Luther shocked fans Wednesday night by killing off fan favorite DS Justin Ripley (Warren Brown), and leaving Luther (Idris Elba) devastated.

Ripley, who has been on the show since the beginning, was shot and killed by Tom Marwood (Elliot Cowan) after refusing to let the killer go free. Marwood shot Ripley, leaving him dead, or, as Brown put it:

“Justin is the uncorrupted moral heart of the show, and I think in the fictional world of Luther – in Luther land – ultimately there is no place for an uncorrupted heart. In Luther land, you’re punished for love and loyalty. And essentially, Justin is punished for being good, which is kind of bleak but quite moving, I think,” series creator and writer Neil Cross told EW.

Of course, many fans thought otherwise. Ripley was a favorite among young, female viewers and Cross joked that he could have been crucified based on the reaction to Ripley’s death in the U.K.

“Teenage girls the length of Britain declared a kind of fatwa on me. It was a good job in that moment that I was living half the world away, or they would have tracked me down and burned me,” Cross said.

Luther’s strong emotional attachment to Ripley makes the shocking death all the more devastating, for the characters, fans and the actors themselves.

“Warren Brown and I are very close friends, and I guess we kind of fell into this sort of state of shock even while shooting and prior to shooting. Because [Justin] feels like a pillar along with the Alice character and along with the Schenk character – one of the cornerstones of what makes Luther what it is. And so it was a really weird atmosphere for us,” Elba told reporters about his experience filming Ripley’s death scene.

Brown was bombarded by well-wishers and sad fans on Twitter when the episode aired in the U.K. July 16. He tweeted his thanks to fans for watching.

Luther will pick up with the aftermath of Ripley’s untimely death in the series three finale airing tonight, Friday, at 10 p.m. on BBC America.

Olivia Truffaut-Wong

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