Hollyoaks fans were shocked as Tony Hutchinson appeared to be killed off after 24 years on the soap.
The character, played by Nick Pickard, was seemingly murdered by serial killer Breda McQueen in the first-look episode on E4 on Wednesday.
Tony had started to suspect Breda of the spate of killings, including that of his own son Harry Thompson (Parry Glasspool).
He confronted her in a dramatic showdown in the rain, during which he dialled his son’s mobile phone – and heard it ring in Breda’s bag.
Breda (Moya Brady) ranted about her reasons for the killings, saying she wanted to “rid the world of useless and reprobate dads”, then moved forwards and appeared to stab Tony.
He collapsed on the ground as highlights from his life flashed before his eyes.
Harry then appeared to him, telling his dad: “It’s OK, I’m here.”
Horrified fans said they were crossing their fingers that there was a twist and that Tony had actually survived.
“You’ve gone too far #Hollyoaks #Tony deserves a better exit than that. So therefore it must be a cliffhanger, he must survive,” said one viewer on Twitter.
“I’m going to be FUMING if he doesn’t survive. F U M I N G,” said another.
There is no way Tony is dead. I’m not having it,” said a third.
Pickard, 44, joined the Channel 4 soap in 1995, its debut year.