Whether they’ve met a premature death, are moving away, or “making a change in their life,” it’s always a sad day when a favorite character leaves a show. But believe it or not, sometimes it’s the actor who asks for their role to be written out.
Between contract negotiations, disagreements with character arches, and even career aspirations, the disappearance of fan favorites like The Office‘s Michael Scott is sometimes nothing more than the actor dying to leave the show behind them… pun intended.
After Three Years, Dan Stevens Opted For An Epic Downton Abbey Death
After surviving World War I and the Spanish flu epidemic, Downton Abbey fans were heartbroken when the much-loved character of Matthew Crawley died in a car crash. As it turns out, actor Dan Stevens decided to leave behind the character after his three-year contract came to an end.
“We were always optioned for three years. And when that came up, it was a very difficult decision. But it felt like a good time to take stock, to take a moment. From a personal point of view, I wanted a chance to do other things,” Steven’s told The Telegraph.
Andrew Lincoln Left TWD To Spend More Time With Family
After nine long seasons fighting off zombies as leader Rick Grimes, actor Andrew Lincoln said goodbye to the character and The Walking Dead. It was a personal decision on Lincoln’s part to leave the series, stating that he was spending too much time away from home and his family.
“This will be my last season playing the role of Rick Grimes. It means everything to me,” the actor said during an interview with EW Radio. “I have two young children, and I live in a different country, and they become less portable as they get older. It was that simple. It was time for me to come home.”
Rob Lowe Left The West Wing Over A Pay Dispute
Considering that The West Wing helped reestablish Rob Lowe’s acting career, it’s interesting that he asked for his character, Sam Seaborn, to be written out of the drama. According to CNN, his departure from the show was over a pay dispute, with Lowe asking for a raise from his $75,000 per episode salary (because that’s not enough?).
During various interviews, Lowe never mentions the salary negotiations, praising the network and the team he’d worked with over the years. “We were a part of television history and I will never forget it.” Well, at least he split with Warner Bros. on good terms.
McLean Stevenson Wanted To Make A Name For Himself Outside Of M*A*S*H
McLean Stevenson’s M*A*S*H role of Henry Blake was one of the most beloved characters in the ensemble cast of the ’70s sitcom. But it was the ensemble cast that had Stevenson asking for his character to be killed off in the season three finale, wanting to make a name for himself outside of the sitcom.
Unfortunately, leaving the show backfired on the actor. “When I left the show, the mistake was not in leaving; the mistake was that I thought everybody in America loved McLean Stevenson. That was not the case. Everybody loved Henry Blake,” Steveson reported to The Los Angeles Times.
Kal Penn Left House For The White House
Typically, a character is written out of a show because of negotiations, disagreements, and various other things. Kal Penn is not like those other actors. He asked for Dr. Lawrence Kutner to be written out of the hit medical drama House because, let’s be honest, he wasn’t going to say no to the former president.
While on House, Penn was offered a position in another house, a big white one that so happens to sit on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. As a result, Dr. Lawrence was killed in a car crash in season five, and Mr. Penn began his new career in the White House’s Office of Public Liaison.
After 15 years, Justin Chambers Said Goodbye To Grey’s Anatomy
Justin Chambers was one of the few original cast members of Grey’s Anatomy. So, imagine fans’ surprise when his character Dr. Alex Karev abruptly left the show after 15 years — leaving his wife and colleagues for an old flame. Seriously, they couldn’t think of anything better?
Regardless, it was Chambers’ idea to have his character leave the main story; it was just time. In a statement, he said, “There’s no good time to say goodbye to a show and character that’s defined so much of my life for the past 15 years. For some time now, however, I have hoped to diversify my acting roles and career choices.”
Mandy Patinkin Stopped Showing Up To The Criminal Minds Set
While Mandy Patinkin didn’t necessarily ask Criminal Minds’ producers and writers to write him out of the show, he couldn’t have been more clear with his thoughts on his character Jason Gideon and the show. Pretty much, the actor just stopped showing up to set.
He became unhappy with the direction his character was going, deciding the best course of action was to pretend Gideon didn’t exist. As a result, the writers had no choice but to kill off the character and had him shot off-screen. That’s one way to let people know your stance!
Skeet Ulrich Was Creatively Bored With Riverdale
In the hit CW show Riverdale, actor Skeet Ulrich played FP Jones, leader of the Southside Serpents and the father of Jellybean and Jughead. Well, playing a questionable father-figure wasn’t enough for the actor’s creativity, so he asked to be written out of the show after season four.
When asked why he opted to be written out of the wildly popular young adult drama, Ulrich was very candid. On an Instagram Live video, the actor said, “I’m leaving Riverdale because I got bored creatively. How’s that? That’s the most honest answer.”
It Was Dean Norris’ Idea To Kill Off Hank In Breaking Bad
Killing off Hank Schrader in season five of Breaking Bad was horrible for fans of the hit drama series. Ironically, it was actor Dean Norris’ idea for the DEA agent to meet his end in “the first eight” of the split season, getting shot directly in front of Walter White.
“I called [series creator] Vince [Gilligan], and I said, ‘Hey man, maybe Hank should die in the first eight. Wouldn’t that be a great ending?'” Norris explained to the National Post. Apparently, the actor wasn’t too hurt over the character’s death either, since he had another project lined up that was going to conflict with the series’ filming schedule.
John Rhys-Davies Didn’t Like The Writing Of Sliders
Some might remember the sci-fi series Sliders that aired on Fox during the mid-1990s. The show ran for five seasons, to the complete astonishment of actor John Rhys-Davies. See, Rhys-Davies played Professor Maximilian Arturo in what he thought was a seriously poorly-written script.
The actor was constantly at odds with the writers of the show, asking to be written out because he didn’t like where they were going with the story. Finally, they granted his wish, killing off the Professor halfway through the third season.
Patrick Dempsey Left Grey’s Anatomy To Work On Other Projects
It was a long and sad night when Derek Shepherd, aka Dr. McDreamy, was killed in a car crash during season 11 of Grey’s Anatomy. Needless to say, fans were shocked by the death. But even more so when they learned actor Patrick Dempsey asked to be written out of the show so he could pursue other projects.
Not too long after his departure from Grey’s, Dempsey started work on Bridget Jones’s Baby. “It had been long enough. It was time for me to move on with other things and other interests. I probably should have moved on a couple of years earlier,” the actor told People.
Steve Carell’s Office Contract Was Up
After seven seasons of the beloved mockumentary The Office, fans were devastated when Michael Scott put in his resignation from Dunder Mifflin. When it was announced that actor Steve Carell was actually the reason behind the beloved character’s departure, many thought it was because he wished to pursue a film career.
Well, that’s not entirely true. Carell did wind up in some films after leaving The Office, but it was because his contract was up and NBC didn’t offer him a new one. So, he left, only returning for a surprise guest appearance during the last season’s final episode.
Hawaii Five-O Wouldn’t Negotiate Pay With Daniel Dae Kim
For seven seasons, Daniel Dae Kim played Chin Ho Kelly in the reboot of the police drama Hawaii Five-O. After being a staple on the show since its resurrection, fans were surprised to learn, Kim asked for his character to be written out entirely.
After the end of season seven, Kim was in negotiations with CBS over his pay. When they refused to renegotiate his salary, he left—season eight starts with Chin Ho Kelly already being off the team. Talk about leaving without saying goodbye!
John Amos Struggled With The Direction Of Good Times
At first, John Amos struggled with leaving the popular ’70s sitcom Good Times. His no-nonsense character of James Evans Sr. was a fan favorite for the first two seasons. But Amos didn’t like the direction of the show, butting heads with writers.
Because of this, he pretty much asked to be written out of the series. Although, a lot of people call his departure more of a firing. During an interview, Amos explained why he left the show, saying, “I had a way of voicing my differences against the script that weren’t acceptable to the creative staff. I mean, the writers got tired of having their lives threatened over jokes.”
Lost‘s Dominic Monaghan Wanted To Dore More
Actor Dominic Monaghan is appreciative of his time as part of the Lost cast. But that doesn’t mean he wasn’t happy when his character Charlie Pace drowned at the end of season three. Actually, Monaghan was quite thrilled that he was off the show because he was ready to move on with his career.
“To be honest, as an actor I’ve been kind of frustrated for a while. I’ve wanted to do a little bit more,” Monaghan told TV Guide. “I have to [go] where the best work is going to be for me.”
Milo Ventimiglia Wanted To Kill Off Jess In Gilmore Girls
The teenager fanbase of Gilmore Girls was absolutely devastated when Rory and Jess broke up at the end of season three. The bad boy of the series was gone, and people weren’t happy to learn that it was at actor Milo Ventimiglia’s request for the character to be written out. For the actor, it was time to say goodbye to Jess.
Ventimiglia actually wanted Jess to be killed off! Thankfully, the network didn’t go for it. “I was the one who actually tried to get Jess killed, and they didn’t go for it…hit by a bus, a knife in the side of the neck, something bad,” he told E! News.
John Francis Daley Left Bones To Direct
After ten seasons, the decision to kill off Lance Sweets in Bones was tough, but it had to be made. Actor John Francis asked for his character to be written off because he finally had an opportunity to do something he’d always dreamed of, directing.
So, Sweets was shot by one of the show’s various assailants, dying in an ambulance car on the way to the hospital. Daley then went on to direct the remake of National Lampoon’s Vacation alongside Jonathan Goldstein. Considering the film’s reviews, maybe he should have stuck with acting in Bones.
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje Left Lost Because He Was Homesick
After three seasons stranded on the mysterious island, actor Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje thought it was time to say goodbye to his character, Mr. Eko. When Akinnuoye-Agbaje approached showrunners Lindelof and Carlton Cuse about his decision, they weren’t too thrilled. But the actor was sure, believing Eko’s story had been told.
So, he was killed by the island’s Smoke Monster, dying in John Locke’s arms. His decision wasn’t based on creative differences or even contract negotiations; Akinnuoye-Agbaje just didn’t like living in Hawaii, where the show was filmed. The actor asked to write out his character so he could return home to England.
Cote De Pablo Left NCIS Because Of Creative Issues
In 2016, former NCIS star Cote De Pablo, who played Ziva on the long-running show, revealed what made her leave. In her opinion, the creative direction the writers were taking her character weren’t respectful, so she bowed out:
“I love this character! I worked for eight years crafting [Ziva] and when I felt like the character wasn’t being treated with the respect she deserved …. They were going to send [Ziva] back to Israel and make her an unfortunate, miserable woman.”
Daniel Gillies Needed To Leave One Show, He Chose Saving Hope
Being part of one TV show is a lot, but being number two on two call sheets takes a lot out of a person. That’s why actor Daniel Gillies put the idea of killing off Dr. Joel Goran in Saving Hope. Between that show and The Originals, he was being worn too thin.
During an interview with TV Junkies, Gillies said, “I was doing 40-42 episodes of TV a year, bouncing between two shows. So I put it in [the Saving Hope writers’] minds, and then they approached me later on in the season and surprisingly they sort of acquiesced.”
For Personal Reasons, Donald Glover Asked To Leave Community
For five seasons, Donald Glover was a staple of the comedy series Community, playing the character of Troy Barnes, a former high school quarterback. Unfortunately, Glover asked to be written out of the series halfway through the fifth season. At first, many people thought it as so the multi-talented Glover could further pursue his music career.
As it turns out, Glover’s reason to be written out of the show goes much deeper than other projects. He was going through personal problems, emotional stress, and needed to step away for a bit. So, Troy wound up leaving Greendale to sail around the world with LeVar Burton.
Topher Grace Left That ’70s Show In Favor Of A film Career
That ’70s Show was never the same after Eric Forman left Wisconsin to travel to Africa, of all places. Well, fans of the show have actor Topher Grace to thank for the geeky boy-next-door’s sudden departure to another continent.
After seven seasons on the sitcom, Grace decided it was time for him to pursue film and leave TV behind. It wasn’t a horrible move on his part, considering he landed the role of Eddie Brock in Spider-Man 3 shortly after asking to be written out of the show.
Brett Dier’s Departure From Jane The Virgin Was Ground In Rumors
When Brett Dier’s character Michael was shot on his and Jane’s wedding day in Jane the Virgin’s second season, fans were outraged. The two almost had their happily ever after, now Michael was gone! Yea, they weren’t thrilled, especially when rumors started swirling around regarding the sudden character death.
Many news sources said Dier asked for the character to be written out of the show because he wanted the freedom to pursue other projects. Little did they know that he was going to make an epic return in the final season. Yea, plot twist spoiler alert!
The Good Wife Burned Out Josh Charles
After four years playing Will Gardner in The Good Wife, actor Josh Charles asked to be written out of the show. Apparently, playing the same character for four years is enough to burn some people out! So, when Charles’ contract came to a close at the end of season four, he had no trouble saying goodbye.
During a CBS screening of season four, Charles said, “Look, it’s a very long season doing a network television show, and somewhere in year four, I kinda felt burnt out. That’s no reflection on how I feel about the show; it’s just more about what I want to do in my life.”
Grey’s Anatomy Communication Was Lacking For T.R. Knight
Actor T.R. Knight played the role of Dr. George O’Malley in Grey’s Anatomy from its start in 2005 until 2009. It was then that Knight asked to be written out of the show, citing the lack of communication with the showrunners playing a huge part in his decision.
During an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Knight said, “My five-year experience proved to me that I could not trust any answer that was given [about George].” So, the character of George O’Malley went out as a hero, saving a lady from being hit by a bus, resulting in his death on the surgery table.
Even $50 Million Didn’t Sway Jim Parsons From Leaving The Big Bang Theory
Even though Jim Parson’s role as Sheldon Cooper in The Big Bang Theory won him a Golden Globe Award, it wasn’t enough to make him want to continue with the character after season 12. Even the offer of $50 million didn’t sway the actor! Apparently, the showrunners didn’t think the show would survive without Sheldon, so it ended.
For Parson’s, the decision to leave the show wasn’t one he made lightly. The decision to be written out came after one crazy summer where he felt as though he was watching his life fly by with no means of stopping the craziness. So, he took matters into his own hands.
Chris Messina Demoted Himself On The Mindy Project
Actor Chris Messina didn’t ask to be completely written out of The Mindy Project, per se, but he did ask to be demoted. Starting off as a main role, Messina demoted his character, Danny Castellano, to a reoccurring guest, wanting to take the time to explore other opportunities.
Mindy was always cool with me and understanding that in doing the show, that I wanted to have time to do other projects, whether that be movies or a play or directing,” Messina told The Hollywood Reporter. “She knew coming onto the show that was a worry or concern of mine, and she stuck to her word.”
David Caruso Walked Away from NYPD Blue After Contract Negotiations Went South
It surprised fans when David Caruso was abruptly written out of NYPD Blue four episodes into season two, since his character Detective John Kelly was wildly popular. As it turned out, the actor asked to be written out of the series after come of his contractual requests were denied.
Granted, his requests were a bit outlandish. “A raise from $40K to $100k an episode, as well as Fridays off…a 38-foot trailer…an office suite on the lot,” producer Steven Bochco recalled in an interview with TV Line. The result of his denied requests was Detective Kelly leaving the 15th squad and department.
David Duchovny Thought Seven Years Of The X-Files Was Enough
After playing Fox Mulder in The X-Files for so many years, it was strange to see a cast that didn’t include the FBI agent. Alas, actor David Duchovny was pretty over the show by the time season seven rolled around. By then, his contract was up, and he was all for being written out of the show.
After deciding to leave his character in the hands of alien abduction, Duchovny released a statement saying, “As much as I love the show, I think for me this will be the end. I always thought five years was enough. Seven years is definitely enough.”
Chad Michael Murray Wasn’t Pleased With One Tree Hill Contract Negotiations
Lucas Scott started off as the main character in The CW soap opera One Tree Hill, keeping the status as one of the main characters for six seasons. But everything came to a crashing halt when the cast of season seven was released and Chad Michael Murray wasn’t on the call sheet.
Murray asked to be written out of the show because he and the network couldn’t come to terms with his contract, namely money. A video later surfaced of the actor’s response to the non-negotiations. In the clip, Murray said, “They [the network] want to save money…Start blogging and being…off.”
Christopher Abbott No Longer Related To His Girls Character
Christopher Abbott’s character in Girls, Charlie Dattolo, was in a serious relationship with one of the leading ladies, Marnie. So it was a shock to fans when, after the season two finale, he was written out of the story. It was Abbott’s decision, though, as he didn’t feel like he related to the character anymore.
During an interview with The New York Times, Abbott discussed his departure from the series, saying, “The world…t wasn’t as relatable for me on a personal level. It’s not that I only like to play roles I know to a T, but there’s something satisfying about playing parts where you really relate to the characters.”
Dave Chappelle Wrote Himself Out Of His Own Show
It must be quite the day when you can write yourself out of your successful comedy series. That’s exactly what Dave Chappelle did after the third season of The Dave Chappelle Show. His departure was because he felt as though he wasn’t getting anything out of his success, so he wanted to take a few steps back.
Chappelle explained why he left his show in an interview with CBS This Morning, saying, “I was in this very successful place, but the emotional content of it didn’t feel anything like what I imagined success should feel like. It just didn’t feel right.”
After Six Years On ER, George Clooney Wanted To Pursue A Film Career
George Clooney made a name for himself as Dr. Doug Ross, aka the OG hot doctor, on a little hit show called ER. But after six years wearing scrubs, Clooney felt as though he was destined for bigger and better things (he wasn’t wrong). He also didn’t feel a strong story was set for the character.
So, Clooney asked to be written out of the show, and Dr. Ross was gone after season six. The executive producer of the show, John Wells, couldn’t even blame Clooney for leaving, stating that the actor most likely lost out on millions of dollars solely because of his commitment to the show.
Columbus Short’s Actions Asked To Be Written Off Scandal
While Columbus Short didn’t necessarily “ask” to be written off Scandal, his actions certainly said otherwise. In the fourth season premiere, it was explained that Harrison Wright, Short’s character, was murdered. It looks as though the multiple charges and arrests didn’t do the actor any favors.
During an interview with People, Short held nothing back, explaining that it was definitely his fault his character was written out of the show. He said, “I had a lot on my plate, and you know, I was using unhealthy ways to kind of self-medicate and deal with a lot of heavy-duty stuff in my life.”
Michael Weatherly Signed On To A New Project, Leaving NCIS
For 13 seasons, actor Michael Weatherly played quirky one-liner Agent Anthony DiNozzo on NCIS. Even though many fans of the show appreciated the character, Weatherly was over it, wanting to move on and do something else with his time.
So, he asked to be written out of NCIS so he could start on Bull, another CBS series. “It came about at the right time,” the actor told The Hollywood Reporter during an interview. “I was burnt out by NCIS, and I was ready for a new challenge.”
Jonathan Taylor Thomas Left Home Improvement To Be A Kid
Considering Jonathan Taylor Thomas had been going nonstop since he was eight years old, it’s not too surprising that he asked to be written out of Home Improvement. Even though he was one of the main cast members, Thomas was getting burnt out. Kids shouldn’t be getting burnt out!
“I wanted to go to school, to travel and have a bit of a break,” he told People during an interview. The network accepted Thomas’ resignation, writing Randy off as doing an environmental study abroad program in Costa Rica.
Greg Vaughan Thought Eric Brady’s Story Was Coming To An End On Days Of Our Lives
After playing Eric Brady for eight seasons on the popular soap opera Days of Our Lives, Greg Vaughan decided it was time to make a change. Well, kind of. He decided to leave because he was unsure where Days was going to end up, and he wasn’t willing to take a lower salary.
During an interview on the podcast, That’s Awesome! With Steve and Bradford, the actor explained his departure, saying, “Days was going through a renewal negotiation…and not knowing where they were going to go and… um, I just felt my time… was coming to an end, anyway.”
T.J. Miller Was Ready To Leave Silicon Valley
Since the beginning of Silicon Valley, T.J. Miller’s character of Erlich Bachman was a staple. Then, after season four, fans were reeling because the Bachman was presumably dead! So, what happened for the actor to be written out of the show? Well, he wanted to be.
Ultimately, Miller was done with the series, wanting to move on from television. Co-showrunner Mike Judge remembers miller wanting to be written out of the show, saying, “It was kind of becoming clear that he didn’t want to do the show anymore, but we wanted to leave it so that there would be an opportunity to come back at some point.”
Harrison Ford Was Pining For Han Solo’s Death For 30 Years
Harrison Ford’s Han Solo is a staple character in the Star Wars franchise. Ironically, the character almost didn’t make it all the way to The Force Awakens since Ford was trying to get the character killed off for, give or take, 30 years, finally succeeding in 2015.
“I’ve been arguing for Han Solo to die for about 30 years,” Ford explained during an Entertainment Weekly interview. “Not because I was tired of him or because he’s boring, but his sacrifice for the other characters would lend gravitas and emotional weight.” He finally got his wish, even if he does cameo in The Rise of Skywalker.
Shia LaBeouf Wasn’t Up For A Fourth Transformers Flick
After three films, Shia LaBeouf decided to take a step back from the world of Transformers. Basically, he didn’t want to commit to a fourth movie of being Sam Witwicky, the quirky guy who just so happens to find himself in the middle of an alien robot war.
During an interview with MTV News, LaBeouf said, “I’m not coming back to do another one. It still is a hot property, I think, especially coming out of the third one. So I imagine they’ll reboot it at some point with someone else.” It’s like he’s a mind reader because that’s exactly what Michael Bay did, bringing in Mark Wahlberg.