10 TV Characters Killed Off Because Of Behind-The-Scenes Drama

Sometimes, a showrunner and executive team have no choice but to let an actor go and k*ll off their character thanks to on-set clashes and drama.

In any TV show, the decision to kill off a character can be a risky one but sometimes has to be done thanks to behind-the-scenes drama involving the actor. Even more than the story, a TV show lives or dies by the strength of its characters and the depth of their evolution. While audiences can forgive a weaker story, what they usually won’t forgive is doing a beloved character dirty or writing them in a way that is completely antithetical to the character that has been established

Of course, if writing is part of creating a memorable character, then the actor is the other part, arguably the most important part. The right actor in the right role can create an iconic character whose influence lasts long after the show stops airing new episodes. The right character can hold an entire show together during times of transition or weaker storylines. Sometimes, however, whether fairly or unfairly, a showrunner and executive team has no choice but to let an actor go and write off their character thanks to on-set clashes. Here are 10 TV characters who were killed off for that very reason.

10Roseanne Conner (Roseanne Barr) – Roseanne

Roseanne The Conners

Of all the actors on this list, Roseanne Barr’s unceremonious expulsion from the show that bore her name is probably the most well-known by current audiences. Season 10 of the show came almost two decades after it last went off the air, but the revival was so successful that it basically served as a restart for Roseanne. Barr has been known for her controversial actions throughout her career. However, when she made a series of racist tweets about former presidential advisor Valerie Jarrett, a Black woman, it was a step too far. Rather than canceling the entire reboot, ABC retooled the series as The Conners, making the decision to kill Roseanne’s character off-screen by an opioid overdose.

RELATED:6 Reasons Dropping Roseanne Barr Saved The Conners

9Charlie Harper (Charlie Sheen) – Two and a Half Men

Charlie Sheen as Charlie Harper in Two and a Half Men.

The wildly successful sitcom Two and a Half Men was propelled by the sleazy charisma of Charlie Sheen’s Charlie Harper. It was the role that reinvigorated Sheen’s career and put him back in the spotlight, though not always for the best reasons. After a series of increasingly manic and strange public interviews and erratic behavior, the final straw came when Sheen started publicly disparaging show producer and co-creator Chuck Lorre. Charlie’s Two and a Half Men death came at the hands of a jealous lover, with it being revealed that she’d pushed him in front of a subway upon learning he’d cheated on her.

8Maude Flanders (Maggie Roswell) – The Simpsons

Maude Flanders in The Simpsons

Tumult can happen on animated TV series, too. That’s certainly the case for The Simpsons, which saw voice actress Maggie Roswell depart in 1999. The actress voiced the character of Maude Flanders, but grew increasingly unhappy with her pay. At the time, Roswell was making $1-2,000 an episode but was paying out of pocket for all her flights back and forth between Denver and Los Angeles for the recording sessions. She asked for an increase to $6,000 per episode, but when execs only offered her a paltry $150 raise, she left. Voice actress Marcia Mitzman Gaven was hired to replace her, but one of Roswell’s characters, Maude Flanders, was killed off in the episode “Alone Again, Natura-Diddily.”

7Pierce Hawthorne (Chevy Chase) in Community

Chevy Chase Community

Chevy Chase’s infamously bad behavior on the set of Community has become Hollywood legend. Though Chase was great on the show as the character of Pierce Hawthorne, Chase was incredibly difficult to work with on set and rubbed his coworkers the wrong way. He publicly complained about the show and clashed with show creator Dan Harmon, leading to Harmon exiting the show in season 4, though the issues started much earlier. After he uttered a racial slur during a lengthy rant on set, NBC worked out a deal with Chevy Chase to kill off Community‘s Pierce Hawthorne and the actor exited the show, much to the relief of all parties.

6Murray Goldberg (Jeff Garlin) – The Goldbergs

Jeff Garlin as Murray on The Goldbergs sitting in a chair

Another actor that had years of problematic behavior on set before being let go was The Goldbergs‘ Jeff Garlin. Garlin played patriarch Murray Goldberg, and was a main part of the show. Garlin reportedly caused some problems on set with off-color jokes and offensive language that crossed the line with a number of his costars, particularly his female costars. After a strangely critical Vanity Fair interview and an increasing unwillingness to smooth things over with those on set, Garlin was let go after a 3-year-long HR investigation. The Goldbergs season 10 saw the death of Murray unfold off-screen.

5Dr. Derek Shepherd (Patrick Dempsey) – Grey’s Anatomy

Derek Shepherd looking to the side in Grey's Anatomy

More bad behavior came in the form of Patrick Dempsey’s Dr. Derek Shepherd on the long-running medical drama Grey’s Anatomy. While Dempsey is hardly the only actor to exit Grey’s Anatomy due to behind-the-scenes drama, he is one of a few who found his character being killed off. In the book How to Save a Life: The Inside Story of Grey’s Anatomy, author Lynette Rice wrote that Dempsey was “terrorizing the set” after multiple clashes with star Ellen Pompeo and him and creator Shonda Rhimes being at each other’s throats. Derek was killed in Grey’s Anatomy season 11 when he sustained fatal head injuries from a car crash.

RELATED:Why Grey’s Anatomy Killing Off Derek Shepherd Was Necessary Explained By Creator Shonda Rhimes

4Dale Horvath (Jeffrey DeMunn) – The Walking Dead

dale killed in the walking dead

In a rare twist, actor Jeffrey DeMunn initiated the death of his Walking Dead character, Dale. Though his departure did involve behind-the-scenes drama, it wasn’t drama that directly involved him. Instead, he quit after AMC let go of original showrunner Frank Darabont. Darabont had been well-liked by the cast and crew, but when AMC decided to cut The Walking Dead’s budget in order to focus on Mad Men, Darabont wasn’t happy. AMC decided to fire him halfway through the season. DeMunn was so incensed at the way they treated his friend that he asked for his character to be killed off:

Dale’s death was my decision. I was furious about how Frank was pushed out of the show. I spent a week not being able to take a full breath. And then I realized, ‘Oh, I can quit.’ So I called them and said, ‘It’s a zombie show. Kill me. I don’t want to do this anymore.’ It was an immense relief to me.

3Prue Halliwell (Shannen Doherty) – Charmed

An image of Prue in Charmed looking serious

TV audiences of a certain age will remember the pre-internet drama of the original run of Charmed, which ran from 1998-2006 on the WB. The three Halliwell sisters, Prue, Piper, and Phoebe, were the magical sisters and protagonists of the show. However, Prue Halliwell was killed off in Charmed season 3 after issues between actress Shannen Doherty and Phoebe actress Alyssa Milano grew into a full-on feud behind-the-scenes. Initially, Prue Halliwell’s death on Charmed at the hands of the demon Shax was left open-ended as producers thought about recasting the character. But when two popular actresses passed on the role, the decision was made for her death to be permanent.

2Tasha Yar (Denise Crosby) – Star Trek: The Next Generation

Star Trek TNG Tasha Yar

Though she made an impact on the show, the character Tasha Yar was killed off just one season into Star Trek: The Next Generation. What started out as a promising role quickly turned into misery for actress Denise Crosby. TNG season 1 was a mess. Franchise creator Gene Roddenberry was in terrible health during the production of the first season, and the show saw a revolving carousel of showrunners and writers. It led to a series of poorly-written episodes and supporting characters being completely sidelined. After growing frustrated with a complete lack of character development, Crosby asked to be let out of her contract. Tasha Yar was killed off, making her the first Star Trek character to die.

RELATED:TNG: Tasha Yar’s Death, Alternate Reality & Romulan Daughter Explained

1Martin Riggs (Clayne Crawford) – Lethal Weapon

Clayne Crawford as Martin Riggs in Lethal Weapon FOX

Like a number of others on this list, Clayne Crawford saw his character, Martin Riggs, being killed off on the 2016 TV reboot of Lethal Weapon due to problematic on-set behavior. The actor was fired after Lethal Weapon season 2 after a series of incidents that got him repeated warnings, including one in which co-star Damon Wayans was hit with a piece of shrapnel during shooting an episode that Crawford himself was directing. However, after he refused to change his behavior, Fox and Warner Bros. had no choice but to let Crawford go. Riggs was killed off after receiving multiple fatal gunshot wounds in a shootout in season 2.

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