The most devastating soap deaths through the years – from Barry Evans to Hayley Cropper

The most memorable character deaths in soaps are heartbreaking, shocking and sometimes even inevitable.

Much-loved characters will stay with you forever – particularly ones who had utterly tragic ends to their storylines.

As we take a look back at some of our favourite soaps' most devastating deaths, these are the ones we just can't get over…

Barry Evans (EastEnders)

Self-proclaimed "heartless cow" Janine Butcher married businessman Barry Evans on New Years Eve 2003 for his money before promptly luring him to his death out in the Scottish countryside on their honeymoon.

Iconic scenes showed Janine pushing Barry over a cliff after he begged her not to leave him.

"I have never loved you… it was fake," she told him.

Barry fell and hit his head on a rock and instead of responding to his calls for help, Janine watched him die.

Tina McIntyre (Coronation Street)

Tina McIntyre, played by Michelle Keegan, first arrived on the cobbles in 2008 and soon became one of the soap's much-loved characters.

But Tina was gruesomely killed off in 2014 after she was pushed off a balcony by Carla's brother Rob Donovon after she threatened to tell the police about their dodgy business dealings with Barlow's Buys.

However, after initially surviving the fall, Rob beat her with a metal pole, and she later died in hospital despite having undergone surgery to reduce the swelling on her brain.

Ronnie and Roxy Mitchell (EastEnders)

Sisters Ronnie and Roxy met their tragic fate in an episode which aired on New Year's Day in 2017. The episode began in high spirits as Ronnie prepared to tie the knot with Jack Branning but after a drunk Roxy decided to take a swim, she soon found herself in difficulty.

Ronnie jumped into the pool to try and save her but, weighed down by her long, lace wedding gown, she too drowned.

EastEnders boss Sean O'Connor revealed the reason why the pair had to die, instead of just leaving Walford.

He told The Sun: “[Ronnie and Roxy] were not the sort of characters that would leave in the back of a taxi.

“We wanted to give them an operatic ending.”

Madge Bishop (Neighbours)

Madge had starred on Ramsey Street since January 1986 and was famously married to Harold Bishop.

But in 2001, their love story came to an end after she was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer and she contracted septicaemia shortly afterward.

With her beloved husband Harold by her side, she died in bed.

Madge's death was particularly devastating as viewers really felt for Harold, who had already suffered much loss in his life. He lost his son David, daughter in law Liljana and granddaughter Serena when they were killed in a plane crash that aired on the soap's anniversary in 2005.

Tiffany Mitchell (EastEnders)

EastEnders featured a shock death on New Year's Eve 1998 when Tiffany Mitchell, played by Martine McCuthcheon, died.

Upon hearing Tiffany's plans to flee the country, Grant snatched their daughter Courtney and ran. Hysterical and frightened, Tiffany pursued them, which resulted in her running straight into an oncoming car – driven by Frank Butcher.

As the clocks chimed midnight, a helpless crowd watched as Tiffany died outside the Vic just moments after being run over, leaving her little girl without a mother.

Hayley Cropper (Coronation Street)

Hayley Cropper died in January 2014 after 16 years on the soap.

There had been hope for Hayley who was initially diagnosed with stage two cancer before undergoing an operation and chemotherapy to give her the best chance at recovery. But Hayley and Roy spent their last Christmas together in 2013 and soon after, Hayley was given just weeks to live.

On 20 January, she told Roy that she wanted to die that day and even ironed Roy's shirt for her funeral.

With her husband by her side, Hayley took her final breath after downing a lethal cocktail of drugs.

Bradley Branning (EastEnders)

In EastEnders' first foray into a live episode special, Bradley Branning died tragically after falling from a rooftop.

At the end of the live episode on 19 February 2010, Bradley died after falling from the roof of the Queen Victoria pub while being pursued by a policeman over suspicion of killing Archie Mitchell.

Viewers were left stunned after Stacey famously admitted to the murder after Bradley had fallen to his death.

Emmerdale plane crash

The Emmerdale Plane Crash, also known as the Beckindale Air Disaster, aired on 30 December 1993 and gave Emmerdale its highest ever viewing figures of 18 million.

There were four victims of the devastating plane crash – Mark Hughes, Elizabeth Pollard, Archie Brooks and Leonard Kempinski. Five other villagers, who were not characters in the series, were also killed, as well as all 138 plane passengers and crew.

Aidan Connor (Coronation Street)

In an episode of Coronation Street which highlighted the important issue of male suicide, Aidan Connor tragically took his own life.

Weatherfield residents were unaware of Aidan Connor's ongoing battle with depression – while ITV viewers picked up on his secret ordeal.

In May 2018, Johnny Connor discovered his son’s body at his Victoria Street flat after Aidan failed to turn up for work at the factory.

No element of the suicide was shown on screen, but a handwritten note warned: “Don’t go in the bathroom. Call the police.” Then we heard the distressing cry of raw grief from Johnny.

Speaking about Aidan's tragic death, actor Shayne Ward said he hoped his character's storyline could help someone in some way.

He told The Sun: “Aidan is an ‘everyman’ figure, he is someone men can identify with, which is important in telling this story.

"We hope that anyone who recognises something of themselves in Aidan, will realise they can, and really should, talk about how they’re feeling."

Dot Cotton (EastEnders )

Chain-smoking Dot Cotton was famous for her devout Christian faith and hypochondria.

And her upcoming funeral will be poignant as it pays tribute to actress June Brown, who tragically passed away aged 95 in April.

June played the role of Dot from 1985 to 2020, with a break between 1993 and 1997. She departed from the soap in 2020 when her character moved to Ireland.

Later this month viewers will see Dot return to Walford to be buried.

Her marriage to Jim Branning, played by John Bardon, was popular among fans – while she was also mother to the notorious criminal Nick Cotton, played by John Altman.


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