Despite all the drama present in the movies, in reality, the best drama takes place behind the scenes. Here we present 40 reasons why actors and actresses were written off shows!
1/40. The popular kid’s show in the 1970s, Sesame Street, introduced their first ever non-animated (or not a puppet) character by the name of David. David was played by Northern Calloway, and he was supposed to embody an older brother stereotype. Tough, cool, but disciplined and loyal to the extent of caring. David was an essential part of the show since he appeared at a time when a lot of kids in the inner city were turning to drugs.
Unfortunately, he was slowly written off the show until he stopped appearing altogether. In reality, Northern was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Although he took his medication of lithium for it, he also took cocaine. Things began to deteriorate when he went on a rampage one day in nothing but a Superman shirt and beat a woman with an iron rod, and also smashed windows.
During his arrest, he yelled that he was David from the show Sesame Street and that the police were attempting to kill him. He was eventually sent to a mental institution, where he spent the rest of his life. He died in a mental hospital in 1990 after an extended psychotic episode.
2/40. In another sad moment on Sesame Street, the actor who played Mr. Hooper passed away. Mr. Hooper was an older gentleman who was the owner of the store on Sesame Street. When the actor died, the writers spent an entire show explaining that he died and how he would no longer be returning.
3/40. Doctor Who was originally played by William Hartnell. Unfortunately, due to his health, he had to leave the show. Arteriosclerosis was affecting him so negatively that he could no longer stick with the acting schedule. Due to his health and the popularity of the show, the producers decided to improvise and write in the part where the Doctor could essentially be immortal by transforming into a new body.
4/40. The popular show That 70’s Show was the start of many acting careers. Although many actors benefited from appearing on the show, none was more spectacular than Tommy Chong. Tommy had to leave the show for some time (9 months) after he was arrested for selling bongs. During his time in jail, he was a cellmate with Jordan Belfort (the character portrayed by Leonardo DiCaprio in Wolf of Wall Street.) Tommy was one of the main cogs behind Jordan writing his book. He later returned to the show after his time in prison.
5/40. Sticking with That 70’s Show, both Topher Grace and Ashton Kutcher ended up leaving the show because they wanted to advance their careers, and they were tired of the long-running show. That’s why Eric all of a sudden had to go to college, and Kelso decided to finally get a job…but in Chicago.
6/40. On the show Cheers, Carla’s husband, Eddie, was removed from the show due to some disparaging comments he made about his co-star. On his national radio show, he made some jokes about Rhea Perlman’s looks. He stated that he deserved ‘combat pay’ for kissing her, and when Perlman demanded his removal, the executives agreed and decided to rid him from the show with a Zamboni.
7/40. This one is more of a group firing than an individual removal. During the fourth season of House, the genius doctor was given 30 trainees. During each new episode, House would fire a couple of trainees. The writers would decide last minute who to get rid of during the upcoming show; in that way, even the actors were unsure if they’d have a job the next week.
During the last season of House, this actress was written off not because of uncertainty but because of some disputes behind the scenes. The actress who played Cuddy (the house’s supervisor) was written off the show because she and the producers could not agree on a salary. At least she kind of knew what was coming instead of it just being out of the blue. (Sorry, trainees!)
8/40. The Simpsons have long been a staple in many a kid’s childhoods. But what happened to Maude Flanders? Although she died from a barrage emitted by a t-shirt cannon, it was a backstage dispute that was the reason for Maude’s death. Maggie Roswell, who lived out of state, paid for her plane ticket to Los Angeles and asked for a raise to compensate for the ticket. The producers soundly rejected that offer and just wrote her off the show.
9/40. Dominic Monaghan is more known for playing a Hobbit in the Lord of the Rings movies, but he also appeared on the television show Lost. In an unusual turn of events, it was Dominic himself who asked to be written off the show since he was dating fellow actress (also on the show) Evangeline Lilly. Later, Evangeline dumped him, and Dominic couldn’t work with her anymore.
10/40. Body image is a huge deal to a lot of people. Especially on TV, with thousands, if not millions, of people watching you. Scarlett Pomers, who played Kyra from the show Reba, was struggling with anorexia in 2005. Standing 5’2” and weighing only 73 pounds, she decided to get treatment along with the support of the entire cast. When she returned back to the show after defeating her demons, she said on the show that she had returned from getting ‘something to eat.’
11/40. Growing up, it was so weird to see Steve from Blue’s Clues leave just like that. Although the show said that Steve had to go to college, it was actually due to the actor going bald. The actor also said that he had some musical interests to explore, but it was really due to the baldness. ‘Mostly because I refused to lose my hair on a kid’s TV show, and it was happening fast.’
12/40. The Office is probably one of the funniest and most popular shows out there. Combining romance, wittiness, and an abundance of comedy, The Office was relatable to more than just the water cooler talkers. When Ryan was written to go to Thailand on the show, it was actually because the actor had to play a role in the film Inglorious Bastards.
13/40. It is getting more and more common for actors to jump from acting to a career in government but from the show House to the actual White House. Now that’s a promotion. On the show, Kal Penn (who famously played Kumar in Harold and Kumar) was written off the show because he had to work as an associate director in the White House Office of Public Engagement.
14/40. In Babylon 5, the actor who played Jeffrey Sinclair demanded to be written off the show. Michael O’Hare was struggling with psychological issues that ranged from paranoia to hallucinations. And when he asked to be written off the show, the creators insisted that they put the show on hold while he sought treatment. But O’Hare refused and forced them to keep the show going. It wasn’t until after O’Hare’s death that, upon his request, his condition was revealed to the public.
15/40. In the classical sitcom Seinfeld, which aired its last episode in 1998, Elaine’s father was written off the show after only one episode. In the show, Elaine’s father, Alton, played by Lawrence Tierney, is a war veteran who makes Jerry and George Costanza uncomfortable. But this was also true in real life since that was the reason why Jerry had him written off the show.
16/40. In some twisted irony, the UK Show Misfits had a character written off due to some mischievousness. The actor who played Kelly Bailey on the show, Lauren Socha, had to be written off because she had to do community service in real life. Guess she took her role a little too seriously.
17/40. In a weird case where the removal of a character led to the destruction of an entire show, the Punky Brewster was canceled for precisely just that. Soleil Moon Frye was suffering from gigantomastia, which is literally giant breasts. Before her 16th birthday, she had to get breast reduction surgery for a more manageable size. She was growing at such a rapid rate that writers and creators could not adequately portray her in an age-appropriate manner.
18/40. There are conflicting arguments in regard to the sudden removal of Aunt Viv on the Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air. Some say it was due to contract obligations that stated that she could not get pregnant (which she did.) But others, including the actor who played Carlton, stated that it was due to the tough and strict attitude of the actress that resulted in a strained dynamic between her and her cast mates.
19/40. In a more recent show, Community, Yvette Nicole asked to be written off the show. Yvette, who plays Shirley, a pious, funny mother, was nowhere to be found in the sixth season. The reason behind that was that she asked to be removed from the show to be with her sick father.
20/40. Gilmore Girls, a show centered around the bed and breakfast, The Dragon Fly Inn, focuses on the chef, the parents (Richard and Emily Gilmore), Lorelai and daughter Rory and the wide array of customers who come through the inn. But Dean Forester, played by Jared Padalecki, had to leave the show in order to play Sam Winchester from Supernatural.
21/40. In an unfortunate turn of events, the Blue Ranger from Power Rangers just walked off the set one day during his lunch break and never returned. This was in large part due to the harassment and verbal abuse inflicted upon him by the crew. The crew had been taunting David Yost for years now in regard to his sexual orientation, and he had been contemplating suicide for some time. Eventually, he went to conversion therapy for two years, where he learned to accept himself and his sexual orientation after a psychological breakdown.
22/40. Lisa Bonet was written off the Cosby Show originally because of ‘creative differences.’ But in reality, it was because she didn’t fit Bill Cosby’s conception of the show. Because she did a topless spread in a magazine and appeared in Angel Heart, this resulted in her removal from the show.23/40. In The O.C., Marissa Cooper, played by Mischa Barton, was one of the main characters of the show. That’s why when show creators decided to write her off with a car accident, a lot of fans were shocked. But this was due to Mischa Barton wanting to pursue a career in film. She has since appeared in mostly horror flicks but is not opposed to a return to television.
24/40. In a rare case of loyalty, the actor playing Dale from The Walking Dead was written off the show because Frank Darabont got fired. Jeffrey Demunn, who plays Dale, was unhappy with his friend’s removal, so he decided to no longer act in The Walking Dead. So the show creators decided to just kill him off.
25/40. In the show, The Big Bang Theory, Howard Wolowitz’s hovering mother is never actually seen onscreen, but her voice more than makes up for the lack of screen time she gets. Unfortunately, in season 8, Carol Ann Susi, who voiced Mrs. Wolowitz, died, and rather than find a voice replacement, show producers decided to just write off the character out of respect for the late actress.
26/40. Although South Park has long been notorious for getting rid of unwanted characters on the show, there was actually a reason behind the dramatic and gruesome death of Chef. (Although it is important to note that not all characters who were killed are unimportant, as evidenced by the continuous killing and murders of Kenny.) After an episode making fun of Scientology, Isaac Hayes, who voiced Chef, criticized the show creators for being intolerant of religious beliefs.
27/40. The show Criminal Minds is about the cat-and-mouse game between serial killers and detectives. As the show went on, it got darker and darker and a little too morbid. At least, according to actor Mandy Patinkin who left the show precisely because of that. When he asked to leave, the producers simply decided to just retire his character.
28/40. Back to That 70’s show! Laurie Foreman was an essential character in the show, not only as the promiscuous daughter of Red but also as the antagonist to Eric. Unfortunately, by the fourth season, Lisa Robin Kelly was suffering from alcoholism and had to be written off. She eventually passed away in her sleep in a rehab facility in 2013.
29/40. T.R. Knight was the actor who played George O’Malley on Grey’s Anatomy. Although loved by fans, he didn’t like working on the show all that much. In fact, he hated it so much that he asked to be written off. He tried to convince producers to have his character move out to a cabin, but instead, the creators decided to have the character get hit by a bus so viciously that none of his friends or colleagues could recognize his disfigured face.
30/40. In a controversial move by Grey’s Anatomy, ABC decided to fire Brooke Smith, who played Dr. Hahn in the show. As an openly gay character on the show and one of the only lesbian relationships on television, her prompt removal caused a lot of uproar. Although the cause of her dismissal is not clear, some speculate that it was because she just didn’t fit the ‘skinny, pretty, glamorous type’ portrayed on the show.
31/40. In the show Scandal, Harrison Wright was killed off after three seasons after he was involved in his own personal scandal. The producers and creators of the show decided to separate themselves from the actor after a bar fight left him threatening to kill himself and his wife while he was inebriated.
32/40. Chuck Lorre is the writer and creator of the hilarious comedy, Two and a Half Men. So it comes as no surprise that after Charlie Sheen’s public criticism of Chuck Lorre that Sheen was written off the show. Charlie’s character was eventually killed when he fell off a metro platform in Paris and died a horrific death.
33/40. In the show Glee, Patrick Gallagher plays an aggressive coach who would regularly take out his frustrations on his football team. After his sudden departure in season 1 this led many fans to wonder what the cause was. Although some speculated a nervous breakdown, Patrick said it was simply due to ‘the storyline running its course.’
34/40. In the most appearances on this list, That 70’s Show once again portrays another character that appeared only briefly on set. Tina Pinciotti was supposed to be Donna’s younger sister, but for some unknown reason, she was written off the show and only ever appeared in one episode. She was supposed to play a major supporting role to the main cast members, but it seems like the show producers decided to change their minds.
35/40. In the hilarious show Community, Pierce Hawthorne, played by Chevy Chase, was killed off at the beginning of season 5. Even during the first four seasons, there were many disputes between Chevy and the creators. He publicly denounced the show saying it wasn’t funny, and he regularly disagreed with the creator Dan Harmon.
36/40. Dan Harmon was eventually removed from the show for season 4, and when Chevy left for season 5, Dan returned. Chevy Chase would end up making a cameo in season 5 where he shows up as a hologram, and Dan Harmon would end up creating the ever-growing Rick and Morty.
37/40. On the first season of Bones, Dr.Goodman was seen announcing his hiatus due to a 3-month sabbatical. But when the second season started, he was nowhere to be found. The creators of the show said that the actor’s energy did not mesh well with the rest of the talent.
38/40. Moira Kelly plays Mandy on The West Wing. When she was quietly written off the show, fans who noticed speculated the reason behind her sudden departure. Some stated it was due to her brash personality, which clashed with other colleagues, and others stated that it was because she was unhappy with the storyline.
39/40. Once again, with The West Wing, the untimely death of John Spencer led to some rewriting of the script. At the end of season 7, Spencer was playing Leo McGarry, who was the right-hand man to the President. But due to his death, the writers had to write in the death of his character as well. And because of this, they changed the winners of the election so that Santor wouldn’t have to deal with losing his running mate AND the election.
40/40. In the hit television show, The Sopranos, Livia Soprano, who plays Tony’s mother, absolutely owned the role of TV villain. Unfortunately, she passed away during the third season due to lung cancer. Nancy Marchand worked all the way up to her death, incurring the admiration of her co-stars and fans. The show decided to CGI a likeness of her to complete the episode.