7 Tearjerking TV Sitcom Tributes To Cast Members Who Died

7. Scrubs (John Ritter - Sam Dorian)

NBC

Though the sitcom 8 Simple Rules was John Ritter's primary job when he passed away, and that show delved headlong into an emotional eulogy for his character, there's something about the Scrubs tribute episode that was more consistent with the real-life comic actor's essence.

Only appearing in one episode as J.D.'s dad (Season 1, "My Old Man"), Ritter played the character with the perfect amount of charm and aloofness. His interactions with Zach Braff didn't feature the subtlest of humor, featuring such gems as a father asking his son to pull his finger so he could fart in the classiest way possible. 

But his comic style fit the often manic and loony nature of Scrubs, and he would have made a fine recurring cast member. It was a wise move by series creator Bill Lawrence not to recast the part following Ritter's death. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EJ2G0bIhOHw

Instead they wrote his passing into the show, with J.D. struggling to deal with his dad's sudden departure. As the best Scrubs episodes do, Season 4's "My Cake" aptly balances heart and hijinks. There's not a better dedication possible to someone like Ritter, who perfected that balance decades prior.

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Jacob is a part-time contributor for WhatCulture, specializing in music, movies, and really, really dumb humor. You can follow him on Twitter @JakeTrowbridge.