According to the Wikia page, Halliday was born in 1972 and died in 2039, making him just 67 years old. This is somewhat preserved in the movie, too; we’re told by the end of the movie that he was 7 during the early 80’s and that he died in 2040, so he’s at most in his late 60’s-early 70’s when he died.

With medical advances prolonging the average life span, even back in 2011 when the book was written that was awfully young to have died of old age. And he didn’t just die of a heart attack, either; the movie specifies in several places that he was anticipating his death. So, at least in the movie version, was medical care just thrown out the window with the poverty of 2045, or did he die of some obscure disease that I missed the reference to?

  • Maybe he just died of a brain hemorrhage, stroke, heart attack... there are any number of things that can kill you, even if you're the healthiest person in the world.
    – Tim
    Commented Apr 5, 2018 at 1:18
  • 1
    @Tim Right, thank you. I meant to mention that the movie specifies he was anticipating his death.
    – DonielF
    Commented Apr 5, 2018 at 1:29
  • 2
    69 is younger than average in the US, but not suspiciously young.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Apr 5, 2018 at 1:47

1 Answer 1


It was cancer.

From Ready Player One (the book) - Chapter 1:

Halliday now stands at the front of a funeral parlor, next to an open casket. A second, much older Halliday lies inside the casket, his body emaciated and ravaged by cancer. Shiney quarters cover each of his eyelids.

The reason for non-treatment is hinted at earlier in the same chapter:

He had died a sixty-seven-year-old bachelor, with no living relatives, and by most accounts, without a single friend. He'd spent the last fifteen years of his life in self-imposed isolation, during which time - if the rumors were to be believed - he'd gone completely insane.

I'm guessing that he really didn't seek or want any help for the cancer that took his life - he knew that he was going to die, and he had no real reason to carry on living after he had crafted the Easter Eggs in the Oasis.

  • The way that second passage was phrased, I didn't think it was intended to be literally informative, but rather pointing out that he'd had so little public contact that he became one of those rich people that celebrity reporters are forced to print wild rumors about due to lack of other info.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Apr 5, 2018 at 17:52
  • 2
    I’m not so sure. I read this as someone unable to deal with human interactions and grew more and more introverted after his failure with Kira. The parallel here is Howard Hughes. That’s the way I read it.
    – user43022
    Commented Apr 5, 2018 at 17:56
  • 2
    Definitely agree with the Howard Hughes parallel, as that's exactly what I thought as well.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Apr 5, 2018 at 17:58
  • Might be a reference to how Steve Jobs tried to treat his cancer with alternative medicine Commented Apr 13, 2018 at 14:19
  • @Neuromancer There's no indication in the book that Halliday tried any kind of medicine, either conventional or alternative.
    – user43022
    Commented Apr 13, 2018 at 14:22

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