Sam Riegel reveals cancer battle, recovery after Critical Role return

Sam Riegel in Critical Role

Critical Role celebrated the return of Sam Riegel after a long hiatus and he revealed to fans that the reason behind this was a battle with cancer.

Many Dungeons and Dragons fans first found the tabletop roleplaying game through the campaigns of Matt Mercer and his talented cast of performers. Initially created as a birthday gift for Mercer’s friend Liam O’Brien, the campaign became a multimedia franchise. Now over a decade old, Critical Role stands as one of the biggest channels on Twitch, a popular animated series, and more.

One of the cast favorites is Emmy Award-winning Sam Riegel, a veteran voice actor with countless roles in TV, movies, and video games. His theatricality and friendliness played a huge part in the series, both within the game and in metagame banter. But for much of 2024, Riegel hasn’t been on Critical Role. While this followed the death of his character, it dragged on long enough that fans wondered if it was due to some secret project or personal issue. Riegel finally shared the reasons for his hiatus on the Critical Role channel.

Why did Sam Riegel go on hiatus for Critical Role?

Sam Riegel was diagnosed with tonsil cancer and is now on the road to recovery.

Riegel underwent surgery two weeks after the diagnosis, and thankfully, the surgery was a success. However, Riegel had to undergo more treatments to ensure the cancer wouldn’t spread again. This included surgery on his mouth and throat, and the removal of part of his tongue and palate. After all this was weeks of chemotherapy.

“I got radiation burns, I could barely eat, and I cried a lot. But, I’m happy to report that, today, I am on the road to recovery,” Riegel said of his experience.  

He then got emotional and talked about how much he’d missed performing with his friends and telling stories. Although it will take many months before he reaches 100% after treating the cancer, Sam Riegel did confirm he was back. As expected of Critical Role’s loyal fanbase, the love and support came pouring in across social media, with many well wishes and dedications.

Warning: Spoilers for the Bells Hells Critical Role campaign ahead.

Many fans wondered why his character Fresh Cut Grass, nicknamed FCG, suddenly died in the Bells Hells campaign despite his popularity. Although appropriately dramatic and paced, others wanted more of Riegel in the show. Given the unfortunate circumstances revealed in his latest video, this was likely a way to write off Fresh Cut Grass respectfully as Riegel underwent treatment. 

Riegel returned to Critical Role in June for its live show, including the reveal of his new character, Braius Doomseed. While the experience was arduous, Riegel stressed that he is getting better.

“I’m recovering from cancer. I know the “cancer” part of that sentence sounds like really bad news, and it was when I first found out. But the word ‘recovering’ has made all the difference,” Riegal said.

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Written by Gab Hernandez

Gab Hernandez has a particular love for video games that give players control over the narrative direction, such as Divinity: Original Sin 2 and Disco Elysium. Gab spends just as much time playing games as they do gushing about them online to anyone who will listen. Their work has also been seen on TheGamer, Gfinity, and Wargamer, and you can follow them on Twitter / X at @HardlyWorkinGab.

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