When “Two and a Half Men” returns to the small screen Monday night, it will do so without former main man Charlie Sheen. Instead, in a TV twist of fate that hardly requires a spoiler alert given that each of the “Men” involved have had his oh-so-public say about it, Sheen’s on-screen alter ego, Charlie Harper, will join the dearly departed.
Bummer — or maybe not.
While death is rarely considered a laughing matter in real life, on television, it’s often the stuff of giggles and guffaws. Sure, there’s a long list of very special episodes that have taken the Grim Reaper’s work seriously, even on sitcoms. (See the falls of “M*A*S*H’s” Henry Blake, Edith Bunker from “All in the Family” / “Archie’s Place” and — sniff! — “Good Times” dad James Evans Sr.) But the end of a character needn't be a hanky-worthy occasion.
Just take a look at some of television’s most memorable and laughable memorials that took place long before Sheen sealed Harper’s fate.
In the realm of chortle-inducing TV deaths, the untimely demise of Chuckles the Clown from “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” really set the bar.
In an episode aptly titled “Chuckles Bites the Dust,” Mary chastised her boss and co-workers for treating the beloved clown’s death like a yuk-fest — especial Murray, who dared to crack wise at the clown’s wake. But it was Mary who couldn’t contain herself when reminded there was nothing the red-shod one loved more than “a little song, a little dance, a little seltzer down his pants.”
It’s no secret that “Mad Men’s” Don Draper can’t keep a secretary, but in the case of the formidable Miss Ida Blankenship, Don couldn’t be blamed for driving her away.
The “Queen of Perversions” often cause others in the office discomfort, whether it was due to her bristly attitude or the equally stubborn nature of her mortal remains – just watch Joan struggle to free that granny square afghan Blankenship checked out on.
In the words of Roger Sterling: “She died like she lived — surrounded by the people she answered phones for.”
Rosalind gets shafted
Whether fans loved to hate her or simply hated her, Rosalind Shays certainly made an impression during her heyday on “L.A. Law” — especially when she plummeted to her final fate.
Sure, some could argue that Roz's eternal ouster wasn’t meant to generate laughs, but watch her give Leland and their weird relationship a smug so long before stepping into an elevator shaft going (way, way) down, and just try not to find it funny.
A headless humdinger
When Michael Scott’s former boss Ed Truck became Headless Truck thanks to a run-in with, well, a truck, it left “The Office’s” then-leading man reeling.
“It feels like somebody took my heart and dropped it into a bucket of boiling tears,” Michael moaned in a funny fit of sorrow. “And at the same time, somebody else is hitting my soul in the crotch with a frozen sledge hammer. And then a third guy walks in and starts punching me in the grief bone.”
Licked at life
No matter how hard he tried, George Costanza couldn’t find a way to wriggle out of his impending nuptials to Susan Ross — well, at least not on purpose.
In the end — Susan’s end, that is — George managed his goal in a roundabout way. Thanks to his cheapskate ways, Susan passed away after licking the toxic envelope glue from one too many budget wedding invitations.
Kramer put it best when he said, “Poor Lily.”
They killed everybody! (You bastards!)
The “South Park” gang routinely gets the last laugh at death, wether it comes at the expense of Kenny, as it so often has, the once-beloved Chef, several real-life dearly departed celebrities or the otherwise still-alive Justin Bieber.
Do you remember any other laugh-out-loud final moments on TV? Do you plan to turn into the next one on Monday night's “Men” premiere? Tell us on our Facebook page!