Not every actor working in the industry is a method actor. Even if you believe all the exaggerated reports about those who are method, there is still a significant majority who clock out at the end of the day and leave their character behind them on the set. Still, acting is a very difficult profession. It often requires long hours and a massive commitment from the cast and crew. Some shoots are worse than others and some characters require much more preparation and intensity. When actors are first cast in a role, it’s probably all rainbows and kittens. Life is good. You’ve got a guaranteed job for the foreseeable future. Everything is coming up Millhouse. Over time, however, rainbows turn into rainclouds and kittens turn into annoying co-stars and a shoot that just won’t end.
It happens on TV and in the movies. Actors just grow tired of their characters as the years go on. In some situations, the character or the time allotted to that character restricts an actor from taking on other parts. In other situations, the actor comes in knowing that their character will eventually come to an end and they look forward to it. The common bond between all the actors on this list is that they all want or wanted their character to die. They are eager to act out their deaths and watch it unfold on screen. It’s a bit sadistic or masochistic or both. Whatever it is, it’s also pretty common in the industry. FYI, there are some spoilers below. Here are 15 actors who were desperate to have their characters killed off.
15. Bill Murray – Zombieland
When the creators of Zombieland sat down to draft the script, they always envisioned a major star making a cameo, like Bill Murray’s in the film, but it wasn’t originally meant to be the Groundhog Day star. As the writers tell it, “Patrick Swayze was the original celebrity cameo [in the script] when we wrote it, but he unfortunately got sick, and we didn’t have the opportunity to present him the script. So, once he got sick, the producer Gavin Polone and us and [director] Ruben [Fleischer] all sat down and figured ‘Who can we go to next?’” When Murray was first pitched, the part was for him to already be a zombie when the protagonists find him. Murray loved the film, but he wanted a better part. He wanted to start out alive and then be killed. The result was one of the best cameos we’ve ever seen in a film.
14. Dominic Monaghan – Lost
Without getting too much into the behind-the-scenes motivations for Dominic Monaghan leaving Lost, like breaking up with co-star Evangeline Lily, cheating scandals and fights with co-star Matthew Fox, it’s clear that Monaghan wanted off the show and wanted his character to die. He had asked that his character, Charlie, die a hero, but, in the end, he just drowned like a schmuck. “Obviously, there are huge positives to being involved in a show like Lost,” Monaghan reflected. “We film in Hawaii, and the lifestyle there is a really fantastic thing. But, to be honest, as an actor I’ve been kind of frustrated for a while. I’ve wanted to do a little bit more. The difference between how much the audience got to see Charlie in Season 1 as opposed to how much they got to see Charlie in Seasons 2 and 3 was significant. It’s been kind of frustrating for me for a while. So, I think it’s time for me to move on, you know.”
13. Nina Dobrev – The Vampire Diaries
There was always going to be a time when Nina Dobrev, one of the stars of The Vampire Diaries, would leave. She had initially planned to be on the show for six seasons, so when the sixth season was drawing to a close, fans sat on pins and needles waiting to see how she would die. Speaking about the episode, Dobrev had said, “It’s important for me that it be epic and powerful… I feel like I’m a completely different person than I was and I’ve grown so much. It’s been a big part of my life, and I want it to be beautiful. I want it to end well.” Turns out the death wasn’t even really a death at all. She sort of just laid there in a sleeping beauty-type situation. Not cool guys. Not cool.
12. Sean Bean – The Lord of the Rings
Back when Sean Bean took on the role of Boromir in The Lord of the Rings, people weren’t talking about how often the actor was forced to play dead on screen. Back then, he was just known as a good actor and not much else. Bean, not really thinking about how the shoot was going to go, took on the job eagerly. As soon as he found out the different set locations and challenging terrain called for many different flights and helicopter rides, the actor who is deathly afraid to fly started to regret his decision a bit. Now, we don’t want to pretend that Bean didn’t love his character Boromir and the time he spent on set, but when it came time for his character to die, let’s just say he welcomed the challenge. More than that, of all the deaths that actor Sean Bean has acted out, Boromir’s death is Bean’s favorite. “The death of Boromir was a memorable one for me,” Bean said. “The way Peter Jackson shot it, with the music and the photography, it was a very long, heroic death. … That was my favorite one.”
11. Harry Lloyd – Game of Thrones
Game of Thrones is well-known for having incredible death scenes, but one of the most amazing that we’ve seen to date was when Viserys Targaryen. Daenerys’s brother was killed by having molten gold poured over his head. When Lloyd was asked about it, he said that he was excited to do the scene on set. “I actually first heard about [Viserys’ death] when I Wikipedia’d him before my first audition,” he said. “Then, from reading the book and then the script, I was never any less than just thrilled. Best death ever. I did worry for a good 18 months about how to play that scene though. As someone who’s read the books, I’m very glad they kept this death in faithfully.” When asked if he was upset about having to say goodbye, Lloyd said, “I always knew that was the part… It was nice to play someone beginning to end — and also the fact that it is such a death scene. I’d rather have a death scene like that than seven series of any character. If you’re gonna go, you might as well go like that!”
10. Sophie Turner – Game of Thrones
Having her character, Sansa Stark, die on Game of Thrones, isn’t something that Sophie Turner wants because she’s bored of the show; she wants Sansa to die because of how amazing it would be to see it play out. Sophie has admitted that when the show comes to an end, she’ll be terribly sad, but that hasn’t stopped her from fantasizing about how her character could die. If there’s one thing she’s sure about, Turner wants the death to be an event for the ages. She’s suggested “A long, slow episode-lasting death, where it’s just one long scene of my death and no one else… And it’s going to be the last episode of the last season.” Only time will tell if her dreams come true, but let’s hope the showrunners hold out for a while yet.
9. Kit Harington – Game of Thrones
Jon Snow’s death on Game of Thrones was about as monumental as it gets on television. After fans of the show had gotten used to seeing cast members die in bloody fashion, it was half-expected that anyone could go at any time, but no one expected Jon Snow to go. He was the big star. But for the actor who plays Jon, Kit Harington, filming the death scene and the eventual airing of the episode was a relief. “It’s like I’ve been sitting on this big f***ing secret,” he said. “I’ve had to watch what I say, but it’s a big moment, it’s a beautiful ending, and it’s how I wanted to go.” Harrington may have known that he had a good chance of coming back, so maybe his situation wasn’t as dire as others on this list, but you never know.
8. Sigourney Weaver – Alien 3
Whenever Sigourney Weaver is asked about reprising her role of Ellen Ripley in an Alien sequel, she always responds with some hesitancy. The actress has reflected back during the filming of Alien 3 and said that she asked that her character be killed off in that installment. When asked why she wanted to kill the character who had meant so much to her, Weaver responded, “because I heard that Fox was going to do Alien vs Predator, which really depressed me because I was very proud of the movies.” To her, Alien vs. Predator was going to completely ruin the franchise, so she wanted her character to go out on a high note and restrict any silly sequels from asking her to come back.
7. Raymond Cruz – Breaking Bad
Even though he would go on to reprise the character of Tuco Salamanca in Better Call Saul, actor Raymond Cruz was relieved when his character met his end on Breaking Bad. He said in an interview following the episode, “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.” For Cruz, it was having to play a hyped-up, meth-fueled madman that tired him out. Tuco was always yelling, moving around and flexing. He’s the type of character that tires out the viewer just watching him, so it makes sense that the gentle man behind the character would get stressed out playing him over time. While Tuco was only in a few episodes in the show, he was a big enough personality to make it seem like he was a permanent cast member.
6. Dean Norris – Breaking Bad
Dean Norris, the man behind the character of Hank Schrader in Breaking Bad, loved his character and loved the show, but, after four challenging seasons, he was ready to go. As we all now know, Hank is killed late in season five. Oh. You didn’t know? Sorry, even through the statute of limitations on Breaking Bad spoilers has long since passed. Well, Norris knew his character would die, he just wanted it to happen earlier than it did. Norris was set to start a new show, Under the Dome, so if he was killed in the first half of the season, there would be no conflict. That’s the scenario he took to the show creators. “I said, ‘Would it be interesting if Hank died in the first eight?’’” Norris explained. “They said, ‘No, we kind of need you for the last eight. We’ve been building that up the for last five years’ … Obviously, I’m glad that they did.”
5. Samuel L. Jackson – Deep Blue Sea
Originally, Samuel L. Jackson was recruited to play the part of Preacher in Deep Blue Sea, the role that eventually went to LL Cool J, but Jackson wasn’t all that excited. He liked the film but not the part. The filmmakers then went back to the drawing board and came back to Jackson with a part that had him get eaten by a shark. This Jackson liked. To hear Jackson tell it, him taking the job was all about getting eaten by that shark. “[Director Renny Harlin] said, ‘Now you’re going to be the richest man in the world, and you’re going to have the greatest scene in the movie, and it’s going to be a shock to everyone!” Jackson said. “He sent it back, [and the part] was Russell Franklin, and I was like ‘Yeah, this was great.’ I’ve done a lot of different things in movies, or had a lot of things happen to me in the movies, but nothing like what happens to me in this one.”
4. Patrick Dempsey – Grey’s Anatomy
Despite the crazy rumors of affairs and show creator Shonda Rimes hating Patrick Dempsey, Dr. Derek “McDreamy” Shepherd from Grey’s Anatomy was killed because Dempsey wanted out. “It had been long enough,” Dempsey said. “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. I stayed a bit longer than I should have.” Part of the reason Dempsey wanted off the show was because of gruelling scheduling. “I think after a certain period of time, no matter how much money you make, you want control out of your own schedule,” the actor said. As to the method of his death, a dramatic car crash, Dempsey loved it. “I thought it was really interesting. It definitely woke people up. And it was beautifully symbolic in many ways.”
3. Steven Yeun – The Walking Dead
The actor who played Glenn on The Walking Dead, Steven Yeun, didn’t really want his character to die. After all, six years and over 80 episodes is a big-time commitment for an actor to leave behind. But, in speaking with the creator and showrunners, Yeun knew what was in store for his character and he wasn’t about to let any other actor take that from him. “Robert [Kirkman] wrote such a messed up and incredible way to take something away to make a story as impactful as it is and when you read that comic, you kinda don’t want that to go to anyone else. It’s such an iconic moment,” Yeun said. “Living that out was very wild but at the same time, that moment happening and being realized on television in a different medium and to do it in the way that we did it is brave and at the same time super-affecting and that for me was motivation.”
2. Harrison Ford – Star Wars
A lot has been made of Harrison Ford‘s comments about how he wanted his character, Han Solo, to have died in the original trilogy of Star Wars. From fans suggesting Harrison Ford hates Star Wars to alleged battles with the cast and crew, there have been rumors a plenty, but almost all are far from the truth. What Ford said was, “I thought the best utility of the character would be for him to sacrifice himself to a high ideal and give a little bottom, a little gravitas to the enterprise, not that there wasn’t some already but I just wanted in on some part of it. That was at the third occasion of filming the original three.” Ford loves Han Solo. He just wanted what’s best for the franchise. It’s unclear how much sway he held when Stars Wars: The Force Awakens was being made, but it seems like Ford may have been whispering in some of the writer’s ears again.
1. Leonard Nimoy – Star Trek II
There’s an old legend about Leonard Nimoy and his most famous character, Spock. The legend says that Nimoy was sick of Spock and always being associated with the character, so, after the first film had finished, Nimoy said that was that. He was done with Spock. Amazingly, that part’s pretty much true. But there’s more to it. When it came time to write Star Trek II, Spock wasn’t going to be included. A draft was written; there was no Spock, but the script was no good. Screenwriter Jack Sowards was brought in to write a new draft, but he wanted to use Spock. They didn’t think Nimoy would go for it, but Sowards had a plan. He wrote a script that had Spock die early on. This would satisfy fans and Nimoy. Sowards put something together and everyone like it, including Nimoy who agreed to be part of it. Then, Sowards wrote another draft, this time Spock died later in the film. Still acceptable. Then, Sowards wrote another with Spock dying even later in the film. By the end of this little ploy, Sowards had Spock’s death pushed right to the end of the film and Nimoy was committed. Everyone wins.