Life has never been faster than it is now. Food, groceries and beer can be delivered to your front door. An Uber driver will take you anywhere you want to go at any time of day. Every movie in existence is available online. For free! Sort of…
Point is, we’ve got a lot going on. So much so that it can be hard to take a beat and glance back every now and again. Who has time for that? There are seven seasons of Shameless; there’s no time to dwell on the past. And yet, we should. We left some great stuff behind. Not to mention, countless living things. People, namely. C’est la via, right?
Unfortunately, some of those people and things were gone before their time. Unfairly snatched from the here and now and taken elsewhere. That part is apparently up for debate. Regardless of where they went, we miss them. Nostalgia is in right now, and if there’s anything our society could use, it’s a big old cry over the increasingly distant past. A time of innocence. Of wonder. Of people no longer living. We compiled a list of several that we particularly miss. Gone, but not forgotten, here are fifteen things that were taken from us way too soon.
Here was a guy that had it coming, many people said. (Probably.) And they wouldn’t be entirely off-base, we suppose. But Steve Irwin was far more than a crazy Australian guy with a death wish. Although, he certainly was that. The Crocodile Hunter himself, Irwin gained notoriety for his upbeat persona on his educational television show, and his borderline-insane behavior when it came to approaching dangerous animals. And yet, we loved him. He was extremely popular with children and adults alike, fostering a deep love for animals and making “Hey, wanna watch Animal Planet?” a real possibility. His love of danger and wildlife was eventually his downfall, though. In 2006, while filming an ocean special, Irwin was killed by a stingray that pierced his heart.
He had it made. Franchise movie after franchise movie, indefinitely. The friendship of the biggest, baldest guy in the business. A shit ton of money. Paul Walker was a veritable movie star, having starred in six of the seven Fast and Furious movies. He was, for all intents and purposes, invincible. And yet, as we know, he wasn’t. Driving fast and, no doubt, furiously, Walker died in a car crash in 2013. He was in the middle of filming Furious 7 and production came to a temporary halt as a result. Fans and costars alike spilled their love for Walker all across the world. He was 40 at the time of his death. Too Young Too Soon.
In lighter news (or darker, depending on your perspective), Freaks and Geeks is still gone. For, oh, about 16 years now. It’s still getting to us, though. The show was a near-perfect high school sitcom, but even that diminishes its reputation. But certainly not the reputation of its countless breakout stars. Linda Cardellini, James Franco, Seth Rogen, Martin Starr, Jason Segel, and the list goes on and on. Not to mention showrunner, Judd Apatow, who (along with fellow alumnus, Rogen) has pretty much dominated the blockbuster comedy movie market for over a decade now. Focused primarily on the Weir family, the show gave a one-season look at the lives of high school students in the 80s. Particularly the burnouts and the nerds. Before it could really gain traction, though, it ended. Perhaps, in the long run, it was for the best.
This one is still fresh. Maybe too fresh, but it’s worth bringing up. Prince was a star. A literal symbol. And make no mistake, the man was no spring chicken. But, at 57, it certainly wasn’t his time to ride off into the sunset either. Prince’s death was so remarkably shocking because we were all pretty sure he was an immortal being that would be here indefinitely. An angel sent from above to play beautiful music for an ugly world. Prince was never a sellout. Never anyone but himself. He changed music forever and questioned the entire notion of gender identity. People, in turn, listened. And will only continue to do so. Without a doubt, doves are still crying under purple rain. God that was cheesy. Apologies.
Yes, the family dog. Your dog. The one you loved and played with and cared for and grew with. He or she is probably dead now. Or maybe it's your cat. All we know is that it didn’t happen the way we wanted. They were supposed to be our friends forever. For many of us, the family pet is the first real death we have to deal with. It's the “dry run for grandma,” as comedian Louis C.K. once put it. It forces us to come face to face with the reality of mortality and shed our first real tears (man or not, you know you cried when Max passed). It forces us to embrace the idea of letting go. Which, we know, runs counter to the nostalgic nature of this list. But it's important to note: death may be final, but grief is temporary. Do remember that as we continue our sad march.
Ah, Machiavelli himself. Tupac Shakur, the legendary rapper/hip-hop artist of the mid-90s, has been long dead. And yet, people still can’t shake the feeling that he’s around somewhere, biding his time and making music, preparing for an earth-shattering comeback. Which nearly happened in 2012. Coachella fans were doing their thing(s), standing in the heat and listening to twenty minutes of music every several hours, when Tupac took the stage. Not on the screen and not in theory, but literally walked out on to the stage. Or so it appeared. Using technology built for the impending New World Order, a hologram of Shakur was rendered alongside Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg for a Tupac comeback performance that was branded “tasteless” and “creepy.” Everyone has their own method of grief, we suppose.
Who shot ya, indeed. No one stood up to Tupac quite like Biggie Smalls did. The East Coast rap king, Biggie was shot to death in Los Angeles nearly twenty years ago. He was only 24. Famous for his rap beef with contemporary, Tupac Shakur, Biggie was a remarkable artist in his own right, producing a limited discography, but killing it on nearly everything. Biggie brought New York rap into the limelight and fostered the careers of now-famous rappers like P. Diddy, Lil’ Kim, and Jay Z. Gang affiliations and public disses eventually led to Biggie’s murder, à la drive-by shooting. It was a fitting ending to a rapper who once professed that he was “ready to die.”
The king of the Pridelands and doting father, Mufasa, was certainly taken away too soon, leaving Simba to deal with the fallout. Killed by his evil brother, Scar, Mufasa was bumped off Game of Thrones style long before we were cheering for the grisly deaths of wannabe kings and queens. Anyone who knows The Lion King well enough, though, knows that Mufasa’s death was an inevitability. The story, adapted from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, follows a decidedly lighter path through the historically depressing story. But lighter only to a point. Made in 1993, The Lion King took on themes of death and loss at a time where children’s cartoons could do that. One wonders if it had been made today, if Mufasa might still be with us.
Please stop crying. We haven’t even gotten to the sad part yet. Up is a Pixar movie about a grumpy old man coming to terms with the fact that the world is changing around him. Purportedly. We aren’t sure anyone actually knows because all anyone can remember is that his wife dies, tragically, at the beginning of the movie. So the rest of the movie was seen through a thick veil of salty tears. The textbook definition of “taken too soon,” Ellie, the wife, dies very early in the movie. Granted, she’s old and we’re led to believe that she and her husband, Carl, lived a full and loving life. But it doesn’t take away the sting of her passing anymore than it stops the immediate flood of tears that comes frothing forth as its very mention.
You definitely recognize this guy; one of Britain's most prized actors. Alan Rickman’s death was a huge kick in the gut. Because, apparently, 2016 was an asshole of a year. Rickman, who gained notoriety for his deadpan style and numerous bit-roles, was one of the world’s greatest character actors. From his star-making role in the Harry Potter series as the cold and suspicious-looking yet lovable professor at Hogwarts, Severus Snape, to his hilarious part as Sir Alexander Dane, the alcoholic former television star in Galaxy Quest, Rickman has delighted fans for decades— and undoubtedly would have continued to do so. He was getting up in years at the time of his death, but at 69, it was far too soon.
Rest in peace, majestic mane. We knew you. We loved you. We miss you. He probably misses you more. Alas, Jude Law, leading man and star actor, has had a brush (lol) with time in recent years. Once thickly coiffed, Law has been steadily receding for some time now, revealing a growing patch of baldness where beautiful movie star hair once stood. Pictures reveal that Law has made attempts to stem the tide of time, but nature, as we all know, eventually wins and takes its course. Will we see an increase in toupees in the coming weeks, or a mere acceptance of his fate? Only time will tell. Hopefully, for Jude’s sake, time is more forgiving with age.
Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction. And sometimes it's just downright bleak. Harambe, a gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo, became famous for, well, being killed. After an unaccompanied child got into Harambe’s pen, the gorilla began wondering why a small, loud human was suddenly in his space. Becoming increasingly annoyed, he eventually started tossing the child around and threatening to, how shall we put this delicately, tear him limb from limb— apparently. The prospect of this plus the host of onlookers prompted zookeepers to shoot Harambe and avoid an arguably worse tragedy. This did not sit well with literally anyone and, before they knew it, the zookeepers were being branded as murderers. Maybe so, maybe not. Whatever your feelings on his passing, Harambe definitely deserved better and was taken from us far too soon. You know what to do.
Another one of the world’s greatest character actors, Hoffman was a victim of drug abuse. A longtime heroin addict, Hoffman overdosed in 2014, leaving a giant hole in Hollywood, the world of acting, and all of his fans' hearts. He was a powerhouse, showing up in almost everything. Commonly associated with star-director, Paul Thomas Anderson, the two filmed countless (well, five) movies together before the actor’s passing. In addition to being an indie darling, Hoffman landed a huge role in The Hunger Games series, dying before they had finished filming the final movie. When rumors spread that the actor would be rendered digitally, à la Tupac, people were dubious. It seemed a little uncouth, after all. Luckily, the rumors were dispelled and Hoffman, though we miss him, was allowed some peace in death. Free of CGI.
Pitch men seem delightfully antiquated now, despite the fact that we were being yelled at by them not ten years ago. But with the increase in cable-cutting, guys like Billy Mays just aren’t as popular these days. And perhaps that’s for the best. Billy Mays, while loud and aggressive, held a certain place in America’s heart. He was part of our culture and, despite the fact that there was absolutely no need for OxiClean, we embraced him. Tragically, Mays died in 2009. The cause of death was varied, ranging everywhere from a head injury to cocaine. Whatever the cause of death, there was a weird, loud hole left in us. We just hope no one ever fills it.
When Apple announced the iPhone 7, no one was surprised by most of the presentation. Waterproof? Sure, that makes sense. More cameras? Pile ‘em on! But no headphone jack? You’re out of your goddamn minds. Indeed, the ghost of Steve Jobs was conspicuously present as Apple CEO, Tim Cook, unveiled the newest details. Moans and the clattering of chains could be heard distinctly in the background as Cook announced that headphone cords would no longer be an issue because, guess what? All Apple headphones would now be wireless pods that live in your ear year round. As a result of pawning the idea of endless sales of wireless iPhone earpods, the newest iPhone will have no jack into which headphones can be connected, rendering all of the expensive headphones you’ve bought over the years absolutely useless. That is, unless you buy the adapter. No doubt that’ll run you another several hundred dollars.