YouTube is like any social media site, and with any social media site, there is a community. The more you get sucked into it, the more you find yourself making friends, finding idols, and frequently enjoying another’s work. That level of connection, however, can be severed by the sad reality that life isn’t permanent. For this somber Archive, we’re honoring the ten biggest YouTube stars and starlets that were tragically ripped from the community they helped build.
Believed to be fueled by infatuation, James Loibl attended a meet-and-greet with Christine Grimmie after her performance with Before You Exit at The Plaza Live in Orlando, Florida, and fired 4 shots into the singer and YouTube star before turning the gun on himself. At the Orlando Regional Medical Center, Grimmie was pronounced dead, leaving behind her parents, Tina and Albert, her brother Marcus, who had tackled Loibl after the shooting, potentially saving many lives, and over 3.5 million YouTube subscribers. Most of Grimmie’s videos are of her singing covers of popular songs but every so often the lively musician was sure to show off her shining personality.
Caleb Logan Bratayley
Some YouTube channels are less about being creative and more about giving the world insight into real life. For the Bratayley family, YouTube was an outlet for Caleb, Hayley, and Annie, three larger-than-life children that had a lot to say. Over four different channels – BlazenOutlaws, TruthPlusDare, OMMyGoshTV, and the most popular Bratayley – the Bratayley family simply enjoyed life in the public eye. Then, on October 1st, 2015, they received a devastating blow with the sudden passing of Caleb, who unknowingly suffered from hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. In a tribute video that garnered over 15 million views, the Bratayley’s announced their loss. The family took a brief hiatus to recover but came back to continue providing for their 3 million plus fans and subscribers.
On July 16th, 2013, 13-year-old Talia Castellano passed away from complications from progressive neuroblastoma cancer, but her legacy lives on through the over 1.4 million subscribers her lovely personality inspired on her YouTube channel, TaliaJoy18. Young Talia may have spent half of her life battling neuroblastoma, but that didn’t stop her heartening personality from shining through and, in 2011, she joined YouTube to share her story and provide an abundance of make-up tutorials. Through just under 300 videos, Talia earned the love of many, earned upwards of 10 million views on her most popular video, and was even named a CoverGirl on The Ellen Degeneres Show. Even after her passing, Talia’s channel remains active thanks to family and friends who wish for her legacy to live on.
Connie Kin (WhatsUpMoms)
Moms often don’t get the appreciation and help they need and deserve, but YouTube channel WhatsUpMoms changed all that by delivering useful “mom hacks,” delicious recipes, do-it-yourself projects, and vlogs about what it’s like to be a mother. Among the various contributors was WhatsUpMoms’ co-founder Connie Kin, a young mom that served as one of the channel’s vloggers, gaining devoted fans from her warm and inviting personality. On November 21st, 2013, while giving birth to her second child, Connie contracted an infection. While baby Ella was healthy, Connie passed away days later, leaving behind her husband Andrew, son Nathan, and over 1 million viewers that enjoyed just how welcoming, helpful, and uplifting Connie was.
Edd Gould was a skilled Flash animator that started off delivering his quirky cartoons to Newgrounds.com in 2003. Starting off with a series called Bendee on Christmas day in 2004, Gould shifted gears to create Eddsworld, a simple animation that would launch him to YouTube stardom. Two years after the inception of Eddsworld¸ the animator launched a YouTube channel to boost visibility of his comedic flair. At the height of his success, in 2011, Gould received a diagnosis of acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a disease he had initially beat after a 2006 diagnosis. Almost a year after the announcement, on March 25th, 2012, Gould passed away. His creation, however, continued to live on through his friends and fellow Eddsworld writers, Thomas Ridgewell and Eddie Bowley until the series ended in March of 2016. An average of 70,000 people a day still get lost in Gould’s animated world.
There is no shortage of “Let’s Play” channels on YouTube, but some seem to take off better than others. In 2007, about 2 years after the “Let’s Play” concept was coined, gamer Brian Rickard threw his hat into the mix. Known for his love of Borderlands and Call of Duty, he attracted a fairly hefty following over the course of 6 years and his most popular videos garnered over 3 million views, but his internet fame came to a sudden end on October 23rd, 2013 when he, Ryan Cook, and Ashlee Pugh attempted to beat a train in a pickup truck at a railroad crossing in Vigo County, Indiana.
Love is such an important aspect of living a full, healthy life that it’s uplifting to see it go viral. We’re of course talking about the real life couple Jam Vhille Fernando Sebastian and Paolinne Michelle Liggayu (li-guy-U) who, in 2011, made their romance public with JamichTV. It all started with a short film titled By Chance, which stresses the difficulties and importance of love through the true story behind Jam and Paolinne’s beginning. Over 600,000 fans followed the two and their journey, but in January of 2014, Jam was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. Five months after his diagnosis, the two posted his proposal to Paolinne but, sadly, by March 2015, the 28-year-old star had passed away. 20,000 people a day still view their lovely videos as their message remains strong.
On April 14th, 2007, Colin Wyckoff took to YouTube under the handle Kitty0706, launching a series of machinima using games like True Crime: New York City, Garry’s Mod, and Team Fortress 2. While extremely silly in nature, Wyckoff’s videos took off, with his most popular machinima, Team Fabulous 2, earning over of 19 million views to date. Amidst the humor, Wyckoff was battling Leukemia and though he fought through a bone marrow transplant recovery to continue providing content, he ultimately passed from complications of the disease on January 25th, 2015. Despite almost 2 years of inactivity, Wyckoff’s digital creations still garner upwards of 15,000 views a day, and fans continue to leave heart-filled comments.
Some channels gain mild popularity and, sadly, never get to see the full potential they deserve. Such is the case of Toonsmyth Productions, owned and operated by animator Myk Friedman. Friedman delved in parodies and other original animations, but his most popular concept was simple: what would happen if our favorite cartoons entered the ring and duked it out? Started in 2006, Toonsmyth shorts eventually found their way onto CONAN and even earned mention by Tom Hardy during Dark Knight Rises press junkets. All while creating his cartoonish masterpieces, Friedman was battling diabetes, a battle he would sadly lose on March 13th, 2014. For just under 2 years, the channel was inactive, but in January of 2016, friends of Friedman posted a 300,000-subscriber announcement. The channel continues to grow at approximately 100 subscriptions a day, proving the lasting attraction of Friedman’s creations.
For a period of 3 years, YouTuber Daniel Kyre served as a co-creator of Cyndago, a YouTube channel devoted to providing entertainment in the form of wacky videos and cleverly dark sketches. Within its short lifespan, Cyndago earned praise by Mark Fischbach, best known as Markiplier, who supported the channel and its creators, Daniel and friend Ryan Magee, when they made the move to Los Angeles to pursue a full-time YouTube career. Despite being seemingly happy and successful, on September 16th, 2015, Kyre was found in his room after an apparent suicide attempt. Near death, he was rushed to the hospital where it was found he suffered irreversible brain damage. Two days later, Kyre was taken off life support. The death of the young creator rocked the YouTube community, led to the closing of Cyndago and pushed Markiplier into a short hiatus from creating to regroup from the tragic loss.