. The film was dedicated in his memory.
  • On July 20, 2023, furry artist and fanfiction writer Alps Sarsis passed away, leaving his extensive, long-running Zootopia fanfic Guardian Blue unfinished.
  • TheCuriousCalico passed away while writing the Encanto fanfic The Joy of Vengeance leaving the story on a permanent hiatus. Although it was ultimately finished under the work of another author (with the parent's permission), the intended sequel will never be released after that.
  • TheMyth, creator of The Longingverse, passed away of pancreatitis in late February of 2023 with further Longingverse stories still in development.
  • The author of the Ash/Latias fanfic A New Life died from injuries sustained during combat in Afghanistan while serving in the Canadian Army.

    Films — Animation 
  • Walt Disney is one of the most notable examples of this. However, contrary to certain urban legends, he did not tell his employees exactly what to do after he left. In fact, the only project where a valid case could be made that he guided his employees following his passing was in the completion of a film he had planned based on A.A. Milne's Winnie the Pooh books; this culminated in the release of the complete feature, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, in 1977 — over a decade after his passing. (This is why his name, and not that of his eponymous company, appears on the featurettes which went into full production following his death, save for one last featurette made in 1983 which still had his name instead of the company's on the closing title, and the complete feature.) The last Disney film made entirely during his lifetime was 1967's The Jungle Book, although it hit theaters ten months after his death. Walt gave his blessing for The Aristocats but died before it went into production; it was eventually released in 1970.
  • During the last months of his life, Jim Varney was recording lines for Cookie in Atlantis: The Lost Empire. According to those who worked with him, he signed on knowing he wouldn't live to see the finished film. The only scene Varney didn't get to record lines for was his goodbye to Milo, with Steve Barr filling in for him instead, as well as in Atlantis: Milo's Return. The film is dedicated to Varney.
  • Don Rickles had signed on to reprise his role as Mr. Potato Head in Toy Story 4, only to die suddenly in 2017 before getting to record any lines. As Mr. Potato Head is a major character in the series, he either had to be recast or removed entirely, neither of which was desirable as Pixar felt Rickles' personality was inseparable from the character. Ultimately, with the blessing of Rickles' estate, director Josh Cooley decided to go through years of unreleased recordings of Rickles playing the character, much like how the late Paul Newman "reprised" his role as Doc Hudson in Cars 3 almost a decade after his death, to construct a new performance for Mr. Potato Head in honor of Rickles. By the time Toy Story 5 was announced however, it was finally decided to recast Mr. Potato Head.
  • Lyricist Howard Ashman died of AIDS in the middle of the production of Aladdin, leaving Tim Rice to supply lyrics to "One Jump Ahead" and "A Whole New World". He was later called on for the Screen-to-Stage Adaptation of Beauty and the Beast for the same reason.
  • Mel Blanc passed away during production of Jetsons: The Movie. While he had finished the majority of his role as Mr. Spacely, some lines had to be filled in by Jeff Bergman. Allegedly, George O'Hanlon was a somewhat poignant close call, finishing his final line moments before passing away in the recording studio; however, a handful of lines were still filled in by Bergman in the final film.
  • In 2016, Incredibles 2 was announced, with the film later being released in 2018. But Elizabeth Peña, who played Mirage in the first film, passed away in 2014. Mirage does not return in any form in the sequel as a result.
  • The character Doc Hudson was completely absent in Cars 2 out of respect for his voice actor Paul Newman, who passed away from lung cancer in 2008. This didn't stop Paul from posthumously reprising his role in Cars 3 via archival dialogue that was recorded during production of the first film.
  • Chris Farley was starring as the eponymous character of Shrek when he died from a drug overdose in December 1997. Word of God said the movie was 85% finished at the time he died. Farley's Saturday Night Live castmate Mike Myers stepped in as Shrek, and this soon led to the story being dramatically changed. Farley's Shrek didn't want to follow the path of his fellow ogres, whereas Myers's Shrek simply wanted to fulfill a deal he made with Lord Farquaad. It was not until August 2015 that Farley's performance as Shrek came to light, with his take for the campfire scene being viewable here.
  • Four months before the American VHS release of Kiki's Delivery Service, Phil Hartman, who played Jiji, was murdered in his home. Said release of the film ends with a dedication to Hartman.
  • Eight months before the release of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Mary Wickes died as the result of battling four different health conditions. Her character Laverne's final lines were recorded by Jane Withers.
  • Judith Barsi, who starred in The Land Before Time and All Dogs Go to Heaven, was murdered by her father before the release of either film. While Ducky, her character in the former film, was recast in the sequels, Anne-Marie did not appear in All Dogs Go To Heaven 2 as a result of her death.
  • Lisa Michaelson, the voice of Satsuki in the original Streamline dub of My Neighbor Totoro, died in a car crash three years before the dub saw a theatrical release.
  • Audrey Wells was hired to write the screenplay for the Netflix film Over the Moon in September 2017, but died of breast cancer the following year. Thus, Over the Moon ended up being her last film. It was eventually released on October 23, 2020.
  • In 2000, "Blame Canada" from South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut was nominated for an Oscar for Best Original Song. As per Oscars tradition, the song was to be performed by its original performer, Mary Kay Bergman, but she committed suicide four months before the ceremony, so her close friend Robin Williams performed it instead.
  • The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Beginning was put into development not long after Buddy Hackett, who voiced Scuttle, died after suffering a stroke. Maurice LaMarche replaced him for that movie.
  • The Lion King:
    • Sarabi's voice actress, Madge Sinclair, lost her battle with leukemia a year after the film's release. This resulted in her not being seen on-screen in The Lion King II: Simba's Pride. Alfre Woodard voiced her in the live-action remake.
    • Robert Guillaume (voice of Rafiki) died two years before the remake was released and two years after The Lion Guard came out. John Kani replaced him in the former and Khary Payton replaced him in the latter. This might also affect the aforementioned reboot of Timon and Pumbaa, as he had his own segment on the show.
  • The Croods: Barely avoided by Gran; two months after the second film's release, her voice actress, Cloris Leachman passed away, dampening any prospects of a third film.
    • Ángeles Bravo, the Latin American Spanish voice for Gran, passed away on December 18, 2018. As such, she was replaced by Magda Giner.
  • Marcell Jankovics died during pre-production of his Toldi animated film, a theatrical recut of his Toldi animated series. Though he sadly didn't get to see the series' public broadcast (only its limited pre-release screening), at least it was completed during his lifetime. The series came out in November 2021, five months after Jankovics's passing, and the movie was released in September 2022.
  • Barely avoided by Brian Goldner, who died three weeks after My Little Pony: A New Generation was released. He was the executive producer for that film.
  • David H. DePatie, one of the creators of The Pink Panther, died on September 23, 2021, about ten months after a Pink Panther CGI/live-action hybrid movie was announced.
  • György Kovásznai, director of Foam Bath, died in 1983 while working on a proposed Franco-Hungarian adaptation of Candide. He actually refused treatment for his illness and escaped from his hospital bed to go back to making art. Fans of Kovásznai later picked up the unmade project and released their own animated version of Candide in 2018, though it had little to do with the original idea outside of featuring Deranged Animation. It was a series rather than a movie and produced without French involvement.
  • Inside Out 2 suffered from this with its Japanese dub. Yuko Takeuchi, who voiced Joy, committed suicide in 2020, leading to Ami Koshimizu replacing her.
  • In a similar spirit, the Japanese dub of the Disney 100th anniversary short Once Upon a Studio was pushed back two months, partly because the 2021 suicide of Anna's previous dub actress Sayaka Kanda required them to need extra time to find another actress. Risa Shimizu got the part, and the short was released in Japan in December 2023 along with the Japanese dub of Wish.
  • Gilbert Gottfried managed to record some lines for Mortal Kombat Legends: Cage Match just before his death. His posthumous involvement with the project wasn't disclosed until the Cage Match trailer, thus many fans were surprised when they heard Gilbert's unmistakable voice. The fourth installment of Mortal Kombat Legends animated anthology was released on October 2023, and tribute to Gottfried is featured in the credits of said installment.
  • Jason Raize committed suicide just months after the movie Brother Bear was released, making this his only theatrical movie appearance, as the voice of Denahi. Because of this, Denahi noticeably doesn't return in the movie's sequel, not even during Kenai and Nita's wedding.
  • Combined with The Rescuers Down Under flopping at the box office, the death of Eva Gabor, the voice of Miss Bianca, essentially killed off the chance of another Rescuers movie ever being made.

  • Joe Dever, the author of the Lone Wolf series, passed away in 2016 due to illness, leaving the series with three books left. His son Ben announced that his family will work on the final three books.

  • The solution of Fermat's Last Theorem stymied mathematicians for over 300 years and was finally solved using mathematics unavailable during Fermat's own time. Famously, Pierre de Fermat noted that he already had a proof for it, which the margin was too small to contain. That the eventual proof involved mathematical principles that wouldn't be codified until the 20th century casts some doubt on this claim.
  • Evariste Galois, a mathematical prodigy whose work made major advances in the same area as Fermat's Last Theorem, was killed in a duel at the age of only 21 in 1832, leaving many unfinished papers.
  • In May 2015, American mathematician John Forbes Nash, whose life was dramatized in A Beautiful Mind, had told a friend that he was working on an equation that he believed could replace Albert Einstein's Theory of Relativity. Sadly, Nash and his wife Alicia were killed in an auto accident a couple of days later as they were coming back from Norway, where he had gone to receive the Abel Prize.
  • Two weeks before his death in March 2018, Stephen Hawking co-authored a paper, "A Smooth Exit from Eternal Inflation", which theorizes how to search for parallel universes. If proof is ever found, it would have likely earned Hawking a Nobel Prize nomination but unfortunately, the prize cannot be awarded posthumously.

  • John "TotalBiscuit" Bain passed away on May 24, 2018, following a four-year battle with bowel cancer. Prior to his death, he announced that his hosting duties for the The Co-Optional Podcast would be passed to his wife, Genna, when he died, though most of the rest of the series on his channel have most likely died with him.
  • Anime News Network's ANNCast was immediately canceled after the death of its creator and ANN's editor-in-chief Zac Bertschy, with its last episode being a recorded memorial service by his friends and colleagues.
  • Chez Pazienza, writer for The Daily Banter and one half of the "Bob & Chez" political podcast died of a drug overdose in Feb. 2017. After a brief hiatus, Bob Cesca continued the show with new regular co-hostsnote  as The Bob Cesca Show.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • WWE superstar Michael "Hawk" Hegstrand appeared with his partner Joe "Animal" Laurinatis on the May 17, 2003 WWE Raw and despite his history of severe drug and alcohol abuse, performed exceptionally well, as he had finally gotten completely clean. According to those who knew him, Hegstrand had dedicated himself to staying drug-free for the rest of his life; unfortunately, his years of drug abuse had taken such a physical toll on his body that he died of a heart attack six months later. He, unlike many drug addicts and alcoholics, managed to live up to hope — he remained clean for the rest of his life.
  • Eddie Guerrero, having become a born-again Christian and cleaned up from his pill-popping days, was set to participate in the upcoming RAW vs. SmackDown Survivor Series match and — according to Stephanie McMahon, who may have been emotionally compromised at the time — win the World Heavyweight Championship. Unfortunately, the weekend after he qualified for the aforementioned Survivor Series match, Eddie (a sufferer of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease) died unexpectedly of a heart attack at the age of 38.
    • Atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease was also the cause of Brian Pillman's death on the morning of the Bad Blood PPV in 1997, where he was to face off against Goldust. Pillman was 35.
  • Chris Benoit. His death was just as tragic as his best friend Eddie's, for all the wrong reasons. If he hadn't died, he would've won the ECW Championship and worked a program with CM Punk.
  • Brodie Lee. He was brought in to elevate the floundering stable The Dark Order and by all measures did just that. His last match in AEW had him lose the TNT Championship to Cody Rhodes in a Dog Collar match and then taking time off TV to recover from injuries, with more stories to tell after before suffering from a lung disease and never recovering.
  • According to Jim Ross on his "Grilling JR" podcast, there were plans in motion to bring back Umaga — who had been released from WWE in June of 2009 for refusing to attend rehab after a second wellness policy violation — into WWE for the 2010 Royal Rumble. Umaga would die in December of 2009 from a couple of heart attacks brought on by a combination of drugs in his system.
  • 2 time Ring of Honor world champion and 13 time ROH tag team champion with his brother Mark, Jay Briscoe (real name Jamin Pugh) was killed in a car accident on January 17, 2023, a little over a month before ROH was relaunched as an AEW sub-promotion, in which Jay and Mark were slated to be top guys. He was 38 years old.
  • Bray Wyatt's much-anticipated 2022 return storyline, surrounding the nature of his inner darkness and the identity of Uncle Howdy, was cut short by his unexpected passing on August 2023 before it even had a chance to really begin (as Wyatt was already put on medical leave that March).

    Puppet Shows 
  • Brice Armstrong, who played Miss Etta in Barney & Friends, died in January 2020 of natural causes, while a Continuity Reboot, as well as another movie, were still in development. It is unknown if she and fellow puppet character Scooter will be in either of these productions due to this or if they'll appear with new voices, as the original show had an odd tendency to replace the characters who aren't Barney and the other three dinosaurs (Baby Bop, B.J. and Riff) every few years due to the Fleeting Demographic Rule.
  • Shari Lewis died of uterine cancer and pneumonia while Charlie Horse Music Pizza was still in production. As a result, the show became a Short-Runner with only 23 episodes in the can.
  • Fraggle Rock:
    • Doc's counterpart "The Captain" in the UK adaptation of the show was only featured in the first two seasons of the show because of Fulton MacKay's unfortunate death. The Captain's nephew, P.K. ("Principal Keeper"), took over the lighthouse in season 3 as a result.
    • The series received a surprise short-form revival in 2020 called Fraggle Rock: Rock On! for Apple TV+. However, Gerard Parkes, who played Doc, died in 2014, so he doesn't appear in the series proper. Shortly thereafter, an actual new Fraggle series was announced for the same platform, so it remains to be seen how this new series will address Parkes' passing.
      • Subverted at least in regards to Jerry Nelson's character Gobo, who had already been passed on to John Tartaglia several years prior to his death. Less certain is how it would affect Nelson's other characters on the show (including Pa Gorg and Marjory the Trash Heap), as well as characters played by Richard Hunt (most notably Junior Gorg and many minor characters) and Jim Henson (Cantus the Minstrel and Convincing John).
  • Philip D. Garcia, who wore Binyah Binyah's costume in the show Gullah Gullah Island, was killed in a car crash in January 1997, before production on the fourth and final season, as well as the short-lived spinoff Binyah Binyah!, began. Justin Campbell took over the role as a result.
  • Puppet example: Several Muppets that returned in Muppets Now had to be rebuilt since their original puppets were either destroyed or had deteriorated several years prior.
  • Sesame Street:
    • Ever-so-narrowly averted by Jim Henson: while he filmed his last segments for Sesame Street a year before his passing, he had many other projects that never got off the ground (or took a long time in doing so) after he died in 1990, most notably the selling of the Muppet characters to Disney, which wouldn't go through until 2004. Puppeteer Steve Whitmire took over as Kermit almost immediately and — after the character spent three years as The Voiceless — began performing Ernie as well in 1993.
      • Henson's passing also ended plans for a "Pig of the '90s" multi-media campaign that would've used a storyline about Miss Piggy breaking up with Kermit as a way to drum up interest about all the other planned Muppet projects going on at the same time.
    • Also averted with Jerry Nelson, who passed in 2012. Due to his fading health, his Muppet involvement had mostly been reduced to voicing his characters on Sesame Street, with other puppeteers having taken over the majority of his characters prior to his death. Afterwards, Matt Vogel took over the characters that Jerry was still voicing, including the Count.
    • Unfortunately played straight with Richard Hunt, whose 1992 passing resulted in many of his characters (including most, if not all, of his Sesame Street characters) being retired or reduced to bit parts for many years.
      • For a specific example, Natalie Cole was set to appear on the show singing her cover of "Unforgettable" alongside Hunt's character Forgetful Jones, but the original taping date had to be rescheduled, and in between the original date and the planned rescheduled date, Hunt passed away.
    • Another aversion was Caroll Spinney, who retired a year before his death, though several segments he recorded would not air until afterwardsnote . The first new episode to air after his passing featured an In Memoriam tag at the end that said, "Thank you for bringing so much life to Big Bird and Oscar. We'll miss you, Caroll."
      • This trope almost happened to Spinney 33 years before his actual death. In 1986, he was invited to go on the ill-fated Challenger mission as a civilian passenger. However, he rejected the offer, and social studies teacher Christa McAuliffe was chosen instead.
    • Joe Raposo, one of the show's most famous songwriters, died on February 5, 1989, of lymphoma. New songs that he had written for this show appeared until 1990, with one nabbing him a posthumous Emmy.
      • Raposo also wrote several songs for Shining Time Station, including its theme song; that show aired its second episode on the day he died. He only wrote songs for the first season, with Margaret Jones writing songs that appeared later in the show's run.
    • Perhaps the most famous example of this trope was Will Lee, who played Mr. Hooper during the show's first decade on the air. He was ill with cancer during his later years on the show and passed away from it in 1982. The cast decided to make an episode in response to his death, which became one of Sesame Street's signature moments.
    • Jeff Moss died of cancer in 1998; he wrote his last song, "You and You and Me", the day of his death. The song was filmed in January 1999. Several other songs written by Moss, some of them written years before his passing, were also later taped posthumously (such as "Pigeons, Cookies, and Trash").
    • Michael Jeter, who played Mr. Noodle's brother, suffered a fatal seizure in 2003, while the Elmo's World segments were still in production. The character would not return to the segments until 2017, when Elmo's World itself was rebooted.
    • There was a discussion about bringing Alaina Reed back to play Olivia in the mid-'00s, but the plans fell through, and Reed would pass away from cancer in 2009.
    • Subverted with Northern Calloway as David; while Calloway himself passed away in 1990, he had already been forced to retire from the role following a series of increasingly erratic misbehavior on-set, and following his passing, David was unceremoniously removed from the series.
  • Jeanne S. Chall, one of the curriculum consultants on Between the Lions, died on November 27, 1999, five months before the series premiered.

  • In 2014, Focus on the Family sought to put on a radio production of Pinocchio, and thought it would be an excellent idea to bring Dick Jones, who voiced the title character in the 1940 Disney version, out of retirement — this time to voice Geppetto. When contacted, Jones, despite having been retired for decades, was enthusiastic about the idea. Unfortunately, their follow-up call just a few weeks later revealed that Jones had passed during the intervening period.
  • After the 2016 death of radio DJ Charlie Tuna, his show The '70s was placed into reruns and renamed The Best of the '70s.
  • When Paul Harvey died in 2009, his syndicated radio shows Paul Harvey's News & Comment and The Rest of the Story were given to Gil Gross and Doug Limerick, respectively. They held their posts for only three weeks before the shows were canned entirely.
  • Phil Stone co-created the Roy D. Mercer prank call character for his morning radio show on KMOD-FM in Tulsa, and the character was voiced by his co-host Brent Douglas. For nearly 15 years, they released many of the Roy D. Mercer calls on CD as well. One month after the show ended in 2012, Stone died of heart disease.
  • The Big Broadcast, a package of old-time radio shows on WAMU in Washington, D.C., had a similar example to Peanuts above when host Ed Walker found out he had cancer and was forced to retire, dying just hours after his final show aired.
  • When Kenneth Horne died suddenly in 1969, the fifth series of Round the Horne was cancelled, the scripts being adapted into a Kenneth Williams vehicle called Stop Messing About. Horne had a heart attack at the podium of an awards dinner on 14 February, and the first episode had been planned for 16 March.
  • Bob Kingsley of Bob Kingsley's Country Top 40 announced his retirement in October 2019 and died only three days later, leading to a rotation of guest hosts before Fitz became his successor.
  • Adventures in Odyssey: Will Ryan, who played several characters in this radio show, most notably Eugene Meltsner, lost his battle with cancer on November 19, 2021. In 2023; the entire Meltsner family (Eugene, Katrina and recently-adopted son Buck) were Put on a Bus to Baltimore; with new lines recorded by Townsend Colemannote  while Focus on the Family ended up using voice cloning software to match Coleman's voice sound more like Ryan's portrayal.
  • In 2023, Catt Sirten, who had created his weekly morning radio programming Sunday Jazz Brunch and founded independently owned radio stations in Mobile, Alabama 92 Zew, died in his sleep a few hours after finishing the 2,006 edition of the said programming. Program director of 92 Zew Tim Camp confirmed that they're not moving forward with Sunday Jazz Brunch out of respect for Sirten, completely ending his show after nearly 39 years and replacing it with regular alternative music. However, they're keeping the Amazing Grace tune Sirten has been playing at the end of every edition of his show until his death.

  • Destroy the Godmodder: Directly invoked when both Build and Split, the two main characters of Twin Builder, are killed following their Shatter. As there is no one left to tell the story, it just... stops. The Update Terminal used to transcribe the game displays an error message, searching for another candidate to tell the tale. As luck would have it, it turns out there's someone else who can do the job — Doc Scratch, another First Guardian. He proceeds to remake the game in his image, forcing the players into a Side Quest.
  • The Gungan Council has had two confirmed deaths of writers: Skelosh Delaroch and Raven Darkness.
  • The author of the online short story Gamer died after only updating it twice. One of his friends worked on a video game continuation on and off for four years, and finally completed it in 2017.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Gary Gygax left many unfinished projects behind for Dungeons & Dragons, including his oft-promised but never delivered Castle Greyhawk dungeon complex.
  • Carl Sargent, a popular module writer for TSR, disappeared suddenly in the late '90s, leaving many D&D fans wondering what happened. According to a fellow module writer and friend of his, Sean K. Reynolds, he was involved in a car wreck in 1997 and has been unable to write due to the severity of his injuries. Sargent eventually passed away in 2018.
  • In 1995, Nigel Findley, game designer and novelist who wrote for Dungeons & Dragons, Shadowrun, and other RPGs, died suddenly of a heart attack at age 35. His work introduced many key metaplot elements (e.g. bug spirits) to the Shadowrun game setting, which later authors expanded upon.

  • Jonathan Larson, the creator of the Rock Opera RENT, died the night before opening night of an aortic aneurysm, caused by an undiagnosed case of Marfan syndrome. Mourning his death, the cast performed half of the show sitting down before the high energy of the Act 1 closer, "La Vie Boheme," caused them to continue the show as usual, minus costumes.
  • Late in his life, Eugene O'Neill began work on two massive drama cycles: A Tale of Possessors Self-Dispossessed, which was supposed to have as many as eleven plays, and By Way of Obit, which would consist of eight one-act monologue plays. He only managed to complete one play in each cycle, A Touch of the Poet from the former (the fifth play out of the projected eleven) and Hughie from the latter, before illness prevented further writing (though he did supervise the 1946 premiere of The Iceman Cometh). All the incomplete plays were destroyed, with the exception of More Stately Mansions (the sequel to A Touch of the Poet), which survived in draft form.
  • After Lost in the Stars, Maxwell Anderson and Kurt Weill began work on a musical adaptation of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Weill died, and the project was aborted, leaving behind five songs.
  • Henry Mancini died while working on new songs for the Screen-to-Stage Adaptation of Victor/Victoria, so Frank Wildhorn was brought in to write the additional songs with Leslie Bricusse.
  • The death of John Latouche while working on the musical Candide with Leonard Bernstein is one major reason the show ended up having so many lyricists. Bernstein himself, librettist Lillian Hellman, and Dorothy Parker all contributed a little, but finally, Richard Wilbur became the principal lyricist and rewrote many of the Latouche songs.
  • In April 2017, a stage adaptation of Attack on Titan had to be scrubbed after an acrobat who was a key part of the staff died in a freak accident.
  • Sam Williams, alias Smerdyakov Karamazov of The Flying Karamazov Brothers, died of a sudden heart attack while on the job with the Seattle Metro Transit, just weeks before he was to have performed with fellow FKB Paul Magid, alias Dmitri Karamazov, in a fundraising event. Just before carking it over the Alaskan Way Viaduct, he had the foresight to slow down the bus he was driving and signal for the passengers to take over, so that they could guide the bus to safety as he faded away.
  • Three Carry On... Series stars died during theatrical commitments.
    • In 1976, Sid James was appearing in a revival of The Mating Season at the Sunderland Empire Theatre and suffered a heart attack on stage. His co-star Olga Lowe thought that he was joking at first when he wasn't saying his lines until she realised something was wrong. The audience, who thought it was all part of the show, laughed, especially when asked "Is There a Doctor in the House?". An ambulance took him away, but he was pronounced dead on arrival at Sunderland Royal Hospital.
    • In 1979, Peter Butterworth was starring as Widow Twankey in a pantomime of Aladdin at the Coventry Theatre. When the show had finished, he went back to his hotel following the evening's performance. His failure to return for the following day's matinee show caused alarm, and he was found dead in his room from a heart attack.
    • In 1993, Bernard Bresslaw was to play Grumio in the New Shakespeare Company's production of The Taming of the Shrew when he collapsed and died of a heart attack in his dressing room.
  • Bob Saget was found dead in his hotel room the night after the first performance of his 2022 comedy tour.

    Video Games 
  • The planned sequel to Blasto was cancelled due to the aforementioned Phil Hartman's murder two months after the first game's release.
  • Michael Lin, the lead developer of the Chaos Code series published by FK Digital, passed away from illness in December 2017. His brother Mickey, the series producer and long-time co-developer, had continued development of Chaos Code Next in his stead until February 2020 (only a month after the game was announced to the public) when FK Digital announced that the game was cancelled.
  • The creator of Coffee Talk, Mohammad Fahmi, died on March 27th, 2022, from asthma complications. This is one of the major reasons the sequel's release was pushed back from 2022 to 2023. The credits of Episode 2 has an In Memoriam dedication to him.
  • The death of lead developer Brian Wood of Relic may leave the fate of Dawn of War in limbo as well as the company itself.
  • Long-running MMO DC Universe Online brought back legendary voice actor Kevin Conroy to reprise the role of Batman, and he continued to play the part in various additional campaigns added to the game, up until he died from cancer in November 2022. He also reprised the role in Multi Versus, which released a few months before his death, and posthumously for Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League, a game set in the Batman: Arkham Series, prior to his death, with the World Premiere trailer including a dedication to Conroy. Mark Hamill retired as the Joker, Batman's iconic Arch-Enemy, in response to Kevin Conroy's death.
  • The story of Drowned God: Conspiracy of the Ages was too complex to be able to fit into a single 90's era game, and it shows in the final product with the rushed last act, and while it technically had three endings, it was clear that there was still more to the story that needed fleshing out. The game's creator, Harry Horse (birth name Richard Horne), considered making a sequel called "CULT" that would have tied everything up, but the difficulty he had with making the first game combined with the real cult violence happening around the same time during the '90s made him reluctant to revisit that subject matter again. However, he claimed in the mid-2000s that Rockstar Games approached him about the possibility of making a sequel, but the controversial deaths of himself and his wife Amanda in 2007 have ensured that will never happen.
  • Tragedy struck for the Dynasty Warriors franchise when Tsuyoshi Takishita, the 37-year-old voice actor who'd famously voiced the character Sima Yi for every installment — seven main games plus side games, spanning over a decade — succumbed to injuries from a bad fall on his way home less than two weeks after the release of Shinsangokumusou 7 (Dynasty Warriors 8). He was replaced by Ryōtarō Okiayu for future installments.
  • Fire Emblem:
  • A sequel to Illbleed was going to be developed, but the death of the president of Climax Graphics, makers of the series, stopped all plans for it.
  • Nintendo president Satoru Iwata, who was also the executive producer of nearly all of the company's titles since taking the position in 2002, died due to complications with a bile duct growth in 2015 while the company was in transition: in addition to the Nintendo Switch being in development, the company was beginning to make mobile games as well as start plans for television, movies, and theme parks. Star Fox Zero has a dedication to him, while The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild has an NPC based on the late president and Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon has a tribute to him as an Easter Egg. The Switch itself had an Easter Egg tribute for a time: If you happened to make the "directly to you" gesture with the Joy-Cons on July 11 (the date of his passing), NES Golf, one of Iwata's first games, would start. Sadly, it was removed from later updates.
  • Master Xehanort, the assumed Big Bad of the Kingdom Hearts series, became an infamous case of losing voice actors in multiple languages. His Japanese actor Chikao Ohtsuka died of heart failure in January 2015, his first English actor Leonard Nimoy died of lung cancer in February 2015, and his second English actor Rutger Hauer died from an unspecified illness in July 2019. He has since been recast to Chikao's son Akio Ōtsuka (who also voiced Xehanort's Heartless "Ansem") in Japanese and Christopher Lloyd in English.
  • In League of Legends, the original voice actor for the character of Nasus, Eugene McDaniels, passed away in 2011. The announcement in 2013 that the character would receive a visual upgradenote  was met with some backlash due to the plans to recast the actor of a now-beloved voiceover, but thankfully his replacement, Jonathan Adams, proved himself to be a worthy successor for the character.
  • The Legacy of Kain series was supposed to have one more game to tie up all the loose ends. However, the departure of series writer Amy Hennig for uncharted waters and the death of Tony Jay, one of the major voice actors, means that the series is now in limbo. Not only did Hennig leave, but two of the other main writers (out of a group of four, with Hennig being the lead and most well-known) also left the company as well. The fourth? He passed away.
  • Narrowly averted by Robin Sachs, who passed away shortly before the release of the final piece of content for the original Mass Effect trilogy, Citadel, where he voiced the gruff old mercenary Zaeed Massani as he had since Mass Effect 2. Sachs had actually managed to finish recording all of his lines before his death, and the entire DLC was later dedicated to his memory.
  • Mechaspyder is a cute, fairly-popular 3D Flash browser game where you are a spider and you jump on squares to get to the gold square. The game ended with a note indicating a sequel was in the works. Unfortunately, the game's creator, Richard Barron, died in a car accident before work would be started on the sequel.
  • Gunpei Yokoi, producer of Metroid and developer of the Game Boy, the ubiquitous D-Pad, and the infamous Virtual Boy, died in a traffic accident in 1997 while working on Bandai's handheld competitor, the WonderSwan.
  • Reuben Kee was working on making a Samus Aran for M.U.G.E.N before his fatal boating accident.
  • M.U.L.E. was a classic of early computer gaming. Its creator Danielle Bunten was working on an online version when she died in 1998, and the game has sadly been officially out of print ever since.
  • The death of Unshō Ishizuka also affected New Pokémon Snap, the sequel to the original Pokémon Snap (a game where he reprised Professor Oak from the anime). While the anime recast Oak with Kenyū Horiuchi, New Pokemon Snap chose instead to not mention Oak at all out of respect.
  • The co-creator of the Oculus Rift (a VR headset designed primarily with gaming in mind), Andrew Scott Reisse, was run over by gangbangers escaping law enforcement in the spring of 2013. This event helped soften up the sale of the company to Facebook several months later, leading many on the internet to wonder if the technology's future will continue to remain as bright as initially promised.
  • Haruto Watanabe, the producer and CEO of VR game studio Wildman, died in October 2021. His company was working on an Updated Re-release of the original Panzer Dragoon trilogy, which was cancelled following his death.
  • Noboru Sugimura, the head story writer for Capcom's Resident Evil franchise from Resident Evil 2, died from a heart-related condition in 2005 after several attempts to write a sequel to Resident Evil – Code: Veronica failed. To honour his work on the series, Capcom's writing team decided to leave the story on a cliffhanger and not refer to groups like H.C.F., which were entirely his creation. The cliffhanger, which saw Wesker assemble an army intent on destroying Umbrella and selling its assets to terrorists, was somewhat resolved in Wesker's favour in Resident Evil 5, though the circumstances themselves were left vague.
  • Roger Morash, former programmer for Harmonix, was working on an indie puzzle game titled Shard when he and his wife suddenly passed away in January 2017 from carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Daisuke Gōri, the Japanese voice actor for Pigma Dengar, General Pepper, and Andross in Star Fox 64, who also reprised his role as Pigma in Star Fox: Assault, committed suicide in early 2010, which necessitated a complete recast of the character for future Star Fox games starting with 64 3D.
  • Cryptic Studios video artist and Star Trek Online Foundry author Mark "h2orat" Valentine died of cancer over the second weekend of September 2013. This left his Foundry mission series "The Rising Phoenix" with No Ending, the first mission having ended on a cliffhanger.
  • Florian Husky, the creator of Super Mario War and one of the founders of 72dpiarmy, died of suicide before progress of the game was ever finalized. While others working on the project tried their best to keep it alive, development has officially ceased, with only a single bug release update left that has yet to show.
  • With Yuko Mizutani succumbing to breast cancer on May 17, 2016, it's unknown who will be the replacement of Super Robot Wars character Excellen Browning's voice following the release of The Moon Dwellers. Knowing Banpresto, however, it might not be such a problem as they would simply re-use her pre-recorded lines (as they have kept using recorded voices of Hirotaka Suzuoki to voice Banjo Haran long after his death), but it might come at the cost of Excellen having lesser prominence compared to before.
  • Benoît Sokal, the creator and director of the Syberia series, died midway through production of the newest installment, Syberia: The World Before. While the game is still set for release, the future of the series is in doubt.
  • Though Team Fortress 2 could not be said to be in ongoing development, it does still receive occasional cosmetic and seasonal updates. As such, the passing of voice actor Rick May in 2020 due to complications from COVID and a prior stroke leaves the beloved nutjob Soldier voiceless. Soldier had previously been one of the most regularly voiced characters alongside Scout, with hundreds of voice lines due to May's willingness to return and voice the role.
  • Sian Blake voiced the character Yugiri in the English version of Final Fantasy XIV during the A Realm Reborn and Heavensward chapters. Tragically, Blake was murdered while Heavensward and its future patch content were still in development, which caused the developers to temporarily write out the character and not give her any lines for the scenes where she did appear. Once Blake's murder case was fully resolved in court, she was replaced by Eleanor Matsuura.
  • Yoshitaka Murayama, creator of the Suikoden series and lead writer for Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes, passed away on February 6, 2024, more than two months before the latter's release. Fortunately, his work was done before he passed on.

    Visual Novels 
  • Palmer, the lead developer of Double Homework, passed away before the final chapter was completed. The rest of the team finished the story.

    Web Animation 

  • Joe D'Angelo, creator of webcomic Pirate's Cove, decided to avert this trope and created an "ending" that would be revealed if he died prematurely.
  • Similar to the above, the writer of Looking for Group and Least I Could Do has mentioned keeping a special script that should resolve things, and his notes on future plots, in a safe in the event that he passes away before his comics finish. Either the artist has the combination, or one of their wives do.
  • Every so often, Megatokyo's Fred Gallagher will poke fun at his sometimes-glacial update pace, and on one occasion kinda hinted at this trope.
  • Scott Kuehner passed away in January of 2009, leaving the world of Look What I Brought Home with a bunch of unanswered questions. Now we'll never know what happens with Bess or Kunky.
  • N-Fans: The Series began to flounder in 2007, when creator Webster Swenson passed away unexpectedly from diabetes complications. The people who inspired the other characters made a few attempts to revive the series and keep it going in his memory, but the entire website has stagnated since early 2008; the one exception is the forums, which managed to remain active until 2015.
  • Angel "Inqy" Yates of Wicked Alchemy wrote on her LiveJournal about her declining health not long before her sudden death in the summer of 2009. In addition to the webcomic, she also had a slice-of-life comic strip, Onna Chance, and a pirate avatar game. Sadly, Onna Chance and her original site Mutedfaith are both down, more than a year after her death.
  • Bad Bunny: After doing a reprint of a classic set of strips for Pennsic, it looked like the author Wolfie was going to get back to the original strip's storyline of pants too tight (this is a strip where the mundane becomes insanely funny). Unfortunately, Wolfie — real name W. Michael Dooley — contracted H1N1, and died aged 41 in December 2009.
  • Tom Siddell, of Gunnerkrigg Court, has joked that due to his strip buffer, if he were to keel over and die this instant, we'd still get about three months' worth of strips.
  • The creator of Just Another Webcomic passed away after coming out of a coma. He was only nine pages into the third volume of his work, which he was unable to continue after the coma because he had lost a lot of sensation in his drawing arm.
  • It's a common joke among the Schlock Mercenary fandom that no one will notice when Howard Tayler dies, due to his perfect update schedule.note  At the end of the universe, there will be a few scattered neutrinos, some clumps of exotic matter, and Schlock Mercenary, still updating every 24 hours without fail.
  • In October of 2012, DrunkDuck featured The Adventures of Wristance on its front page. Unfortunately, however, creator Distance Erin Larkins was unable to enjoy the attention, as she had died of suicide mere days before the featuring.
  • The future of Sugar Bits remains to be seen since the passing of the comic's writer Dondi "DMajorBoss" Bethea, who lost his life to cancer on May 6th, 2013.
  • In early December of 2016, Bryan Spiegler, creator of Middleways died of a heart attack. His wife has claimed the story will continue, but she does not have access to all his art and notes.
  • Albert Temple, aka Gene Catlow of Gene Catlow, was found dead of natural causes in his apartment on March 9, 2017. The comic is planned to be concluded based on his remaining notes.
  • Fluttering Feelings was cut short because of the artist's cancer diagnosis in 2016. In 2018 she passed away.
  • Tanabata Usagi, artist for several webcomics like Danger Zone One, Iguality, and My Inflatable Girlfriend, passed away in May of 2021 from COVID-19 complications. While she was only an artist-for-hire on Danger, the latter two comics, being personal projects of her own, will sadly remain unfinished.
  • Joshua Moats, more commonly know in webcomics as jmluvsbob, the creator of Minimal, took his life in September 2023, leaving a farewell post and a series of additional posts outlining the plans he had for his work. He had been dealing with inability to continue the story due to personal life interfering, and battled depression.
  • Paul S. Gibbs, the writer of Freighter Tails, died less than a year into the strip's run, prematurely canceling it. Though artist Bill Redfern has made the main character a regular on Cross Time Café.

    Web Videos 
  • Doug Walker's parents, Barney and Sandra, had a tendency of making regular appearances as themselves on The Nostalgia Critic. Sadly, Sandra passed away in her sleep in 2016. The ending of The Critic's Nutcracker review is dedicated to her.
  • On January 23rd, 2014, JewWario of You Can Play This! died of suicide, as confirmed by his wife on Facebook. This did not, however, end up affecting a collaboration he'd been doing with That Dude in the Suede and Linkara on reviewing the Pokémon movies, as he'd already planned on leaving the group at the beginning of the Pokémon 4Ever review, and had already recorded his exit before his death. The scene was left in the video along with an explanation of the circumstances. He also left the FamiKamen Rider film unfinished; Farewell, FamiKamen Rider would later be finished. (While MarzGurl later regretted finishing it after finding out about his history as a sexual predator, she kept the video up out of respect for everyone else that worked on it.)
  • YouTuber Corey La Barrie posted a video called "Deleting this video in 24 hours" on his birthday in 2020. That night, he was killed by his drunk driving friend. The video is still up, however.
  • Katie Leigh and Will Ryan started a web show in 2021 called Tell Ya Later. 11 months after it started, Will Ryan would die of terminal cancer. According to Katie, he thought that the cancer would be operatable and that he would be back to recording episodes in 2022.
  • Schaffrillas Productions was a collaboration between brothers James and Patrick Phyrillas, and Chris Schaffer. While James did the majority of the reviews on the channel, Chris and James did a series of reviews of terrible, low-effort mockbusters. Chris, Patrick, and James also frequently did a separate channel called "ShinyCast" (along with several others). On January 29th, 2023, the three men were driving together, and went through an intersection under construction. At the same time, a Tractor Trailer also went through the intersection[1]. The end result was the death of both Patrick Phyrillas, and Chris Schaffer. The Schaffrillas youtube channel was put on hiatus with no certainty of when it would return, with James eventually returning to posting content as he felt neither his friend nor brother would want the channel to die. He also did one final mockbuster review of What's Up? Balloon to the Rescue as a final tribute to Chris, officially ending that series of reviews, but was determined to continue making analysis videos and keep the name "Schaffrillas" alive.

Alternative Title(s): Author Existence Failure