There are a handful of tragic deaths in ABC’s police procedural, The Rookie, and some are especially heartbreaking for fans of the show to watch.
Given the nature of the job, there’s bound to be dangerous situations during each episode of ABC’s police procedural, The Rookie. John Nolan has managed to come out of each shift relatively unscathed, but not all of his friends and fellow officers have been as lucky.
While there aren’t too many major deaths throughout its four seasons, the show has still lost a handful of fan-favorite characters. Most of them are shocking plot twists no one saw coming in The Rookie, and each packs an emotional punch. However, certain deaths have left a bigger impact on viewers than others.
It might appear a bit odd to put Armstrong on this list, given that he’s one of the most powerful antagonists in The Rookie. Yet, his death still manages to come as a disappointment in Season 3 Episode 1 “Consequences.” Armstrong spends the entirety of The Rookie Season 2 convincing both Nolan and the audience that he can be trusted. He makes a few questionable decisions when he’s first introduced, but his actions are easily explained away and disregarded.
Armstrong does so many noble things, that in some ways, it’s hard to believe that he’s been a villain the entire time. His kindness is clearly a way of diverting suspicion, but he trades his life for Lucy’s when she’s buried alive. If Armstrong’s truly as focused on self-preservation as he’s later revealed to be, his sacrifice in Season 2 Episode 11, “Day of Death” doesn’t make much sense. While Armstrong’s murder inadvertently saves Nolan’s life, it’s not unreasonable to mourn for the character viewers thought he was.
Erin Cole isn’t in the series for long, but her murder is especially disheartening due to the circumstances surrounding it. As one of the rookies who trained with Nolan, Lucy, and Jackson in the academy, she shares a special bond with the main characters. She may have been working with Armstrong, but her betrayal doesn’t overshadow the tragedy of her death.
While Erin is responsible for her own actions, Armstrong has a way of manipulating others and backing them into a corner. Erin is clearly going through an internal struggle, as she even points the gun at herself in Season 2 Episode 19, “The Q Word.” Regardless of her begrudging alliance, Erin didn’t deserve to die.
Like Erin, the rookies befriend Chris during their time at the Academy. He also isn’t heavily featured, since he’s assigned to a different division, but he quickly becomes a likable character in The Rookie. The show doesn’t suffer from his death, as Chris isn’t someone viewers had time to form an emotional attachment to. However, it still manages to be distressing due to the impact it has on Jackson.
Jackson and Chris are in constant competition with each other, yet it all comes from a place of love. The two are portrayed to be close, and Jackson is devastated by the loss of his friend. In one of the most heartbreaking scenes of the series, Lucy lays beside Jackson in bed and holds him while he cries.
Captain Zoe Andersen
In regards to how it’s filmed and addressed by the series, Captain Andersen’s death elicits the most devasting emotional response. Andersen is a well-loved and respected police captain, and she fights to make a real change within the force. She rules through compassion rather than fear, yet refuses to let her officers take advantage of the power they’re given.
While Andersen doesn’t hesitate to call people out when they make a mistake, she also makes sure to give praise where it’s due. Andersen dies saving Nolan’s life, and his reaction is gut-wrenching. With heavy hearts, the LAPD salute their captain as her body is removed from the scene. Nothing is the same after Andersen passes, but Tim points out that Andersen’s life—not her death—can be used to make them better cops.
Although it’s a heartbreaking disappointment, Jackson’s death is a plot twist everyone saw coming in The Rookie. Fans grew suspicious when Jackson was absent from promotional material, including the trailer and the show poster for The Rookie Season 4. Additionally, actor Titus Makin disappeared from social media for months, creating more cause for concern. While the circumstances of his departure remain foggy, it’s clear that Jackson’s death wasn’t intended to be a part of the storyline.
He’s killed off within the first few minutes of Season 4 Episode 1, “Life and Death,” and is only featured from the back due to the actor’s absence. It’s apparent why his death was filmed in such a manner, but it doesn’t make the scene any less horrid. Jackson’s friends watch the surveillance footage as he is fatally shot from behind and stuffed into a trunk. It’s a brutal way for such a youthful and vibrant character to go out, and it’s the biggest loss the show has suffered. Angela naming her baby after Jackson is a heartwarming gesture, yet nothing can fill the hole Jackson leaves behind.