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Why Taye Diggs’ Character Had to Die on All American

Why Taye Diggs’ Character Had to Die on All American


  • Billy Baker’s tragic death in All American reflects the end of his character’s journey, leaving behind an emotional impact on viewers.
  • Taye Diggs’ departure from the series was discussed in detail with the showrunner, who chose to give Billy a noble sacrifice as an exit.
  • The showrunner emphasized the importance of giving Billy a proper farewell, focusing on his impact on Spencer’s growth and legacy for the football team.

All American is a fabulous series, especially for devoted football and NFL fans. Created by April Blair, the show premiered on The CW in 2018 and has since aired five seasons, with the sixth season currently airing weekly episodes. It is inspired by the real-life personality, Spencer Paysinger, a New York Giants linebacker who retired in 2017.

The series follows the story of Billy Baker, portrayed by Taye Diggs, a football coach at Crenshaw High School who aspires to help youngsters realize their lifetime ambition of becoming NFL players. While doing so, Billy also must deal with other responsibilities, such as his family and lost career in the NFL.

While many anticipated him to reach greater heights in subsequent seasons, it all came to naught when he was killed off in the fifth season. Billy Baker’s death dumbfounded the viewers and left an indelible mark on their conscience. So, how and why did Taye Diggs’ character die in the fifth season of All American?

All American

All American

Release Date
October 10, 2018

Nkechi Okoro Carroll

Nkechi Okoro Carroll


How Did Taye Diggs’ Billy Die in All American?

Billy’s death in All American season 5 was the most tragic event to happen in the show’s history, mainly because of the character’s unresolved conflict with Spencer James (Daniel Ezra), whom he recruits to join his football team. Furthermore, Billy declines an offer from Golden Angeles University since he is unwilling to leave his family behind. There was plenty of ground to cover in the narrative, illustrating the reconciliation of Billy and Spencer, but the creators have opted to bid farewell to the beloved character.

In the eleventh episode of the fifth season, titled “Time,” Billy travels to a combine along with his squad to get some professional exposure. However, their bus crashes on the cliff’s edge on the way home. While Billy and the others exit to safety, he notices that Jabari (Simeon Daise) is still trapped inside the bus. While rescuing the youngster, Billy meets his tragic demise, leaving the show as a hero.

His death is not overtly depicted, but it is implied in such a way that the audience instantly realizes that this is the end of his character. Two episodes later, we get a flashback of the harrowing night on the bus, which reveals what transpired at the crash site, with Billy telling Jabari to convey his love for his family as the bus topples over the edge.


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Why Taye Diggs’ Character Had to Leave the Series

An actor may leave a TV series for a variety of reasons, either by their own volition or when a character has finished their part in the story. The latter scenario does not appear to be a possibility for Taye Diggs’ character, since the plot may have taken a different turn, with Spencer and Billy reconciled while also spending more time with his family. In an interview with Deadline, the showrunner, Nkechi Okoro Caroll, disclosed that the death of Billy Baker was previously discussed with Taye Diggs, who had speculatively expressed a desire to quit the show to seek other opportunities.

The showrunner emphasized that Billy’s journey had long needed a stopping point, and the fifth season seemed like the ideal time to give his character a proper sendoff. Certainly, there were other options, including making Billy accept a job offer to move out, but he would never abandon his family, let alone the football team, who had placed their hopes and dreams on their coach. Here is what the showrunner further stated:

“At the beginning and end of every season, I have a conversation with the cast about the journey of their character, and it was in those conversations for Taye that we started talking about, ‘Is Billy’s journey on the show over? And if so, what would an exit look like?’ To me, there was only ever one exit for Billy if he was leaving, because the character would never leave after fighting so hard for his family.”

Carroll has chosen to center the subsequent episodes on mourning Billy’s loss, establishing an emotional connection with the audience. Billy has always struggled to connect with the football team and his family, often struggling alone to make peace with his professional and personal lives. So, it would make sense to provide the character with some solace in the shape of a noble sacrifice, even if the story was left untreated on his end.


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On the other hand, Caroll indicated that Spencer’s grief and guilt were simply the tip of the iceberg in terms of what Billy’s family was going through, thus she never saw the need for reconciliation. In fact, she went on to point out that ignoring Billy’s call would only strengthen Spencer’s personal narrative, allowing him to pick himself up and understand the significance of Billy’s legacy. On the bright side, Taye Diggs was quite pleased with his character’s heroic exit from the series, which is all that matters in the end. All American is currently streaming on Apple TV+.

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