There are memorable soap stars, and even memorable soap deaths – but it takes something else to join that very exclusive club of soap characters who were bumped off without any warning. Like poor Joanie Dingle, above. RIP.
We're taking time to remember some of the best. Do you remember the shock factor when this unlucky lot were also culled by the Soap Gods?
1. Danielle Jones (EastEnders, 2009)
It will go down as one of the most heartbreaking scenes in EastEnders, and also the most shocking. In a time when surprise deaths weren't really a thing, Danielle's was unexpected – not to mention untimely, considering she had reunited with her estranged mother Ronnie just moments before.
Okay, so there had been some sneaky whispers online suggesting that Danielle would be leaving the show, but for the vast majority of the audience, this was a total shock. Ronnie cried, we cried, and some distraught fans even tried to bring Danielle back. But instead, they just had to make do with her adoptive brother Andy arriving to get revenge seven years later...
2. Lynsey Nolan (Hollyoaks, 2012)
Hollyoaks delivered a game-changer of a story in summer 2012 when Lynsey Nolan was found dead on the sofa at home after being strangled. Beforehand there'd been no spoilers, no clues, and no announcement that fan favourite Karen Hassan was leaving the show.
Despite the Danielle drama three years earlier, this was still a real rarity at the time, with soaps usually shouting from the rooftops about their plans for big exits. Afterwards we had two big questions. The first was, who the heck killed Lynsey? And secondly, why couldn't we have even more surprises like this in our favourite soaps?
3. Carl King (Emmerdale, 2012)
Emmerdale celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2012, promising two births, two weddings and one grisly death in an explosive live episode. We feared for several of our favourites on the night, but in the end it was Carl King who met his maker as he was clobbered over the head by Chas Dingle. And then again by Cameron Murray. Never leave a job half-done, Chas...
After a nine-year stint in the Dales, we were stunned to see Tom Lister's popular character go - something that producers had kept very close to their chests before the live show aired. We have to admit that we still really miss Carl and the unique brand of chaos he brought to the village, so we reckon killing him off was criminal in more ways than one...
4. Maddie Morrison (Hollyoaks, 2012)
After their success with the Lynsey saga, producers at Hollyoaks clearly realised they were on to something with this shock death malarkey. And so Lynsey's boyfriend Riley Costello was soon dispatched via a stray bullet. Then a wedding day bus crash disaster was also dreamed up to remove a few more unfortunate villagers.
The award-winning crash led to four deaths (including our fave Rhys - sniff), but it's probably the demise of evil bully Maddie that sticks in our memories the most. Just when we thought the malevolent menace had lived to terrorise Esther for another day, fate intervened in the form of a flying minibus door which killed her instantly. Ouch! Painful, but probably deserved.
5. Emma Summerhayes (EastEnders, 2015)
With Lucy Beale's killer on the loose, the police didn't stand a chance of solving the crime quickly with DS Emma Summerhayes on the case. Branded "Dumberhayes" by some merciless fans, Emma was more interested in bedding top suspect Max Branning than putting the clues together.
When Emma finally figured it out at New Year 2015, it seemed like she was finally making progress with this 'being a detective' lark. But sadly, despite no announcement that she'd be leaving the show, Emma took the secret of Bobby's guilt to her grave when she was involved in an ultimately-fatal car accident minutes later. If only she'd put the effort in sooner...
6. Ruby Haswell (Emmerdale, 2015)
When news broke that a helicopter would crash into the Emmerdale village, we guessed correctly that soon-to-be-gone Val Pollard would be among the victims. But we certainly didn't expect sweet-natured Ruby to be on the casualty list. Erm, mostly because we'd forgotten she was still in the show after her lack of storylines.
Actress Alicya Eyo certainly saved the best for last, though. When Ruby found herself fatally injured by a helicopter blade, there wasn't a dry eye in the house as she said a heartbreaking goodbye to Kerry and Dan. The biggest surprise with this death was how much we suddenly cared! Bravo, Alicya!
7. Callum Logan (Coronation Street, 2015)
The art of the shock death has often been lost on Coronation Street, given their habit of announcing so many of their cast exits in advance. Though we'll give them points for trying with Sean Ward's dramatic exit as bad boy Callum Logan in 2015's live episode.
With rumours that Callum's war with the Platts would come to a head in the special broadcast, it didn't take a genius to figure out that he wasn't long for this world. But we still had our minds blown when Kylie finished him off with a wrench before the first ad break. Fast work! Mind you, with the second half of the episode up against Bake-Off on BBC One, it was important to grab our attention fast...
8. Fatboy (EastEnders, 2015)
When EastEnders teased us by promising a mystery death at Christmas in 2015, it's fair to say that Fatboy was high on our list of possibilities following the news that Ricky Norwood had been axed. But our worst fears were realised when the Square's most kind-hearted character was kidnapped, locked in a car boot and sent off to the scrapyard to be crushed.
Vincent tried to save him, but he ultimately had to finish the job as poor Fats was already dead before the crusher got to work. Had he been suffocated or suffered a heart attack? We still haven't got a clue. But the biggest shock here was that such a nice guy met such a horrible fate. Too cruel.
9. Ziggy Roscoe (Hollyoaks, 2015)
It was all looking so perfect for the womanising Ziggmeister at Christmas 2015. He'd saved his wife Leela from a deadly explosion. Then he got the Lomax sister he really wanted (well, at least the one he wanted that week) by uniting with her sister Tegan. With it being the season of goodwill, Leela even gave them her blessing.
But then, just as we were about to toast a Christmas where nothing much went wrong, Ziggy died suddenly as a result of a head injury he'd suffered in the explosion. We had no idea that Fabrizio Santino, who played him, was leaving. And the biggest shock? That it was a Roscoe death which wasn't reversed by a miraculous resurrection weeks later! There's a first time for everything...
10. Tess Harris (Emmerdale, 2016)
When Tess Harris was struggling to let go of her fling with Emmerdale's Paddy Kirk, we assumed the writers would get months of mileage out of her becoming a classic soap bunny boiler. It seemed to be going that way when Tess phoned Paddy's wife Rhona out on a country road and demanded a meeting, but she never got the chance to spill her secret when Kirin Kotecha appeared from nowhere and fatally ran her over.
The storyline marked the end of Kirin's time in the show and brought us our first glimpse of Tess's husband Pierce. We wonder what Tess would think now if she could see Pierce and Rhona shacked up together?
11. Holly Barton (Emmerdale, 2016)
Whenever we look back at 2016 in Emmerdale, there's no doubt that Holly Barton's tragic death will be top of the highlights list. Emmerdale killed off Moira Dingle's troubled daughter last September, as she lost her life due to a heroin overdose.
Word had leaked out that Sophie Powles would be leaving her role as Holly, but we'd all suspected that she'd be a victim of the October stunt carnage that was still to come. So imagine our surprise when a pretty low-key week in the Dales took a devastating turn, with Moira finding Holly dead in her bed.
And surprisingly for the fast-moving world of soap, her family still aren't over it as Emmerdale has delivered an admirably strong aftermath.
12. Andy Carver (Coronation Street, 2017)
When it leaked out that Andy Carver would be leaving Corrie and then Pat Phelan started blackmailing him, it was clear that the two could be connected. But we always expected Andy to either be sent to prison for attacking Phelan, or escape and go on the run with his girlfriend Steph, who was also leaving.
In fact, Corrie bosses took a much more surprising route by having Phelan brutally kill Andy (erm, with a laptop) before he had a chance to go anywhere. This marked the first time that Phelan had actually committed murder... but will it be the last?
You Might Also Like
- Coronation Street: 29 new spoiler pictures as Sarah discovers Bethany's secret and Maria is released from prison
- EastEnders: 18 new spoiler pictures as Max arouses Lauren's suspicions and Bex struggles to move on
- Hollyoaks: 13 new spoiler pictures for Sienna's baby twist, Bart's threats and Ellie's secret unravelling