It’s always hard for fans when a character from one of their favorite shows is unexpectedly killed off. It’s even worse when the circumstances around the death don’t feel satisfying. Fans of CBS cop drama Blue Bloods had to contend with the loss of a character they’d been with for seven seasons when they learned that Linda Reagan (Amy Carlson), wife of Detective Danny Reagan (Donnie Wahlberg), had died under circumstances that felt disappointing at best.
Linda’s strange departure from the show had longtime fans wondering if the move to kill off the wife, mother, and ER nurse was less motivated by the show’s story, and more by behind-the-scenes drama. Both Amy Carlson and her co-stars spoke out about the decision to kill off Linda in the aftermath of the shocking development. Let’s get out our detective badges, and piece together the actual reason that Blue Bloods disposed of one of its best-loved characters.
Linda’s controversial death on Blue Bloods
The last fans saw of Linda was the finale of season 7. After her husband became embroiled in a major drug bust, he found himself in the crosshairs of a criminal organization that was looking to send a message. This resulted in the couple’s house being burned down in the final moments of the episode. Fans were relieved to see that Linda, Danny, and their children were safe, and the season ended with them seeking shelter at Danny’s father’s house.
Given that season finales are typically where major character deaths occur in TV shows, Blue Bloods aficionados would be forgiven for thinking that the Reagan clan was safe for another season. However, when the eighth season premiere aired, it was obvious that someone was missing. Linda was nowhere to be seen in the episode, and in some clunky exposition it was revealed that she had died between the events of seasons 7 and 8 in a helicopter crash while treating patients as part of her job as an ER nurse. Needless to say, the surprising and underwhelming conclusion to one of the series’ longest running characters was a shock.
The real reason behind Linda’s death
The strange death seemed like a clear indication that Linda’s demise was not originally a part of the story arc the writers had envisioned for her character. Sadly, the search for answers would prove to be as confusing as Linda’s death itself.
After the episode aired, fans took to Twitter to express their feelings, and actress Amy Carlson responded with a vague message of thanks. “I’m so grateful to CBS and the Blue Bloods cast and crew. Mostly, I am grateful to the fans who have supported me and the show.”
Things got a bit more complicated several months later when the remaining cast of Blue Bloods appeared on a panel at the television industry event PaleyFest. When asked about Carlson’s departure, her co-star Bridget Moynahan, who plays Linda’s sister-in-law on the show, had this to say: “We were all disappointed to see that she was going. It was unfortunate that she made that decision at the end of season 7, so we were stuck with the story line as we could get it… But I’m really thrilled for her to go off and pursue other things and follow what she felt was best for her.”
These comments seemed to confirm industry rumors that Carlson chose to not renew her contract after season 7 in order to pursue other opportunities, as reported by Deadline. The seemingly backhanded farewell message caused Carlson to finally open up about her departure from the show.
Amy Carlson opens up about Linda’s shocking death
After Moynahan’s comments at PaleyFest, Carlson pushed back on Twitter. “I am appalled and sad about comments made @paleycenter about Linda’s demise on #BlueBloods #inaccurate,” she wrote.
Still, the mystery of Carlson’s departure remained. Did she voluntarily leave the show in order to explore other acting gigs, or was she written off against her wishes? After the PaleyFest, fallout the actress gave an interview to Deadline that shined a bit more light on the issue.
Although Carlson didn’t explicitly open up about the reason for her departure, her answer to a question about Moynahan’s comments provided a clue. “I would just respond… and say it’s standard to have conversations with actors whose contracts are up prior to the season ending. It’s not that you start to shoot and don’t know.”
If Carlson did indeed elect to not renew her contract, this answer seems to imply that instead of discussing her departure from the show with her, that producers hastily wrote her character off without consulting the actress. Elsewhere in the interview, Carlson clarified that she was unaware of how the show would handle Linda’s departure and that “I never wanted it to end that way.”
While we may never have an entirely clear answer as to why Linda was killed off in the manner she was, the quiet drama following her departure from the show indicates that the decision wasn’t entirely mutual.