There are a number of pros and cons to TV shows, at least compared to movies. One positive aspect of TV shows is that they are able to tell much longer stories than movies, which adds more depth and plenty of more material to entertain fans.
However, one serious drawback of TV shows is what happens when an actor, specifically a lead actor, decides that they no longer want to be part of the show.
It’s a lot more common to see an actor drop out in the middle of a TV series than to see an actor drop out in the middle of a movie.
TV shows are often great ways for actors to pick up a bit of fame, so when some actors start to see a way out into the movie industry, they often take it and ditch the TV series. While this is a common reason for actors leaving, it’s unfortunately not every scenario.
Sometimes, actors will ditch their respective TV series for less orthodox reasons.
Whether it’s due to addiction, feuds on set, or something completely nonsensical, the stories of these actors ditching their shows are almost always interesting to hear.
However, many times, these “war stories” from on set can be false rumors, so it’s safe to take all of these quitting stories with a healthy grain of salt.
With that said, here are the 25 Actors Who Quit TV Shows For Crazy Reasons.
The hit HBO series Silicon Valley took quite the hit when its star T.J. Miller decided to abruptly leave.
However, on-set stories that followed Miller’s departure revealed that the reason for his departure was rather complicated, following a number of on-set controversies.
“There are a lot of different ways you can find out somebody doesn’t want to do the show anymore,” said Mike Judge, the show’s creator.
“And it’s not fun to work with someone who doesn’t want to be there, [especially when] they’re one of the main people and you’ve got however many crew members and extras and people who are [not paid as well] and they’re all showing up before 7 a.m., and then are just like, ‘Oh, OK, we’re not shooting today,’” he stated.
The actual details of Doherty’s departure from Charmed are a bit of a mystery, so it’s unclear if she decided to leave or if it was the executives who ended her time on the show.
During the first three seasons of the fantasy series, Shannen Doherty reportedly feuded with every other actor on the set, making Charmed an uncomfortable time for almost every involved, including Doherty herself.
Shannen Doherty’s character Prue Halliwell was written off of the show when she was blasted through a wall by a demon.
All in all, this departure must have been a huge relief for everyone who was still on the show.
Actor Ed Skrein appeared in a few episodes of Game of Thrones as Daario Naharis before the character was eventually and mysteriously recast with little explanation.
As it turns out, Skrein’s departure from Game of Thrones was a mutual decision between himself and the executives after a controversy that Skrein describes as “politics.”
“It was a wonderful experience, but politics led to us parting ways,” Skrein said. “And from there I just said, ‘Okay, look forward, be positive. Keep calm and carry on.’ That’s my mentality when things go well, so I stay grounded and not get to overwhelmed by the hype, and it’s my mentality when the plans change.”
While Peter Capaldi was actually a respected Doctor on the British science fiction series Doctor Who, Capaldi didn’t find the show to be a good fit for him personally.
A number of rumors about he and his co-star Pearl Mackie feuding on set only made matters worse, which all led to his eventual departure from the show.
“I want to always be giving it my best and I don’t think if I stayed on I’d be able to do that,” said Capaldi. “I can’t think of another way to say, ‘This could be the end of civilization as we know it’.”
In one of the most famous and controversial TV actor departures of all time, Charlie Sheen left the sitcom Two and a Half Men in 2011 with quite the bang.
Sheen went through a viral “#winning” meltdown, claiming that he was perfect in every way.
This was pinpointed as part of a long battle with addiction for the actor.
As it turns out, Sheen had been problematic on the set of Two and a Half Men for years, so when the meltdown did occur, the decision for Sheen to leave was mutual between both Sheen himself and the executives of the show.
Lisa Bonet played the regular character Denise in The Cosby Show for the first few years of the series until her character was mysteriously written off to go to college during season three.
However, the actual reason for Bonet’s departure was an unexpected pregnancy.
Because of this, both Bonet and the showrunners came to the mutual decision that her time on the series needed to end.
All things considered, it would have been interesting to see Denise struggle with pregnancy on the show. Much of The Cosby Show was about forgiveness, acceptance, and understanding, so having Denise be pregnant would have been an intriguing twist for the tone.
Of all of the cast members in the hit series Grey’s Anatomy, Katherine Heigl is arguably the most well known.
Unfortunately, Heigl knew this, and let the fame go to her head.
By the time Grey’s Anatomy reached its sixth season, Heigl would regularly not show up to set, which created some serious problems. She also had a public feud with showrunner, Shonda Rhimes.
Eventually, she decided to just quit, and the show’s executives simply didn’t argue.
“There’s certainly things I regret about it,” Heigl said, looking back. “But at the end of the day… I realized I don’t regret the decision. It was the right decision for me to make at the time. Because I made that decision, I did right by my husband, my children, myself.”
In the early 2000s, comedian Dave Chappelle had quite a bit of success with his comedy series Chappelle’s Show.
However, despite the incredible success, Chappelle didn’t feel happy with how the show turned out, as the fans only liked the “stupid” humor, and no one cared for the intellectual humor he tried to put in it.
When he would do his own stand-up routines, the entire audience would shout the catchphrases from his show at him, which he found demeaning.
Chappelle eventually snapped.
“You know why my show is good? Because the network officials say you’re not smart enough to get what I’m doing, and every day I fight for you,” Chappelle said, addressing his audience. “I tell them how smart you are. Turns out, I was wrong. You people are stupid.”
That is how Chappelle’s Show came to an end.
BJ Novak was one of the many stars of The Office for the first eight seasons before bowing out alongside Mindy Kaling in season nine.
However, unlike Kaling, Novak did not leave for another show, but instead wanted to spend time on his personal projects.
Like his character Ryan Howard in The Office, BJ Novak likes to keep busy working on projects and, also like Ryan, he even made an app in his newly found free time.
“For me, it was more [the worry of] seeming distracted from my main work by a side project I was oddly passionate about,” Novak said, describing why he stepped back from acting. “And side projects – especially from celebrities – don’t tend to be successful either, they tend to be distractions.”
Mila Kunis has done a phenomenal job of voicing the unwanted daughter Meg Griffin in the animated sitcom Family Guy, but she was not the original actress to voice Meg.
Instead, actress Lacey Chabert actually voiced Meg for the show’s first two seasons, but she dropped out because she thought it would be a failure, and instead decided to focus her time on Party of Five.
Today, Mila Kunis makes an average of $200,000 per episode, so it’s safe to say that Chabert’s thought process was a bit off.
It was possibly the biggest mistake in her career.
At the end of the fourth season of Alias, actor Michael Vartan decided that his time was about up with the action drama series, and his character was written out in the first episode of season 5.
While the actual reason for Vartan’s decision to leave was never revealed, there were a number of rumors that stated his departure was due to relationship issues.
While working on the show, Vartan briefly dated his co-star Jennifer Garner. However, when the couple split, Vartan decided it was time to leave Alias for good.
Juliana Marguiles’s time on the series ER was a huge success, making her quite a bit of money.
However, she turned down a whopping $27 million to return for another season. It was not because she received another offer, but simply because screen acting wasn’t fulfilling to her.
“I’m a smart girl,” said Margulies. “I had a year’s worth of work waiting and a mortgage completely paid at age 32. I was under no illusion that I was going to be some big movie star. My dad said, ‘If you got hit by a bus tomorrow, were you living your life truthfully, or were you waiting to get rich?'”
The animated comedy series South Park is well known for being raunchy and offensive with some truly shocking material, regularly taking a satirical look at topical events every week.
While most people are used to South Park being overly offensive towards every demographic at this point, one episode put Isaac Hayes a bit over the edge.
For the first couple seasons of South Park, Isaac Hayes voiced the character Chef.
However, Hayes asked to be written out of the series after the episode “Trapped in the Closet” dug into Scientology.
Hayes thought that digging into religion was just a step too far.
Between the third and fourth seasons of Scandal, Columbus Short’s character Harrison was written off of the series.
There’s still a lot of mystery about why Short left the show, but one thing that we do know is that the decision was his, considering that he was the one who first announced his departure.
While some sources point to Short leaving Scandal due to “creative purposes,” it may also be because of charges of battery and assault when he was arrested at a bar fight shortly before.
Receiving those charges and being arrested are typically enough of a wake up call to get someone to try to change their current decisions in life.
Bob Odenkirk has been a well respected comedian and actor over the years, recently voicing a character in The Incredibles 2.
He actually worked on Saturday Night Live for quite some time. While he did make rare appearances on screen, most of his work on the show was as a writer.
It probably wasn’t the best experience for him, as he apparently felt trapped and as though he had no creative control while working there.
“A big part of the challenge I had at Saturday Night Live was my own immaturity,” Odenkirk said. “I brought a lot of challenge to the show just because I was a person who was confrontational and suspicious of the establishment.”
Actor Jeffery DeMunn was a regular on The Walking Dead for the first two seasons, playing the character Dale.
However, he was written off in the show’s second season after DeMunn decided to walk from the series, following the firing of the series’ showrunner Frank Darabont.
“[Dale’s departure] was my decision,” DeMunn clarified. “I was furious about how Frank was pushed out of the show. I spent a week not being able to take a full breath. And then I realized, ‘Oh, I can quit.’ So I called them and said, ‘…I don’t want to do this anymore.’ It was an immense relief to me.”
Actor Gilbert Gottfried was a cast member on Saturday Night Live for one season in the early ’80s before Gottfried decided it wasn’t the right fit for him.
He felt as though the show just wouldn’t work without all of the cast members who had left.
“I was there right after the original cast left, and so back then it was like ‘How dare they continue Saturday Night Live without the original cast of people?'” said Gottfied.
“Back then, it would be like if in the middle of Beatlemania you just said ‘Oh, the Beatles are not John, Paul, George, and Ringo — it’s Harry, Artie, Phil,’ you know? It was an outrage,” he stated.
Technically, John Rhys Davies, who played the character Maximillian Arturo, did not quit Sliders, but he might as well have.
While working on the science fiction series, Rhys Davies would regularly express his hatred for the show, constantly criticizing the writers’ decisions.
The decision to terminate Rhys Davies’ time on the show was made by an executive who Rhys Davies had called out at a party.
One has to wonder, though, how long Rhys Davies would have lasted on Sliders had the executives not made the call to write him off.
The story of Christopher Meloni’s departure from Law & Order: SVU after 12 years of starring in the show isn’t necessarily crazy due the reason why he left, but instead because of how he left.
Rather than telling any of the executives that he wanted to leave the show before his departure, Meloni decided to break the news after they wrapped production the season 12 finale.
This made it nearly impossible to realistically explain the absence of his character, effectively screwing over everyone involved.
Fortunately, it would seem that karma came back to bite Meloni for the way he ditched Law & Order.
Though he left to expand his career, Meloni never met the same success that he saw with the crime series, which was possibly due to stories of how he left the show.
At the beginning of the second season of Friends, the character Carol was mysteriously recast, with actress Anita Barone being replaced by Jane Sibbett.
Like Lacey Chabert with Family Guy, Barone did not see her character, or Friends as a whole, going anywhere, so she decided to just leave the show.
As we know today, she couldn’t have been more wrong.
She was quickly replaced by Jane Sibbett, who ironically was the first choice for the role of Carol in season one. However, Sibbett was pregnant at the time of the first season, and was unable to commit.
When season two came along, though, Sibbett was completely on board, and became quite the success on the show, which is something Barone did not think possible.
This is arguably the most unique entry on this list, as Paul Lieberstein tried to write his character Toby off of The Office on a number of occasions, but none of his attempts were ever successful.
Lieberstein did a lot of work behind the scenes with The Office, eventually becoming the showrunner starting in season five.
Unfortunately, Lieberstein seriously disliked being onscreen, and had a lot of trouble writing his character.
Because of this, as soon as Lieberstein learned he was becoming the new showrunner, he wrote Toby out of the series, saying that he moved to Costa Rica.
Things never worked out for Lieberstein in this way, though, as the rest of the writers kept finding ways to bring Toby back, making Lieberstein’s attempt to quit acting a complete failure.
Ryan Seacrest may be one of the most famous parts of American Idol, hosting the singing competition series for almost a decade.
However, something that most people do not know is that in the first season of American Idol, the show was co-hosted by Ryan Seacrest and Brian Dunkleman.
Dunkleman left the show before season two, however, which is a decision he regrets today.
“I wanted to have an acting career, and I knew that leaving when I did would give me the best shot of accomplishing that,” Dunkleman said back in 2016. “Do I regret not remaining on the show now that it’s coming to an end? Yes. Especially when I open my bank statements.”
Seth Green was one of the better parts of the early seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, with his benevolent character Oz serving as a foil to a number of the other characters on the show.
Unfortunately, his character being good was also a big reason why Seth Green decided to leave the show.
Unlike the rest of the cast, Green’s character had very few flaws, so there was very little development for him to go through after the first season or two.
Eventually, Green decided it was time for him to bow out, having gone above and beyond Oz’s potential, in order to put his focus elsewhere.
He now has a great career with Robot Chicken and Family Guy.
When The Voice first started up, singer CeeLo Green was one of the most famous judges on it.
However, come season five, things weren’t looking great for CeeLo’s future with the series, as he was constantly on edge due to issues with his personal life, and even had a meltdown on set.
CeeLo himself was the one that ended his time with The Voice, saying he didn’t want to “wear out his welcome.”
“I have a television show development deal with them as well,” said CeeLo, “and hopefully some other talk show opportunities for later in the year.”
Essentially, CeeLo’s decision to quit was to avoid being fired due to his bad attitude and ruining his current contract with NBC.
In the early 2000s, The Simpsons shocked a number of its fans by permanently bringing an end to the life of one of its regular characters, Maude Flanders.
As it turns out, the reason why Maude was written off of the series was due to the departure of her voice actress Maggie Roswell.
After over a decade of voicing Maude on the show, Roswell gave an ultimatum to FOX to give her a raise, or else she would quit. Their answer came in the form of Maude Flanders being shot by a T-shirt gun and falling off of some rather high bleachers.
Maggie Roswell wasn’t the first cast members from The Simpsons to threaten to leave if they didn’t receive a raise, however. Hank Azaria threatened the same thing a couple years back, but decided to stay anyways.
Can you think of any other actors who quit TV shows for crazy reasons? Let us know in the comments!
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