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).
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