Several soap characters have died off screen over the years (Picture: BBC / ITV)
Saying goodbye when a soap character dies is always hard, but never more so than when the death happens unexpectedly off-screen.
Over the years, there have been a number of characters who’s chances to return to their soap were slashed by an off-screen death, leaving fans devastated.
With Katy Armstrong actress Georgia May Foote having recently spoken out about what it was like to have had her character killed off off-screen, we take a look at other characters who have experienced the same fate.
Katy Armstrong – Coronation Street
Katy was killed in a car accident (Picture: ITV)Provider: ITV
Katy Armstrong’s death came as a total shock to Corrie viewers, when it was announced that she had died in a car accident off-screen.
Katy left the street with son Joseph in 2015 after reconnecting with her mum, Linda, and agreeing to move to Portugal with her.
Sister Izzy received a phone call in 2017 announcing that she had been killed instantly in the crash.
Following her death, former flame Chesney Brown (Sam Aston) flew out to Portugal to support son Joseph, who he and Katy had together at a young age, before bringing him back to Weatherfield to be with the rest of his family.
Years after the shocking death, actress Georgia revealed that she didn’t have any negative feelings towards the decision at all.
‘I wouldn’t say disappointed at all,’ she told her Instagram followers when asked how she felt about the situation.
‘I’m one of those people when I leave a job I’m ready for the next adventure.
‘Corrie was an amazing nearly 5 years for me, I learnt so much and will forever be grateful for the show.’
She continued: ‘Would I have gone back if I could? I can’t answer that because I will never know. But the time I had there was a special time in my life and I will forever be grateful for the opportunity to have played not only one, but two roles in the show.
Justin Burton – Hollyoaks
Justin’s death was revealed months later (Picture: Lime Pictures)
One of the most recent off-screen soap deaths to occur was that of Hollyoaks’ Justin Burton (Chris Fountain), with his family learning of his death in 2023 after Charlie Dean (Charlie Behan) developed an interest in tracking him down.
The character was said to have died in a car accident in Llandudno in October 2022, according to a memorial page discovered by Charlie during his quest.
Justin was a former mainstay of the show, who rocked up in the eponymous village with his family back in 2003, before featuring in a number of huge storylines over a six-year period.
Arthur ‘Fatboy’ Chubb – EastEnders
Fatboy returned in a recent flashback (Picture: BBC)
Fans were left absolutely devastated when beloved Fatboy (Ricky Norwood) was killed off-screen in 2015, in a case of mistaken identity.
Ronnie Mitchell (Samantha Womack) called a hit on Vincent Hubbard (Richard Blackwood), asking for a certain car to be crushed with the driver inside.
However, when it came down to it, Vincent was not the one driving, and Ronnie’s vague instructions led to Fatboy’s death instead.
Having learnt about the hit placed on her son, Claudette Hubbard (Ellen Thomas) sent Fatboy in his place in a misguided attempt to protect him.
Following a brief return to the soap in 2023 during a flashback scene, actor Ricky Norwood recently reflected on the possibility of a fulltime return to the soap, despite the character’s supposed death.
‘They’ve had a year full of great storylines,’ he told RadioTimes. ‘Christmas was fantastic. So if they ever needed Fatboy back in the Square, all they’ve got to do is give me a call.’
It could be possible. After all, we never saw the body!
Vincent Hubbard (Richard Blackwood)
Phil revealed that Vincent was dead in 2021 (Picture: BBC)
Vincent wasn’t able to escape death for long, as his own off-screen demise came in 2018.
His final few months on the show were focused on his rivalry with villain Aidan Maguire (Patrick Bergin), who wanted revenge on Vincent for grassing to the police.
Vincent was forced to go along with everything Aidan said, until police offered him the opportunity to turn informant.
However, Vincent ended up getting into a car with a corrupt officer who was working for Aidan.
As the car sped away, the corrupt officer held up a gun, and Vincent’s fate was left a mystery, until wife Kim Fox (Tameka Empson) made a shocking discovery in 2021.
After running into someone who appeared to have stolen Vincent’s wallet, Kim was determined to get to the bottom of his whereabouts once and for all.
Phil Mitchell (Steve McFadden) soon put an end to her hunt by revealing that Vincent had actually been killed by Aidan’s associate all those years ago.
Kathy Beale – EastEnders
Kathy didn’t stay dead for long… (Picture: BBC/Jack Barnes/Kieron McCarron)
Now, we know what you’re thinking with this one.
Eagle eyed viewers will be aware that Kathy Beale (Gillian Taylforth) is very much alive and well, and currently in the midst of one of EastEnders’ biggest recent storylines, which has seen her attempt to cover up Keanu Taylor’s (Danny Walters) murder alongside five other Walford matriarchs.
However, there was a point in time when Kathy herself was believed to be dead, having departed the Square in 2000 after choosing not to reconcile her relationship with Phil.
Instead, she decided to head to South Africa, where she married Gavin Sullivan in 2001, however, tragedy would follow.
In 2006, Ian Beale (Adam Woodyatt) received a call to inform him that Kathy had been killed in a car accident.
Heartbroken, Ian flew to South Africa and returned home with half brother Ben Mitchell (now played by Max Bowden), where the pair had to live with the loss of their mother until one fateful night in 2015.
During EastEnders’ week of live episodes to celebrate 30 years of the BBC soap, viewers were left stunned when Kathy emerged from a black cab, very much not dead.
It was later revealed that abusive husband Gavin had forced her into an insurance scam which involved faking her own death.
Cindy Beale – EastEnders
…And neither did Cindy! (Picture: BBC/Jack Barnes/Kieron McCarron)
Another member of the killed-off-screen-but-not-actually-dead club, Cindy Beale (Michelle Collins) caused quite a stir in the life of poor Ian, with her series of lies and affairs.
Amid a dramatic custody battle for their children, Cindy hired a hit on Ian, and, though she later changed her mind, was horrified to discover she was too late, as Ian was shot in front of her.
With the police suspicious of her involvement, she planned to flee the country, taking the children with her, but things didn’t go to plan and Cindy soon returned to Walford.
Immediately after winning custody of the children, she was arrested for attempted murder, leading to the verdict being reversed and Cindy being sent to prison.
While in prison, Cindy tragically ‘died’ in childbirth, and Ian chose to name the baby after her mother.
However, in 2023, viewers were shocked to discover that Cindy’s death had actually been faked in order to allow her to live in witness protection under the name Rose Knight, after grassing up her cell mate in exchange for release from prison.
Angie Watts – EastEnders
Angie Watts made a massive impact in her three years on the Square (Picture: BBC)
Angie Watts (Anita Dobson) is one of EastEnders most legendary characters, with her announcement to husband Den Watts (Leslie Grantham) that she had only six months left to live going down in pop culture history.
Of course, this turned out to be a lie, leading to another infamous moment where Den presented Ange with divorce papers on Christmas Day.
Following the fall out of their marriage, Angie decided to move to Marbella to open a bar with Sonny, who she had fallen in love with.
Angie left the Square in 1988 after a drama-filled three years, and would later die off screen in 2002, with daughter Sharon (Letitia Dean) by her side.
It was Angie’s drinking that caught up with her in the end, with cirrhosis of the liver leading to her death off-screen, though Angie made Sharon promise to tell people that she had had a heart attack.
Carrying out her mother’s final wishes, Sharon had her buried alongside ex-husband Dirty Den, although it would later transpire that Den wasn’t buried there at all, as he wasn’t actually dead.
Rachel Breckle – Emmerdale
Rachel died in 2019 (Picture: ITV)
Most of Rachel Breckle’s (Gemma Oaten) time on Emmerdale was spent in a relationship with Sam Dingle (James Hooton), though a one night stand with Jai Sharma (Chris Bisson) threw everything up in the air.
Having discovered that husband Jai had fathered Rachel’s son Archie, Charity Dingle (Emma Atkins) forced her to go on the run in 2014 after covering for Sam, who Charity had framed for the arson of Home Farm.
In 2015, Rachel made a shock return to the village where she stood as a witness against Charity in court.
Following her year on the run, Rachel fought for custody of Archie, and the stress of the battle caused her to turn verbally and physically abusive to partner Sam.
Ultimately, she decided to leave the village with sister Ali, following the death of her girlfriend Ruby in the helicopter crash, and promised to get help for her issues.
However, in 2019 it was revealed that Rachel had died of an undisclosed cardiac issue, leaving Jai with full custody of his son.
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Beth Jordache – Brookside
Beth was sent to prison before her death (Picture: Brendan O’Sullivan/TV Times via Getty Images)
Beth Jordache (Anna Friel) was involved in some of Brookside’s most notable storylines, including one which saw the first ever pre-watershed lesbian kiss between Beth and Margaret Clemence.
Another famous storyline, which aired in 1993, saw her involved in covering up the murder of her abusive father, Trevor, by helping her mother bury him under the patio.
When his body was finally discovered in 1995, Beth and mum Mandy were put on trial for his murder.
Beth was sent to prison, and later died there from a heart condition, leaving her family devastated.
It’s hard when we don’t get to say a proper goodbye.