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Five (And More) Ubiquitous Dead TV Characters*

*As in those characters who died either before or at the very beginning of a series, but continued to be a major presence throughout its run.

Warning: Spoilers Ahead


When he wasn’t popping up in flashbacks, Jack’s dead father often showed up on the Island, although I’m still not sure if he was a ghost, the smoke monster or something else entirely.


During the show's first two seasons, Dexter Morgan’s late adoptive father only appeared in flashbacks, but from season three onwards he regularly appeared as a figment of Dexter’s murderous imagination.


Poor Michael C. Hall. He just can't seem to escape his dead dads. Despite dying in a traffic accident at the start of the very first episode, the patriarch of the Fisher clan remained a major presence in his children’s lives, regularly conversing with them as they struggled to deal with his passing and life in general.


The first time we met Laura Palmer she was dead, wrapped in plastic. When we next saw her she was talking backwards in Agent Cooper’s dreams. After that, having her dark haired doppelganger show up seemed pretty normal.


Harold Finch’s best friend and collaborator in the creation of the Machine. He was murdered by the government prior to the events of the series, but often appeared in flashbacks.


Killed herself in the very first episode, but continued to act as narrator of the entire series.


Lilly regularly appeared in flashbacks or as a figment of Veronica’s imagination as she investigated her murder. Even after the case was solved, Veronica was still occasionally haunted by her murdered BFF.


Benton Fraser first came to Chicago on the trail of the killers of his father. Little did he realise that his father came along for the ride. Unlike others on this list, Bob was not simply a figment of his son’s over-active imagination, but an actual genuine ghost, who lived in a wood cabin in his son’s closet. Yeah, it was that kind of show.


Despite throwing herself in front of a train during the opening scene of Orphan Black, Beth Childs continued to be one of the most important characters on the show, even if we only saw her in video footage, flashbacks or the occasional dream.

Mark Greig has been writing for Doux Reviews since 2011 More Mark Greig


Billie Doux said...

I never realized that so many of my favorite shows featured a ubiquitous dead character. Not a coincidence?

Mikey Heinrich said...

I just restarted watching Six Feet Under with my Dad, as I found out that he'd never seen it. Such a great show.

Great list!

Billie Doux said...

Mikey, it probably isn't obvious, but Six Feet Under is one of the most popular shows on this site, hit-wise.

I shall expect comments!

Mikey Heinrich said...


That actually gives me some hope for us as a species :)

Comments yes!

Billie Doux said...

The classic shows are draws for us because there's so much less competition. When Buffy was running, there were thousands of sites; there are much fewer now. So shows like Buffy, Lost, La Femme Nikita and Six Feet Under bring readers here. And that makes me happy.

sunbunny said...

I think for latecomers to older series it can be hard to find spoiler free reviews.

migmit said...

What, no George Lass???

magritte said...

Does Caprica Six count in Battlestar Galactica? I think she was resurrected (and of course there are other Sixes), but we mainly know her from the version in Baltar's Head.

Mark Greig said...

magritte, Caprica Six did get resurrected so she wouldn't really count. To qualify a character had to die and stay physically dead but still appear in some form. Which also means no Dead Like Me characters I'm afraid, migmit, because they were technically resurrected in new bodies.

JB said...

Supernatural as well, Mary Winchester. Her death is why John became a hunter, why Sam and Dean became hunters and why their relationship with John got so screwed up. Even when Dean visits her in a time travel episode her fate still ties into her eventual death.

Superhero shows are popular for a dead relative being the initial motivation for the protagonist. Arrow has Oliver returning to Starling City to finish what his father couldn’t, as well as carrying a lot of weight on his shoulders for surviving the sinking of the Queen’s Gambit where Robert did not. Barry Allen lost his mother when Nora was murdered by Reverse Flash and Henry Allen was imprisoned for the act. Season 1 one of Barry’s biggest motivations was to find out what happened and clear Henry’s name. Then his grief for losing his mother caused Flashpoint. Robert Queen and Nora Allen, despite dying in backstories, have a huge influence on the shows their children lead.

djsosonut said...

Besides Mary Alice Young, Brenda Strong also played the dead mom on Everwood. Think she appeared as a figment of the doc's imagination a few times. Along with some flashbacks.