After playing the role of Abigail Deveraux DiMera off and on since 2016, actress Marci Miller is exiting “Days of our Lives.”
On the Friday, June 10 episode of the daytime series, the character was found dead by her husband, Chad (Billy Flynn), hours after the couple had made love. The circumstances behind Abby’s death will kick off a murder mystery arc involving multiple characters thought to be the culprit, including her uncle Lucas (Bryan Dattilo) who’s on an alcoholic bender and often can’t recall his actions, half-sister Gwen (Emily O’Brien) even though she’s currently in prison, and nemesis Leo (Greg Rikaart) who’s out for revenge against those who played a part in Craig (Kevin Spirtas) ultimately deciding not to marry him – Abby helped Sonny (Zach Tinker) and Chad in exposing Leo’s lies.
In addition to the aforementioned three, there are also going to be more potential culprits who could be behind Abby’s death, the fact of which won’t be known right away, notes head writer Ron Carlivati to Soap Opera Digest in the magazine’s newest issue, on newsstands now. In the interview, he explains the reasons behind killing the legacy character and reveals that this particular death will feel permanent to viewers because it’s being written that way.
“For us and for the audience, it’s always heartbreaking for a character to die because we love these characters, and they are part of our lives and part of our family,” says Carlivati. “Even though it’s fictional, it hurts anytime we kill somebody. In this instance, it was mostly for a practical reason because Marci [Miller, Abigail] was not going to be available to us full-time on contract and it made it challenging to tell story for Chad and Abigail. So we didn’t really have the option to have Abigail around, and then that always becomes a problem when one-half of a couple is not going to be available to you. What’s the solution at that point?”
After sharing a few possible solutions to the show’s dilemma, none of which seemed appropriate considering the remaining half of the couple would be left in flux waiting for the other character to be brought back, the writer told the magazine, “So again, your options become very limited and one option, of course, is for the character to die, which does ultimately free up the other person.” Carlivati added, “But it is a hard, hard decision. That was a hard decision among the writers, with the network, with Corday Productions, with everyone, and we ultimately decided to do it. And also, we decided to do it knowing that we’re not saying it’s not a permanent death, but there is always that possibility that death is not permanent, especially on a soap opera and especially in Salem, so you feel that maybe you’re not closing off the future of that character forever. That said, this is not going to be an instance of the car going off the cliff and you don’t see the person again. This is going to feel permanent and we wrote it as permanent.”
With Miller having made it clear that she’s not interested in staying on contract with the show, another option to play Abby would have been Kate Mansi reprising the role considering she played the part off and on from 2011-2020, often swapping with Miller depending on the show’s needs for the character. Unfortunately, that option would also cause a conflict for the soap as she too hasn’t been interested in staying on with a long-term contract.
“Kate has been willing to come back, but may not necessarily want to come back on contract, so you risk being in the exact same position that then Kate leaves and what do we do?” questions Carlivati. “Then the option would be to recast yet again with someone who maybe is willing to be here on a more permanent basis, but then you’re dealing with a new face. We’ve been very lucky in recasting Abigail, but you don’t always know if that’s going to work. So ultimately, we decided to kill the character.”
Fans can look for the returns of Matthew Ashford and Cady McClain as Abby’s parents, Jack and Jennifer beginning Tuesday, June 14 when they learn of their daughter’s death. Additionally, while the character has died, in classic soap opera fashion don’t be surprised to see Miller appear in flashback scenes as the details behind who killed Abby, why they did it, and how it happened begins to unravel on-screen.
Between Mansi and Miller, the two actresses have received a combined five Daytime Emmy nominations with Mansi winning for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for her portrayal of the character in 2017. She was later nominated in 2019 for Outstanding Guest Performer in a Drama Series for the role. Meanwhile, Miller has been nominated three times for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for her take on the character, including a nomination this year. She was previously nominated in 2018 and 2019, marking what is believed to be the first time in which two actresses were nominated for playing the same role in the same year but in different categories.
The winners for this year’s awards will be announced on Friday, June 24 during CBS’ presentation of “The 49th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards,” airing live at 9:00 p.m. ET/delayed PT. Check out the full list of nominees, here.