As shown in a new 27-second teaser, House of Cards has put Frank Underwood six feet under.
But the news seemed to take some fans by surprise, despite Netflix having cut all ties last November with leading man Kevin Spacey, days after a slew of sexual harassment allegations were made against him.
The video clip, released on Wednesday (US time) ahead of the drama’s sixth and final season, is the final nail in the coffin of Spacey’s time on the Emmy winning show.
“You should have known,” said its simple unsentimental caption.
The teaser shows Robin Wright’s Claire Underwood standing over the grave of her former US president husband Frank, stony-faced and composed.
“I’ll tell you this though, Francis,” she says out loud and cryptically to her late husband’s new headstone, which shows he died in 2017.
“When they bury me, it won’t be in my backyard. And when they pay their respects, they’ll have to wait in line.”
Netflix has said the series will focus on Claire, now the president.
The unambiguous exit of the show’s charismatic central character was railed against by many viewers, some of whom questioned on social why Spacey wasn’t still in the role.
The Oscar winner, 59, was accused by more than a dozen people last October, including Star Trek: Discovery actor Anthony Rapp, who was 14 when he said an alleged sexual advance was made.
A former House of Cards crew member said Spacey groped him on the way to the series’ Baltimore set early in the show’s run.
Despite that, “I don’t want to see another season without the great Kevin Spacey. I don’t understand why you killed him,” wrote one Twitter user.
“House of Cards without Frank is not House of Cards,” wrote one fan.
Said another, “No Frank Underwood, no watching.” A third asked, “Why the f––k did you kill Frank? House of Cards is dead to me.”
Some hoped for a Bobby Ewing style return a la 1970s hit Dallas or an unlikely re-emergence from the ground.
The sympathetic hopes for a Spacey and/or Frank Underwood return flabbergasted other House of Cards devotees.
In light of the ongoing investigations into Spacey’s behaviour, the screen death is “Not too difficult to understand,” said another.
“People’s ignorance on this entire thread is just shocking,” posted a third.
Given that the teaser gives nothing away, the big question for fans is who or what is responsible for Frank’s death.
That uncertainty will be Netflix’s game plan to lure back any viewers who think the series won’t be worth investing in without its former main character.
The final eight episode season, with new cast members Diane Lane and Greg Kinnear starring alongside Wright, arrives on the streaming platform on November 2.
Meanwhile, Spacey has not commented on his situation since last year, when he apologised for any inappropriate conduct with Rapp and said he would seek treatment.
Los Angeles prosecutors said this week they would not file sexual assault charges against the actor in one case involving a 1992 accusation because it fell outside the California statute of limitations.
A second case is under review by the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office.
London Metropolitan Police said in July they are investigating Spacey over three sexual assault claims which allegedly happened over a 17-year span, TMZ reported.