'The Rookie' Just Killed Off a Major Character In Its Very First Season (SPOILERS)

Why did Mercedes Mason leave 'The Rookie'? The actress didn't really have a choice.

Allison Cacich - Author

Apr. 16 2020, Updated 2:15 p.m. ET

the rookie cast
Source: ABC

Not many TV shows have the, ahem, balls to kill off a major character in their first season, but ABC’s The Rookie did just that in its March 19 episode.

If you aren’t caught up with the freshman dramedy, we suggest you stop reading now because major spoilers from Episode 16 will be revealed in the paragraphs below!

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Why did they kill the captain on The Rookie?

Fans were shocked when Captain Zoe Andersen (Mercedes Mason) died in the line of duty while assisting Police Officer John Nolan (Nathan Fillion) in a shootout. The former Marine was killed with a gunshot to the neck by a man whose girlfriend Nolan had arrested earlier in the episode.

why did they kill the captain on the rookie
Source: ABC
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Showrunner Alexi Hawley revealed on Twitter that he didn’t always intend to kill off Zoe. "We went back and forth about it in the writers' room. But it ultimately felt like the most dramatic and powerful way to impact our story," he wrote in response to a fan’s question.

"It definitely has an impact on how [Nolan] sees and does the job," Alexi added. "If anything, he feels a greater responsibility to succeed to honor her memory, and the faith she placed in him."

Though the show hasn’t officially been renewed for a second season, the series' creator admitted that he’s already working on potential arcs. "With this amazing cast, there's an embarrassment of stories to be told," he shared.

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Why did Mercedes leave The Rookie?

While some TV characters get killed off when the actors who play them decide to leave the show, it doesn’t sound like that was the case for Mercedes, who only played Zoe for 15 episodes.

The actress hasn’t addressed her departure from the series on social media, though she did live-tweet the episode that saw her character’s demise. Fans continued to express their outrage on the platform long after the show aired.

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why did mercedes leave the rookie
Source: ABC

"Thought we’d see more of you. Broke my heart to watch that scene," one Twitter user wrote on Mercedes’ account. Another added, "Tonight's episode really hit hard. You played a great character, and while the Rookie is and will be a great show, I can't [help] feeling it lost a bit of [its] light. Congrats on a great arc, and all the best in the future."

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In a 2018 interview, Mercedes — who is best known for her roles on Fear the Walking Dead and NCIS: Los Angeles — talked about the show’s innate optimism. 

"We're so hyper-aware of all this hatred and all the horrors going on in the world. I think it's naturally human instinct to seek some sort of affirmation that human nature is good. That there are still good people out there," she told UPI.

The brunette beauty, who had just given birth to a baby boy when she first read the script, added, "Not only do I get to play a strong, female character, but I have a team — an amazing group of people — who are supporting me breastfeeding on set, spending time with my son. That's rare."

Captain Andersen will certainly be missed. Watch new episodes of The Rookie every Tuesday at 10 p.m. ET on ABC.

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