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What Happened To Joe Reagan On Blue Bloods?

The death of Joe Reagan is a driving force for his family on "Blue Bloods." To Danny (Donnie Wahlberg), Erin (Bridget Moynahan), and Jamie Reagan (Will Estes), he is a shining example of what a police officer can and should be and the brother they adore. To his father, Frank (Tom Selleck), he is both a beloved child and a cautionary tale. To him, Joe's personal sacrifice is a microcosm of the one every police officer must make when they go on duty. The family as a unit is devoted to keeping Joe's memory burnished in the public consciousness and has spent 14 seasons coping with and coming to a better understanding of Joe's legacy.

Joe dies before "Blue Bloods" begins –  on May 15, 2009, 15 months before the events of Season 1 start — and his death comes in the line of duty in an honorable way. He had been investigating a secret organization of police officers called the Blue Templar, working deep undercover for the FBI to ferret out their crimes. What had begun as a supportive group turns into an organization that sells drugs and covers up crimes committed by wayward men in blue. 

Unfortunately for Joe, the group figures out that he's lying about his intentions. The man who ultimately kills Joe on behalf of the organization is Sonny Malevsky (Michael T. Weiss), his former partner, and much of Season 1 is dedicated to bringing the Blue Templars to justice and helping Joe close his final case.

As the years pass, the Reagans learn a lot about Joe. But there's one thing audiences have trouble pinning down about the character years after his death.

Viewers never see Joe as an adult, but briefly meet him as a teenager

Though audiences might know a whole lot about Joe Reagan, there's one thing they don't quite understand about the character. They don't know his real age, and that's a "Blue Bloods" factoid that continues to confuse fans. While his birthdate is initially listed as June 6, 1977, on his tombstone, the date is later revised to January 4, 1977. Multiple Season 1 references indicate that Joe was born in the early 1970s and was the eldest Reagan. Subsequent episodes have blurred this factual reality, making Danny and Erin younger than Joe, and eventually putting him in the middle of the pack, making Danny the eldest of the siblings.

While some fans of "Blue Bloods" believe that Joe Reagan is somehow still alive, the character continues to impact the story, regardless of whether he's dead or not. He continues to live on through the existence of his son, Joe Hill (Will Hochman), who was raised by his mother and unknown to the Reagans until Season 10. Fans have mixed feelings about the young man's slow-moving integration into the family, but it's hard to deny that he has become a significant part of the family. "Blue Bloods" is a much better show with young Joe Hill on it, and none of that would be possible if Joe Reagan didn't exist.