By: Heather Quinlan
October 1, 2022

Nancy Marchand as Livia Soprano

[Warning: This Series Is All Spoilers]

When I got the green light from HILOBROW to do a “Kill” series, I imagined part of the ghastly fun would be to relive my favorite TV deaths: Rosalind Shays from L.A. Law; Bobby Ewing’s (non-death) on Dallas; anyone on The Sopranos. I even thought Maude Flanders’ death by t-shirt cannon on The Simpsons would be a great curveball. I offered these and other ideas to potential writers as “suggestions,” but really they were more like, “Please write about what I’d like you to write about.”

Yet few did. There’s not a single Soprano. (Even I didn’t write about Livia Soprano although I’d claimed her before I sent out the call for submissions.) Instead, I learned that not everyone has the same taste I do. That was Revelation I. Revelation II: This made for a better series.

Dermot Morgan as Father Ted

And it wasn’t only the deaths that surprised me, but the fact that actors or characters I’d never heard of were sought by multiple writers. Two people requested Pete Duel, previously unknown to me. (But an apt surname here.) Two wanted to write about Alex Kamal, another unknown. And as a surprise left hook, after I decided to write about Dermot Morgan instead of Livia Soprano, my fellow writer Kathy Biehl told me that she’d like to write about Dermot Morgan. (Two American women vying for Dubliner Dermot Morgan? I think he would’ve been thrilled.) I hope Kathy forgave me after I told her he was spoken for, as she then did name arguably the most tragic subject — Phil Hartman.

So this lineup did not kill my enthusiasm for this series — instead I was enthralled. I had no idea an actor who was sexually assaulted by a Star Trek exec was then ousted from the series, as Kevin J Walsh explains, nor did I know that five decades later, an actor who was accused multiple times of sexual harassment was kicked off The Expanse, as reported by Bridget Bartolini. (The more things change…)

Jared Harris as Lane Pryce

Meanwhile, Max Alvarez’s piece on Lane Pryce’s suicide makes me wish I’d watched Mad Men past Episode One, of which I’d said: “Eh, too talky.” Same for Miranda Mellis’ take on Lisa Kimmel-Fisher in Six Feet Under, another show I wrote off after the pilot. And death is my thing!

Denise Crosby as Lt. Tasha Yar

Adam McGovern tackles the battle of the sexes with Lt. Tasha Yar in his Star Trek post from TNG. Catherine Christman takes a woman you’d never notice in a crowd and beatifies her with the help of a God-damning Martin Sheen in The West Wing. The aforementioned Pete Duel — a suicide victim — is eulogized by Lynn Peril… surprisingly with help from the pages of teenybopper Flip magazine, which did not ignore his death — like his show producers did — but handled suicide as best they could with a “Memory Scrapbook.” And though I knew Hill Street Blues’ Michael Conrad died relatively early in its run, I’d forgotten how his character, Sgt Esterhaus, died until Marc Weidenbaum revealed why he should’ve been careful once he got down with Barbara Babcock.

That’s not to say no one took my suggestions — Trav SD explores the implications Col. Blake’s death had for McLean Stevenson (career suicide is not painless); Bart Beaty writes how Coach’s death on Cheers made way for Woody Boyd, and then A+-lister Woody Harrelson. And, finally, there’s HILOBROW’s Josh Glenn with the man who brought us a little song, a little dance, a little seltzer down your pants. So even though this is about death, go ahead and laugh — that’s what Chuckles would’ve wanted.

Yours in death,
Heather Quinlan


KILL YOUR ENTHUSIASM kicks off tomorrow. Enjoy! Here’s the lineup:

KILL YOUR ENTHUSIASM: INTRODUCTION by Heather Quinlan | Max Alvarez on LANE PRYCE | Lynn Peril on PETE DUEL | Miranda Mellis on LISA KIMMEL FISHER | Trav SD on COL. HENRY BLAKE | Russ Hodge on DET. BOBBY SIMONE | Kathy Biehl on PHIL HARTMAN| Jack Silbert on MARTY FUNKHOUSER | Catherine Christman on MRS. LANDINGHAM | Kevin J. Walsh on YEOMAN JANICE RAND | Heather Quinlan on DERMOT MORGAN | Adam McGovern on LT. TASHA YAR | Nick Rumaczyk on BEN URICH | Josh Glenn on CHUCKLES THE CLOWN | Bart Beaty on COACH | Krista Margies Kunkle on JOYCE SUMMERS | Kelly Jean Fitzsimmons on DENNY DUQUETTE | Marc Weidenbaum on SGT. PHIL ESTERHAUS | Michael Campochiaro on GORDON CLARK | Fran Pado on EDITH BUNKER | Mark Kingwell on OMAR LITTLE | Bridget Bartolini on ALEX KAMAL | David Smay on VANESSA IVES | Tom Nealon on JOSS CARTER | Michele Carlo on FREDDIE PRINZE | Crockett Doob on AUNT LOUISE.