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TK is not OK (Photos: South Pacific Pictures / Design: Archi Banal)
TK is not OK (Photos: South Pacific Pictures / Design: Archi Banal)

Pop CultureJune 22, 2023

Is Shortland Street about to kill TK Samuels?

TK is not OK (Photos: South Pacific Pictures / Design: Archi Banal)
TK is not OK (Photos: South Pacific Pictures / Design: Archi Banal)

Will one of Ferndale’s longest-serving and most beloved doctors cross over and join his dead wives on the other side tonight? Tara Ward assesses the evidence.

Te Koha Samuels is one of Shortland Street’s most enduring and recognisable characters. Arriving in Ferndale in 2006 as the cousin of the hospital’s then-CEO Huia Samuels, the brooding emergency doctor, played by Ben Mitchell, has had an extremely dramatic life. Two of his three wives – Sarah Potts and Roimata Ngatai – died in tragic circumstances, his girlfriend Pania murdered his best mate, and one time Leanne pashed him in the hospital car park. He’s starred in Air New Zealand video aimed at homesick New Zealanders, and one loyal fan even named their baby after him

But after last week’s shooting drama in the hospital, TK’s life now hangs in the balance. He may be the show’s second-longest running character (surpassed by the one and only Dr Chris Warner), but TK has found himself in quite the deathly pickle. Last night’s episode saw TK on life support with Chris announcing that nothing more could be done, as TK’s wife CeCe realised that she must let her beloved husband rest in peace.

Is TK really about to cark it, or is Shortland Street playing with our fragile heartstrings once again? The man has stared death in the face countless times during the past 17 years, beating prostate cancer, almost dying in the Ferndale wildfires and even surviving a boxing match against Hone Ropata. Surely these near-misses mean TK has built a healthy level of immunity against death’s bony fingers… right? 

Let’s put on our white coats and check the medical evidence before us. 

TK was shot

CeCe, TK and the bullet

People don’t usually survive shootings on Shortland Street – just ask Wendy Cooper. Hang on, you can’t, she’s dead. TK should have left Shortland Street when he had the chance, but instead he decided to play the hero, running towards trouble as bravery oozed from every pore. The bullet struck his chest, and did not bounce off the way the 2014 Christmas strip episode suggests it should have. Fate is a cruel mistress. 

He’s now on life support

An extensive medical career based on 31 years watching Shortland Street and a lifetime secondment to a 24/7 drop-in centre called “Dr Google” tells me this is not a good sign. TK is not breathing for himself and his organs are failing. He can’t even roll his own T-shirt sleeves up. Prognosis: grim. 

They’re about to turn off the life support

Not good

Causes of death on Shortland Street include faulty heart valves, strangulation, falling off a cliff and being beaten to death with a candlestick. So far, nobody is listed as dying from “someone pushing the off button”, so this could be an historic way for TK to go. Having found TK’s advanced directive that he never wants to be on life support, Chris has little choice but to let his pal die. All he can do now is bust out his guitar and softly sing ‘Anchor Me’ as the golden light of Ferndale’s setting sun rests upon TK’s furrowed brow for the final time. 

Shortland Street is having it’s biggest year yet

You must always look for the hidden meanings

Nothing says “big year” like knocking off one of the show’s biggest stars, right when the character is at their happiest. It’s one of the oldest tricks in the book, and we should have seen it coming as soon as TK announced he was doing “one last shift in ED” before he started his flash new job. One! Last! Shift! Be careful what you wish for. 

His dead wives turned up

I hereby call this meeting of the Dead Wives Club to order

You only see dead people on Shortland Street when someone is destined for the great operating theatre in the sky (Damo getting hit by a bus) or when a classic actor is returning in a new role (Carmen, never forget). Sarah and Roimata hooning down from the afterlife is the biggest sign yet that something big is going on. How often do people get a day pass from the afterlife? Almost never, mates. Ironically, the dead wives look well. How well? We’re about to find out tonight.   

Shortland Street screens on TVNZ 2 on weeknights and streams on TVNZ+.

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