How did Donna die in Mamma Mia 2?

25 July 2018, 16:33

Katie Louise Smith

By Katie Louise Smith


The sequel to the record breaking box-office giant Mamma Mia! hit cinemas in the UK on July 20 and it is, without a doubt, already one of the best films of the year.

When the first trailer dropped in late 2017, the entire world was plunged into despair when it became clear that Meryl Streep's iconic Donna Sheridan might actually be dead. Now that the film is out... we finally have our answer. But there's now one pretty big burning question that's been left unanswered.

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(THIS REST OF THIS ARTICLE WILL CONTAIN SPOILERS FOR MAMMA MIA 2. If you don't want to know what happens, do not scroll past this very nice picture of the icon and legend who invented denim dungarees.)

Meryl Streep Donna Sheridan Mamma Mia
Picture: Universal Pictures

While it's heavily implied throughout the trailer and in the opening 15 minutes of the film, it's not until Sky (Dominic Cooper) says something along the lines of "Sophie, your mother died a year ago," does the reality of the situation smack you on your little head and send you flying face first into the immaculately cobbled ground of Hotel Bella Donna.

Kids, we're sorry to report that Donna Sheridan is no longer with us. She has passed. She has departed this earth and gone to the big denim-dungaree cloud in the sky. Rest in glitter eyeshadow and feather boas.

But fans have been left pretty disappointed by that big reveal. Not just because Donna Sheridan has been taken away from us without warning, but because it's never actually stated what happened to her.

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So, how does Donna actually die?

Seriously, no one cares about who Sophie's real dad is anymore (it's Bill, by the way. Clearly.) The biggest unanswered question in the Mamma Mia Cinematic Universe (MMCU) is now all about Donna Sheridan's untimely passing.

Long story short... we don't know how she dies. It's never actually explicitly revealed in the film how she passed away but by all accounts, it sounds like it was pretty sudden. The film picks up one year after her passing and everyone is still really emotional about it. Sam is moping about in his little Dad Cabin™ staring at pictures of his beloved and Rosie can't even say her name without crying. It sounds pretty serious, if we're honest. But no one ever says what actually happened.

Will we ever find out? How much are we going to have to pay out in bribes to the cast members to get someone to spill the reason so we can have some closure on our international mourning period?


While we still don't know how Donna died, the reason why she had to die has been explained by writer and director Ol Parker.

“If it had worked out that Meryl was going to be the lead for the whole thing, then they would have waited for a time when Meryl could be the lead for the whole thing,” he told Vulture. Instead, Parker felt like the sequel was only gonna work if they found the best story and killing off Donna was it. APPARENTLY.

If you're looking for someone to blame, Meryl is not your girl. It wasn't a scheduling conflict kinda situation. It wasn't her fault, ok? It was actually all Richard Curtis' fault.

When Curtis, a producer on the film, approached Parker to write the sequel, he explained that he already had a few ideas about what should happen. It was his daughter, Scarlett, who suggested it should be the ABBA-version of the Godfather II, meaning it would explore the backstory of Donna in a prequel type set-up. And why else would we need to explore Donna's past again unless... she had tragically and unexpectedly passed away?! *wipes tear*

Meryl Streep, who makes a brief appearance towards the end of the film, was however totally fine with the decision to kill off the beloved Donna Sheridan, by the way. Rude.