Days' Marci Miller Abigail in new film F.E.A.R.
Credit: John Paschal/JPI

We’d heard rumblings for some time, and now we know that sadly, they weren’t just idle chatter: Days of Our Lives really is killing off Marci Miller as Abby.

“For us and for the audience, it’s always heartbreaking for a character to die, because we love these characters,” headwriter Ron Carlivati tells Soap Opera Digest. “Even though they’re fictional, it hurts anytime we kill somebody.”

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So, um, why do it? In this case, necessity, it seems. Miller was not going to be available to continue on full-time, and while Kate Mansi has been willing to reprise the role from time to time, she wasn’t going to do so on contract. “So we didn’t really have the option to have Abigail around,” says Carlivati. At least not around in such a way that it wouldn’t strand Billy Flynn’s Chad on the backburner.

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As a murder mystery erupts around Abby’s untimely demise, Matthew Ashford and Cady McClain will be returning as a grieving Jack and Jennifer. But they might want to save a few tears. When the powers that be chose to send Abby to the grave, “we decided to do it knowing that we’re not saying it’s not a permanent death,” Carlivati notes, “but there is always that possibility that death is not permanent, especially on a soap opera and especially in Salem.”

In other words, though Abby may be really, most sincerely dead, she’s still only dead in air quotes. Catch up on all the latest — and next — Days of Our Lives exits in our handy-dandy photo gallery. And find out why temperatures are rising in Salem via our summer preview.