How That Sudden "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" Death Sets Up the Nation's New Leader

"Black Panther" didn't shy away from killing off notable characters, but viewers didn't predict the sequel, "Wakanda Forever," would rid the franchise of another royal family member following King T'Challa's death. At the start of the sequel, Wakanda is already mourning the loss of its king, who gets a proper sendoff after suffering from an undisclosed fatal illness. However, one year after his death, someone close to T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman) also suffers a deadly ending: shockingly, it's Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett)! Here's how "Wakanda Forever" seals her fate.

How Does Queen Ramonda Die in "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever"?

Earlier in the film, Queen Ramonda and Shuri (Letitia Wright) refuse to become allies with Talokan, the underwater kingdom led by Namor (Tenoch Huerta), because of his desire to kill the young scientist Riri Williams. Ultimately, Namor takes Riri and Princess Shuri hostage, forcing Nakia to rescue her, killing two Talokanil guards in the process. As a result, Namor and his Talokanil soldiers declare war on Wakanda and send a flood.

In the midst of his attack, Namor also floods the queen's palace. Queen Ramonda saves Riri from drowning but tragically drowns and dies in the process. Her death is mourned by Shuri and the people of Wakanda. She's given a similar funeral to T'Challa, getting sent off in a customized coffin with her face engraved on it.

What Does Queen Ramonda's Death Mean in "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever"?

Queen Ramonda's death plays a pivotal role in the sequel, as the tragic event encourages Shuri to step up as the new Black Panther, a role previously held by her late brother. In order to do so, Shuri recreates the Heart-Shaped Herb — the mutated plant that grants the Black Panther their enhanced physical abilities — and goes through the sacred ritual, which takes her to the ancestral plane. She hopes to see her family there, specifically her brother or mother, but is instead greeted by Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) — who died in "Black Panther."

His vengeful motives help Shuri become the Black Panther and urge her to declare war on Namor and Talokan to avenge her mother's death — just as Killmonger did his father. Though Shuri goes on to defeat Namor, she doesn't kill him. Instead, she spares his life to keep the peace and not repeat Killmonger's mistakes.

Without Queen Ramonda around, Shuri — if and when a third "Black Panther" film is green lit — has to navigate Wakanda and the outside world alone. However, she may not have to bear the burden of becoming her nation's new leader, as "Wakanda Forever"'s ending signals someone else may step up to the plate.