Is Rowan Atkinson Dead? An Old Mr. Bean Death Hoax Finds New Life Online

Is Rowan Atkinson dead?

This week, a report claiming that the famed comedian had died surfaced, but fans of Mr. Bean don’t need to worry — it’s just the latest death hoax to strike Atkinson.

Reports circulated this week claiming that Rowan Atkinson had died in a car crash, though details of the alleged crash were light.

As the website Hoax Alert noted, the story showed what appeared to be a video from Fox News but was actually a trick to entice readers into clicking what appeared to be a malicious link.

“Celebrity death hoaxes are nothing new on the internet yet this one is special in that it managed to be liked/shared over 300.000 times in a short period of time by employing some devious technical tricks,” the report noted. “The first one is the video player embedded in the site. At first sight this is just a normal YouTube video from a Fox News broadcast (which is about a death but not about Rowan Atkinson, see the full clip here).”

The report goes on to add that the video plays for a couple of seconds and then stops, with pop-up telling viewers to click on a Facebook link to continue watching. They are then redirected to another site, the report added.

“The scammers are making money by sometimes not showing the video or the share dialog when visitors click but instead redirecting them to pages full of deceptive ads and popups,” the report claimed. “It is unclear at this time how much they walked away with but it is probably a substantial sum by now based on the amounts of likes and shares we have been seeing.”

Despite the popularity of the hoax, many sites published reports reminding readers that Rowan Atkinson was definitely not dead.

Though many people also joined in to squash the Rowan Atkinson death hoax, some were still fooled and shared their condolences online.

Rowan Atkinson was subject to a similar death hoax last year. In July, reports circulated that the actor and comedian had been found dead, the victim of an apparent suicide. The story spread quickly online and even prompted some U.K. media outlets like the Metro to report that Mr. Atkinson was indeed alive.

This death hoax originated on a hoax news site called Linkbeef, which mixed up details about Atkinson’s alleged death with actual details from how comedian Robin Williams died as well as a previous death hoax targeting Adam Sandler. But there were some obvious clues that it was a hoax, including reports that the famed British comedian was found dead in his home… in California.

“Atkinson had recently returned to a rehabilitation center to “fine-tune” his sobriety, the Los Angeles Times reported in September,” the report claimed. “The local Sheriff’s office said Atkinson was found unconscious and not breathing at his home near Tiburon, north of San Francisco.”

These death hoaxes have struck a number of other celebrities, with Adam Sandler a frequent target. Like the Rowan Atkinson death hoax, they are often put together to get readers to unwittingly click a link or give up their personal information. Other times they emerge on social media in what appears to be an attempt to see just how far and how fast a rumor can spread across the internet.

So far, Rowan Atkinson has not replied to the reports of his death.

[Featured Image by Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images]