Is Murray Goldberg (the Dad) Dead? Why Did Jeff Garlin Leave the Show?

Portrayed by Jeff Garlin, Murray Goldberg is one of the main characters in the first nine seasons of the ABC sitcom ‘The Goldbergs.’  He is the patriarch of the titular family — Beverly’s (Wendi McLendon-Covey) husband and Adam (Sean Giambrone), Barry (Troy Gentile), and Erica’s (Hayley Orrantia) father. Murray sitting on his reclining chair has become one of the most enduring imageries of ‘The Goldbergs.’ Throughout the series, the family has experienced many ups and downs, dealing with them in the quintessential Goldberg way. The tenth season premiered with Murray’s glaring absence. If that has made you wonder about Garlin’s future on the show, we got you covered. SPOILERS AHEAD.

Is Murray Goldberg (the Dad) Dead?

Season 10 episode 1 begins just as almost every other episode of ‘The Goldbergs’ — with the narrative voiceover from an adult Adam (Patton Oswalt), who tells the audience about Murray’s passing. “Just a few months ago, out of nowhere, we lost my dad,” he states. “We will always love you, Dad. Always. And we’ll find a way to continue on together. Because, after all, we’re the Goldbergs.”

The rest of the episode is dedicated to Murray and how his death has affected the other members of the family. At first glance, Beverly seems alright, but then we learn that she has kept all of her husband’s clothes in the closet. On Erica’s advice, she lets the clothes go, but then his daughter becomes emotional when she learns that Beverly has given away Murray’s chair as well. Quickly realizing her mistake, Beverly spends the rest of the episode trying to find the chair with Erica, Virginia Kremp (Jennifer Irwin), and Bill Lewis’ (David Koechner) help.

In Barry, the grief manifests when Adam pranks his older brother into believing that he (Barry) can now hear voices, telling him to set up a baseball field, just like in ‘Field of Dreams.’ It is only after Barry’s friends, the JTP,” explain it to him that Adam realizes that her brother’s love for the Kevin Costner film and attempt to build a baseball field in their backyard stem from the older boy’s desire to see their father one last time. As many of you may know, ‘The Goldbergs’ is inspired by series creator Adam F. Goldberg’s youth and family. The Muray Goldberg of the real-life passed away in February 2008.

Why Did Jeff Garlin Leave The Goldbergs?

In December 2021, as the filming for the ninth season approached conclusion, Garlin left the show amidst misconduct allegations reportedly after a mutual agreement. To compensate for the absence of the actor on the set, the production team used CGI, unused takes, and dialogues and footage that were already shot.

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly in August 2022, co-showrunner Alex Barnow clarified that Garlin would not be part of the tenth season. “Well, [Garlin is] not going to be on the season, obviously,” he explained. “[Murray] will have passed, and we are sort of starting from a place of multiple months removed from his death. The family has already grieved, unlike Pops [George Segal] and the premiere of season 9 where they’re dealing with it sort of very freshly.”

Barnow continued, “This is going to be a family that has not reconciled the fact that their father’s gone but has sort of moved on and has dealt with a lot of that. So we’re starting with optimism about a baby coming and looking forward to the future. It’s an opportunity for this interesting emotional basis for the way people are behaving. But Jeff won’t be in the series this year, and so far the stories have been largely about looking forward rather than looking back.”

Asked if Garlin knew that his character was dying, Barnow said, “I’ve had a conversation with Jeff and he’s aware that he’s not being replaced. The truth is, I don’t know if he knows what his fate is, but I’m assuming he knows, would be the answer to that question. We haven’t had a subsequent conversation since the beginning of writing that he would have any specific clarity on that.”

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