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A high death toll comes with the territory in Hollyoaks. As the fastest-paced and probably most eventful soap, the show needs a never-ending supply of game-changing twists and shock cliffhangers – with some characters becoming collateral damage along the way.
Sometimes though, an untimely demise can spark an outcry from fans who weren't ready to see a particular character have the door slammed shut on them. Here, we're taking a look back at seven times Hollyoaks chose the wrong character to kill off.
1. Steph Cunningham (2010)
Carley Stenson had been playing Steph Cunningham for a decade when she decided to bow out in 2010. Steph's final storyline saw her diagnosed with terminal cancer in heartbreaking scenes, although her eventual exit took a rather sensational turn when she decided to burn horribly in a fire rather than let her illness take hold.
Killing off such a long-serving character certainly gave Hollyoaks some big headlines at the time, but ever since, there have been tell-tale signs that the show regrets not leaving the door open. Steph came back for one episode as a ghost in 2011 and she still hadn't been forgotten in 2017 when Carley sung over on-screen mum Frankie's death scene.
Asked who he'd bring back from the dead in a 2015 interview, Hollyoaks' most recent producer Bryan Kirkwood replied: "Lovely Carley Stenson who played Steph. Carley was an adorable presence backstage and a fantastic performer on screen, she had every string to her bow. Comedy, warmth and proper acting chops and I personally would never have killed her off. But this is Hollyoaks so never say never!"
2. Rhys Ashworth (2012)
When Hollyoaks was undergoing a revamp in 2012, show bosses introduced the 'Enjoy The Ride' wedding crash storyline to kick things off with a bang. Fans rejoiced when most of the unpopular sixth formers perished in the carnage, but there was definitely one death too many when Rhys also didn't live to tell the tale. Boo!
Rhys had undergone one of Hollyoaks' best character developments over the years, transforming himself from serial love rat to Jacqui's loyal husband. But just weeks before his departure, the writers introduced an unpopular affair plot for Rhys and Cindy, seemingly to trick us into feeling less sad when he met his maker a few weeks later. (It didn't work).
In a chat with Inside Soap, Andrew Moss – who played Rhys – didn't hold back: "That actually wasn't how my character should have gone out. The person in charge at the time was only there for a short period, and I feel we didn't do the character justice — he deserved more after seven years on screen. They ruined the character towards the end and I did fight against it."
3. Clare Devine (2013)
When the show celebrated its 18th birthday in 2013, it decided to "celebrate" the occasion in true Hollyoaks style by killing off seven (yes, SEVEN) characters in one week. Five characters perished in the main show, while two others lost their lives in after-dark spinoff Hollyoaks Later.
With Hollyoaks promoting a deadly explosion storyline that week, it was inevitable that some characters would die – but the loss of classic superbitch Clare Devine was seen as a shame by many. Cruel Clare was knocked over in the road by Doctor Browning and was barely mentioned again, even though her family were later brought in.
Although Clare's popularity with fans had taken a dive with her camped-up 2013 return storyline, there's no denying that the show lost one of its most recognisable villains with the shock death plot. And it's not just us who think it was short-sighted…
4. Jenny Houston / Rebecca Massey (2011)
Remember when EastEnders star Lacey Turner's sister Daisy joined Hollyoaks for a few weeks? Daisy played the role of conwoman Rebecca Massey, who was always intended to be a victim of serial killer Silas Blissett when she was introduced for a short storyline.
Posing as "Jenny", the sister of dead club owner Danny, sneaky Rebecca got in way over her head when she targeted a rich old man online and planned to steal his money. Unbeknown to her, she was actually chatting to serial slayer Silas and got herself strangled in the woods when it all went wrong.
The only problem was that, just like her soap star sister, Daisy was a true natural on screen and brought a burst of new energy to the show. At the time, rumour had it that Hollyoaks even briefly considered changing the storyline to keep her around, but there was just no stopping Silas…
5. Dylan Jenkins (2015)
Hollyoaks' Gloved Hand Killer was a dab hand at getting rid of some fairly annoying characters in 2015 – Rick Spencer, Will Savage, Mariam Andrews, Ashley Davidson. We weren't overly pleased when crazed serial killer Lindsey targeted Phoebe McQueen, although Mandip Gill was keen to leave and it's hardly done her career any harm, has it?
But one character who really did seem to leave much too soon was Trevor Royle's cross-dressing son Dylan, who was a breath of fresh air among the teen cast when he joined for an eight-month stint in 2015.
Young actor James Fletcher also insisted it was choice to leave after Dylan got his fatal dose of potassium chloride, but with likeable teens often being hard to come by in the soap world, maybe a recast (or tempting pay rise) would have worked well here.
6. Lockie Campbell (2016)
Lothario Lockie had great chemistry with most characters in the village, and usually wasn't shy of acting on it. Even so, Nick Rhys – who played Lockie – argued that the Scottish charmer had untapped potential when he made an abrupt exit from the show in January 2016.
Lockie's final scenes saw him preparing to leave town after discovering that his brother Cameron was an unhinged murderer, but Killer Cam caught up with him just as he was heading off. A few months later, it was officially confirmed on screen that Lockie was dead.
Show bosses have introduced Lockie's cousin Courtney since killing him off, and with Cameron no longer in the show, it does seem a shame to just have one Campbell family member on our screens. Fortunately, we never did see Lockie's body for ourselves, so the door isn't completely closed…
7. Dirk Savage (2018)
Fans were shocked when David Kennedy's character Dirk Savage was electrocuted in a swimming pool following a fateful showdown with Milo Entwistle. David had played the role for seven years and his character brought some perfect everyday "Nice Guy" normality to the show amid the usual craziness of life in Hollyoaks.
Viewers were quick to air their opinions on Twitter after Dirk left the show, complaining that one of their favourite characters had been sacrificed just for the sake of a twist. Perhaps it would've been better if someone truly deserving had perished, like gangster Glenn or abusive Buster?
"There's been a terrible accident," Milo moaned after watching Dirk die before his eyes. Terrible mistake, more like…
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