Be it for personal reasons, professional reasons, or Hollywood-craze reasons, it looks like making bank and starring in hits on the big (and small) screen is just not enough for some people. Shame (#eyeroll_of_the_century).
John Diehl on “Miami Vice”
Since the beginning of Miami Vice, John Diehl was on the cast, but it wasn't long before he grew tired of the job. He wanted to work on more fulfilling creative projects and was thinking a lot about a stage career, and he found the eighties cop show stifling. He asked the creative team to kill off his character so he could move to New York.
He even said to himself that if he never got another acting job again, it would have been the right decision. Thankfully, his career has done well, and he's been in TV, movies, and plays ever since, after his character, Larry Zito fell prey to the perils of Miami.
Nicola Duffett on “EastEnders”
If you're in acting long enough, the chance you have a role in a soap opera approaches one. It can either be the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow, or it could be a sorry end to a career that once had a lot of energy. Nicola Duffet wasn't going to let it end this way.
Most of her scenes had her walking into a shot to ask after her love interest, and she eventually begged to be killed off. She ran to the script editor's office, crying out for the sweet release of the character's passing. The part was so boring, she basically couldn't stand it.
Julian Glover on “Game of Thrones”
With both Star Wars and Indiana Jones movies on his resume, Julian Glover is a veteran actor to be sure. However, he must need something more exciting, because “Game of Thrones” wasn't enough to keep his attention. Glover played Grand Maester Pycelle, and he felt like his character was being dismissed.
He went to the producers and asked for a way out that would be memorable, even to “Game of Thrones” viewers. The way he ended his life was apparently exactly the kind of thing he had in mind.
Jeffrey DeMunn on “The Walking Dead”
Jeffrey DeMunn has appeared in a number of high-profile works, such as “Shawshank Redemption,” “The Green Mile,” and “The Majestic,” and when Frank Darabont (who had directed all of those) called him up with a spot on “The Walking Dead,” DeMunn was game. And then Darabont was fired from “The Walking Dead,” which upset DeMunn.
He was unhappy with how Darabont had been treated and decided that he was done with a show that would treat his friend in such a way. He called up the producers and basically just said “I quit.” It was a zombie show, so it's not like there wasn't a way to do it quickly.
Denise Crosby on “Star Trek: The Next Generation”
The first season of this now-unforgettable science fiction show was rough, to say the least. Chief among the early weirdness was the character Lieutenant Tasha Yar, the security chief. Actress Denise Crosby was worried that her character would never be fleshed out, and she'd be trapped in a small role season after season.
She asked the producers to release her from her contract. She was apparently miserable, and couldn't wait to get off the show. Yar was killed off near the end of the second season, which gave other characters more room, and sent a shock through the TV-watching public.
Charlton Heston on “Beneath the Planet of the Apes”
The Planet of the Apes series has taken a lot of turns recently, but the original is one of the most famous movies around thanks to the work of Charlton Heston. However, the famous star had little interest in reprising his role in a sequel. It took two things – he would die at the end of the film, and his huge fee would be donated to charity.
They came up with an even better idea: the film would be about other characters looking for Heston's character and would end with him dying. He'd still get the closure he wanted, and he wouldn't have to put in too much time. It might not have ended the series, but it tried its hardest.
Johnny Depp on “21 Jump Street”
Depp was one of the original characters from the “21 Jump Street” TV show, long before he was the box office star he is now. Jonah Hill approached him about having a cameo in the movie remake as the same character, Tom Hansen. Depp had a few stipulations: first, Peter DeLuise had to return as Officer Doug Penhall, Hansen's partner in the series. Second, both of the characters had to die.
Depp wanted closure. Screenwriter Michael Bacall said that it was an excellent idea and that it worked fantastically for the movie. Everybody was happy.
Michelle Trachtenberg on “Black Christmas”
Michelle Trachtenberg has spent a couple of years appearing on “Buffy The Vampire Slayer,” and had some reservations about appearing in a horror movie – being typecast is a real danger in the movie industry. With that in mind, she signed on to the 2006 remake of “Black Christmas” with a certain condition: that her character died.
She was originally going to make it to the end, so the writers had to do some quick work to keep her happy. She met her end thanks to a rather sharp ice skate, which meant she got exactly what she asked for that Christmas.
Jamie Lee Curtis on “Halloween: Resurrection”
We'll tell you what's really scary about this movie series – the continuity. “Halloween H20: 20 Years Later” is both the fourth and the seventh movie in the collection. Figure that one out. Curtis was under the impression that decapitating Mike Myers in H20 would mean the end of the series, but contractual obligations meant things were going to continue.
When she found out she was coming back for another one, she decided she wanted to be killed off which would, to her, mean the end of the series for sure. Her wish came true, but there were more movies to be made – including a direct sequel to the first movie, which is just silly.
Samuel L. Jackson on “Deep Blue Sea”
Samuel L. Jackson's character was always going to die in “Deep Blue Sea,” it was just a matter of exactly when. In the original script, his character reached the end of a long speech, before being devoured, but Jackson struggled with the speech, calling it some of the worst dialogue ever.
The effects team got to work with him so that he didn't have to go through the entire thing, and thus his death was in the middle of his speech. Several different takes were shot, and the abrupt, unexpected one was by far the best received.
Hayden Panettiere on “Nashville”
While Hayden didn't leave the show for good, she asked for a leave of absence to deal with postpartum depression, a struggle that she has been vocal about. After giving birth to her daughter Kaya in 2014, she revealed that she was seeking treatment for the disorder.
After getting the help she needed, Panettiere was able to return to “Nashville” stronger than ever in early 2016, ready to once again show off why she had one of the starring roles in this musical soap opera series.
Meghan Markle on “Suits”
We bet you can figure out why this actress left her show. As soon as Meghan Markle and Prince Harry started getting serious, the producers and writers got to work figuring out how Markle's character could leave the show. This was before the two even got engaged, but might as well start working on the most obvious problem right away.
Once the couple got engaged, the plan was put into action, since there was no way Markle would be able to continue on the show as part of the royal family. Upon her marriage to Prince Harry in 2018, she retired from acting and became the Duchess of Sussex. Since then too, many things have changed.
Alyssa Milano on “Mistresses”
Despite acting as the main character, Alyssa Milano decided her time on “Mistresses” (guess what that's about) would end after season two. To continue filming with the show she would have to relocate to Vancouver up in Canada for season three, and she decided that it wasn't worth it. This left a lot of fans disappointed, but her reasoning was sound.
To her, being a mother and a wife came first, and for a well-known actress like her, there was always going to be more roles available closer to where she lived. Actors and actresses will do a lot of things, but sometimes moving to Canada isn't one of them.
Jared Padalecki on “Gilmore Girls”
It seems like Jared Padalecki has cornered the market on playing the cute guy on that show you (or your female friend) likes. He found himself at a crossroads when more than one of these roles was available, which led to him leaving behind his role of Dean Forester on “Gilmore Girls” in favor of one of the lead roles on “Supernatural,” Sam Winchester.
This meant being written out of season five in an abrupt manner, so he could go on to bigger and better things as half of the Winchester brothers in an attempt to cleanse the world of evil.
Crystal Reed on “Teen Wolf”
After spending three seasons playing young hunter Allison Argent on “Teen Wolf,” Crystal Reed realized that she had done all she could with her character. Only three seasons, huh? Reed felt that she had lost touch with her character, mainly since she had grown up while the character had stayed the same age.
It's something that happens to a lot of actors and actresses since filming takes a good chunk of a year, and movies or shows only cover a certain amount of time. Reed also wanted to try other roles, leading to her character being killed off – though she would return as an ancestor to the character in a later season.
Chyler Leigh on “Grey's Anatomy”
After taking a hiatus from the show to get a little bit of R and R, Chyler Leigh realized she was ready to leave “Grey's Anatomy” for good. Lexie Grey was the half-sister of the main character Meredith Grey, and thus an important part of the cast, but you can only be on a show for so long, as this list demonstrates.
Leigh worked with showrunner Shonda Rhimes to give the character's story the proper closure, which apparently meant getting killed off in a plane crash. The character would somehow return for a reunion episode nine years later.
Isaac Hayes on “South Park”
If you're easily offended, “South Park” isn't the show for you. That doesn't make it good or bad, just something that will easily offend people. This is true even of the people who worked on the show, such as Issac Hayes. “South Park” has made fun of every religion under the sun – they've come up with their own, just to make fun of them.
When the show targeted Scientology, Isaac Hayes – himself a long-time Scientologist – took it poorly. He asked to be let out of his contract, and producers Trey Parker and Matt Stone agreed.
Sophie Turner on “Game of Thrones”
She rose to public prominence playing the redhead from “Game of Thrones,” and she did make it all the way to the end of the series, but Turner was more than willing for her character to go through a gruesome end. She wanted Sansa to have a memorable passing – something that people could really talk about around the water cooler.
She even said if you're on GoT and you don't have a cool death scene, then what's the point? Hard to deny. Turner was interested in working on her movie career, which includes “Time Freak,” “Barely Lethal,” “Heavy,” and a number of X-Men films.
Lauren Graham on “Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist”
2020 was quite the year for a lot of reasons. Even the entertainment industry took a big hit in the early months as the entire world struggled to keep up with the changing world. Lauren Graham's role on “Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist” was one of the victims of erratic schedules and delayed shooting. She was planning to return for the second season, but production delays meant it would clash with another project that she already had lined up.
It was up to her to choose which project she would work on during that time, and she chose to step away from ZEP. However, the manner of her departure meant she could make a reappearance.
Anna Faris on “Mom”
“Mom” has been classified as a "Comedy" even though it covers more serious matters throughout the show. CBS's longest-running comedy at one point, but that has come to an end thanks to Anna Faris stepping away. She played Christy for seven years, going from a struggling single mother to a happy, healthy, successful woman.
There was some fear among fans that producers would choose to kill Christy off but opted for a different route. Instead, they went with sending her to law school on the East Coast. Showrunner Gemma Baker has said that killing Christy was never an option.
Nina Dobrev on “The Vampire Diaries”
When we say that Nina Dobrev was working hard as one of the biggest stars on “The Vampire Diaries,” it means a little more than when we say it for other actors. She was working constantly on the show, sometimes playing up to three characters at once. We have to imagine that puts a lot of pressure on someone.
Six seasons was enough for her, and she walked away from the show with a mind to pursue more adult roles. What, vampires aren't adult enough? Not since Edward, we guess. However, she found the time to return for the big-finish finale.
Regé-Jean Page on “Bridgerton”
This dreamy actor was one of the standouts in the period drama “Bridgerton,” which meant it was quite a surprise when people found out he wouldn't be returning to season two. His character, Simon Bassett, the Duke of Hastings, was nowhere to be found. Page assumed his time on the show was going to be short-lived, since he only had a one-season deal.
He was happy with the idea of a definite end to his character, but there were also some disagreements about his character with showrunner Shonda Rhimes, who seems to be showing up a lot in this article. Does that mean something?
Katherine Heigl on “Grey's Anatomy”
After garnering several awards for her role as Izzie Stevens on “Grey's Anatomy,” Katherine Heigl made the obvious jump to film. She also wanted more time to spend with her family, and since she had recently adopted a daughter, she needed it. There were also some accusations of poor writing, and Heigl was always critical of choices made for her character, including the relationship with T.R. Knight's George.
The showrunners also put a lot of pressure on Heigl to carry certain storylines, which Heigl did well – though it was an undeniable strain on the actress. When asked about Heigl returning, Showrunner Rhimes denied it as a possibility.
Madeleine Mantock on “Charmed”
It seems like time moves in a cycle when it comes to characters on shows named “Charmed.” In the original version, Shannen Doherty played the telekinetic older sister of the witches, and Doherty left at the end of season three. In the reboot, the character is played by Madeleine Mantock – and she also left after the season three finale.
Spooky as that coincidence may seem, this departure comes without the whispers of behind-the-scenes drama that happened during Doherty's time – Mantock said it was just time for her to move on and try something else. She said it was an immense privilege, and a difficult decision to make.
Kim Cattrall on “Sex and the City”
It's never been a secret that Kim Cattrall didn't always get along well with Sarah Jessica Parker on “Sex and the City.” In fact, she didn't even want to come back to the reboot “And Just Like That...” Furthermore, the third “Sex and the City” movie has been put on hold if not canceled outright because Kim Cattrall has pulled out of the production.
She went as long as she could working with Sarah Jessica Parker, but we guess it just couldn't last forever. Samantha the character now lives in London, and just barely has a text conversation with Carrie.
Cote De Pablo on “NCIS”
For eight years, Cote De Pablo was a staple of the “NCIS” cast. However, she wasn't happy with how the producers were controlling her character, and she felt that she deserved more respect and a bigger say. She left in season ten, with the character returning to Israel, and she (the character) was presumed dead after a bombing.
She made a surprising return in seasons 16 and 17. We don't know anything else about the details of her departure and return, and that's the way she likes it.
Shemar Moore on “Criminal Minds”
After more than ten seasons playing flirtatious workaholic Derek Morgan on the cast of “Criminal Minds,” Shemar Moore was ready to hang up his bulletproof vest. Unlike some of the other cast members who left the show, there was no drama, and the money was good – a hundred thousand dollars per episode good. So why the departure?
It's a tale as old as television: He was tired of the character. Enough had been done that it seemed like there was nowhere else to go. Plus, he had been so busy on the show that he hadn't even had time to start a family, something that interested him.
Emmy Rossum on “Shameless”
If you were told that you'd get three hundred and fifty thousand dollars twenty times a year, you'd probably feel pretty good about your financial situation. Such wasn't the case with Emmy Rossum, who decided to move away from the long-running show “Shameless.”
She apparently wanted a place in higher society, which to her meant Hollywood, in an attempt to become a big movie star instead of just a TV star. Was that the right move for her? She's had a few roles, but she's also found her place as a director in several TV shows, some short films, and a smattering of other work.
Sophia Bush on “Chicago P.D.”
If you're in a bad situation, sometimes it's just best to turn and walk away and let the pieces fall where they may. This was how Sophia Bush responded to mounting physical exhaustion and long work hours while she was on “Chicago P.D.” Her character was removed with a rather simple explanation – she moved to New York to become a police officer there.
Bush also mentioned lots of offensive behavior while working on the set. She had to take care of her mental and physical health – always a good thing to do.
Suzanne Somers on “Three's Company”
As a bubbly blonde receptionist and typist in a law firm, Suzanne Somers played the part of the comedy of errors that ran from 1977 to 1984. Chrissy Snow was one of the lead characters, so no doubt Somers was raking in the dough – but she was only getting thirty thousand a year. She wanted more, but the network refused to cater to her demands, and she ended up walking away.
Chrissy Snow's cousin Cindy, played by Jenilee Harrison, kept the cast at full strength, but characters started coming and going faster as the years went on.
Nicollette Sheridan on “Dynasty”
Sometimes a show just can't go on without a specific character. Such is the case for the dramatic Alexis from “Dynasty.” Nicollette Sheridan found the choice a necessary one since she departed to take care of her mother, who had fallen seriously ill. Leaving behind two hundred thousand dollars an episode is no easy feat, but caring for someone you love should be more important.
As we stated, the show needed Alexis. Thus, the producers had to find someone to fill Sheridan's shoes – they ended up with Elaine Hendrix, and explained the change with plastic surgery after fire damage.
Amy Carlson on “Blue Bloods”
In a tale as old as time, Amy Carlson was getting bored with her character on “Blue Bloods,” and was looking for new opportunities. The surprising result of this normal occurrence was to have her character, Linda Reagan, perish in a helicopter crash between seasons. She left behind two hundred thousand dollars per episode, but money doesn't mean much if you aren't happy.
She noted that relationships weren't hurt and that her on-screen husband, Donny Wahlberg, was sweet and supportive about her departure. The deadly crash wasn't seen on-screen, which isn't a big surprise given the standard TV budget of the show.
Mischa Barton on “The O.C.”
The show only lasted four seasons, but the troubled Marissa Cooper wouldn't even last that long. Actress Mischa Barton realized that she wasn't right for this kind of show, and was already looking forward to other kinds of acting roles. The producers originally wanted Marissa Cooper to move away, but Barton decided it would be more fun for something a little more dynamic to occur.
Thus, she is hit by a car and the curtain falls on her action in the series. Barton also believed that her character had done everything she could do – to continue would be to stagnate or go over the path again.
Sasha Alexander on “NCIS”
Yes, there are lots and lots and lots of worse jobs out there in the big wide world, but being an actor on a long-running TV show can still be pretty draining, as a lot of people discover. Sasha Alexander, who played Caitlin Todd on “NCIS,” also found this out, and she began to bring up the mental and physical demands of the job.
While she was interested in trying out other projects after spending only two years on the show – this despite her having a six-season contract. The workload was simply too much for her, and she then had the chance to look for projects that better suited her.
Connie Britton on “Nashville”
“Creative differences” is one of the things that producers and actors say when they agree that it's better for the truth to not be revealed. It could be anything from problems on set to just wanting the character to do something different. This was the explanation fans of the show “Nashville” got when Connie Britton, who played Rayna James, left the show.
She actually really liked the show, but she wasn't fond of the direction her character was going. The obvious solution was to put an end to the character's story, which also meant that Britton could move on to other projects.
Raymond Cruz on “Breaking Bad”
There are lots of memorable baddies in “Breaking Bad,” and without a doubt, Tuco Salamanca is up there on the list of the best. However, the episodes he was in were reported to be physically, emotionally, and mentally draining for the actor, despite the pretty paycheck that came with each episode – a hundred thousand dollars. Not bad.
He was perfectly happy when his character met his demise. Still, he didn't hate it enough to not reprise the role in the prequel series “Better Call Saul.” Hopefully, the showrunners figured out how to make things easier on Cruz during his return.
Emily Bett Rickards on “Arrow”
She played the lovable Felicity Smoak on the CW's “Arrow,” and she had a hard time letting go of a role that had claimed almost a decade of her life. Forty thousand dollars an episode seems like something you'd want to keep going for as long as you can, but Rickards wanted to try out other things.
She asked the writers to remove her from the show before her contract was up, and they granted it to her. Believe it or not, Smoak was Rickards's very first acting credit, and we're sure she's going to move on to bigger and better things.
Ruby Rose on “Batwoman”
After just a single season, Ruby Rose was ready to call it quits as the titular character of this superhero show. She was making a hundred and fifty thousand dollars per episode, but it just wasn't enough. She wasn't used to the long hours of filming such an intense show, and certainly not as the lead character.
The show, while liked by its fans, never got the critical acclaim that many thought it would. In fact, some of the opposite began to occur – it's possible that Ruby Rose saw the signs and decided to jump ship before it sank.
Leonard Nimoy on “Star Trek”
The cool and calculating Spock is one of the most classic characters in science fiction, but even the character's actor wasn't all that fond of him. When “Star Trek” was first running, science fiction was still in its infancy and was seen as not a respectable format – which continued for some time.
While Nimoy was happy to continue acting as the character, he pulled the surprising move of directing his own death for “Wrath of Khan,” the second “Star Trek” movie. This despite being offered $2.5 million dollars for each subsequent film if he were to stay. But we all know that death doesn't last in the universe of “Star Trek.”
Sigourney Weaver on the “Alien” Franchise
When she first signed on for the original “Alien” movie, Sigourney Weaver took the role for a mere thirty-five thousand dollars. Not a bad payday for the time, but nothing near what she deserved for helping to create such a beloved collection of movies.
The second film “Aliens” paid Weaver quite a bit more, but even then she felt like she needed to be moving on. She continued to appear in films in the series for some time, and then eventually decided that was that, finishing with “Alien Resurrection” in 1997.
Dave Chappelle on “The Dave Chappelle Show”
This one is a bit different since Chappelle didn't have to talk to writers or producers to get his character removed – he was acting as both, and all he had to do was pack up and leave. Just before the season three premiere of his famous Comedy Central show, that's exactly what he did.
Despite the show's success and his personal earnings, Chappelle wasn't happy with the show. The success felt strange like it wasn't what he imagined it would be like. To him, it didn't feel right. Thus, he killed the show and stepped away from the spotlight for a long, long time.
Shia LaBeouf on “Transformers”
Among huge, monstrous machines, a battle for Earth, and Megan Fox, Shia LaBeouf almost seems like he doesn't belong as Sam Witwicky, a goofy kid who just wants to enjoy a cool car. After three installments of increasingly dangerous adventures with Optimus Prime and the rest of the Transformers, however, Shia was ready to call it quits.
The reasoning isn't super clear, but most likely it was just a desire to move on to other projects. LaBeouf even said that he fully expected the movies to return with a reboot, which is exactly what happened – Mark Wahlberg took over as the lead in a new character.
Harrison Ford on “Star Wars”
He was one of the unforgettable original cast members in the first three movies, but Harrison Ford has always had a love-hate relationship with Han Solo. He'd been arguing for Solo to die for about thirty years – not because he was tired of him, or because he was boring, but because it would add plenty of weight to the dramatic proceedings.
Ford finally got his wish granted in “The Force Awakens,” which has Solo finally fall to his doom after a dramatic scene with a few of the characters. If Ford had gotten his way, Solo would have perished at the end of “The Empire Strikes Back.”
T.J. Miller on “Silicon Valley”
He'd been a big part of “Silicon Valley” since it started, so the sudden and shocking passing of Erlich Bachman came as a big surprise to many viewers. Fans reeled, but it seems as if the rest of the cast and crew felt a sense of relief. Miller had some difficulties on set and proved to be a little harder to work with than what you want.
They initially offered Miller a long, multi-episode arc to properly set up his departure, but Miller requested a blunt, sudden end to his character. Was this him striking back at being removed? It's not for us to say.
Greg Vaughn on “Days of Our Lives”
As a soap opera, “Days of Our Lives” has lots of characters that have come and gone due to other projects, but it's relatively rare that an actor will ask to be written out. Just based on the number of actors, anyway. Greg Vaughn is one such actor, who left his show in 2020.
It's said that there were some contract issues, but Vaughn was becoming convinced that his time as Eric Brady was coming to an end. Likely the fact that the show wasn't willing to meet him at the negotiating table was the final straw.
Jonathan Taylor Thomas on “Home Improvement”
Thanks to his time on “Home Improvement,” Jonathan Taylor Thomas was one of the biggest child stars of the nineties. Numerous are the grown women that still hold a fondness for his boyish good looks and easy charm. Thus, it was confusing to many when he decided to leave the show after eight years and almost two hundred episodes.
As JTT says, he's been going nonstop on TV since he was eight, and he needed a chance to focus on his schooling, see the world, and do a little more than memorize lines. His character, Randy, flew to Costa Rica for an environmental study program as a way of leaving the show.
Christopher Abbott on “Girls”
There were big things ahead for Christopher Abbott's character in “Girls,” including marrying Allison Williams's character, Marnie. However, he started getting into disagreements with Lena Dunham, the show's lead actress, and creator. It eventually led to Abbott stepping away from the show in a graceful way, saying that while the world Dunham had created was very real, he didn't have much of a personal relationship with it.
He then went on to say that there was something really satisfying about playing parts where you really relate to the character. There are a lot of things we could take from that, but it isn't our job to speculate.
Michael Weatherly on “NCIS”
After thirteen seasons of memorable one-liners, Agent Anthony DiNozzo was ready to retire from the force and enjoy some downtime. In reality, Michael Weatherly was burnt out after more than a decade on “NCIS,” and wanted to try something different.
He jumped to another CBS show, “Bull,” becoming the eponymous character. Weatherly went from a member of the force to a consulting firm that works to understand jurors, lawyers, witnesses, defendants, and more. A big change from a wise-cracking member of the naval investigative team, but it seems like the change was a good one.
Columbus Short on “Scandal”
This example is a bit different since Columbus Short didn't actually ask to be removed. He was dealing with a lot of legal issues during his time on the hit ABC show, including arrests and multiple charges. Showrunner Shonda Rhimes decided that there was no longer a place for him on the show that is, ironically, called “Scandal.”
Years later, Short would open up about the time, saying while it wasn't really his choice, there was a lot on his plate (including some unhealthy habits) that would have made filming difficult, and maybe time away from the spotlight was just what he needed.
Chad Michael Murray on “One Tree Hill”
Chad Michael Murray began as the lead in “One Tree Hill,” but even lead characters tend to find themselves pushed aside every once in a while. He announced that he would be leaving the show before the final season, and it turns out that negotiations hadn't gone smoothly between the actor's camp and the network, CW.
Everybody deserves to get what they're owed. Plus, the hill only had one tree. What kind of hill is that? There are better hills out there, CMM, go and find your favorite.
T.R. Knight on “Grey's Anatomy”
It seems like the story of T.R. Knight leaving this long-running medical drama is a complicated one, and we don't know all of the details. He was on the show for five years, and as the calendar flipped, he began to see his screen time and character development diminish. He went to showrunner and writer Shonda Rhimes, but the things she told him usually turned out to not be true – that's his side of the story, at least.
He eventually went on to say he couldn't trust any of the information he was getting about his character, and decided his talents were better suited elsewhere. There is surely much more to the situation, but that's all we know for now.
David Duchovny on “The X-Files”
After seven years of investigating aliens, sewer people, mysterious beasts in the woods, and everything in between, David Duchovny hung up his flashlight. For a character that was always ready to believe about extraterrestrials and other unexplained phenomena, there's only one way to go out: being abducted by aliens.
Despite this rather final end, Fox Mulder made quite a number of appearances until the end of season nine, as well as in the revival seasons between 2015 and 2018, reprising the alien-loving character. Duchovny had plenty of other things to do in the meantime, including shows and movies.
David Caruso on “NYPD Blue”
The primetime police drama featured David Caruso as one of the main stars, but the show's popularity gave him the leverage to ask for more in his contract following the initial season. The network wasn't willing to put up the cash, and Caruso decided to walk away.
He left the show in season two, but it wasn't long before he became part of “CSI: Miami,” where he became a meme thanks to his one-liners. You know the one: Say the first half, put on a pair of sunglasses, drop the second half, and listen to The Who belt out “Won't Get Fooled Again.”
Topher Grace on “That '70s Show”
Despite being what is often seen as the main character on a show that was topping the charts, Topher Grace wanted out after the sixth season of “That '70s Show” ended. Grace was looking forward to the jump to a film career, and kicked things off in a big way by landing the role of Eddie Brock in “Spider-Man 3.”
The show explained Eric Foreman's departure by giving him the chance to leave Wisconsin for a yearlong stint in Africa. He would return for the series finale, and many believe without him, season eight suffered.
Chris Messina on “The Mindy Project”
While Chris Messina's character, Danny Castellano, was Mindy's main frenemy and love interest for the first four seasons, he took a step back in season five. Messina was interested in a lot of other projects, such as acting in movies, plays, or directing. Mindy Kaling was always aware of Messina's desire to diversify his work portfolio and graciously allowed him to do so.
Danny Castellano became a recurring guest character in season five and made a few sporadic appearances in season six, at which point the show ended its run.
Jim Parsons on “The Big Bang Theory”
It's impossible to imagine “The Big Bang Theory” without Sheldon Cooper, the neurotic nerd that loves all things geeky and always has to have the upper hand in the brain department. Despite the hefty paycheck, high audience numbers, and even a Golden Globe, Jim Parsons decided that he was prepared to move on to other things after season twelve.
This sent the producers into a tizzy, and they countered with an astounding amount of money: fifty million dollars for two years if the numbers we're seeing are correct. Yet Parsons was unswayed. The showrunners then decided that the show would end with season twelve.
Skeet Ulrich on “Riverdale”
The odd reboot of a classic comic book brought plenty of re-imagining to the characters that multiple generations are used to. Ulrich's character FP Jones was a side character in season one, but past that he was part of the main cast. However, the announcement that he would not be returning to the show's fifth season had people wondering.
The explanation that the actor gave was that he was bored creatively. That's a big problem for actors – if they aren't feeling it, we can all tell. The actor stepped away and the character faded, but he has made a few guest appearances since his departure.
Andrew Lincoln on “The Walking Dead”
Many of us tuned in regularly to see Andrew Lincoln's character, Rick Grimes, try and lead his little band of survivors toward a better future. We depended on his tough persona and commanding presence, and so when Grimes was presumed dead in 2018, it came as a shock to a lot of us.
Lincoln could have gone on to do almost anything, but his reason for leaving the show was that he wanted to spend more time with his family after almost ten seasons of working hard to fight zombies on TV. However, the way the character disappeared left room for Grimes to return in a spin-off.
George Clooney on “ER”
Before he was one of the most bankable movie stars in Hollywood, George Clooney was on the rise as Dr. Doug Ross, the resident hottie in the classic medical drama “ER.” After six years of giving women the vapors, he found he was prepared for bigger and better things, so he asked for his character to be written out at the end of season five.
He also felt like season five was the last time his character had any big changes, and actors hate a static character. The character was written out, though had cameos. Julianna Margulies, who played his love interest, followed suit in the following season, which reunited the characters, giving them their happy ending.
McLean Stevenson on “M*A*S*H”
The history of television and the history of “M*A*S*H” might as well be the same topic. To call it the most popular show of its time is to almost do it a disservice – it isn't impossible to call it the most popular show ever. McLean Stevenson played Henry Blake, one of the most beloved characters, but he asked to be killed off in the season three finale.
He was ready to go on to other things, and was convinced his time on the show would lead to bigger and better things. He found, to his dismay, that people loved his character more than him, and his career floundered.
Josh Charles on “The Good Wife”
The story of Josh Charles in “The Good Wife,” a legal and political drama, is one that many of us will be familiar with. When he left at the end of season five, he commented that while he was happy with the show and the kind of work he had been doing, he also simply felt burnt out.
Filming a television show requires long hours of filming and re-filming scenes. It's an artistic venture, and if your heart isn't in it, people will start to notice it in the finished product. His character was shot dead in a surprising courtroom session and Charles was ready to move on to other work.
Donald Glover on “Community”
We had five wonderful seasons of Troy Barnes on “Community” alongside the other weird and wild characters, but eventually, Donald Glover's music and film careers were starting to take off. His friend on and off the show, Danny Pudi, heard him working on some music in his car, and realized that nothing was going to stop Glover from reaching the heights of fame on more than one kind of media.
Donald Glover asked to be let go from the show, and the producers didn't have the heart to say no. But, don't worry, there are plenty of places you can get your Danny fix now.
Daniel Gillies on “Saving Hope”
Daniel Gillies asked his character Dr. Joel Goren to be killed off on “Saving Hope” for one very simple reason. He was way, way too busy. He wasn't only one of the principal actors for this medical drama, but also for the show “The Originals.” Being number two on a show's list will mean eighteen to twenty-two episodes a year – Gillies was doing anywhere from forty to forty-two, constantly bouncing between the two shows.
He introduced the idea to the showrunners of “Saving Hope,” and to his surprise, they came to him later in the season and decided the idea was a good one.
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje on “Lost”
Usually, the actors aren't the ones in control of their characters. Producers, directors, and writers are the ones who are actually guiding the ship. However, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje wasn't going to be stopped when he decided his character had done everything he could in the mysterious drama “Lost.”
Season three was the last one that saw Mr. Eko, and AAA said that while it would have been nice for the character to be around for a little while later, it was time for them to go their separate ways. He asked to be removed, and the showrunners granted his wish.
John Francis Daley on “Bones”
John Francis Daley lasted a whole ten seasons on “Bones,” but he eventually found a different calling – that of directing. He asked for his character, Lance Sweets, to be killed off. His first directing gig was the remake of the movie “National Lampoon's Vacation,” and then he went on to direct “Game Night,” and “Dungeons and Dragons.” He also has quite a number of writer credits, including for “Spider-Man: Homecoming.”
He still makes appearances on the screen every once in a while, such as in TV shorts or single episodes, and even in some movies.
Dean Norris on “Breaking Bad”
Hank Schrader was one of the most beloved characters on “Breaking Bad,” but at the end of the first half-season that wrapped up the show, Dean Norris was ready to move on. He already had other projects lined up and realized that it would be difficult to do everything while also being on the show.
He ended up calling Vince Gilligan, the series creator, and suggested that Hank dies, even saying that the character's passing would be a great exclamation point for the end of the half-season. Fans might not have loved it, but it was a great way to amp up the drama.
Dominic Monaghan on “Lost”
You know him as Merry from the “Lord of the Rings” series, but Dominic Monaghan has had quite the career. This includes the ground-breaking show “Lost,” in which he played Charlie Pace. When his character had a dramatic drowning at the end of season three, he was fine with it.
While he was happy with the show and the filming – he got to work in Hawaii for one thing – he had become frustrated with how the show was keeping him tied down. He was looking forward to other things, and with Charlie's passing, he was free to try them.
Mandy Patinkin on “Criminal Minds”
When a man plays a character as beloved as Inigo Montoya, you get a few extras in life. Mandy Patinkin had earned his roles, but he was still a difficult man to work with. Jason Gideon was one of the main characters on “Criminal Minds,” but wasn't happy with how violent and bloody the series was turning out to be.
He stopped showing up on set, and the producers had no choice but to kill off Gideon in season ten. He also went on to become part of “Homeland,” which was just as bloody as “Criminal Minds,” so who's really to know.
John Amos on “Good Times”
Though he was a big part of the seventies sitcom “Good Times,” it turns out John Amos had a bit of a rough time on the show. He wasn't happy with the direction that the show was going, and he started speaking out against the producers privately.
When he left in 1976, he had become a disruptive element. He acknowledges that he hadn't learned how to work with people as well as he could have, but he's gotten a lot better. Still, the creative differences were real, and he had a difficult time working on the show anyway.
Milo Ventimiglia on “Gilmore Girls”
A lot of people had a hard time accepting the breakup between Rory and Jess, but Milo Ventimiglia was more than ready to move on. Venti was actually angling for the character to be killed off – possibilities include getting hit by a bus, or something else bad – but the producers didn't agree.
The character ends up moving to Philly where he gets to work in the publishing industry. Ventimiglia was able to reprise his role a few times before the show ended for good. As for why the actor wanted to leave, it's anyone's guess – most likely it was to try out other roles.
Justin Chambers on “Grey's Anatomy”
With a show that has gone for such a long time, it should come as no surprise that actors and actresses come and go a lot over the years. By season sixteen, he was one of few original cast members remaining on the show, and it was time for a final curtain call. There was no big dramatic reason – he just thought his time was up and he should move on.
He was hoping to diversify his roles and try out some new places. When he left the show he was a hair away from fifty, and it was time for him to try something else. Plus, he had a bunch of children and wanted more time with them.
Brett Dier on “Jane the Virgin”
The passing of Michael came as a shock to lots of fans of “Jane the Virgin.” Fans went crazy, trying to figure out why this important character had decided to call it quits. Rumors began flying about Brett Dier wanting to try out other things with his time, and would rather not get locked into a show for several years.
Saying that Brett wasn't done on the show just yet – he would make a comeback in the final season (we aren't going to spoil how). Apparently, the producers thought of the idea in season one, and Dier was immediately on board.
Rob Lowe on “The West Wing”
After finding himself in a career slump for a little while, Lowe's resume got a boost when he landed a job in “The West Wing,” a political drama about the office of the president. He began the work in 1999 but left in 2002. It's said that the reasoning was a pay dispute.
Lowe still managed to leave the set on good terms, sending a message to the producers thanking them for letting his character leave the show gracefully. He stated that they were a part of television history and that he would never forget his time on the show.
Daniel Dae Kim on “Hawaii Five-O”
With an unforgettable jawline and a hard-eyed squint to match, Daniel Dae Kim was part of the crew on the revival of “Hawaii Five-O,” which had people racing around the union's fiftieth state, trying to keep the peace. However, it started to become apparent that Kim wasn't getting what he was owed, despite being one of the most popular characters on the show.
In fact, the show even asked him to take a pay CUT. Well, Kim wasn't having any of that, and he decided his talents would be put to better use elsewhere.
Steve Carell on “The Office”
He's been in plenty, but we all know Steve Carell best for his time on the mockumentary TV show “The Office.” Michael Scott was one of the big draws for fans, and he remains a favorite even after the show had ended. He handed in his resignation at the end of season seven as he made the jump to a film career.
He's also said that his contract was up after the show's seventh season, and NBC didn't negotiate the way he wanted (which now seems like a misstep). He decided to leave the show in the past, but he did come back for a few episodes here and there.
Kal Penn on “House”
This has got to be one of the most unique reasons a character departs from a television show – to become a member of a presidential administration. Kal Penn left this medical drama to join the Obama administration as the associate director of the White House Office of Public Liaison.
Meanwhile, his character Dr. Lawrence Kutner met his end partway through a season, which served the dual purpose of letting Penn head to D.C. while also throwing the characters of the show into chaos. That's how you make the best of a bad situation.
Dan Stevens on “Downton Abbey”
The way this show worked is, that once it was proved to be a hit, all of the actors and actresses were signed to three-year contracts. At the end of the contract, any of them could renegotiate or walk away with no hard feelings. Dan Stevens has said that having his character, Matthew Crawley, be killed off for real in the show was a hard decision, but the right one.
Stevens took stock and realized that there was a lot more that he wanted to do personally, and “Downton Abbey” was making it difficult. His character might have been beloved, but all things must end.
Christopher Meloni on “Law and Order: SVU”
Detective Elliot Stabler was one half of the team on “Law and Order: SVU.” Time takes its toll on us all, and eventually, the character decided it was time to turn in his badge at the end of season twelve. It turns out that Meloni stepped away simply because of contract reasons, which is a common theme to these kinds of things.
He left without ill will toward the showrunners or the other performers, and he was excited about the kind of opportunities he now had ahead of him.
John Rhys-Davies on “Sliders”
You probably know this classic Welsh actor from his role as Gimli the dwarf, or maybe as Sallah from the "Indiana Jones" films. In between those famous roles, he played Professor Maximilian Arturo on the nineties sci-fi show “Sliders,” which has travelers sliding through wormholes to reach alternate realities.
Rhys-Davies began to consider the quality of the script suspect and asked for his character to be killed off. His wish was granted, and Professor Maximilian met his end in the middle of the third season. While the show was canceled a few seasons later, it still has a cult following.
Patrick Dempsey on “Grey's Anatomy”
He was the heartthrob on this incredibly long-running medical drama show for quite some time, but even Patrick Dempsey got tired of wearing a lab coat and looking oh-so-steamy. Fans were still shocked, though, when Derek Shepherd met his end in a tragic car accident in the eleventh season of Grey's.
Dempsey was interested in leaving due to his desire to work on other projects – being in a TV show takes up a lot of time. He starred in “Bridget Jones's Baby” soon after leaving the set. He expressed that it had been long enough and that he probably should have left a little earlier, even.