Chris LaSalle was a beloved character on the CBS procedural NCIS: New Orleans and his death impacted the show in many ways, both good and bad.
Chris LaSalle (Lucas Black) was a beloved character on the CBS procedural, NCIS: New Orleans. Known for his Alabama accent and his love of New Orleans, Chris was loyal to his team and always had everyone’s back, so it was shocking for audiences to see him tragically die in season 6. It’s been a year since Chris died and the loss of a character inevitably shifts dynamics and changes a show.
Hence, a character’s death is a risky move. Since then, NCIS: New Orleans has been positively and negatively impacted since Chris’s untimely departure.
Hurting: Losing Audiences
It’s common for audiences to get hooked on shows because of their favorite characters. Chris was undoubtedly a fan favorite. His Southern charm and his dedication to the team are just some of the reasons why audiences came to love him.
With his death, NCIS: New Orleans likely lost a portion of their overall audience. If their favorite character is no longer on the show, audiences usually find it difficult to keep watching.
Better Off: Focus On Other Characters
Chris, in several ways, was one of the show’s founding characters. He helped establish what NCIS: New Orleans was all about: the team, family, New Orleans, etc. While his absence is missed, it also opens up new ventures concerning the other characters.
There’s room for more character-centric episodes with one less character to keep track of, meaning audiences could get more opportunities to get a glimpse into the personal lives of the other characters or find Hannah, Sebastian or Tammy struggling with a case for one reason or another. Anything is possible.
Hurting: Elements Of The South
Chris was proud of his Alabama heritage. His accent was strong and undeniably a part of his charm. He loyally supported his old football team back home and though he’d made a home for himself in New Orleans, he never forgot his Alabama roots. Chris brings the element of the South to the show, and Lucas Black himself is from Alabama, making the portrayal that much more authentic.
One of the fun aspects of the show is the culture of New Orleans and the South itself. Without Chris, this element he brought to the show suffers.
Better Off: Avoid Overplayed Storylines
Much as audiences love a show or their favorite characters, sometimes storylines go on for far too long and become stale and overused. In several ways, Chris’ story had been played out to the max, given his own struggles, his dysfunctional family, and his past in New Orleans and Alabama. Those storylines include flashbacks concerning himself and Pride.
While new storylines would’ve been appreciated for Chris’s character, his death spared Chris’ character from reliving old storylines or getting stuck in a state without character development.
Hurting: Too Many Familiar Faces Are Disappearing
Over the years, the NCIS: New Orleans cast has lost more than its fair share of familiar characters. Pride, Loretta and Sebastian are among the few characters that have been on the show since the beginning that still remain upon the season 7 premiere.
Meredith Brody and Sonja Percy departed the show prior to Chris, though they weren’t killed off. If the team keeps losing people, it won’t benefit the show whatsoever.
Better Off: Introduce New Character Dynamics
Chris had long been a fixture on the show, having been around since the series’ pilot. His departure left a hole in the overall character dynamic of the show, but it also offered the opportunity to explore other characters and their relationships with one another, given with one less character, there was more time to do so.
With Chris no longer around, the remaining characters are free to further develop their own dynamics and, by extension, allow character and team development to grow.
Hurting: Chris Himself
The show just isn’t the same without Chris. His character was compelling, as were his storylines. Chris loved to party and live life to the fullest. Audiences enjoyed his love for the city he lived in, as he partook in pretty much every celebration New Orleans had to offer.
Chris’ energy can’t be matched by the characters left behind. He had a dysfunctional family but it never stopped him from trying to do what was right by them. That storyline, along with others, were some of the show’s best and they, unfortunately, died with him.
Better Off: Gave The Team A Struggle To Work Through Together
Though far from the best life lesson, Chris’s death severely impacted the team and forced them to come together and face their own feelings in the process. His death was a wake-up call, as the same thing could’ve happened to any one of them, and they were forced to face their own mortality.
Plus, the team’s perspective had to change, as they realized the cost of revenge and how it ended for Chris. The team had to rely on each other completely and deal with his loss and their dark reality check, which likely made them stronger not just as people, but as a team.
Hurting: Chris & Pride’s Dynamic
One of the main relationships on the show was that between Chris and Dwayne Pride, whom Chris fondly called “King.” The two had been thick as thieves ever since their first case just prior to Hurricane Katrina and worked together ever since. They were the only two agents at the NCIS branch in New Orleans for a time, and their loyalty to one another was unparalleled.
Audiences undoubtedly miss the moments between these two. Chris and Pride were close and were often more like father and son than anything else.
Better Off: Gave LaSalle A Good Ending Under The Circumstances
Chris was devastated upon discovering that his beloved brother, Cade, had been murdered. Nothing was stopping Chris from going after who believed was responsible, and unfortunately, it led to his own demise.
Still, Chris probably wouldn’t have had it any other way. His purpose in life was family and finding justice for people, and in the end, he was working on both of those things to avenge Cade’s death. He died doing what he thought was right, and had he lived, Chris never would’ve been the same without Cade in his life.
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