Stefan Karl Stefansson has lost his battle to cancer, sending the internet into mourning over the beloved LazyTown actor-turned-internet-meme.
The Icelandic actor passed away on Tuesday morning after a battle with an aggressive form of bile duct cancer. He was 43. Stefansson’s wife announced his passing.
“My beloved, Stefan Karl Stefansson, 43, has passed away after battling aggressive bile duct cancer for two years,” the actor’s wife, Steinunn Olina Thorsteinsdottir, said in a statement to People magazine. “Per Stefan’s wishes, there will be no funeral. His earthly remains will be scattered in secrecy in a distant ocean. Stefan’s family wants to express their gratitude for the support and warmth received in recent years, and to express their deepest sympathy to the many friends and fans of Stefan Karl.”
Fans have already taken to the internet to mourn, especially on social media where his Robbie Rotten character enjoyed a second life as a popular meme in recent years. Many young adults who grew up watching LazyTown as children resurrected his bumbling villain character and his song, “We Are No. 1.”
The Robbie Rotten character was declared “Meme of the Year” on Reddit in 2016, where news of his passing drew mourning from fans and memories from those who had met the famously generous actor. Stefansson embraced his status as an internet favorite, even live streaming a version of “We Are No. 1” with the original actors from the LazyTown episode.
Stefansson had shared frequent updates with fans, but also drew concern earlier this year when he retreated from social media and said he wanted to spend more time with his family. He also said that he was trying to make the most of his remaining days.
“It’s not until they tell you you’re going to die soon that you realize how short life is,” he wrote (via the Metro). “Time is the most valuable thing in life because it never comes back. And whether you spend it in the arms of a loved one or alone in a prison-cell, life is what you make of it. Dream big.”
Stefan Karl Stefansson had first announced his cancer diagnosis in late 2016, at the same time that Robbie Rotten’s character grew a new life as an internet meme. The condition stabilized last year, leading to some mistaken hope among fans that he had beaten cancer, but Stefansson revealed that it was a misunderstanding when an interview was translated to English from his native Icelandic. In March, he revealed that the condition had become inoperable.