Stars Who Received Death Threats for Their TV Character

Mary Grace Garis - Author

Nov. 14 2018, Updated 2:29 p.m. ET

keri russell felicity haircut
Source: Getty Images

Ah, social media. The one place where cute puppy videos and death threats can co-exist in several jarring platforms. While it’s a good time to be a stan of a TV show, people take that stanning to true stalker-y proportions. And there’s definitely something wrong with those who can’t discern fact and fiction and target some poor actor for ruining their fandom. Below, some of the craziest cases of death threats on a celebrity.

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Vanessa Morgan

vanessa morgan death threats
Source: Getty Images

Oh my God, you’ve no doubt heard that last year even the thought of someone dividing Bughead (Riverdale's Betty and Jughead, duh) drove psychotic stans to terrorize Vanessa Morgan. Thing is, her character Toni Topaz hadn’t even arrived on the show when it started

"I’ve already had some death threats," she told Glamour at the time. "But the thing is, it's half death threats because they don't want that [actually] happening, and there's half that's just all love. Who knows if [my character coming between Bughead] is even going to happen. People are just jumping to conclusions."

Things got intense enough that Earth angel Lili Reinhart aka Betty Cooper had to speak up. 

"Bughead shippers are amazing… But the fact that Vanessa is getting death threats because of her character possibly causing problems for Bughead, is seriously @#$%ed up,” she wrote on her Tumblr page. “If you see this happening, please stop it or report it. This is a fictional couple, for god’s sake. This does not constitute sending death threats to my friend and fellow cast mate. I also understand that the people who are doing this represent a very small percentage of the fandom and it does not reflect the actions of most Bughead shippers."

Shannon Purser

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Shannon Purser, who plays Not-Barb Ethel Muggs on Riverdale, recently was under attack because of a chaste in-game kiss with Jug during Griffins & Gargoyles. Like, my GOD. I’m a 27-year-old woman who showed up in a Jughead hat to her friend’s housewarming party, and I’m still not the craziest Cole Sprouse fan out there by a long shot.

Once again, Lili had to be like, “Guys, calm down,” about the whole situation.

“Shannon is my friend, and it is embarrassing that people felt the need to attack her personally for something that happened on a SHOW,” Lili tweeted. “Written by WRITERS. You are not a fan of mine if you treat my friend like this.”

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Josh McDermitt

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People get vicious during the zombie apocalypse, and likewise fans get vicious about their favorite zombie apocalypse shows. For example, there were plenty of torches and pitchforks raised while Walking Dead fans watched Eugene flip-flop like a mad men. So badgered by zealots, actor Josh McDermitt eventually addressed the hate before shuttering all of his social media accounts. 

“‘You can hate Eugene, I don’t care,” he said in a Facebook live video. “You can think whatever you want but when you start saying you hope I die, I don’t know if you’re talking about Josh or Eugene. I gotta report that @#$%, so just don’t be an @#$%$. And just stop complaining.”

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Timothy Granaderos

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Timothy Granaderos is not his 13 Reasons Why character and I need you to know that. Thought Monty brought a hell of a lot of pain to Liberty High — one of the most disturbing TV scenes of 2018 — Timothy doesn't deserve the threats for "what he did to Tyler." Because, and one more time for the people in the back: TIMOTHY GRANADEROS IS NOT HIS 13 REASONS WHY CHARACTER.

In fact he seems like a sweetheart, responding to the vitriol in his Instagram comments gracefully. "My character on @13reasonswhy might incite some strong emotions — that’s more than fair. But let’s not use this post to state the hate, but instead spread the love..."

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Keri Russell

keri russel death threats felicity
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Maybe you youngins’ don’t remember The Haircut That Changed A Nation, but when the titular Felicity chopped off her curls post-break-up with Ben, she turned a popular trope into a cultural firestorm. Fans revolted, ratings plummets, and Keri Russell’s life was never the same (although she did quite well on The Americans and is even starring in a new Star Wars,  thankuverymuch).

But yeah, it was bad. In 2016 Keri went on Late Night With Seth Meyers to share “A Message to My Younger Self” and really vouched hard on staying away from the scissors. 

"Your life is going to be so exciting, but whatever you do, don't cut your hair short during the second season of Felicity," she said. "No, I'm serious. People will freak the hell out. You'll get hate mail. You'll even get death threats. But, gradually, your hair will grow back and your fans will forgive you, but you will never — and I repeat never — forgive your fans."

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Mia Talerico

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So here’s a story about a literal child getting caught in the crossfire of homophobic monsters with unfortunate Photoshop access.

In 2014 the Disney Channel featured two lesbian moms on Good Luck, Charlie, a pleasant if not passive step towards progress. But because social media gives people the ability to be needlessly and illogically evil, outraged conservatives decided to voice their anger by targeting  the titular Charlie: the then five-year-old Mia Talerico. Mia started receiving death threats on her Instagram including pictures of her “head covered by a bloody fist and the message, ‘Yes, kill you stupid @$%^.’” All together now: OMFG. 

I can’t even pinpoint what they were angry about... A Disney Channel character having a playmate that has two moms? I don’t... I can’t... 

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Brenock O'Connor

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Source: HBO

You’d think that Jack Gleeson would get all the hate for his time as grimy little baby sadist Joffrey. He did. But Brenock O’Connor really incited hatred in the Game of Thrones fandom when his character Olly [stage whisper] murdered Jon Snow. WHO LIKE, came back in the next season anyway, so idk what the big deal is. 

Then but a child (though not a Mia Talerico level child), O’Connor dealt with horrific reacts like a champ. "I woke up and I had a tweet from a random guy in America, and it hadn't even come out in England because it was aired the night before in America, and it was, 'I'm going to murder you and your family and rape their corpses and feed it to my dogs,'" Brenock told The Sun. “I was 15 at the time and was like, 'ok, so that's out there'. But you've just got to take it because you've done a believable job. Pat yourself on the back.” 

Yes, major snaps. 

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Sean Hayes (and the cast of 'Will & Grace')

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Sean Hayes was a scene-stealer as “Just Jack!” MacFarland on the original Will & Grace, and yet he was wrestling with inner-turmoil during the early years. While Jack always embraced his identity as a gay man (and was the first to pinpoint Will’s sexuality back in the day), Sean was resistant to come out until the series wrapped up. 

“We would get death threats to the show and I was scared,” he recalled. “I didn’t have the tools at such a young age to deal with the ramifications of coming out as gay in a huge public way."

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Grant Gustin

grant gustin death threats
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Speaking of ship interference, Gleeks got really defensive when Grant Gustin joined the show as Sebastian and loomed over Blaine and Kurt’s romance.  

"[I got], literally, death threats on Twitter saying, 'If you break up Klaine, I will find you and I will kill you,'" Grant says. "Glee fans are intense in the best way possibly, and I appreciate it more than anything, but there was definitely backlash."

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Jussie Smollet

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Empire expertly explored the struggles of Jamal Lyon, a homosexual black man facing constant discrimination in the hip-hop scene...not to mention his own father. It’s an identity not often portrayed on-screen, and unfortunately, it’s not without detractors. At the 2015 Produced By Conference, Empire’s co-creator and executive producer Lee Daniels revealed he and actor Jussie Smollet have faced serious backlash. “Homophobia is real. It exists… Jussie and I both get death threats,” he said. “But we will continue to do our thing.” 

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Anna Gunn

anna gunn death threats
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People will go on monologues about Bryan Cranston’s Walter White was a complex and sympathetic character, which like, I get it. When you’re facing a cancer diagnosis you do crazy things. Nevertheless he was also, you know, a drug lord and harbinger of death if you think about it. Yet, fans don’t hate him for that. They hated his wife Skyler for, you know...tampering with the fun. 

In fact Anna Gunn detailed the exhaustive hatred she had put under for portraying Heisenberg’s big opposer. “At some point on the message boards, the character of Skyler seemed to drop out of the conversation, and people transferred their negative feelings directly to me,” she wrote in The New York Times.  The already harsh online comments became outright personal attacks. One such post read: “Could somebody tell me where I can find Anna Gunn so I can kill her?” Besides being frightened (and taking steps to ensure my safety), I was also astonished: how had disliking a character spiraled into homicidal rage at the actress playing her?”

Clearly the anonymity of the Internet makes people vile...and, honestly, a little stupid.

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