ByTommy DePaoli, writer at
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Tommy DePaoli

If you're anything like me, you get so attached to your favorite TV shows that it's hard to separate the actor from the character they play. They become such an emblem of the show that you want them to live inside their fictional universe forever, protected from the harsh world of reality.

Unfortunately, this can never be the case, and too many talented stars burn out too soon. If their show is no longer on the air or in syndication, sometimes these tragic deaths get overlooked, leaving us to cling to that fantasy land that we love to revisit. Let's commemorate those who have defined a great show and left us with so many great onscreen moments to remember them by.

Lee Thompson Young - The Famous Jett Jackson

I know that Lee Thompson Young had a major role on TNT's Rizzoli & Isles, but I think most of us remember Lee Thompson Young from our childhoods as Jett Jackson. It was easy to conflate his onscreen personality with the actor himself, but behind the scenes, Young had some real struggles that Silverstone never had to face. Recently, his family opened up about his tragic death and revealed that Young was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in his teens that led to periods of depression. In August 2013, Young took his own life.

His family has since launched the the Lee Thompson Young Foundation to eradicate the stigma around mental illness. It's unbearably sad that such a young talent will never be on another show, but we'll always have Jett Jackson to remember him by.

Lisa Robin Kelly - That '70s Show

On That '70s Show, Laurie may have always been a thorn in Eric's side, but she always brought some heckling laughs with her. Lisa Robin Kelly brought Laurie to life in all her outlandish glory, but she was hiding a secret pain behind the scenes. Her addiction to alcohol led her to be replaced by another actress in the show's sixth season, and that started a downward spiral from which Kelly could never get out despite her efforts.

In a tragic turn of events, she had checked into rehab only to pass away there due to an accidental multiple drug intoxication. The fact that she sought help and ended up dying in the place that should have made her better makes this especially heartbreaking, and I just can't watch That '70s Show the same way.

Jessie 'Jet Set' Hudson - Workaholics

[Workaholics](series:720998) has introduced the world to a multitude of memorable characters, many of whom are in part inspired by their real-life actors. When I discovered that Jet Set Hudson passed away in December 2012, I was absolutely devastated. He bears the same name as his character on the show, and the whole cast really comes across like a family. Plus, since the show is ongoing, it just feels incomplete without having Jet Set there piping in with a non-sequitur.

Windell Middlebrooks - The Suite Life of Zack and Cody

Windell Middlebrooks played many memorable roles in shows like It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Scrubs, and Body of Proof, but I'll always remember him as the lovable security guard on The Suite Life of Zack and Cody. This year, Middlebrooks' life was tragically cut short when he died suddenly of a pulmonary embolism. The show of support from the cast was truly touching, and it showed how much this guy was loved.

I still can't get over the fact that this is true since it only happened this month. I'll forever picture Kirby roaming the halls and helping the boys get in and out of their antics.

Earl Hindman - Home Improvement

I find myself watching reruns of Home Improvement whenever it's on TBS or TV Land, and it still baffles me that it's considered "an old show." Way more upsetting is the fact that Wilson passed away over ten years ago, and I feel like not many people know about that.

The helpful and ever-concealed neighbor is such a mainstay of the show, I guess I just always assumed that the actor Earl Hindman would always stay there suspended in time. Sadly, life doesn't care about our childhood attachments, and Hindman passed away of lung cancer in 2003.

For even more tributes, go to BroBible for more tragic celebrity deaths. Now if you'll excuse, I'll be over here watching the Home Improvement intro sequence (and maybe an entire season) while I devolve into a puddle.

What other fallen TV stars would you like to see remembered?


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