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According to several online histories, it was realized early on that Adric as a character was simply not working, so even before Tom Baker regenerated plans were afoot to get rid of the character, and the idea of killing him off in "Earthshock" was decided upon since no companion had died since 1965 or so (Sara Kingdom, Katarina, and Bret Vyon all died in "The Daleks' Master Plan", but there are even arguments as to which of them, if any, count as companions at all!), so it was a new twist.