Why deal with an actor’s bad behavior when you could just kill off their character?
If bad behavior can get you fired in the corporate world, it only makes sense that the same rules should apply to Hollywood. The only difference is that most of us aren’t performing our jobs purely for the entertainment of millions of people sitting in front of their TV screens. As you can imagine, this creates some difficulties when show producers want to let go of an actor that is tied to a beloved character. Fortunately they came up with an ingenious—albeit gruesome—solution. Read on to learn the true reason behind the tragic deaths of some of your favorite TV show characters.
Charlie Sheen in Two and a Half Men
One of the most well known examples of an actor being forced out of their show comes to us courtesy of Charlie Sheen. In 2011, Sheen’s party lifestyle finally caught up with him and resulted in the actor entering rehab and being unable to perform his duties as Charlie Harper on Two and a Half Men. Instead of seeking forgiveness, Sheen lashed out at show creator Chuck Lorre in a series of tweets and interviews, even calling his boss a “maggot.” Shortly after Sheen’s insults hit headlines, Lorre terminated his contract and in the Season 9 premiere, Charlie Harper was killed by a train and replaced by Ashton Kutcher for the remainder of the series.
Mischa Barton in The O.C.
Fans were shocked by the tragic ending of Mischa Barton’s character in Season 3 of The O.C., but reports say the showrunners were tired of her alleged bad behavior. Even Mischa herself admitted to People that her partying had “spiraled out of control” by the time she finally got the boot. Her co-stars also confirmed Mischa’s terrible reputation and bad attitude by calling her the biggest diva on the show. Mischa’s character Marissa Cooper ultimately met her untimely death via a car accident, but the once chart-topping show only lasted for one more season without her.
Patrick Dempsey in Grey’s Anatomy
Mischa’s character wasn’t the only one to bite the dust via a car crash. Fans of the long-running medical drama Grey’s Anatomy were blown away when Patrick Dempsey’s character McDreamy was killed off during the Season 11 finale. Rumor has it that Patrick brought on his demise with behind-the-scenes drama that show creator Shonda Rhimes would not tolerate. According to an anonymous source, Patrick was allegedly cheating on his wife with a much-younger staff member on the show. The source also claimed that Patrick had been “complaining about the storyline of his character, and felt he wasn’t getting enough screen time.” The drama and disruption led to Shonda suspending Patrick and eventually writing him off altogether.
Shannen Doherty in Charmed
Shannen Doherty doesn’t exactly have a reputation for being the easiest actress to work with! She was fired from Beverly Hills, 90210 for drama with castmates and crew, but seemed to have received a chance at redemption when she landed a lead role in Charmed. However, it didn’t take long for Shannen to go back to her old ways and soon she began to feud with her on-screen sister and co-star Alyssa Milano. The rumored conflicts between the two eventually led to Shannen’s character being killed off by a demon in Season 3. She was replaced in season four by Rose McGowan, who played the long-lost younger half-sister Paige Matthews.
John Amos in Good Times
When Good Times debuted in 1974, it quickly soared to popularity! John Amos starred as James Evans on the iconic show about an African-American family living in the projects. However, Amos threatened to walk away from the show during the second season due to the negative images that he felt it portrayed of African-American culture. Unfortunately for John, the showrunners took away his option to walk away by firing him instead. John worked for one more season before his character suffered an off-screen car accident death in the first episode of the fourth season. The death was revealed to the audience through a letter read by his on-screen wife.
Michelle Rodriguez & Cynthia Watros in Lost
In December 2005, Lost costars Michelle Rodriguez and Cynthia Watros were both arrested for DUI on the same night. Both pleaded guilty and Michelle served five days in jail and paid a $500 fine. Watros faced a suspension of her driver’s license, 14 hours of rehabilitation, and $307 in fines. Following their arrests, Michelle and Cynthia—who respectively starred as Ana Lucia and Libby—were killed off in the same episode. Producers say the deaths were planned ahead of time, but one can’t deny that it seems fishy for both women to have been arrested on the same night and then killed off in the same episode.
Columbus Short in Scandal
Shonda Rhimes is back in the list again with yet another beloved character that she killed off from one of her many hit shows! Columbus Short appeared as Harrison Wright on the drama Scandal and although his co-stars affirm he was never a problem on set, allegations of cocaine abuse and domestic violence cost him the role of a lifetime regardless. His violent history and numerous arrests were a PR nightmare for the showrunners and actors. The drama ultimately resulted in Columbus being sacked and Harrison subsequently suffered an off-screen assassination death and on-screen funeral. In spite of the firing, Columbus left wishing nothing but the best for the show and the cast.
Maggie Roswell in The Simpsons
Even cartoon characters aren’t safe from character termination by death! Maggie Roswell is the voice actor who portrayed Maude Flanders on The Simpsons. According to Fox, Roswell left the wildly success show because she no longer wanted to commute to Los Angeles from her home in Denver. However, Maggie told The LA Times that her departure was actually due to a raise negotiation that had gone awry. Fox dealt with the departure by hiring substitutes before ultimately killing Maude with a shirt fired from a t-shirt gun that catapulted her off the top of the stands at a Nascar race—ouch!