It is very sad news that TJ Miller is leaving Silicon Valley at the end of the season. His portrayal of delusional “incubator” chief Erlich Bachman was often the best thing about this delightful comedy. But now that Erlich is leaving the show for good, there is only one way for him to go: He has to die.
You might be screaming, “For the love of Bachmanity, don’t kill him!” Don’t get upset with us. This is not our rule. This edict was passed down by the Council for Television Character Eradication, a shadowy government agency populated by members of the Illuminati, the deep state, and former SNL cast members who have never made movies based on their characters.
Since Erlich Must Die, we’ve come up with a few ways that it might possibly go down. You will be the one who will judge which one of these scenarios comes true. (Actually Mike Judge will be the judge, but who died and made Mike the judge? Erlich Bachman?)
Palapa accident. Clearly the writers have been setting us up for this given Erlich’s obsession with this “open-sided dwelling with a thatched roof made of dried palm leaves.” (Thanks Wikipedia!) He even used a chunk of the money he and Jian-Yang got from Raviga to start SeeFood, their “Shazam for food” app, to hire a contractor to install one by the pool. Maybe it will get struck by lightning, it might fall down, but one thing is for sure: Erlich’s fixation will be his downfall.
Clippers accident. Erlich’s most defining physical feature is his facial hair. He truly has as much body hair as he does self-regard, which means his chin topiary probably needs a significant amount of tending. One day in the bathroom while grooming himself with his electric clippers, he accidentally falls into the shower and electrocutes himself. This seems like a way that he would be happy to go.
Little Yellow Corvette. Jian-Yang spent $150,000 on a yellow Corvette so that he won’t have to work on See Food anymore. He later trades it to Erlich for his stake in the company. This delightfully flamboyant auto has been popping up all over this season, including being peed on by Russ Hannemann in the most recent episode. Maybe when Erlich learns of this yellow-on-yellow crime, he becomes so disgusted that he loses control of the car and goes flying out of the convertible in a grisly death suitable for traffic school.
Jian-Yang’s revenge. The rivalry between Erlich and the free-loading squatter he can’t seem to get rid of has been going on for seasons. But could it take a deadly turn? What if Jian-Yang does one thing too many to enrage his benefactor (like pulling down the palapa), which incites Erlich’s considerable temper? This leads to an unlikely act of violence. The physical strain from this exertion causes a heart attack or a stroke, and finally the rivalry is finished. But if Erlich dies, does that mean that Jian-Yang inherits the house?
Suicide attempt. This entire season, Erlich has been looking for something to do: creating See Food, trying to horn in on Richard’s new venture, and insinuating himself into Monica and Laurie’s new VC firm. Because this is Erlich, he is going to fail at all of these things. But what if this last failure is too much for him? What if he decides to go and jump off the Golden Gate Bridge? This wouldn’t kill him, though. In classic Silicon Valley fashion, Richard will arrive and convince Erlich not to plummet to his death, and as he is convinced of his own greatness, he’ll get accidentally struck by a passing car. Wow. That is dark.
Back to prison. What if death is just a fake-out? What if the show is going to get rid of the character by sending him to prison? After all, he did throw a huge party at Alcatraz, so he seems to have an interest in being behind bars. We can think of a number of reasons he could be indicted, including the fraud of passing himself off as a Silicon Valley expert, tax evasion from all of the money he’s earned on various and assorted ventures, or maybe even the wrongful death of a neighbor when the palapa collapses. (Seriously, that palapa is doomed!) Whatever it is, putting him behind bars at least allows for a cameo appearance in the final season, when the audience gets choked up that Bachman is back one final time.
A noble sacrifice. It’s customary for a beloved character to go out making a heroic sacrifice so that those around him might survive while only he dies. Ha-ha. Just kidding. He would never do that.