EastEnders marks its 35th anniversary by killing off a major character, which is fitting seeing as the first ever episode opened with the discovery of a dead body.
Over the decades there have been many memorable deaths in Albert Square, some of which have become iconic TV moments.
Here’s our pick of the most unforgettable farewells in Walford history…
Ethel Skinner (2000)
A nation wept as frail Ethel Skinner pleaded with lifelong friend Dot to help end her life following her terminal cancer diagnosis.
God-fearing Dorothy struggled with the decision, but seeing Ethel battle with her condition and how resolute she was in her wish, she administered an overdose of medication as they blew out the candles on the much-loved original character’s birthday cake.
Danielle Jones (2009)
Ronnie Mitchell spent 20 years wondering what happened to the baby she was forced to give up for adoption as a teenager by disgusted dad Archie, who then lied the child had died.
The rotter – in reality, little ‘Amy Mitchell’ had grown up as Danielle Jones, and she tracked down her birth mother to Walford without revealing her true identity for months.
Seconds after it was confirmed the mousy market worker was the daughter she’d spent years yearning of bonding with, Ronnie watched in horror as Danielle was mown down by Janine Butcher and killed.
Jamie Mitchell (2002)
Another vehicular-based demise (there’s been quite a few), the heart-throb’s cruel swan-song was referenced recently when Martin Fowler was involved in a hit and run, 17 years after he had a boy racer moment and ran over Phil’s precious godson who was en route to propose to Sonia Jackson.
Jamie died in hospital on Christmas Day, but Sonia was clearly the forgiving type and ended up marrying Martin.
Pat Evans (2012)
One of soap’s greatest ever matriarchs and the owner of the planet’s fiercest collection of earrings, the mighty Pat sadly succumbed to terminal cancer with her family around her.
Errant son David Wicks even returned for his mum’s dying moments, appearing on the Square for the first time in 16 years, and the bad blood between Janine Butcher and the stepmother she had clashed with numerous times melted away as the pair made amends on Pat’s deathbed.
She even got a specially-written-for-the-occasion riff on the ‘Enders theme music to play over the end credits.
Dirty Den Watts (1989 and 2005)
A character so iconic he was killed off twice: the first time was when the show’s original breakout star, a cockney version of JR Ewing from Dallas, upset the wrong gangsters and got shot by a pistol famously hidden in a bunch of daffodils.
The screen cut to black and we heard a splash that we thought was Den’s body hitting the water – turns out it wasn’t, as 14 years later he showed up alive and well, having faked his death and spent his days living incognito in Spain.
A mere 18 months later, Den was despatched for good this time by scorned wife Chrissie with the aid of the Queen Vic bust. He was buried beneath the barrel store. No daffodils this time.
Archie Mitchell (2009)
One of the most memorable deaths in soap history, the Who killed Archie? storyline started on 25 December 2009 when the former pub landlord was hit over the head by an unknown person with the Queen Vic bust.
It went on for months in the style of a whodunnit mystery, with multiple people suspected of murdering him.
As the square’s most-hated man at the time, Archie had many enemies – from his own daughter Ronnie Mitchell, whose baby he lied about, to Bradley Branning who visited him on the day of his death and knocked out his tooth.
The murderer turned out to be Stacey Slater, who he’d raped and terrorised. Lacey Turner who plays her only found out she was the killer 30 minutes before filming the live episode, titled Eastenders Live, to mark the show’s 25th anniversary.
Barry Evans (2004)
Car salesman Barry had no idea his love for Walford’s craftiest resident, Janine Butcher, would end in his demise.
It all happened when they went for a walk on their honeymoon in Scotland. Janine, who had only married him for money, thought it’d be a perfect time to tell her now-husband that she’d been cheating on him all along with Paul Trueman, leaving Barry heartbroken.
As they stood at the top of a hill, the pair argued, but it ended badly when Janine shoved him and he fell back hitting his head on a rock. Instead of rushing to his defence, however, coldhearted Janine just sat back and watched the whole thing happen.
Lucy Beale (2014)
Another whodunnit mystery to hit the square, Who Killed Lucy Beale? went on for almost a year with as many as 14 suspects. On the day after Good Friday, Ian Beale’s daughter Lucy was found dead on Walford Common after being brutally murdered.
With so many events leading up to her death and Lucy making many enemies for herself, viewers were left pulling their hair out as they struggled to piece the mystery together.
At the time, Lucy had just called off her affair with her friend’s dad Max Branning, and she’d also slept with Lee Carter – who her friend Whitney was interested in. Not forgetting her step sister Cindy Williams was madly jealous of the relationship she had with their dad.
It’s safe to say anyone could have killed Lucy, but on the 19 February, the murderer was shockingly revealed to be her younger brother Bobby. In a live flashback episode to mark the show’s 30th anniversary, it came out that Bobby had bludgeoned his sister to death with her jewellery box and the Beale family had been covering it up for months. Talk about wild, family secrets!
Tiffany Mitchell (1998)
It’s been over 20 years since Tiffany’s tragic death, but we’ll never forget the moment Frank Butcher’s car came out of nowhere and knocked her down as she tried to stop Grant Mitchell running away with their daughter, Courtney.
Leaving her daughter without a mother, Tiffany died outside the Vic just moments after being run over.
EastEnders fans were left heartbroken as the sad death of Robbie Fowler’s pet pooch was announced.
Robbie’s sister Sonia (played by Natalie Cassidy) revealed the news as she visited Dot in hospital.
The canine sidekick – who became the soap’s longest-serving pet after first appearing in 1994 – lost his life, after Robbie’s sister Bianca fed him chocolate.
You’ll forever be missed, Wellard.
Steve Owen (2002)
Another explosive car crash to hit the square ended in club owner Steve Owen’s death.
Following a feud with his arch enemy Phil Mitchell, evil conman Steve was killed off in a car blaze.
It all started when he tried to help Phil’s ex Lisa Fowler and her daughter Louise flee the country. As Phil got wind of the situation, a car chase ensued, and ended with Steve crashing into a wall. Steve – who was married to Mel Owen at the time – managed to rescue a young Louise from the burning car and hand her over to her dad, but Phil’s split-second hesitation to go back and free his enemy resulted in him dying as the car went up in flames.
Peggy Mitchell (2016) – with Pat’s ghost
EastEnders fans mourned as the beloved Peggy Mitchell passed away. A true EE legend and big character, it was very sad to see her go. And her last scenes were pretty emotional, as the former Queen Vic landlord decided to put an end to her life after a terminal cancer diagnosis.
As she pondered over the decision, Peggy was visited by the ghost of her late frenemy Pat Butcher before taking an overdose of pills. We’re welling up just thinking about it.
Reg Cox (1985)
The very first death on the square happened when Reg Cox was found dead in his dingy flat.
Although only a minor character, who had no speaking parts, his death was unforgettable – one, because it was a murder, and two, because it happened in the first episode back in 1985.
It took just 13 more episodes for it to be revealed “Nasty” Nick Cotton had bludgeoned him with a lead pipe in order to steal his war medals for drug money.
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