THOUSANDS of fans have taken to social media to pay tribute to LazyTown actor Stefán Karl Stefánsson after his death from cancer aged just 43.
Stefánsson, who became an internet sensation thanks to his role as larger-than-life villain Robbie Rotten in the hit children's TV show, passed away on Tuesday following a two-year battle with bile duct cancer.
The Icelander's wife Steinunn Olina, with whom he shares four children, confirmed the tragic news on Facebook last night.
In a touching statement, she wrote: "My beloved, Stefán Karl Stefánsson, 43, has passed away after battling aggressive bile duct cancer for two years.
"Per Stefán’s wishes, there will be no funeral. His earthly remains will be scattered in secrecy in a distant ocean.
"Stefán’s family wants to express their gratitude for the support and warmth received in recent years, and to express their deepest sympathy to the many friends and fans of Stefán Karl."
In honor of Stefán Karl Stefánsson (aka Robbie Rotten) passing away. Enjoy this video of him singing 'We Are Number One' live. He will be missed :( pic.twitter.com/PTm2AGLK4I
— ᵃˢʰˡᶤᵉ (@pftweekes) August 21, 2018
Fans of LazyTown have paid tribute to Stefán in the most fitting way possible - sharing Robbie Rotten memes and quoting the character's iconic song 'We Are Number One'.
Many thanked the star for bringing joy to their childhoods, while others branded him a "TV legend" for entertaining their own children over the years.
One fan wrote: "I am so hurt right now. Rest in peace Stefan Karl Stefansson. You will always be loved. You will always be our number one".
Another said: "Stefan Karl Stefansson was an idol of mine growing up. For some strange reason I always loved Robbie Rotten as a child and to see someone I looked up to so much be taken away by such a cruel disease is horrible. May he rest in peace",
A third fan added: "My son just asked me if I’d heard the news about Stefan Karl Stefansson. Sad news, Robbie Rotten was a regular in our house with him growing up and has stayed relevant in his life through memes etc. Much love to family and friends. RIP Stefan."
RIP to the massive legend, Stefan Karl Stefansson pic.twitter.com/m9Y9IJpaT6
— lol (@PyrocynicalTV) August 21, 2018
Meanwhile, a petition calling for a statue of Stefán Karl to be placed in his hometown of Hafnarfjörður, Iceland, has received more than 110,000 signatures.
The actor's tragic death comes just months after he deactivated all of his social media accounts in the wake of news that his inoperable cancer had returned.
Back in March, he told his thousands of followers: "It’s back. This time they can’t operate on it.
"It’s not until they tell you you’re going to die soon that you realise how short life is.
"Time is the most valuable thing in life because it never comes back and whether you spend it in the arms of a loved one or alone in a prison cell, life is what you make of it. Dream big."
Another legend lost but not forgotten. (Rip Stefan Karl Stefansson) pic.twitter.com/H0VK75eYBx
— Memes (@MemesCentraI) August 21, 2018
we lost a legend today, I remember watching LazyTown when I was younger...RIP Stefán Karl Stefánsson, love ya <3 pic.twitter.com/yh6Lrr9JYj
— Sketch (@BrokenSketch) August 21, 2018
Stefan Karl Stefansson who played Robbie Rotten In “Lazy town” died today from Bile Duct Cancer. Thank you for the great childhood, Rest In Peace pic.twitter.com/UCcPwLS884
— (@mermaidmrym) August 21, 2018
Stefan Karl Stefansson, the actor who played #robbierotten in Lazy Town, the legend himself, has died by the hands of cancer on the 21st of August of 2018, he will be missed and he will forever stay in my heart for making my childhood amazing, Rest in Peace... pic.twitter.com/kwXbesS1xn
— Hydralistic (@phoenix_dt) August 21, 2018