14 TV Characters Who Were Killed Off Because Of Drama


Typically, onscreen character deaths are supposed to be for storytelling purposes, but sometimes, a character gets killed off because the studio doesn’t want to keep the actor around — or the actor has decided to leave.

Here are 14 characters who were killed off because of behind-the-scenes drama:

Warning: spoilers ahead!


According to Lynette Rice’s unauthorized book How to Save a Life: The Inside Story of Grey’s Anatomy, Dr. Derek Shepherd’s shocking death on Grey’s Anatomy came after Patrick Dempsey “sort of was terrorizing the set” and “he and [show creator] Shonda [Rhimes] were at each other’s throats.”

In an interview for the book, executive producer James D. Parriott said, “There were HR issues. It wasn’t sexual in any way. … Some cast members had all sorts of PTSD with him. He had this hold on the set where he knew he could stop production and scare people. The network and studio came down, and we had sessions with them. I think he was just done with the show. He didn’t like the inconvenience of coming in every day and working.”


On Cheers, Eddie LeBec was killed off in a sudden Zamboni accident because actor Jay Thomas publicly insulted his onscreen love interest Rhea Perlman on his radio show.

According to series co-creator James Burrows’ book Directed by James Burrows, a fan called into the radio show and asked Thomas what it was like working on Cheers. The actor answered, “It’s brutal. I have to kiss Rhea Perlman.”

Burrows wrote, “That was it. He insulted Rhea, which meant he insulted all of us. He crossed the family.”


Nicollette Sheridan alleged that her Desperate Housewives character Edie Britt was killed off in retaliation after she reported show creator Marc Cherry for hitting her in the head during an argument.

Cherry refuted her allegations and claimed that Edie was killed off because the show had run out of love interests for her.

After a judge threw out her case in 2017, Sheridan filed an appeal.

She told People, “I was vilified for standing up for my rights, not only as a woman but as a human being. And I was punished for it. But that wasn’t going to stop me because I had to get my dignity back, and if I’d let it slide, I couldn’t have looked myself in the mirror.”


On The Walking Dead, Dale Horvath died because actor Jeffrey DeMunn asked to be killed off after AMC fired his longtime friend Frank Darabont as showrunner.

DeMunn told Cleveland.com, “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, ‘It’s a zombie show. Kill me. I don’t want to do this anymore.’ It was an immense relief to me.”


On the original run of Charmed, Prue Halliwell was killed by a demon amidst reports of a behind-the-scenes feud between Shannen Doherty and her costar Alyssa Milano.

Doherty wanted to leave the show. Initially, producers considered recasting her, and therefore, left the attack as a cliffhanger. However, both Tiffani Thiessen and Jennifer Love Hewitt turned down the role, so production decided to write the character off.


Pierce Hawthorne was written off of Community after NBC made a deal with Chevy Chase to get him to leave the show following his use of a racial slur during an on-set rant about his character arc. Later, Pierce’s offscreen death was used to give Donald Glover’s character Troy Barnes an exit from the show.

Before the incident with the rant — which also led to the actor walking off set — Chase already had a poor working relationship with showrunner Dan Harmon. After Chase refused to film an important scene in Season 3, Harmon reportedly called him out at the wrap party. Then, he left Harmon an angry voicemail, which the series creator played for a live audience at a comedy show.


On Seinfeld, Susan Ross was poisoned after she licked too many low-quality wedding invitation envelopes. She was killed off because the rest of the cast “couldn’t figure out how to play off of” actor Heidi Swedberg.

On The Howard Stern Show, her costar and onscreen love interest Jason Alex

ander said, “[Jerry Seinfeld and Julia Louis-Dreyfus] go, ‘You know what? It’s f—ing impossible. It’s impossible.’ And Julia actually said, ‘Don’t you want to just kill her [Susan]?’ And Larry went, ‘Ka-bang!”http://www.buzzfeed.com/”


After a salary dispute with lead actor Valerie Harper, the producers of the ’80s sitcom Valerie killed off her character in a car accident, then renamed the show Valerie’s Family.

She sued them for wrongful termination and won.


On the ’70s series Good Times, James Evans was killed off in a car accident because of actor John Amos’s “creative differences.” He told Sway in the Morning, “The truth of it was when the show first started, we had no African American writers on the show, and some of the attitudes they had written, as per my character and, frankly, for some of the other characters as well, caused me to say, ‘Uh uh, we can’t do this, we can’t do that.’ And they’d say, ‘What do you mean we can’t do this?”http://www.buzzfeed.com/”

He continued, “They’d go on about their credits and the rest of that, and I’d look at each and every one of them and say, ‘Well, how long have you been Black? That just doesn’t happen in the community. We don’t think that way. We don’t act that way. We don’t let our children do that.’ … I left because I was told that my services were no longer needed because I had become a ‘disruptive element.’ In other words, I didn’t have the diplomacy that I think I’ve cultivated over the last 10 or 15 years.”


Tasha Yar died one season into Star Trek: The Next Generation because actor Denise Crosby was miserable in the role and asked to be released from her contract.

She told StarTrek.com, “I couldn’t wait to get off that show. I was dying. This was not an overnight decision. I was grateful to have made that many episodes, but I didn’t want to spend the next six years going ‘Aye, aye, captain,’ and standing there, in the same uniform, in the same position on the bridge. It just scared the hell out of me that this was what I was going to be doing for the next X-amount of years.”


On Lethal Weapon, Martin Riggs died from gunshot wounds after Fox and Warner Bros. fired actor Clayne Crawford for two incidents of poor onset behavior. The first was an outburst he had about unsafe working conditions, and the second involved an unsafe condition during an episode he directed — a wayward piece of shrapnel hit one of his costars.

Crawford apologized for both incidents. 

He also had a contentious working relationship with co-lead Damon Wayans, which Crawford later linked to his firing. 

He told the Drinkin’ Bros podcast, “Our work ethics were quite different, and creatively, we saw the show much differently, but I just didn’t think they were going to get rid of me, I guess, and if they did, I thought they would give me a buzz. Just grab two cans and a string and just be like [jokes], ‘You’re not coming back. We feel like this is the Damon Wayans show, and people just don’t like you. So, go back to Alabama you dumb hick. Thanks for playing.”http://www.buzzfeed.com/”


After Roseanne Barr posted racist tweets about former presidential advisor Valerie Jarrett, ABC canceled the reboot of Roseanne. However, rather than let the entire cast and crew lose their jobs over her actions, the network reworked the show as The Conners, which started with Roseanne Conner dying from an opioid overdose offscreen.

The Conners has gone on without her for five seasons so far.


On Two and a Half Men, Charlie Harper died in an offscreen subway accident after Charlie Sheen was fired for publicly ranting about his bosses at the studio.

Ashton Kutcher joined the cast as his replacement.


And finally, Marissa Cooper’s unexpected death on The O.C. was the result of the doubled workload production put on the cast midway through Season 2. Mischa Barton “just didn’t feel [she] could keep going.” She was getting a lot of bigger offers, so when production gave her a choice to leave the door open for her return, she decided to let them kill her off because she “just felt like it was the best thing for [her] and [her] health and just in terms of not really feeling protected by [her] cast and crew at that point.”

She told E! Online, “[The conversations about Marissa being written off] started pretty early on because it had a lot to do with them adding Rachel [Bilson] in last minute as, after the first season, a series regular and evening out everybody’s pay— and sort of general bullying from some of the men on set that kind of felt really [shitty]. But, you know, I also loved the show and had to build up my own walls and ways of getting around dealing with that and the fame that was thrust specifically at me. Just dealing with, like, the amount of invasion I was having in my personal life, I just felt very unprotected, I guess is the best way to put it.”

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