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As <i>Glee</i> Says Goodbye to Cory Monteith, Here’s How Other Shows Dealt With a Star’s Death

When Glee star Cory Monteith passed away on July 13 at the too-young age of 31 due to a lethal combination of drugs and alcohol, many wondered how the show would deal with his shocking death. While the original concept from creator Ryan Murphy was to directly address the actor's drug issue, the episode called "The Quarterback" -- which airs this Thursday -- will now simply pay tribute to the beloved character of Finn Hudson. While we don't know yet how his character will have died, or if the show will ever tell us, Glee will say goodbye to both Finn and Cory the best way they know how: by singing about it. The episode will feature a series of musical goodbyes, including a number from Monteith's on and off-screen love Lea Michele.

Of course, Glee is hardly the only series that has had to deal with the loss of a cast member, unexpected or otherwise. Here's what other shows did when they lost a star:

John Ritter
During rehearsals for an episode of Season 2 of the ABC sitcom 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter, Ritter had experienced discomfort and crew members took him to a nearby hospital. He died suddenly the following night after a misdiagnosis of a heart attack. He was 54. Ritter's unexpected death was written into the show (his character Paul collapsed and died) in the one-hour episode "Goodbye," which paid tribute to both Ritter and his character. The show went on without Ritter, changing the title to simply 8 Simple Rules, but only lasted one more season.

Phil Hartman
One of the most shocking deaths in Hollywood history, Hartman was shot and killed by his wife Brynn Hartman, who in turn, took her own life. The beloved SNL alum was 49 years old. Hartman's shocking death was addressed in the first episode of Season 5 of the NBC sitcom NewsRadio, on which he played the egocentric anchor Bill McNeal. In the episode, titled "Bill Moves On," his colleagues all say goodbye to Bill, who had suddenly died of a heart attack. Hartman had also voiced many iconic characters on The Simpsons, including Troy McClure and Lionel Hutz. After his death, the animated series retired the characters. His last appearance was in the episode "Bart the Mother," which aired posthumously.

Shain Gandee
One of the more likable reality stars to appear on MTV in recent years, Gandee appeared on the station's "redneck" answer to Jersey Shore, the hit series Buckwild. After Season 1 of the show, Gandee died due to carbon monoxide poisoning during an off-road driving accident, which also killed his uncle and friend. In response to the deaths, MTV decided to cancel the series. Gandee was 21 years old.

Larry Hagman
Hagman, who played the iconic J.R. Ewing in both the original Dallas and the 2012 TNT reboot, died at the age of 81 stemming from complications from acute myeloid leukemia. Hagman passed away during the middle of production of Season 2 of the Dallas update. In response, Hagman's character J.R. was killed off on the show and the episode titled, fittingly, "J.R.'s Funeral," revolved around the character's funeral and the goodbyes from all those around him. The opening credits for the episode were changed to pay tribute to both Hagman and J.R.

Jim Davis
The original run of Dallas had its own share of tragedy to deal with when Davis, who played Ewing patriarch Jock, died at the age of 71 after battling cancer. Davis passed away during the fourth season of the hit drama. In Season 5, Davis' Jock was kept alive off-screen (his character was doing business in South America), but was eventually killed off when the writers had him perish in a plane crash.

John Spencer
Spencer, who won an Emmy for his role as White House chief of staff Leo on The West Wing, died midway through Season 7 when he suffered a heart attack at the age of 58. Subsequently, his character would also die from a heart attack on Election Night. Spencer's name would appear in the opening credits for the duration of the show's run.

Nancy Marchand
Marchand, who played the mean-spirited Soprano matriarch Livia, passed away during the second season of The Sopranos from lung cancer and emphysema at the age of 71. Her character would eventually pass away in Season 3, but the show would use computer-generated images for scenes between Livia and her son Tony (James Gandolfini). In later seasons and episodes, Livia appeared in dreams and flashbacks played by actress Laurie J. Williams.

Freddie Prinze
The titular Chico of Chico and the Man, actor and comedian Prinze died at the age of 22 due to a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The sitcom continued on without their leading man (who died at the end of Season 3), but did not introduce death into the equation immediately. Instead, Prinze's Chico was off-screen as the other characters on the show explained that he was visiting his father in Mexico.

George Reeves
While many still speculate about the cause of death of George Reeves at the age of 45 in 1959 (while it was ruled a suicide via gunshot wound, many believe he was murdered), it was clear that the show Adventures of Superman could not go on without him. The show attempted spin-offs and re-casting Superman, but was eventually canceled.

Andy Whitfield
Before production of the Starz drama Spartacus began in 2010, leading man Andy Whitfield was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and began treatments, putting the show on delay. Months later, the actor announced he was cancer-free, but that same September the cancer returned and Whitfield had to leave the series permanently. He died from the disease a year later at the age of 39. While his role was re-cast and played by actor Liam McIntyre, the network paid tribute to Whitfield with a five-episode marathon.

Michael Conrad
After the Emmy-winning actor Conrad -- who played the beloved Sgt. Esterhaus on Hill Street Blues -- died from cancer at the age of 58, the show's writers had his character die off screen during Season 4…by having him pass away during sex. His famous line "Let's be careful out there" was also retired from the series. If you're gonna go, what better way to have your character sent off, too?

Jerry Orbach
For 12 years, the Emmy-nominated Orbach played the lovable detective Lennie Briscoe on Law & Order until his death in 2004 at the age of 69 from a battle with prostate cancer. While the iconic show carried on without him, NBC paid tribute by airing his last episode the day after he passed. (While Briscoe's death was never addressed head on, it was confirmed in later seasons that he did pass away). Orbach was also seen two episodes of the short-lived L&O spin-off Trial By Jury.

Nicholas Colasanto
As Coach, Colasanto was a name everyone knew on Cheers. The actor, who had been diagnosed with heart disease years before nabbing the role on the sitcom, had to stop working during Season 3 as his illness worsened. He died of a heart attack at the age of 61, just a few months after filming his final episode. While his character was replaced by Woody Harrelson, the show addressed Coach's death in Season 4 and paid tribute to Colasanto by adding a picture of Geronimo that the actor had kept in his dressing room to the bar set.

Will Lee
The passing of Sesame Street's Mr. Hooper was how an entire generation learned about death. When Lee died at the age of 74 from a heart attack, the children's show decided to say goodbye to their beloved Mr. Hooper, too. The episode about his death and how those around him were dealing with, called "Farewell, Mr. Hooper," is widely regarded as one of the best, and most important, episodes of television produced for any age.

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