When it comes to a dream job, being an actor is one that many people envy. They get paid lots of money, the ones we know about tend to have job security, and their job seems like it would be a lot of fun. But that doesn’t always mean they’re happy to stick around.
The 11 actors below have all openly talked about the fact that they wanted their character to leave the show. While many of the actors on this list left through death, one candidate’s character just went away (but it was because the actor wanted to be in a Spider-Man movie!) and another actress has openly spoken about how she hopes she dies.
In order to brace yourself for spoilers, this is the list of shows covered below: Breaking Bad (Twice), South Park, House, Downton Abbey, Grey’s Anatomy, The Good Wife, LOST, That ’70s Show, Game of Thrones (no current season spoiler), and Star Wars.
Talk about your powerhouse list of classic movies and some of the most long lasting franchises of all time. And yet people wanted to leave. In fact, some were furious that they didn’t get to leave sooner!
11. Dean Norris (Breaking Bad)
As an extra fun twist for myself, I get to watch the episode with Hank’s death later today (it’s the next one for me). This made it all the more shocking when I learned that it was Hank who decided to pull the trigger on the character, especially considering how close they were to the end! Yet I assure you, his reason is incredibly valid.
“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?’ … When they [AMC] originally picked up the 16 [episodes] I thought, ‘Great, I can do a pilot, do the 16 and then be free to do a show.’ And then at some point f**king whoever decided they were going to split it into two eights so it cut me off from doing a pilot — and I had a pilot I wanted to do.”
The pilot was for a comedy sitcom, which Dean Norris really wanted because it was going to give him the opportunity to branch out as an actor. I guess when you spend a few years chasing down some blue meth, the idea of playing something funny would be awfully appealing!
10. Isaac Hayes (South Park)
Now, to be fair, Isaac Hayes didn’t necessarily say that he wanted to be killed, just that he wanted to be off the show immediately. Hayes was deeply offended when the series did an episode that spoofed Scientology, which Hayes practices.
When asked about it, co-creator Matt Stone discussed how “In 10 years and more than 150 episodes, Isaac never had a problem with the show making fun of Christians, Muslims, Mormons and Jews…He got a sudden case of religious sensitivity when it was his religion featured on the show. To bring the civil rights struggle into this is just a non sequitur. Of course, we will release Isaac from his contract and we wish him well.”
Chef left the show in memorable fashion, falling to his death over cliffs, being impaled and then eaten by a pack of wild animals. If this wasn’t enough, explorers then try and shoot the animals, and end up hitting Chef.
9. Kal Penn (House)
When it comes to jobs that you may find hard to turn down, how about one that includes working in the White House?! Kal Penn is not only a talented actor, but he helped promote Obama during his campaign tour. So when Obama got elected and a position opened up to become the Associate Director in the White House of Public Engagement, well, you can guess what Kal said.
The job offer came with a twist though, as it required his character on the television show House to be written out and the character committed suicide.
When asked about his experience working for Obama, Kal stated “I was incredibly honored a couple of months ago to get the opportunity to go work in the White House, I got to know the president and some of the staff during the campaign and had expressed interest in working there, so I’m going to be the associate director in the White House office of public liaison.”
8. Dan Stevens (Downton Abbey)
While Downton Abbey may feature less explosions than say, Game of Thrones, there is no doubt it is still an incredibly successful show. Which is why it comes as all the more shocking that they would have characters that would ask to be killed off. Yet such was the case with Dan Stevens, who played the character Matthew Crawley.
When asked why he wanted to be removed from the show, Stevens talked about how “from a personal point of view, I wanted a chance to do other things… It is a very monopolising job. So there is a strange sense of liberation at the same time as great sadness because I am very, very fond of the show and always will be.”
If you wanted the death to be all the more devastating, it happened after the character was visiting his newborn son. Way to twist the knife, Downton!
7. T.R. Knight (Grey’s Anatomy)
Grey’s Anatomy has been on the air for over 10 years, so you can understand that many of the stars have stepped away from the show. One of the first prominent names was T.R Knight, who walked away from the successful show in the 5th season.
Knight opened up about how there was a breakdown in communication between creator Shonda Rhimes which led him to feel that “There just comes a time when it’s so clear that moving on is the best decision. There are a lot of people who would like to be in my position. But in the end, I need to be fulfilled in my work.”
Knight was also not happy with the direction that his character was going in , and given that he didn’t trust Rhimes’ vision, you can understand why he decided to walk away from the show.
6. Josh Charles (The Good Wife)
There is a reason you see these sitcom stars get locked into longer term deals that pay them an exorbitant amount of money, it’s because you can’t afford to just have stars walking away all willy nilly! Yet for the creators of The Good Wife, one of their leads Josh Charles was on a very short-term deal.
Josh explained, “It was renewed a couple of times over, and at the end of the fourth year my contract was up, and I chose not to renew. It was just a creative decision for me wanting to go and explore new stuff—in my life, in my career.”
Many actors are afraid that they are going to get pigeon-holed with only one character their entire career, so you cannot blame Charles for wanting to walk away. The character’s arc comes to an end when he gets shot in court.
5. Mr.Eko (LOST)
While some people love to hate on the ending of the show LOST, it is still arguably my favorite series of all time. Yet one of the biggest knocks on the show was the introduction of the character Mr.Eko, who was super badass, only to die far too early into his character arc.
Turns out, there was a reason. Executive producer Damon Lindelof opened up about the actor’s experience, saying “Adewale’s unhappiness was almost instantaneous. On his second episode, he was expressing extreme dissatisfaction. Originally he was going to be someone who challenged Locke for the spiritual leadership of the castaways.”
There is no doubt that the character still gave us some memorable moments, but unexpected deaths like this ended up hurting the show more than helping it.
4. Topher Grace (That ’70s Show)
That ’70s Show was an outstanding television show, but by the time the last season had rolled around the show was well past its prime. This was partially due to the fact that two of the leads, Topher Grace and Ashton Kutcher, had both left the show.
Topher’s decision may have been an easy one considering he got offered the role of Eddie Brock (aka Venom) in the 3rd Spiderman movie. Granted the movie was absolutely awful, but can you blame him for wanting to take a step away from Point Place?
Back in 2015 Topher opened up about the cast’s current relationship and their thoughts on a reunion. “A year and a half ago, we all got together and had a blast..I mean, all six of us together for a dinner. We all love each other. It’s like, yeah, we’d love to do [a reunion]. I’d love to do it!”
3. Sophie Turner (Game of Thrones)
With X-Men: Apocalypse hitting theaters, the world is getting an even bigger look at Sophie Turner, who portrays Jean Grey. The star still remains alive in Game of Thrones, but don’t be surprised if her character gets the axe sometime soon!
Sophie has opened up in the past about how she feels every character deserves their own cool death scene. After all, it’s Game of Thrones! Though just because she’d get a death scene, also doesn’t mean that would rule out her coming back in some other form!
When she was asked about it, Sophie mentioned “I want her to die and I want Littlefinger to end up on the throne. I don’t really care about anyone else.”
At least we know who she wants to rule the throne now!
2. Harrison Ford (Star Wars)
When it comes to iconic characters, can you really think of a better combo than Indiana Jones and Han Solo? Harrison Ford brought both characters to life, but if it was up to him, Han would have had a much shorter shelf-life.
Harrison appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live and stated “I asked [George Lucas] to ask the writers to kill me off because I thought that it would be good that the character who appeared to have not so much of a complex interweaving with the theme of the Force and all that good stuff… [Burps] No, I thought it would be good, uh, if he sacrificed himself in some noble way.”
This also helps explain the role that Carbonite played in the series, as they were unsure if he would return. But thankfully for fans, Han still had plenty of adventuring left in him! Or, you know…he did.
1. Tuco (Breaking Bad)
Breaking Bad had their fair share of intense characters, but nobody brought the intensity quite like Tuco Salamanca who was brilliantly played by Raymond Cruz. The drug-fuelled boss kept Walter and Jessie on their toes, before finally being eliminated. But what you may not know, was that it was the actor’s decision to take himself out
“I asked them to kill me. Honestly, I wasn’t looking forward to coming back and doing the part. [Laughs]. It’s really difficult to pull off. They were like, ‘We want you to come back and do eight more episodes.’ And I said, ‘No. I’ll do one more and that’s it. You guys have to kill me.'”
Cruz went on to say, “What you’re watching is condensed. That’s days and days of shooting scenes for 12 to 14 hours. It’s a lot of hard work. It’s so physically, emotionally, mentally draining, so when they finally killed him, I was happy.”