Stars From Degrassi You Didn't Know Died

There have been a lot of teen dramas that have come and gone over the years, but few have had a grip on their audience the way "Degrassi" has. Throughout those series and years, many actors have embodied characters that have changed the discussion on certain issues. Fans grew really deep connections with the characters and therefore the show's stars. It's for that reason that the "Degrassi" fandom, spanning generations like the show, is hard-hit by losses among the show's cast.

The long-running franchise all started in 1980 with the first series "The Kids of Degrassi Street." It explored the ever-changing lives of a diverse group of kids from the same Toronto neighborhood. Some of the characters from "The Kids of Degrassi Street" moved on with the franchise as it transitioned "Degrassi Junior High." From the 1980s to 2016, the show would evolve to "Degrassi High," take a hiatus before "Degrassi: The Next Generation," and come to an end with "Degrassi: Next Class."

Sadly, some stars from "Degrassi" have died, but their contributions to the show surely still affect viewers today.

Co-creator Christopher 'Kit' Hood died in 2020

Co-creator Christopher "Kit" Hood is one of the biggest losses to the "Degrassi" universe. Without him, so much of the show would not have been possible. Hood and Linda Schuyler developed the "Degrassi" franchise under their Playing With Time production banner. 

"As Kit and I created 'Kids of Degrassi Street' in the early 1980s, he shifted his focus to directing and brought his influence to the world of 'Degrassi.' He added his trademark impish charm, and a kid's-eye view, never letting the camera look down on our young protagonists," Schuyler said of Hood's contributions following news of his death (per The Hollywood Reporter). "Kit's intimate and respectful style of directing, small of scale and richly layered, was integral to the success of the series through 'Degrassi Junior High' and 'Degrassi High.'" She noted that his "style" is woven into the "DNA" of the "Degrassi" franchise.

Hood died at age 76 in his home in West Lawrencetown, Nova Scotia on January 20, 2020 (per Arbor Memorial Obituaries). His death was reportedly unexpected.

Neil Hope, who played Wheels on Degrassi, died in a rooming house

Neil Hope played Griff on "Kids of Degrassi Street" and later portrayed Derek "Wheels" Wheeler on "Degrassi Junior High, "Degrassi High," and "Degrassi: The Next Generation" (per IMDb). His character went through a great deal on the series. Wheels was adopted and later lost his adoptive parents when they died in a car accident by a drunk driver. Wheels struggled to deal with it, finding himself in different trouble throughout the series. It all came to a head when he drove drunk and killed a child, leading to jail time. Hope made an appearance on "Degrassi: The Next Generation" that showed Wheels after jail. He had served his time, made amends with others, and was there to support his old friends.

In real life, Hope grew up with alcoholic parents who were divorced. He moved on from acting to blue-collar work and was reportedly struggling with money troubles at the time of his death. Just four years after his final "Degrassi" appearance, on November 25, 2007, Hope was found dead in his room at a Hamilton rooming house by his landlord (per The Toronto Star). At the time, he'd been dead of a heart attack for more than a week. He was 35 years old. 

Even more shocking, friends and family members weren't alerted to his death until nearly five years later in 2012 (per The Washington Post). Shortly thereafter, the news went public.

Bruce Mackey had a park named after him

Bruce Mackey was already an actor when he came into the "Degrassi" universe, but there were other parts of his background that were more relevant to the show. He lived on De Grassi Street in real life and allowed his house to be used as Ida Lucas' home in the very first episode of "The Kids of Degrassi Street" (per Beach Metro). Macket and the show's co-creator Linda Schuyler had worked at the same school and often discussed their experiences. 

Schuyler, along with partner Christopher "Kit" Hood, worked with Mackey, who became enthusiastic about their vision (via Jane's Walk).

Following his death in 1997 from cancer (via The Globe & Mail), a park in the area was named after him. In September 2003, Wardell Parkette was renamed Bruce Mackey Park. On a plaque honoring him at the park, he's celebrated as "The Grandfather of Degrassi" (per the Riverside BIA website).

R.D. 'Bob' Reid enjoyed a long acting career before his death

R.D. "Bob" Reid was a Canadian character actor who saw a lot of different roles during his lifetime. Reid had a pretty big career in film, starring in movies like "Dawn of the Dead," "A History of Violence, "Cinderella Man," and "Lars and The Real Girl" (per IMDb). He went on to be in a number of other popular series, with some geared toward kids, such as "Goosebumps" and "The Famous Jett Jackson." 

One of Reid's early roles, of course, was a recurring role on "The Kids of Degrassi Street" as Don Canard, father to Noel and Lisa. Lisa was played by Stacie Mistysyn, who becomes a major figure later in the "Degrassi" franchise as Caitlin Ryan (per

His final role was in the television series "Killjoys" in 2016. On June 20, 2017, Reid died in his Toronto home, as reported by the Toronto Star. Details of the "Degrassi" star's death were not shared publicly.

Jahmil French continues to hold a 'special place' in his costars' hearts

The most recent death in the "Degrassi" universe is perhaps one of the saddest. Jahmil French, the actor who portrayed lovable, misguided goofball Dave Turner on "Degrassi: The Next Generation," died at just 28 years old on March 1, 2021 (per People). The circumstances around Jahmil French's death were never publicly revealed.

French, just one of many actors we sadly lost in 2021, was part of the cast at a crucial point for the show, when the series came back strong after near cancellation (per Insider). 

Melinda Shankar played Alli Bhandari, French's on-screen girlfriend, and was among the first to speak out on his death. "You will always hold such a special place in my heart," she posted along with photos of them on Instagram. "Thank you for being one of the most talented, compassionate, kindest, funniest friends I have. You were so loved. Sharing some of my fav pics over the years to highlight his bright light. I'll miss our dance offs. #Bhandurner forever."