Last week's story quest saw players aiding the anthropomorphic tree in a series of missions to raise an alien hatchling and restore peace with the invaders - all part of the game's current UFO season storyline.
The quest appeared to end in success - until today, when Bushranger is no longer available to find on the game's island map as an NPC, and instead there's a small grave marked in his usual spot with some flowers.
Bushranger has always been portrayed as a shy, innocent character. Some would say naive. And so his raising of a dangerous alien hatchling seemed a little foolhardy. But for this to be the outcome?
There are fan theories that Bushranger is still alive - that the grave is actually for the alien baby instead - but that wouldn't explain Bushranger's sudden disappearance. Typically, if a character is placed as an NPC on the island, they do not vanish mid-season.
Fortnite's account teased last week's alien baby quest by asking "What could go wrong?" Well...
Bushranger Died.. pic.twitter.com/FtIIKh2i4M— HYPEX (@HYPEX) July 29, 2021
Of course, you can still play as Bushranger yourself if you want to. In-game, Fortnite lore explains this by saying any character which has visited the island permanently lives on within its world via a "snapshot" of their actual selves.
But now the mystery is - who killed Bushranger? Was it the aliens? Or did the island's seemingly-evil Imagined Order organisation do the deed to stop Bushranger achieving peace? And will Bushranger return? For now, fans can only theorise - although there's hope Bushranger will pull a Groot-like return and regrow.
RIP Bushranger. 2019-2021.
#Fortnite Map Update 29/7/21 ??— FNAssist - News & Leaks (@FN_Assist) July 29, 2021
? There is now a grave set where the Bushranger NPC used to roam. It plays peaceful music when nearby and Bushranger no longer spawns. It appears he could have either died or possibly will grow into a new tree?
Spotted by @TweaBR pic.twitter.com/GIbdYvVqaV
Bushranger .. i will never forget you ? pic.twitter.com/VncYBZ0Fkx— Glitch King ? (@GlitchKing15) July 29, 2021