BBC One’s Casualty has seen its fair share of tragedy over the years, and it seems that working in a hospital is just as life-threatening as being admitted to one. In Holby City world, being a doctor definitely doesn’t make you any safer.
From explosions to gun shots, today we’re listing the top 10 character deaths which made us cry the most (and some of them will be a blast from the past!)…
This departure takes us all the way back to Christmas Eve 2006. After chasing after a patient, Staff Nurse Ellen gets hit by a motorbike and sustains catastrophic head injuries and trauma. The team rush Ellen into the E.D. but her injuries are too severe and she is unresponsive.
This death hit the department hard, particularly for Nina, Ellen’s step-sister, and Abs and Harry who had both been romantically involved with Ellen. The nature of Ellen’s death was also a massive twist for the show because Ellen had just recently been treated for endometrial cancer and had been given the all-clear.
Whilst viewers were speculating the loss of Ellen for some time before her death because of her cancer diagnosis, none of us expected such a brutal and sudden end to her character. After going through treatment and coming out the other end, it made Ellen’s passing seem even more heart-breaking and unfair.
The series finale of Series 21 in 2007 brought more tragedy with the loss of specialist surgeon and doctor Selena Donovan after she is shot in the back of the neck by a patient. Selena’s time on the show involved a prominent love triangle between Nathan and Harry. After accepting Nathan’s marriage proposal, Selena discovers he had been cheating on her and breaks it off, attempting to rekindle her relationship with Harry.
During this time, it is also revealed that Selena is pregnant with Nathan’s child. However, before Selena and Harry can reunite properly, they are both held at gun point in rhesus by an unstable patient. After seemingly defusing the situation, the patient becomes scared once again and inadvertently shoots at Selena.
Harry and the rest of the gang pull all their efforts to save her but Selena unfortunately dies from her head wound. What makes this death even more devastating is that the team manage to deliver Selena and Nathan’s baby girl via a c-section after realising Selena cannot be saved. Whilst initially having high hopes for her survival, the baby is very premature and later also tragically passes away.
The series of Casualty back in 2009 followed the nail-biting storyline of paramedic Curtis Cooper and his struggle to forget his past and disappear from the radar of a gang who killed his brother and start a new life with receptionist Alice. After Curtis testifies against the gang to get justice for his brother, the gang threatens and attacks Alice which causes riffs in the couple’s relationship.
Before Curtis and Alice can get married and run away together, escaping the gang’s clutches, the story comes to an intense climax when the gang cause havoc in the E.D. and Alice is taken hostage on the roof. In a bid to save the love of his life, Curtis pushes the gang leader from the roof, but also falls with him and lands fatally.
The paramedic team are understandably broken when Curtis passes away, having been a tight-knit community, but Alice takes his death the hardest. Despite all their differences, Curtis and Alice managed to find love in each other but their story was harshly snatched away by blood and violence. Curtis’ sacrifice will always have us tearing up.
After the devastating death of Curtis at the end of the last series, Casualty returned with a new run of episodes in 2009 but none of us expected yet another deadly fate. With most of the department still mourning Curtis, several new junior F2 doctors join the E.D. ready for action. This included Heather whose first ever shift in Holby turned out to be fatal.
Despite only appearing in two episodes, Heather’s death was just as impactful as that of long-running characters because of the affect on Doctor Adam Trueman who was supervising and training her on her first shift. Originally coming across as quiet and moody, Heather soon opens up and begins to bond with Adam.
The two characters get to know each other when they become trapped in a burning shopping centre. As they try and escape up an elevator shaft, the lift falls and kills Heather, causing a massive explosion. Heather’s death clearly distresses the remaining junior doctors and the traumatic event haunts Adam who blames himself for her death. The two-part episode is an emotionally shattering and visually stunning masterpiece.
Baby Harry Trueman
I guess Adam can’t catch a break because in 2010, after falling in love with Staff Nurse Jessica and having a baby boy together called Harry, Adam and Jessica agree to get married. With two older children from Jessica’s first marriage, Adam drives the family to the wedding venue but, on the way, suddenly crashes into a frozen lake.
As the car sinks, Adam rescues the two children out of the back window but Jessica and baby Harry are both submerged completely. After diving into the water, Adam resurfaces with Jessica before diving again for the baby. Harry is quickly stabilised but Jessica is left in a critical state. The episode focuses on her tricky recovery, but Adam and the rest of the E.D. pull their best efforts to save her and they succeed.
However, in a turn of events, as Adam begins to relax and calm his nerves, baby Harry deteriorates and, despite the department’s best efforts, they unfortunately lose him. The episode ends tragically and when Jessica awakes from a coma weeks later, she is unable to deal with her grief and blames Adam for not saving Harry before herself. This causes a heart-breaking scar in the couple’s relationship which never heals and results in a devastating, permanent break-up.
Staff Nurse Megan’s return to the show in 2010 was highly-anticipated but her reunion with Charlie did not come without issues. As Charlie is faced with his old colleague, he discovers Megan is suffering with cancer and he is forced to make a terrible decision.
Megan turns to Charlie in her time of need and hopes for an impossible request from him when she asks him to help her die. Having battled and lost the war with her illness, Megan wants to pass away peacefully and in a standalone episode Charlie reaches out to colleague Staff Nurse Tess to help him carry out the tragic deed.
Telling a heart-breaking story on the controversial topic of euthanasia, this emotional episode focused solely on the three friends as they say goodbye to each other. Megan’s last scene was extremely bittersweet and touching and the episode was a highlight for long-running fans of the show. It was a tragic blast from the past to see Megan’s character again for the last time.
Young and sweet Polly worked as a paramedic in Holby but soon realised the role wasn’t quite for her in 2011. Discovering her love for helping people with mental illnesses and dreaming to make a difference, Polly gets a new job training to be a counsellor. However, after her final shift at Holby, Polly tries to help a regular patient who continues to struggle with her mental health and is accidentally stabbed in the heart.
Polly is left undiscovered in the basement, bleeding out, before Jay finds her. Polly is rushed into rhesus but she passes away before the team can fix the wound. What made Polly’s death so impactful was how much she helped and positively influenced so many people around her.
Dylan felt responsible for Polly’s death because she was stabbed by the patient who Dylan ignored and didn’t take seriously. Jay, after previously having a small romantic fling with Polly, is visibly traumatised by the event and takes Polly’s dying advice to rekindle his relationship with colleague Ruth, and paramedics Jeff and Dixie, who took Polly under their wing like parents, were suddenly forced to struggle with life and work without her.
Long-running character and life-saving paramedic, Jeff, met his tragic demise in 2014 when a car full of E.D. doctors crashes and explodes. During this series of the show, Jeff and Dixie, having been platonically married for several years, agree to file a divorce in order for Jeff to propose to girlfriend and fellow paramedic, Tamzin.
Although, before Jeff can pop the question, all three paramedics turn up to the crash site and help save everyone inside the vehicle. The episode is an intense and dramatic rollercoaster with a fiery explosion at the climax. A bunch of characters lives are put in danger, including Connie, Tess and Ethan.
However, in an unexpected twist, all of Holby’s doctors are rescued before the car goes up in flames but Jeff is unfortunately at the heart of the fire which kills him instantly. Dixie and Tamzin both struggle to come to terms with Jeff’s death and he is branded a hero for continuously risking his life for others.
A dramatic episode of the show which aired back in 2017 was rumoured to involve a major character death but the story actually involved a red herring when registrar Lily is hit by a car. As the E.D. rush to save the day, all attention is drawn to keeping Lily alive. The department succeeds in saving her life but, meanwhile, the son of another patient blames the hospital for his father’s death and attempts to attack Ethan.
Ethan’s older brother, Cal, comes to the rescue and is stabbed whilst trying to protect Ethan and is left bleeding in the rain. Cal later dies in rhesus after the team eventually finds him, and the episode ends with a heart-breaking scene where Ethan hugs Cal’s body, having been unable to say goodbye.
During his last few episodes on the show, Caleb became an activist and fought for the working hours of Holby’s doctors to be fairly distributed, arguing that NHS staff were being overworked. This passionate fighting spirit made Cal’s death even more devastating. Having been a part of one of the biggest love triangle on the series, Ethan and Alicia found dealing with Cal’s death particularly hard.
Paramedic Sam returned to the show in 2017 and her fearless and strong attitude allowed for a strong friendship with fellow paramedic Iain and a passionate romance with Staff Nurse Jacob. These close relationships were not to last and viewers are still mourning the loss of such a fan-favourite character.
Last year, whilst transporting an injured Alicia, Iain and paramedic Ruby, were involved in a large crash involving several vehicles. Initially trapped in the ambulance, Iain, Alicia and Ruby manage to escape but Sam is the one to take a fatal hit when a later explosion hurls shrapnel into her abdomen.
Unaware of the extent of her injuries and leaving her wounds unattended, Sam later collapses in the ambulance bay where she is found by Iain. Despite his best efforts, Iain doesn’t manage to resuscitate Sam when she deteriorates and he struggles to work through his feelings of guilt and responsibility for the crash and Sam’s death. With Sam having only returned to the show a year ago, nobody expected this plot twist and the ending of the episode showed Iain desperately trying everything to save his friend and it was devastating.