Ashes To Ashes: What happened to Sam Tyler?

Our Ashes To Ashes speculation continues, as we try to get to the bottom of what happened to Sam Tyler...

In conjunction with the fine people over at The Railway Arms, we’ve been considering an assortment of theories for just how the back end of Ashes To Ashes‘ final season is going to pan out. Yesterday, we looked into just who Gene Hunt actually is, and you can find the link for that at the bottom of the article.

For here, it’s time to dig back into the world of Sam Tyler. Just what happened to him? Here come the theories – which as usual are based on the episodes already broadcast, so there are no spoilers if you’re up to date with the show…

Sam Tyler Is Dead

It makes sense to start with the obvious one here. Even though we never actually saw the demise of Sam Tyler proven on screen, it could well be safe to assume that, for all the teasing in the current series of Ashes, Tyler is nonetheless pushing up daisies.

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That’s certainly the line of thought that Railway Arms forum member Attala is following. They reckon that Tyler committed suicide in 2007 – as we saw at the end of Life On Mars‘ second series – but that “his brain is alive for 7 minutes, then he dies for real and he disappears from the coma world”. The theory then runs that “in those last few moments he’s alive in the coma world. In 1980, Annie is in danger undercover; she wanted to impress the guv. This leads to Sam’s death in the river; maybe he wanted to save Annie’s life.” Thus, Sam died in Gene’s car, because someone mistakes him for Hunt. That sounds really quite plausible from where we’re sitting, too, and would account for the moral problems that appear to be rocking Gene Hunt’s world.

But what if Sam Tyler took his own life? That’s the theory of antiquarian, who writes that “either he got involved with MI5, or he did something that could be construed as a crime (manslaughter) and Gene helped him go into hiding”. Again, that accounts for how tightly woven Gene Hunt is into Tyler’s demise.

Mrs Hunt subscribes to the Tyler death theory too. “He’s dead in 2006,” she argues, “and has also now ‘moved on’ from Gene’s world – hence no body being found.”

And ClaireM is equally succinct and reasoned: “He woke up, he knew Gene wasn’t real, he killed himself. End of. He was depressed anyway – happy people don’t do what he did.”

That’s a fair point.

Drake & Tyler Might Be The Same Person

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However, what if the hints running through Ashes To Ashes are pointing to the idea that – in true Flash Gordon/Brian Blessed voice – Tyler’s alive!?

That’s certainly what fmorgan thinks, arguing that “we didn’t have a body and he was conveniently explained away as soon as Alex arrived”. Both of these points are absolutely true. So where’s it all going? “This is more linked to the bigger picture as I believe, that Sam never emerged from his coma but it continued in the form of Alex. Why or how, I’m not sure but the Gene Loves Sam graffiti doesn’t mean Gene does love Sam, but could be a distancing technique for Alex.” Could, therefore, Alex and Tyler be the same person somehow?

There’s More Tyler Story To Tell

This is pretty much a given, but it’s worth remembering that the original hope for Life On Mars was that there’d be a third series, which would have extended the character arc of Sam Tyler by eight more episodes. Now, it’s known that the third series of LoM would have concentrated more on Gene Hunt, but as it turned out, John Simm had availability problems that curtailed the Life On Mars story. However, it’s arguable that the writing team nonetheless had further Tyler storylines in their heads, and perhaps they’re going to weave at least one more of those in later this series.

Sam Tyler Will Reappear This Series

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Remember when John Simm finished his stint as the Master in Doctor Who‘s third revived series? It was said, after that, he wouldn’t be retuning to the series, only he did. Just saying.

It’s All Jim Keats’ Fault

We like blaming DCI Jim Keats, whose own presence in the series we’ll be coming to next week. But what if, argues OscarPapaRomeo, Keats – or someone like him – knew Sam Tyler? What if Keats manipulated Tyler into revealing the truth to Gene Hunt? And then convinced him that he had to commit suicide? “He then told Gene all about his plans, and Gene tried to tell him he was insane but Sam drove his car in the river and that’s why Gene’s angry at him because he abandoned them all.” Now, that’s some mighty fine speculation work.

Sam Tyler was a copper who went undercover in the 80s and lost his way and forgot for a while who he really was. When he did he found himself in Gene’s world and decided to stay there. However he found out about Gene’s secret, as realised the facts did not add up about Gene and who he said he was. Gene and him rowed about this and Gene was afraid he would tell the chief. It turned out that some guys in a jewellery blag might have known something about the original murder of the real Gene Hunt. Sam chased after them to get the truth from them before Gene turned up – however his car overturned and he went into the river where he died. Gene was distraught and felt guilty for his friends’ death, as wish he had admitted to the truth to his friend so he did not feel he had to risk his life to get information. He decided to leave Manchester. – lindalove

Gene Helped Sam Escape

Mothgirl is one of a few who buy the idea that Gene Hunt has somehow helped Sam Tyler disappear. In her words, “It became clear to certain branches of the secret services that Sam was a visitor from the future, and could be of use to them. Gene had always been suspicious of Sam given his odd nature, and Sam reminded Gene all too much of vague memories and torment he would rather forget. Gene saw the danger Sam was in, though, and together they devised this plan to make Sam disappear in order that he could be safe.”

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As the theory runs, then, “Maybe Sam asked Gene to make his death look normal – maybe he would have literally dematerialised in front of people, and Sam wanted to avoid that kind of end. So he and Gene work out a way they can stage his death without it looking too suspicious.”

We’re Being Told The Truth About Tyler

Perhaps we’re all working too hard in a game of spot-the-twist. Jazzer, for instance, believes we’re probably being given things straight.

“I think it was almost just as it was reported,” they argue. “Sam decided not to wait for the Guv as he thought he knew better. Whether or not he did die in the crash or not remains to be discovered, but if he is dead, I don’t believe Gene had anything to do with it.”

Jazzer goes on to add, “I do believe that if he is alive and missing/done a runner, I think Gene planned it with him and is covering. Maybe’s he’s gone undercover and they can’t get hold of him again?” Maybe, indeed…!

Gene Hunt Killed Sam Tyler

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This is certainly the theory that the show seems to be subtlety pushing in our direction right now. qthesprocket put forward this idea, suggesting that “Sam figured out what the copper’s limbo really was, and asked Gene to release him.” From there, “As Gene told Alex in series two, ‘no one leaves here until I say so.’ So Gene probably did kill Sam, though not in the way that Keats and Alex think he did: he loved Sam enough to let him go.”

Lots to chew on there! Here’s that list of theories to do with Gene Hunt, and next week, we’ll have more Ashes To Ashes theories!

Once again, many thanks to Janet at The Railway Arms, and do check out the site for some quite brilliant Ashes To Ashes and Life On Mars chunter…