How Colleen Carlton Really Died On The Young And The Restless

The "Young and the Restless" character Colleen Carlton was born on-screen in 1992 to parents Brad Carlton (Don Diamont) and Traci Abbott (Beth Maitland). She was characterized as a "daddy's girl" and was mostly referenced off-screen until she was SORASed (soap opera rapid aging syndrome) in 2001 and returned to Genoa City as a teenager, played by Lyndsy Fonseca (via Soap Central). Fonseca remained in the role until 2005 when the character was recast as Adrianne León who had previously played Brook Lynn Ashton on "General Hospital." Actress Tammin Sursok took on the role in 2007 and remained until Colleen's death in 2009.

Colleen became a popular character on the show when she became one-half of a controversial couple with J.T. Hellstrom (Thad Luckinbill). J.T. was eighteen-years-old and Colleen was only fifteen, which raised some eyebrows on and off-screen. Viewers soon got on board, however, when they realized that the bad boy was falling in love and committed to changing his womanizing ways. Colleen and J.T. became a fan-favorite "super couple" and their sweet romance was a beloved storyline on the soap. In her final few years on the show, Colleen had faded somewhat into the background, but long-time viewers were still displeased when "Y&R" decided to kill off the character.

Victor Newman sets a devastating series of events in motion

In 2009, Brad Carlton drowned while saving a young Noah Newman (Kevin Schmidt) who had fallen through the ice while skating (via Soap Central). Her father's unexpected death spurred Colleen into action and she took his place on the board at Newman Enterprises, much to Victor Newman's dismay. Then, in an attempt to get Colleen removed from the board, Victor (Eric Braeden) arranged for Gloria (Judith Chapman) and Jeff Bardwell (Ted Shackelford) to humiliate Colleen by recording her drunkenly exposing her breasts at a bar and leaking it to the public. She was quickly removed from the Newman board and lost a job opportunity at Genoa City University as a result.

Colleen then took off to the Abbott family cabin to lick her wounds and inadvertently ran into a woman being held hostage there. The woman turned out to be Patty Williams (Stacy Haiduk), the mentally ill ex-wife of Colleen's uncle Jack Abbott (Peter Bergman), via Soaps. Colleen was unaware that Patty had returned to town under the pseudonym Mary Jane Benson, at the behest of Victor who wanted to enact revenge against Jack. After freeing the woman from her restraints, Colleen found herself being held at gunpoint and ended up tied to a tree by Patty.

Colleen Carlton drowns just like her father

Eventually, Colleen managed to break herself free and she and Patty struggled over the gun. Patty then experienced a bad reaction to a spider bite and Colleen convinced the woman to let her go to get help, according to Soap Central. Colleen left in a canoe she had found, but not long after she fell out of the boat and suffered a head injury. It soon became obvious that Colleen was drowning — in the same lake as her father, no less — as she began seeing visions of her loved ones, including her dad, while she was under the water. Jack eventually located his niece and pulled her out of the water to perform CPR, though his efforts were in vain.

Colleen was brought to the hospital but was tragically declared brain dead (via Soaps in Depth). A heart-broken Traci Abbott made the decision to remove her daughter from life support, but not before Nikki Newman (Melody Thomas Scott) begged her to donate Colleen's heart to Victor, who was in need of a transplant after suffering a heart attack. Traci eventually agreed and Colleen's organ was used to save the life of the man who had facilitated the events that led to her death.

Y&R fans upset that Colleen's heart was donated to Victor Newman

Colleen's death on "The Young and the Restless" was upsetting to many long-time viewers who believed that the character wasn't treated with the respect she deserved by the show's writers, according to CheatSheet. Some fans disagreed with the decision to kill off the only child of legacy character Traci Abbott, especially in the same year as her father Brad, when they could have easily left the door open for an eventual return by leaving her in a coma — as soaps often do.

Others were enraged that Colleen's death was used simply as a plot device to save Victor. The show had previously killed off teenager Cassie Newman (Camryn Grimes) and her death was the catalyst for several significant storylines, though that was not the case with Colleen. Rather than causing repercussions for Victor, Patty, or even her first love J.T. — who was now married to Victor's daughter Victoria Newman (Amelia Heinle) — Colleen's death had little impact besides saving Victor's life. It seemed "Y&R" just needed a body that could donate a heart, and after she fulfilled that need, Colleen was mostly forgotten.