In the fourth season of House, M.D., where House started with 30 trainee doctors and fired a few people every day in the show, even the actors didn't know who was going to be around on the next week's episode. The writers were making up decisions about which character would get fired in-show at the last minute, so the actors didn't know if they'd remain on the show or not until the end of a week of filming (source).
Remember when Maude Flanders from The Simpsons died via a volley from a t-shirt cannon brigade? Maggie Roswell, the voice actress for Maude, got into a payment dispute with the show -- she lived out of state and had to pay for her own flight to LA and wanted a raise to compensate those expenses. The show found it cheaper to just kill her off (source).
Here's a sad one. In the 1970s Sesame Street added their first new "human" character (as in not a puppet). Northern Calloway played the character David. David was supposed to be the hip older brother type. At a time when a lot of inner city kids were turning to drugs here was Sesame Street providing a more positive role model. He worked at Mr. Hooper's Store and was going to college to get a law degree. Later he took over Mr. Hooper's Store. Popular character who got less and less air time until he just disappeared one day. Why? Well, he was secretly bipolar. He took lithium for it, which helped, but also took cocaine which did not. His mental health continued to deteriorate until one day he went on a rampage in Nashville wearing only a Superman t-shirt. He beat a woman with an iron rod and smashed windows. When he was arrested he screamed he was David from Sesame Street and they were trying to kill him. He bounced in and out of institutions for the rest of his life. He actually died in a mental hospital in 1990 after a prolonged psychotic episode (source).
The executioner in Game of Thrones was quietly written out of the show because the actor has terminal cancer and opted to record more music and tour with his rock band (source).
Paul Schneider said something like he felt as if his character didn't have enough depth for him to be interested in the show's storyline anymore, and so he left... don't know if it's hiding an even deeper explanation on why he left or not though (source).
Dale from The Walking Dead, played by Jeffrey DeMunn. Jeffrey DeMunn was loyal to Frank Darabont in TWD fiasco in Season 2. So when Frank Darabont got fired, he didn't want to act on TWD anymore. So they killed his character. It's pretty apparent too, since his death is completely ridiculous. He's walking in an open field. And he comes across a cow thats been torn open by a walker. He turns around and theres a walker RIGHT THERE!! How did the walker get there so fast? They don't run, they only shuffle around. There weren't any bushes, trees or tall grass for the walker to hide behind. He just sort of apparates behind Dale. It's one of the stupider deaths on the show (source).
Dean Forester (Jared Padalecki) from Gilmore Girls, left to be Dean's brother, Sam Winchester for Supernatural (source).
Peggy Bundy was pregnant in a later season of Married With Children because Katey Sagal was too. When the actress suffered a stillbirth they kindly wrote into the show that the pregnancy had all been a dream. It would have been too painful for her to have to come to work every day and hold a baby after losing her own (source).
I'm pretty sure Chef was killed off on South Park because the voice actor, a Scientologist, had a problem with the fact that Parker and Stone lampooned Scientology in one episode. I'll always miss his cheery "Hello there, children!" :( (source).
The youngest daughter Judy in Family Matters, apparently her parents were trying to get more money from the contract and when they refused to pay they just left the show (source).
Kyra from the show Reba (Scarlett Pomers) left the show, with the full support of the cast, mid-season in 2005 to get treatment for anorexia. She was 5'2" and weighed only 73 pounds. After completing treatment and getting her weight back up and life back together she returned to the show. She walks into the house and someone asks, "Hey, where have you been?" To which she replied, "I went to get something to eat!" (source).
Janet Hubert - The original Aunt Viv in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air was fired from the show after violating her contract by getting pregnant. She wasn't written off but she was replaced by Daphene Maxwell Reed in the last 3 seasons. Also because she hated Will Smith and they would frequently disagree with each other. Will Smith would make a lot of jokes on the color of her skin. Like. 'No one's going to believe you're the mother to these kids, you're too dark' (source).
Lisa Bonet was written off of The Cosby Show for 'creative differences,' but in reality it was because she was in Angel Heart and had done a topless spread in a magazine. It didn't fit with Cosby's vision so she was fired (source).
Topher Grace and Aston Kutcher left That 70's Show because they were bored of the long running show and wanted to move on to other projects. Thats why Eric went to Africa and Kelso got a job in Chicago. Topher got a role in Spider-Man 3 (source).
Michelle Rodriguez (Ana Lucia) and Cynthia Watros (Libby) were written out of Lost--killed off--because of DUI arrests (source).
Mandy Patinkin left the cast of Criminal Minds because the content in the show was getting too dark and morbid for him, so they simply retired his character (since he was old anyway.) "The biggest public mistake I ever made was that I chose to do Criminal Minds in the first place," Patinkin said. "I thought it was something very different. I never thought they were going to kill and rape all these women every night, every day, week after week, year after year. It was very destructive to my soul and my personality" (source).
The actor who played Preston Burke on Grey's Anatomy was written out of the show after he said some homophobic slurs towards a gay actor on set (source).
They told us Steve left to go to college. He really left because the actor was going bald. (He also had some musical interests he wanted to explore, but the actor said, "Mostly because I refused to lose my hair on a kid's TV show, and it was happening fast.") I missed Steve so much. Blue's Clues wasn't the same after that (source).
William Hartnell left Doctor Who because he had arteriosclerosis and his health was declining to the point where he couldn't keep up with a TV acting schedule. The producers came up with the idea that the Doctor could regenerate into a new body, because the show was doing well and they wanted to keep it going. Hartnell was apparently the one who suggested Patrick Troughton should take over the role. So ultimately Hartnell's illness inspired the premise gimmick that would make the show (and its hero) effectively immortal (source).
On _Seinfeld _Elaine's gruff father only appeared once because he made Jerry nervous in real life (source).
In the UK show Misfits the character Kelly was written off because the actor in real life had to do community service. For racially aggravated assault, apparently. Just in case it wasn't in-character enough already (source).
Damon Wayans was allegedly fired from Saturday Night Live DURING the show (between the open and the goodnights) because, sick of playing underwritten side characters, he came out for a sketch and played his bit part as an extremely effeminate man without any prior indication that he would (source).
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