Spoiler Alert: The story includes details about the Season 8 premiere of CBSBlue Bloods

CBS’ veteran drama series Blue Bloods is down a Reagan.

In a surprising twist, it was revealed during the Season 8 premiere of the cop family drama that NYPD Detective Danny Reagan’s (Donnie Wahlberg) wife Linda, an ER nurse, had died in a helicopter crash while on the job.

That marked the exit from the show of Amy Carlson, who played Linda since the pilot. She was recurring the first season and a series regular since Season 2. When her character’s fate was revealed on the show, Carlson took to social media to post a note to her fans about her departure from Blue Bloods. 

“I’m proud of my contribution to building this series,” she wrote. (read her open letter in full on right.)

I hear Carlson had fulfilled her contract, which was up at the end of Season 7, and felt it was time to move on. Still, this was a rather abrupt exit, with her character not getting a proper sendoff, a move that has been met with disapproval by some fans.

This is a rare departure for the long running, much watched, and fairly cast-consistent Tom Selleck-led NYPD family drama. It’s a departure that is all the more narratively expeditious with the character’s chopper demise – an event seemingly unrelated to the torching of her house by a Mexican drug cartel at the end of Blue Bloods’ Season 7 last May.

With the shocker revealed in a therapy session of the eldest surviving Reagan son in the Season 8 opener, the fallout from Linda’s death seems set to resonate for the rest of the season.

Dominic Patten contributed to this report.