We recently asked the BuzzFeed Community to tell us about the celebrity death that was THE MOST shocking or unexpected to them. Here are their heartfelt responses:
Cory Monteith — Died July 13, 2013 of combined drug intoxication.
“This one got me because I had heard he had completed rehab and he was doing so much better, and then he overdosed. That shocked me for real.”
“I wasn’t even a particularly big Kobe fan, but for some reason, that one hit hard for a week or two. Not sure if it was because I am a ‘girl dad’ and his daughter, Gianna, died with him, or what. That’s really the only time a celebrity death has affected me.”
“I remembered him from Disney, and he was SO young it was so shocking when he passed.”
Jim Henson — Died May 16, 1990, from organ failure as a result of sepsis.
“I was in college when it happened. I had grown up with Sesame Street and The Muppet Show. It came out of nowhere with no warning. It was the first (and thus far only) time I cried over a celebrity death.”
Mac Miller — Died Sept. 7, 2018, from an accidental drug overdose.
“There was no secret he had a substance abuse issue, but the day he died, it almost felt like my world flipped. I’m not a huge fan of modern rap music, but I had been a huge fan of him. I still can’t listen to his music to this day because it just hurts too much.”
Steve Irwin — Died Sept. 4, 2006, after being pierced in the chest by a stingray.
“I will never get over Steve Irwin’s death. He was such a big part of my teen years. He got me interested in more animals than just the cute, cuddly ones.”
Naya Rivera — Died July 8, 2020, in an accidental drowning.
“She drowned getting her child to safety. Rescuers found him asleep on the boat. He told them they had gone swimming, and after he got back on the boat, he turned and saw her slip under the water. That poor kid.”
Aaron Carter — Died Nov. 5, 2022, from drowning due to the effects of sedatives.
“Aaron Carter’s death was so sudden. I loved him as a little kid, and the fact that he died so young is just heartbreaking.”
Chadwick Boseman — Died Aug. 28, 2020, from colon cancer.
“I remember waking up like it was any other day and getting a panicked call from a friend of mine to tell me what had happened. I threw my phone down, closed the door to my room, and cried for 15 minutes before I could make myself get up. It still hurts that such an amazing individual died so young and, in the eyes of the public, so suddenly.”
“Believe it or not, I loved her as the voice of Luanne Platter Kleinschmidt in King of the Hill, but I truly, TRULY loved her in Drop Dead Gorgeous. ‘You know what, Dad? Peter’s gay! GAY!!!!!!’ Classic line. Classic scene.”
Phil Hartman — Died May 28, 1998 by homicide (by his wife, who later killed herself).
“Phil Hartman’s death came out of nowhere, tragic and violent. I was in college in 1998, and I found out about it online, and I couldn’t believe it. His wife killed him? No way! I turned on CNN and just watched it for way too long in shock, didn’t go to class.”
Sean Lock — Died Aug. 16, 2021 of cancer.
“One of my favorite comedians (I recommend checking out 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown). He chose not to disclose his cancer diagnosis so it was a shock hearing he had died.”
Heath Ledger — Died Jan. 22, 2008 from an accidental overdose.
“Heath Ledger was a kick in the head. I and my then-teenage daughter were heartbroken. When we went to see The Dark Knight, I got physically ill at the scene with Joker in a body bag after having seen Heath Ledger in a body bag from news footage.”
“Robin Williams was a real gut punch, and the first celebrity death I really cried over. Mork & Mindy aired when my parents divorced, and the laughter he brought me helped me get through it.”
James “The Rev” Sullivan — Died Dec. 28, 2009, from an opioid overdose.
“In January 2009, I lost my mum. In February 2009, I lost my Grandpa, her dad. I have OCD, and struggle with the idea of things happening in threes, so I was terrified the rest of the year. Anyway, during the year, my Dad sent me to see my favorite band Avenged Sevenfold at a festival, because they’d been such a comfort through the pain, through the grief. It helped me feel good, brightened me way up. Fast-forward to December that year, and it was about a week before the anniversary of my mum’s passing. I was starting to feel like I could overcome this OCD thing. And then, the drummer of Avenged Sevenfold, The Rev, died. I saw his last ever show. That was a massive shock for me. They’re still my favorite band ever, and their album which followed that death is a massive comfort, but my God, the shock.”
Richard Belzer — Died Feb. 19, 2023 from respiratory disease.
“Richard Belzer. Watching him play as Munch in SVU always made my day. I was devastated when he left, but when he died… He was such a funny character. I could never watch the show the same way again. They had just briefly mentioned his character in the episode before his death. RIP, Richard Belzer.”
“I wasn’t a huge fan, but when I heard, I was out with some old school friends and had to take a moment. I was silenced, which never happens.”
Gilbert Gottfried — Died April 12, 2022 from ventricular tachycardia.
“I know some people reading might not have heard of him, but he was a staple in the comedy circuit since the late ’80s, and you’ve def seen things he’s been in (he’s the voice of the Aflac duck in the commercials). He was never a lead comedy actor, but he brought so much joy to a lot of people and was a very humble and down to earth person and continued doing comedy shows and acts all up to the day of his death. He died from a chronic illness he fought for years. I feel like not many people in the industry acknowledge it, and it took me by surprise because even though he only played supporting characters, he was funny in his own right and kept at his career tirelessly for decades.”
“She was reaching a new peak by sharing her stories about mental health, returning to Star Wars, and so many people adopting her as our ‘Space Mom.’ She had so much creativity and wisdom left to share. And then for her mother Debbie Reynolds to die the next day? I felt so much for Billie Lourd having to cope with that much loss at once.”
“I was a teen when he died by suicide, and I was so devastated. He lives on through his music and legacy, and his parents and friends still raise awareness about suicide through a foundation they made in his name. Such a heartbreaking loss.”
Darrell Lance Abbott, aka “Dimebag Darrell” — Died Dec. 8, 2004 after being shot and killed by a fan.
“I can still remember reading the headline online: ‘Former Pantera guitarist gunned down in nightclub.'”
Stephen Boss, aka “tWitch” — Died Dec. 13, 2022 by suicide.
“There’s a lot, but one that really saddened me and still does is tWitch — he shined such a bright light, and it blinded us from seeing his real life pain he was obviously experiencing. I still tear up.”
“Lisa Marie Presley shook me to my core. I was so shocked and still devastated. She was a talented musician in her own right and had a lot to say through her music.”
“I think he was a genius, and I’ve loved him since I was a young girl. And then he died on my birthday. 😧”
James Hellwig, aka “The Ultimate Warrior” — Died April 8, 2014 from a heart attack.
“He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame on Saturday night, appeared at Wrestlemania on Sunday night, made a speech at WWE Raw on Monday night, and died of a heart attack on Tuesday night.”
“I did not see that coming, and am still devastated. It was especially said that he died in April, making his song ‘Sometimes It Snows in April’ — a song about the death of a friend — even more poignant.”
“I’m a huge fan of Linkin Park and actually had tickets to see them for the first time about two weeks before he died. Just sad that he was clearly dealing with depression issues and the loss of his friend Chris Cornell. He died on Cornell’s birthday.”
“This is probably one of the ones that hurt me the most, he died suddenly after filming 8 Simple Rules, a sitcom my mom liked and I would sit to watch with her. When he died, part of my childhood died with him, too, as he voiced Clifford on the PBS show Clifford the Big Red Dog and Jack on Three’s Company, which I would watch with my mom as a kid. 🥺”
“Though I knew he had cancer, I wasn’t expecting him to die right then in the heat of the moment.”
Finally, John Lennon — Died Dec. 8, 1980 by assassination.
“It was the first major news event that I remember — and growing up in Liverpool, meant many people around me felt they had lost someone to whom they had a personal connection; my parents’ shock; neighbors talking about it on the school run; even my grandparents, not Beatles fans, were shaken. He was making a comeback, but the manner of his death was so shocking. I was too young to understand it all, but I knew loads of adults were seriously upset and angry.”