Linda Regan (Amy Carlson) and Danny Regan (Donnie Wahlberg), on BLUE BLOODS
Craig Blankenhorn/CBS

Why Did Linda Leave 'Blue Bloods'? Everything We Know About Amy Carlson's Untimely Exit


Logically, we know that our favorite actors and actresses can't be a part of our comfort shows forever. But when staple characters are unexpectedly -- and abruptly -- ripped from the storyline, it's upsetting. That's especially true when there's a little to no explanation as to why.

It's been nearly six years since fans of the hit CBS cop drama Blue Bloods learned that Linda Reagan would not be returning to the family dinner table. After seven seasons and over 150 episodes, actress Amy Carlson -- who portrayed the passionate ER nurse and loving wife of Donnie Wahlberg's character, Detective Danny Reagan -- was suddenly absent from the show.

And to this day, no one really knows why.

Reader beware: The following article contains some major spoilers.


An Original Cast Member

Linda Reagan (Amy Carlson), and Danny (Donnie Wahlberg), husband and wife, star in BLUE BLOODS

Heather Wines/CBS

Like many of the Blue Bloods cast, Carlson had been with the show since its inception in 2010. When she landed the role, she was a new mom to a 10-month-old boy and had a long resume? of guest-starring in similar police procedurals such as NYPD Blue, CSI and Law & Order. She also had a 60-episode stint playing Alex Taylor on NBC crime drama Third Watch.

When Blue Bloods premiered and hit the airwaves, it thrust Carlson into the limelight. Linda Reagan was a vital character in the show, as she was the only member of the family who wasn't in some branch of law enforcement. Her opinionated nature, strong sense of loyalty and emotional support for her family (including her two sons, Jack and Sean) made her a favorite among the fan base.

An Off-Screen Death

Amy Carlson on 'Blue Bloods'

Jojo Whilden/CBS

Let's get one thing clear: There was absolutely no indication or hint that Carlson's time on the show was about to end. At the end of season 7, we saw Danny struggling with the consequences of (once again) overstepping his bounds and confiscating money from the Mexican drug cartel he was investigating. While the target on his back was clear, it didn't seem as if his family was in any immediate danger.

Looking back, the only indication that something was amiss was a post-finale interview from Blue Bloods executive producer Kevin Wade. And it was super subtle.


"For Donnie, I think it's going to be dealing with some family issues coming off of them basically losing everything and possibly something that I won't go into now, but that may be a surprise at the beginning of Season 8."

Little did fans know that the "surprise" was the death of Carlson's character. 

During the season 8 premiere, we learned that Linda Reagan had died tragically in a helicopter accident while tending to an airlifted patient. It isn't until season 9 that the show shines more light on her seemingly random death by suggesting that it was a hit by the Mexican drug cartel.

The End Of An Era (And A Contract)

 Linda (Amy Carlson) and Danny (Donnie Wahlberg) discuss an issue at home on BLUE BLOODS

John Paul Filo/CBS

Usually, when a major character is killed off, it's done in a much more dramatic and on-screen fashion than Carlson's character received. That -- coupled with the fact that neither the actress nor the show explained exactly why she was leaving -- led fans to wonder if there was more to the story.


And, sadly, we're still wondering. After all these years, the answer is still foggy.

Here's what we do know: Carlson had a seven-year contract with Blue Bloods that she completed. According to major news outlets, she was the one who chose not to renew it. In a 2017 interview with Deadline, she opted not to give out any more info about her departure other than saying that it was a standard ending in Hollywood.

"If someone had said they were surprised and they didn't know I was leaving, I would just respond to them and say it's standard to have conversations with actors whose contracts are up prior to the season ending," she said. "It's not that you start to shoot and don't know."

While that all sounds well and good yet still unsatisfying, she did say that she wasn't invited back for season 8 to wrap up her character's storyline. Between the mum's-the-word approach and the fact that she wasn't given any closure at all, it's reasonable to assume that there was some sort of trouble in paradise on the set of Blue Bloods.


An Unlikely Return

Jamie (Will Estes), Frank (Tom Selleck), Linda (Amy Carlson) and Danny (Donnie Wahlberg) celebrate Nicky's Sweet 16, on BLUE BLOODS

Giovanni Rufino/CBS

Die-hard fans of Linda Reagan are still holding out hope that the character will make some sort of miraculous return -- even if it is just for a simple dream sequence or flashback. While Carlson told Deadline that she's game for the idea (and that she was not too pleased with Linda's off-screen death), it's not likely.

"It would've been nice for the fans to see her demise, to be a participant in it, and that was my vote for the fans," she said. "I'm not sure how I would've chosen it, but I just know that for the fans to have a way to grieve, to move through it, I think it would've been nice for them."

For now, it looks as if a lot of questions about Carlson's departure will remain unanswered. However, at least we still have Frank, Danny and the rest of the Blue Bloods crew to keep us entertained every Friday at 10/9 Central on CBS.

READ MORE: Who Plays Jamie Reagan On 'Blue Bloods'? Here's Where You've Seen Will Estes

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