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Grounded in scholarship regarding post-object fandom, parasocial breakups, and parasocial grief, this research explored tweets regarding the death of a long-running, central character on the TV show Grey’s Anatomy. A theory-driven thematic analysis revealed five major themes including: emotional expressions of grief, recovery and coping, advocating, not wanting to watch, and memorializing, each encompassing various subthemes. Fans expressed these responses with varying levels of intensity. The results suggest that there are fan responses to a parasocial breakup, especially a parasocial death, not suggested in prior studies that should be examined in future research. Furthermore, a parasocial breakup can be a powerful experience for fans even disrupting their everyday lives.

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post-object fandom, parasocial relationships, television, thematic analysis

McDreamy is McDead: Fan Responses to a Parasocial Breakup