Here’s Why These 25 Actors Left Your Favorite Shows

In our free time, many of us like to watch TV shows, be it comedies, thrillers, dramas or even horror shows. We get attached to the shows, especially with those who run for long seasons, and we can’t help but become devoted to the characters and their personal lives. However, more often than what we’d like, our favorite characters leave the show unexpectedly. Here’s a list of 25 characters whose departures were really painful. Please check #20#12 and #6!

Photo: Courtesy of The CW

#25. David Caruso

Before starring in the police show CSI: Miami and enjoying wide fame and recognition, actor David Caruso starred in the TV show NYPD Blue for only one season. Between the years 1993 and 1994, Caruso played the role of Detective John Kelly, but left the show after he asked for more money. After he left, the show ran for 12 seasons in total.

Photo: Courtesy of ABC

But as fate works in mysterious ways, he found a leading role in CSI: Miami, where he played the role of CSI member Horatio Caine, between the years 2002 to 2012. He also appeared in 2 episodes of CSI: New York. After 232 episodes, the network canceled the show, to the dismay of all the fans.

#24. Michael Weatherly

Together with Pauley Perrette, Weatherly was one of the main characters of the show NCIS. He played the part of Anthony DiNozzo, the comedian of the group and a major film lover. After 13 seasons, he decided it was time to part ways with CBS, leaving the fans in disbelief.

Photo: Courtesy of CBS

Fortunately for the show writers and fans alike, he didn’t leave abruptly but gave the scriptwriters some time to come up with a proper ending for his character. After leaving NCIS, Weatherly appeared in the show Bull, also produced and released in the CBS network. You know what they say, family remains family.

#23. Mandy Patinkin

Criminal Minds is one of the longest-running shows in the CBS network, and soon, the 15th and last season will be aired. For the first three seasons, Mandy Patinkin played the role of Special Agent Jason Gideon, the head of the team. According to the actor, he disliked his role as the show was something different from what he thought it would be.

Photo: Courtesy of CBS

Nonetheless, when he left the show he apologized to all of his co-workers and producers and wished them only the best, and it turned out the best for the show! Luckily for Patinkin, he landed another lead role in the TV crime show Homeland as the CIA officer, Saul Berenson.

#22. Nicole Beharie

Supernatural and Sleepy Hollow are two of the greatest fantasy shows ever made, and they both starred Tom Mison and Nicole Beharie. They had great chemistry on-screen and they even forged a great friendship off-screen too. The show experienced great success during its first three seasons until Beharie left the show at the beginning of Season 4. Her reason? She felt the show’s producers looked down on her.

Photo: Courtesy of Fox

Renewing the series for a fourth season was a terrible mistake, as the producers had to cancel the show due to low ratings. Unfortunately, Beharie’s career fared as bad as the show, as she did not land any big role after her departure from the FOX network show.

#21. Shelley Long

During five years, Shelley Long played the role of Diane Chambers in the NBC comedy Cheers, the show that rose her to fame and earned her 5 Emmy nominations. In 1983, one of those Emmy nominations turned into a win and Long took the award home.

Photo: Courtesy of NBC

Not only was her character successful, but she also had great chemistry with lead actor Ted Danson. Shelley left the show to spend time with her family and returned for the series finale. Sadly, most of the films she starred in were not as successful as Cheers.

#20. Topher Grace

That ’70s Show was a hit series that starred several youngsters who later became incredibly famous, as the case of Mila Kunis, Ashton Kutcher, and Wilmer Valderrama. But that was not the case with the lead character Eric Forman, portrayed by Topher Grace. After seven years in the show, he suddenly left, and up to this day, the reason is unknown, although it was speculated that the relationship with his co-workers was pretty bad.

Photo: Courtesy of Looper

The show only lasted one more season until it was finally canceled. After his departure, Topher landed small roles in films such as Valentine’s Day and War Machine. He landed what seemed to be the role of his lifetime in Spider-Man 3 portraying Eddie Brock, but to everyone’s surprise and disappointment, the film was a complete failure.

#19. Rob Lowe

Portraying Sam Seaborn in the NBC show The West Wing was very challenging for actor Rob Lowe. He felt his job was taking a toll on his personal life, as he spent many hours away from his house and family. Despite his character being written out, he briefly appeared in the series’ finale.

Photo: Courtesy of NBC

Lowe played the show’s lead character for the first four seasons, but he slowly started to lose his popularity. He left by the end of season four, though the show continued successfully for three more seasons. Luckily, Lowe has landed on many other great roles ever since then.

#18. Crystal Reed

MTV transformed from a music channel into a reality show network, and after producing several iconic realities, they decided to enter the TV series world with the show Teen Wolf. Crystal Reed was the girlfriend of lead character Scott and slowly became the heroine the show needed. After three seasons, and after a conversation with show creator Jeff Davis, she decided to leave the show.

Photo: Courtesy of MTV

In the final episode of season 3, Reed was killed and the fans went crazy when they found out. Reed’s character death took a great toll on the main character Scott and the show started to lose the interest of their fans. Sadly, things didn’t turn out as Reed wanted: even though she landed a lead role in the show Swamp Thing, the show was canceled before the first season was aired.

#17. Rashida Jones

American actress Rashida Jones played the role of Ann Perkins in the NBC comedy show Parks and Recreation for six and a half years. Even though the show became famous thanks to Amy Poehler’s performance, Jones’ freshness definitely contributed to its success.

Photo: Courtesy of NBC

According to showrunner Michael Shur, Jones decided to leave the show after taking a role in a TBS show. However, she came back to make a few cameos in the show that made her famous. Far from sparking off a scandal, the producers accepted her resignation.

#16. Christopher Abbott

On April 15, 2012, HBO released the dramedy show Girls, that focuses on the lives of a group of 20 to 30-year-old girls as they strive to reach success while maintaining serious and long-lasting relationships with their couples.

Photo: Courtesy of HBO

Abbott played the partner of main character Marnie, portrayed by Allison Williams, and their toxic relationship was one of the main points of the show. Unsatisfied with his character, Abbott decided to move on and left the show, but he briefly appeared in the final season. Nowadays, you might see him playing in Broadway shows!

#15. Connie Britton

In most cases, when an actor or actress decides to suddenly leave a TV show, showrunners are left with no option but to kill off the character in a mysterious, often unexplainable way. That is what happened with Rayna Jaymes, the character that Connie Britton portrayed in the ABC show Nashville.

Photo: Courtesy of ABC – CMT

Before leaving the show, ABC canceled it and CMT took it to its network. Sadly, Britton decided to leave and the showrunners had to bring a new, fresh face. Alyssa Greene replaced her, but it was not enough, as after Britton’s departure the ratings dropped and the show had to be canceled.

#14. T.J. Miller

T.J. Miller is most famous for his role as Erlich Bachman in the HBO comedy show Silicon Valley, which first aired in the network on April 6, 2014. He played an entrepreneur who worked in Pied Piper, the company of his friend, Richard Hendricks. After four brilliant seasons, he came to be one of the fans’ favorite characters.

Photo: Courtesy of HBO

Even though T.J. Miller was accused of sexual misconduct and public outbursts, HBO offered him a minor role in the 5th season, but Miller dismissed it and left the show. Many fans were shocked by this news, but they got to see T.J. Miller in the two installments of the Deadpool film franchise.

#13. Josh Charles

Aired from 2009 to 2016, the CBS drama show The Good Wife starred Julianna Margulies and Josh Charles, who play two lawyers who must deal with complex cases that are often intertwined with their private lives.

Photo: Courtesy of CBS 

Charles’ contract was initially signed for four years and came to an end with the fourth season’s finale. Even though he liked his job, he knew he had to move on to new opportunities. Fortunately for the fans, Margulies convinced him to stay for another 15 episodes, giving the writers more time to come up with a more adequate ending.

#12. Chad Michael Murray and Hilarie Burton

First aired in the year 2003 and with its final episode airing on April 4, 2012, One Tree Hill is one of the most successful drama TV shows out there. The show focused on lead characters Lucas and Peyton, who were portrayed by Chad Michael Murray and Hilarie Burton, respectively. The fans were shocked when news came out that they would be written off the show by the end of the sixth season.

Photo: Courtesy of The CW

Even though the show focused on the lives of many different couples, Lucas and Payton were definitely the fans’ favorite. Therefore, things were not the same after they left and the ratings went down, so the show ended three years later. Luckily for Murray and Burton, they landed roles on several successful TV shows, so no need to feel sorry for them!

#11. Cote De Pablo

What is it with CBS that so many stars keep leaving their shows? Well, out of all the shows from this network, NCIS might be the one with the highest amount of stars to leave the show. Chilean actress Cote de Pablo portrayed Ziva, a Mossad agent who worked first as a link to the NCIS and then as a full-fledged member of the NCIS team.

Photo: Courtesy of CBS

During the eleventh season and after filming approximately 200 episodes, she decided to leave the show due to personal reasons, leaving her character’s relationship with DiNozzo under a big question mark. Fortunately, she made a guest appearance in Season 17.

#10. Katherine Heigl

Grey’s Anatomy is one of the longest-running medical drama shows ever and it has helped many stars rise to stardom throughout its many seasons. One of these stars is Katherine Heigl. It appears to be that she picked up an argument with showrunner Shonda Rhimes. As Heigl considered the writing was poor, she withdrew her name from the Emmy nomination list.

Photo: Courtesy of ABC

Rhimes completely disliked the actress’ attitude, and as a consequence, she started to diminish Katherine’s workload, up to the point that the actress decided it was time to leave. Sadly, her departure only did her wrong, as she went on to star in TV shows and films that proved to be unsuccessful.

#9. Dan Stevens

British actor Dan Stevens, born on October 10, 1982, rose to stardom after portraying David Charles Haller in the TV show Legion. However, before landing that incredible role, he starred in three seasons of the British drama Downton Abbey as Matthews. By the time the 3rd season finished, Stevens did not want to renew his contract, so the director was left with no other choice but to kill him.

Photo: Courtesy of PBS

Sadly, fans were disappointed when they found out Matthew had been written off the show. During the final scene of the Christmas special, a car crash brings Matthew’s life to an end. If you don’t know him from Legion, then I’m sure you’ve seen this actor in the role of the Beast in the live-action version of The Beauty and the Beast.

#8. Jennifer Morrison

Widely known for her part in the medical-drama TV show Dr. House, Jennifer Morrison stopped being a series regular only to become a guest star in the last seasons of the show. After that, she landed the main role in the fantasy TV show Once Upon a Time. The ratings were falling by the time she was written off the show, but in spite of that, fans were shocked by her departure.

Photo: Courtesy of ABC

All in all, she starred in the show for 6 seasons and told ABC she was leaving for personal reasons. Allegedly, her 13-year career had taken a toll on her and she wanted to spend more family time.

#7. Nina Dobrev

The Vampire Diaries first aired on September 10, 2009, and lasted 8 seasons. For six long years, one of the most important characters was Elena Gilbert, which was portrayed by Nina Dobrev. Not only did she play the lead role, but she also performed two other roles: Katherine Pierce and Amara.

Photo: Courtesy of The CW

When it came down to renew her contract, she decided to drop the show and go on with other projects. Despite having left the show, her character was not killed, and in the series finale, Dobrev came back to give her fans the closure they needed and deserved.

#6. Steve Carell

Considered one of the funniest sitcoms on television, The Office ran for 9 seasons and starred countless A-list stars such as John Krasinski, Jenna Fischer, and above all, Steve Carell. The latter gave life to Michael Scott, the inappropriate and goofy boss who all the office workers couldn’t stand. Sadly, after seven seasons, he left the show.

Photo: Courtesy of NBC

However, leaving the show served him right, as he went on to star in several hit films which rocketed him to even greater stardom. The actor landed a supporting role in Little Miss Sunshine and the main role in Despicable Me, voicing the evil Gru.

#5. Sophia Bush

Sophia Bush is most famous for her portrayal of Brooke Davis in the teen drama One Tree Hill for 9 whole seasons, as well as for her minor appearances in Sabrina, the Teenage Witch and Nip/Tuck. She then went on to star in the show Chicago P.D., yet she surprisingly left the show after four seasons.

Photo: Courtesy of NBC

During an interview with Dax Shepard in his podcast Armchair Expert, Sophia opened up and revealed the real reason why she left the show. “It was a consistent onslaught barrage of abusive behavior“, she said. After calling it quits, Sophia starred on Jane the Virgin and is now nailing it in the crime series Surveillance.

#4. Lauren Cohan

If you’re a fan of The Walking Dead like I am, then I’m sure you were left heartbroken when lead characters Lauren Cohan and Andrew Lincoln – who played Maggie Rhee and Rick Grimes, respectively – left the show at the same time.

Photo: Courtesy of AMC

Rumor has it that she left the show so suddenly due to financial issues, as she couldn’t settle on the terms of the contract with the producers. After playing Maggie Rhee for so many years, she soon landed a role in the TV series Whiskey Cavalier. 

#3. Christopher Meloni

If you’re one of those people who loved binge-watching the crime show Law and Order, then I’m sure you also became a fan of its spin-off, Law and Order Special Victims Unit. The latter show ran for 21 seasons, and until the 12th season, the lead characters were portrayed by Mariska Hargitay and Christopher Meloni.

Photo: Courtesy of NBC

After season 12 ended, Meloni left the show without any explanation at all, which left the writers with no choice but to come up with an alternative twist to write him off the story. Similar to the case of Lauren Cohan, it seems that financial issues arose between the actor and NBCand this made him leave the show.

#2. Pauley Perrette

NCIS actress Pauley Perrette, who played the role of the forensic expert Abby Sciuto, was one of the most important and funniest characters in the show. After all, it was thanks to her hard work that the team would solve most of the cases, and that’s why fans loved her so much. However, her time on the show would come to an end in 2018.

Photo: Courtesy of CBS

At first, she was very ambiguous as to the reasons behind her choice. “I believe in God and the universe so firmly, and it just suddenly became blindingly apparent that now was the time“, she said. Sadly, she later confessed having left the show because his co-worker, Mark Harmon, physically abused her.

#1. Damon Wayans

One of the most cursed TV series of the last decade must be the TV adaptation of Lethal Weapon, as most of its main cast started leaving the show on a regular basis. First, Clayne Crawford was fired from the show after his toxic behavior, first towards his co-workers and then towards his children.

Photo: Courtesy of Fox

Not long after Crawford was fired, it was the other lead character’s tourn to leave. Of course, we’re talking about Murtaugh, played by Damon Wayans. He was fired from the show after the 3rd season, allegedly because the casting directors felt he was too old for the part. Not long after both left the show, the series was canceled.

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    Luke H.

    Certified Translator recently graduated at the Universidad de Buenos Aires.
    Gamer. Bookworm.

    What we do in life echoes in eternity.

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