The Sudden Death of [SPOILER] in 'the Great' Shocked Fans to Their Core


May 23 2023, Updated 2:24 p.m. ET

Nicholas Hoult as Peter in 'The Great'
Source: Hulu

Spoiler alert! This article contains major spoilers for Season 3, Episode 6 of The Great on Hulu.

Not many shows are bold enough to kill off one of their main characters, but The Great has decided to take a note out of Succession's playbook and do just that. Fans were shocked when Peter (Nicholas Hoult) stubbornly refused to heed Catherine's (Elle Fanning) advice and tried to ride off, only to fall through an icy lake with his horse and drown.

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Why did they kill Peter in The Great? Nicholas Hoult has continued to receive accolades for his performance, but where will the show go now? Plus, how did the real Emperor Peter III die? Keep reading for all of your questions, answered.

Nicholas Hoult and Elle Fanning as Emperor Peter III and Catherine of Russia in 'The Great.'
Source: Hulu
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Why did they kill Peter in 'The Great'?

So far, showrunner Tony McNamara has kept quiet about the decision to kill Peter, but actor Nicholas Hoult spoke to Entertainment Weekly to describe how he discovered Peter would die.

"I don't think I knew the ins and outs of how Peter died, but it felt very in keeping with Tony's writing to keep it unpredictable, both physically in terms of what happens, but also emotionally. And I think it was never going to be something that was going to be clean cut and simple to deal with."

Nicholas also admitted that he was "upset" by Peter's death, saying, "It's very strange, because it's a character that I loved playing. And it felt like I was saying goodbye to him."

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Peter (Nicholas Hoult) in 'The Great' has a crisis.
Source: Hulu

Fans are hoping that soon, Tony will be able to provide some answers about that gut-wrenching death scene, as well as what Peter would say to Catherine when he turned back around (perhaps, one of few times where he would admit he was wrong?). Until then, Russia is firmly in Catherine's hands as she navigates grief and holds the country together.

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How did Peter really die in history?

According to Harper's Bazaar, in history, Catherine successfully overthrew Peter in 1762, forcing Peter to sign abdication paperwork and subsequently jailing him. A little less than a month later, Peter died in jail, although the circumstances around his death are still mysterious because the autopsy cited his death as a "hemorrhoidal colic." Catherine was also the one who ordered the autopsy, sparking suspicion about her motives.

Catherine the Great (Elle Fanning) witnessing Peter's untimely plunge to the death.
Source: Hulu

Some believe he was assassinated while in jail, with the killer being Catherine's co-conspirator's brother, Alexei Orlov. Others believe that Peter committed suicide. Whether or not Catherine was aware of an assassination plot, she was still blamed for his death in history — something that may also come to pass on The Great.

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