While he was tasked with babysitting a 3-year-old, the young child enters the room holding a gun he obtained from inside the house and accidentally shoots Ryan in the chest. Cue the tears.
Sadly, the Seattle-based police officer did not make it. Executive producer and showrunner Krista Vernoff spoke with Entertainment Weekly about the message behind the shocking episode, explaining, “4.6 million U.S. children live in houses with guns that are unlocked and loaded. Three-thousand U.S. children and teens die each year in accidental shootings in homes. ... But it’s rare to see it depicted on television because it’s so brutal."
She continued: "We really wanted to make sure we protected the actor throughout this experience – the boy held a green block in his hands and we replaced it with visual effects. I hope Ryan’s death inspires someone to save their own family by locking up their guns.”
'Station 19' actor Alberto Frezza shares his thoughts on what happened to Ryan.
"[Krista] called me when she decided what she wanted to do with the show. She told me her vision for Season 3 and told me why this was what the show needed, mainly that it’s what Andy (Jaina Lee Ortiz) needed," the actor explained about finding out his character's fate.
"She wanted to create awareness on the topic and help start a conversation. We really need people to take this gun situation seriously, especially when it concerns families with kids.”
For Season 3, Andy is going to be dealing with "survivor's guilt" after watching her best friend die. Alberto also teased that Ryan's death may bring Andy and her father closer, since the two have been struggling with their relationship.
While fans (including us) are sad to see Ryan killed off the series, this may not be goodbye forever. The showrunner told EW that the police officer could make a return in a few episodes via flashbacks.
“We have a flashback motif in nearly every episode this season and I could definitely see Ryan appearing again,” she said. “We love Alberto. And he is a painful loss for the show, but he got how powerful his death would be at the hands of a 3-year-old who thinks he’s playing. He was so game for all of it.”
The ABC exec explained that she wanted to put the main character Andy through some turmoil this season and watch how she grows from the tragic life experience. "I felt like I had seen the bright and shiny side of her and I was interested in exploring her dark and twisty side. This accelerated that,” she told the outlet.
Adding, “Yes, this has been intensely traumatic. That’s the design. Life is full of trauma and loss and heartbreak and watching characters we like and love rise from the ashes and figure out who they are in the wake of that kind of loss is, for me, powerful. You don’t just come back from a loss like that — you come back changed.”
Catch new episodes of Station 19 on Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.