When a beloved character suddenly disappears from your weekly guilty pleasure show, fans are left wondering what happened. Did the writers just decide to kill off the character? Did the actor or actress choose to leave the show? While networks and studios often provide a “clean” version of the events to the public, the real reasons behind an actor’s departure can be much more complex.
1. Michael Scott – The Office (US)
Michael Scott, played by Steve Carell, left The Office in season 7 when he moved to Colorado with his quirky girlfriend, Holly. Carell had initially signed on for seven seasons of the show and decided to leave at the end of his contract. What’s strange is that the showrunners never thought to ask Carell to stay on for longer, so that’s just very stupid of them. Hey, at least he appeared in the series finale!
2. Poussey Washington – Orange Is The New Black
Poussey’s character was tragically killed off in season 4, leaving many fans heartbroken. The show’s creators, Jenji Kohan, and the writing team decided to write her off as they wanted to address the issue of police brutality and the Black Lives Matter movement. Poussey’s death was a deliberate commentary on the real-world events of the time, and her loss was felt deeply by both the viewers and the rest of the OITNB characters.
3. Derek Shepherd – Grey’s Anatomy
Dr. Derek, also known as “McDreamy,” kicked the bucket in season 11 after getting into a nasty car accident. The decision to kill off Derek was not an easy one for the showrunners, but the actor, Patrick Dempsey, didn’t leave them much choice as he simply wanted to do something else. While fans were devastated by Derek’s exit, the show has continued on without him, for better or worse.
4. William Gardner – The Good Wife
Josh Charles, who portrayed William Gardner, reportedly left “The Good Wife” because he felt like his character’s arc was over after four seasons, but the show’s creators convinced him to extend the contract for one more season.
5. Erin Lindsay – Chicago P.D.
Erin Lindsay, portrayed by Sophia Bush, left the show after season 4. She reportedly quit due to creative differences with the show’s producers, but we all know that’s rarely the true reason. Sophia stated in an interview that she had to leave because she didn’t feel valued and was uncomfortable with the behavior of some of the show’s executives. Her character’s departure was explained in the season 5 premiere, where it was revealed that Lindsay had taken an undercover assignment in New York.
6. Zoe Barnes – House of Cards
Actress Kate Mara’s exit from the popular political drama series “House of Cards” was not a sudden decision but rather a part of the show’s original plan. The show’s creator, Beau Willimon, had envisioned Barnes’ character to have a limited lifespan of 14 episodes. Mara’s exit was executed in a shocking and dramatic way in season 2, but it was always intended to happen, as confirmed by both Willimon and Mara herself in various interviews.
7. Lawrence Kutner – House
Kutner was a promising member of House’s diagnostic team, so it felt very strange when the writers killed him off in the fifth season. This was due to actor Kal Penn’s decision to leave the show and pursue a career in politics. Kutner’s character was written off as having committed suicide which came as a shock to his colleagues on the show, who had no idea that he was struggling with mental health issues.
8. Fiona Gallagher – Shameless
After entertaining the fans of the show for nine seasons, Fiona Gallagher, played by Emmy Rossum, left Shameless in a really shameless manner: she simply wanted to quit. Rossum had expressed her desire to move on from the show and pursue other opportunities. As a result, the show’s producers wrote her character off in the season nine finale.
9. Matthew Crawley – Downton Abbey
We got to enjoy Dan Stevens’s Matthew Crawley character for three long seasons before the actor decided to leave the show. I’m sorry to say this, but there’s not much drama about his departure either, as he just wanted to pursue other projects and opportunities. While Stevens enjoyed his time on the show, he felt that it was time to move on and explore other roles. And it was the right decision. Since leaving Downton Abbey, Stevens has gone on to have a successful career, appearing in a variety of productions, such as The Guest, Legion, Beauty and the Beast, and many more.