Actors Who Got Out of their Million-Dollar Contracts Early

By Jake Schroeder
Actors Who Got Out of their Million-Dollar Contracts Early
Amy Carlson ©Andrew H. Walker/​Shutterstock

It’s not the easiest thing in the world to get work in Hollywood, and the actors on this list all managed to snag big roles on major shows including Grey’s Anatomy, The Office, Bones, Breaking Bad, and more. But even the biggest Disney stars just want to move on at some point.

Like any work-employer agreement, these actors all signed valuable contracts with networks and executives to secure their work commitment to their respective show – including how long they’d appear on the show. But in many cases – as you’ll soon see – these actors found creative ways to actually get out of those contracts before they were supposed to.

Dean Norris

Dean Norris
Dean Norris Breaking Bad @FacesInFrames / Twitter.com

Left: Breaking Bad
Reason: New Project (Under the Dome)
Est. Salary Loss: $150,000 per episode*

As fans of Breaking Bad know, the final season of the tense thriller was split into two parts. The production scheduling was done that way to align with Dean Norris’ schedule. Norris played Hank Schrader, a DEA agent. He wanted to be written off so that he could pursue another project, Under the Dome, a Stephen King project.

Norris didn’t want to have to choose between Under the Dome and Breaking Bad (which also pitted him against executives at Sony Corp ADR’s TV division) so producers helped him do both. He has a lot on his plate, as he recently announced in March of 2020 that he would be taking his Hank Schrader role to the show Better Call Saul.

Dan Stevens

Dan Stevens
Dan Stevens Downton Abbey @favperioddrama / Twitter.com

Left: Downton Abbey
Reason: Wanted to Pursue Other Opportunities 
Est. Salary Loss: $50,000-$100,000 per episode*


Dan Stevens’ much-loved Downton Abbey character, Matthew Crawley, was killed off in the third season, and fans were devastated. As Town and Country Mag put it, Stevens is “still apologizing” for his departure, as DA fans have been slow to move on. Producers of DA said that Crawley’s accident was the only exit that would be “credible” for his character.

Stevens revealed that he asked for the write-off, as he didn’t want to renew his contract. Instead, he wanted to pursue other acting ventures. One such role included a memorable appearance on the recent Netflix comedy Eurovision.

T. R. Knight

T. R. Knight
T. R. Knight Grey’s Anatomy @StarTribune / Twitter.com

Left: Grey’s Anatomy
Reason: Creative Differences
Est. Salary Loss: $350,000 per episode*


Another death that rocked television fans took place on the show Grey’s Anatomy. T.R. Knight’s character was struck by tragedy out of seemingly nowhere. But the reason for Knight’s request to leave the exit the hit show was a little different than the other actors’ thus far. Knight worked for five seasons on Grey’s before it was announced that he wouldn’t return for season six.

Knight said that he left for several reasons, one of which stemmed from creative differences between him and show creator Shonda Rhimes. Given the show’s immense popularity, contract negotiations between Knight and the Disney-owned ABC network eventually resulted in his early departure from the hit series.

Mclean Stevenson

Mclean Stevenson
Mclean Stevenson M*A*S*H @LegacyObits / Twitter.com

Left: M*A*S*H
Reason: Wanted a Starring Role
Est. Salary Loss: $100,000 per episode*


Mclean Stevenson was a major part of the Viacom-owned CBS smash ensemble M*A*S*H. But the actor told M*A*S*H writer Ken Levine that for him, being a small part of an ensemble just wasn’t enough. He wanted to pursue a project that saw him in a starring role.

Levine acquiesced, and Stevenson was written out of the show in the third season’s finale. While Stevenson went on to appear in memorable sitcoms like The Mclean Stevenson Show, Condo, Hello Larry, and In the Beginning, he never quite found the star vehicle he’d been searching for.

Sigourney Weaver

Sigourney Weaver
Sigourney Weaver Aliens Franchise @CulturalTaiwan / Twitter.com

Left: The Aliens Franchise
Reason: Wanted to Pursue Other Acting Ventures (But May Return)
Est. Salary Loss: $1 million per movie*


Sigourney Weaver’s departure from the Alien franchise might not be permanent, as she hinted at a potential return a few years ago. However, she did leave the franchise for a little while to pursue other projects. For the first Alien film, Fox paid her only $35,000 for what would quickly become a franchise-defining performance.

James Cameron, the director behind the second movie in the franchise, insisted that she get paid more for the sequel. He negotiated her salary to $1 million, as well as a share of the profits. Weaver said that she was surprised at how Alien took off. She agreed to a low salary for the first movie because she thought it was just a “small” film.

Leonard Nimoy

Leonard Nimoy
Leonard Nimoy STAR TREK @ScreenwriterM / Twitter.com

Left: Star Trek
Reason: He Lost Interest, Wanted to Pursue Other Projects
Est. Salary Loss: $2.5 million per franchise movie*


William Shatner recently spoke about Leonard Nimoy’s departure from the acclaimed, Comcast-owned NBC series Star Trek. Nimoy personally oversaw his concluding arc as Dr. Spock, directed his own death scene in Wrath of Khan. But at the time, none of Nimoy’s cast mates knew he was planning to leave the franchise for good.

Nicholas Meyer, the director and one of the few people who knew of Nimoy’s decision (in addition to Harve Bennett), said that the reason Nimoy left was because he was “ambivalent” about the role and was looking to move on. There are no hard feelings, however, and Shatner said that their relationship was “all great.”

Dominic Monaghan

Dominic Monaghan
Dominic Monaghan Lost @TheWrap / Twitter.com

Left: Lost
Reason: Long work hours
Est. Salary Loss: $30,000 per episode*


Lost was one of the most confusing (and highly-watched) drama-thrillers on television. Dominic Monaghan starred as Charlie on the show, and he apparently asked to leave after just thirteen episodes. Disney financiers and ABC execs reached an agreement with Monaghan to conclude his contract early after the third season, asking writers to re-write his arc to give his character a premature demise.

Monaghan wanted to leave because the “pressure” of the show was harming his experience actually making it. The series director, Damon Lindelof, said that he cried over the loss of Monaghan’s character. He also said he was surprised the show lasted as long as it did, and he credited the Internet fandom for keeping it going and “spurring” the show’s creators on.

Ruby Rose

Ruby Rose
Ruby Rose Batwoman @IGN / Twitter.com

Left: Batwoman
Reason: Long Work Hours
Est. Salary Loss: $150,000 per episode*


Ruby Rose surprised everyone when she announced that she would be leaving Batwoman after just one season. In addition to Batwoman, which is an Arrowverse show, Rose was also known for her role on the beloved Netflix series Orange is the New Black. She didn’t star in the show, but she had a supporting role that gained her a lot of visibility.

However, Rose was not accustomed to the long hours that came from a starring role. She felt Batwoman was simply too demanding, and gracefully asked producers to let her leave the show. The studio agreed, and recently recast Javicia Leslie in the part.

John Francis Daley

John Francis Daley
John Francis Daley Bones @IDigBonesTV / Twitter.com

Left: Bones
Reason: New Project (Directing His Own Screenplay)
Est. Salary Loss: $30,000-$40,000 per episode*


John Francis Daley played the role of Lance Sweets for seven years on the acclaimed Fox crime drama Bones. The season ten opener of the show came out with a bang, as Sweets was on the verge of having a kid with his girlfriend, Daisy, when he was killed. He’d gotten too involved in the FBI conspiracy.

Fans were saddened by Daley’s departure, but what they might not know is that Daley asked to be written off the show. Daley is a successful comedy writer (he wrote Horrible Bosses, The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, and more), and he wanted to be freed up to direct one of his own screenplays. 

Emily Bett Rickards

Emily Bett Rickards
John Francis Daley Bones @IDigBonesTV / Twitter.com

Left: Arrow
Reason: Contract Ended and She Wanted to Move On
Est. Salary Loss: $40,000 per episode*


Emily Bett Rickards didn’t make the decision to leave Arrow lightly, and she asked to be written off the show before her contract was up. The producers chose to wait until her contract expired before giving her an ending. Rickards played Felicity Smoak on the Viacom-owned CW show, a role that she said took “seven years of [her] twenties.”

Rickards said that she felt bad leaving, as people had “fall[en] in love” with the character, making it hard to “say goodbye”. However, she wanted to move on and pursue other acting ventures, and she felt like seven seasons on the hit series was more than enough.

Christopher Meloni

Christopher Meloni
Christopher Meloni Law & Order: SVU @JarettSays / Tiwtter.com

Left: Law & Order: SVU
Reason: Contract Negotiations Fell Through (But He Is Returning Soon)
Est. Salary Loss: $400,000 per episode*


Elliott Stabler, played by Christopher Meloni, was abruptly written off of Law & Order: SVU when his character met a sudden and grisly demise. But the behind-the-scenes explanation for the on-screen drama stemmed from simple contract negotiations that failed to conclude.

Meloni began negotiating for a higher salary at the beginning of season twelve, but the network wasn’t willing to meet him where he wanted. So, Meloni’s character was written off during the finale instead. But rejoice, Law & Order fans: Stabler is set to make his return to the franchise! Good Housekeeping announced in April of 2020 that he was going to be making a comeback on SVU.

Andrew Lincoln

Andrew Lincoln
Andrew Lincoln The Walking Dead @GoldDerby / Twitter.com

Left: The Walking Dead
Reason: Wanted to Spend More Time with His Family
Est. Salary Loss: $1 million per episode*


Fans might not know this, but Andrew Lincoln, who plays Rick Grimes on The Walking Dead, is actually British. He lives in England when he is not filming the show. His time on The Walking Dead kept him away from his wife and kids for about half a year, as he had to return to Georgia to film.

Lincoln decided that he didn’t like being away from his family so much, so he asked to be written off the show. Lincoln left in season nine. In July of 2019, he announced that he would return, but not for the AMC drama. Instead, he would reprise his role for three TV movies.

Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje

Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje Lost @screenrant / Twitter.com

Left: Lost
Reason: Wanted to Return to London, Family Issues
Est. Salary Loss: $30,000 per episode*


Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje played Eko on Lost. He was originally going to be on the show for four seasons, according to producers, but the actor wanted out of his contract after just one season. He asked to be let off the island after his parents died. He wanted to move back to London, England and be with his family.

Producers agreed. Akinnuoye-Agbaje was offered a guest role on the show’s finale, but he turned it down. The actor has had no shortage of roles, and he was in Suicide Squad back in 2016. The London native also had a role in Thor: The Dark World. 

Josh Charles

Left: The Good Wife
Reason: Wanted to Move On and Get Married
Est. Salary Loss: $100,000 per episode*

Josh Charles
Josh Charles The Good Wife @Reductress / Twitter.com

Josh Charles’ departure from The Good Wife was a year in the making. Charles’ contract expired with the show, and he proposed to his now-wife around the time that he had to make the decision of whether to return. He chose not to return to The Good Wife, and his character, Will Gardner, was written off.

Gardner being killed off was TGW’s big twist. As The New York Times, put it, his death caused viewers to “gasp.” Clearly audiences were very sad to see this beloved character go.

Raymond Cruz

Raymond Cruz
Raymond Cruz Breaking Bad @mxdwnmovies / Twitter.com

Left: Breaking Bad
Reason: The Show Was Draining to Him 
Est. Salary Loss: $100,000 per episode*


Raymond Cruz played Tuco Salamanca on Breaking Bad, and he made the character his own, turning Tuco into a psychotic live wire. But Cruz said that he actually asked to be written off the show because he felt physically too drained by the filming.

He said that the twelve-to-fourteen-hour days on set were “physically, emotionally, and mentally” exhausting. When Tuco’s character was killed off, Cruz said he was “happy.” Cruz also said he struggled with the brutality of Tuco, a role he reprised for the Breaking Bad spinoff, Better Call Saul.

Connie Britton

Connie Britton
Connie Britton Nashville @THR / Twitter.com

Left: Nashville
Reason: Creative Differences, Wanted to Move On
Est. Salary Loss: $100,000 per episode*


Connie Britton left Nashville due to “creative differences.” The show was moved from ABC, a major network, to CMT, and that was a major factor in her decision. Britton wanted to move on, and the creative differences with her character, the plot’s direction, and the station made her feel “torn” because she loved Nashville.

Nashville was canceled after six seasons. The show premiered with great reviews and decent ratings, but the years took a toll on the drama. ABC canceled the show after four seasons, and fans (who call themselves “Nashies”) pressured CMT to pick it up, which it did for two seasons before pulling the plug.

Harrison Ford

Harrison Ford
Harrison Ford Star Wars @vanityfair / Twitter.com

Left: Star Wars
Reason: Worried About Typecasting
Est. Salary Loss: $20 million*


Harrison Ford was one of the best things about the Star Wars franchise, and he reportedly wanted out because he was worried that his role as Han Solo would lead to him being “typecast.” He was concerned that he would only ever be offered “tough guy, action hero” roles.

His Indiana Jones parts showed that he abandoned his fear of typecasting, and he did return to the franchise briefly. He pitched the idea of a guest appearance as Han Solo in The Rise of Skywalker, but he did so only with the promise of not being listed in the credits or previews, making his appearance a total surprise.

Patrick Dempsey

Patrick Dempsey
Patrick Dempsey Grey's Anatomy @yanisherrr / Twitter.com

Left: Grey’s Anatomy
Reason: Wanted to Focus on His Family/Racing
Est. Salary Loss: $400,000 per episode*


Patrick Dempsey talked about his request to leave Grey’s Anatomy in a 2019 interview with People Magazine. Dempsey became famous for his role as the hunky Derek on the show. He reportedly asked to leave because he wanted to focus on his family, as well as his auto-racing career.

Dempsey told People that he “probably should have moved on” a few seasons earlier. He said that there were no hard feelings between him and show creator Shonda Rhimes, and he called the decision “amicable.” Dempsey described his departure from Grey’s as merely the “end of a chapter” in his life.

Sasha Alexander

Sasha Alexander
Sasha Alexander NCIS @amateursIeuth / Twitter.com

Left: NCIS
Reason: The Work Was Too Hard
Est. Salary Loss: $100,000 per episode*


Sasha Alexander (who played Caitlin Todd on NCIS) left NCIS for much the same reason that Ruby Rose departed the Batwoman series: the work was too taxing. Producers later recalled how Alexander simply explained that the workload for NCIS was too physically and mentally demanding for her to continue.

Alexander was written off the show. The official explanation that the network gave for her character’s departure was that she was released from her contract in order to “pursue other opportunities.” In an interview with TV Guide, Alexander affirmed that she had no regrets about leaving the series. 

Justin Chambers

Justin Chambers
Justin Chambers Grey’s Anatomy @TheAVClub / Twitter.com

Left: Grey’s Anatomy
Reason: Wanted to Diversify His Acting Roles
Est. Salary Loss: $125,000 per episode*


Another Grey’s Anatomy departure was that of Justin Chambers, who was on the show for fifteen years. His exit came in early 2020, and Chambers said that there was “no good time” to leave, and he felt that Grey’s Anatomy had “defined [his] life” for the better part of two decades.

Reportedly, Chambers left because he wanted to diversify his acting roles. He wanted new parts that didn’t revolve around medical drama. A representative for the network, ABC, toldCNN about his departure in January of 2020. Fans were sad to see him go, and his last appearance was on the episode “My Shot,” which aired in November of 2019.

Steve Carrell

Steve Carrell
Steve Carrell The Office @dreamspay747 / Twitter.com

Left: The Office
Reason: NBC Didn’t Renew His Contract
Est. Salary Loss: $175,000 per episode*


Fans of The Office were devastated when Michael Scott, played by Steve Carrell, left the show, leaving a huge void that led to declining ratings and the show’s cancelation after season nine. Carrell left the show in season seven, and, at the time, it was thought that he left so he could focus on his film career.

However, a new book, released in spring of 2020, reveals that that wasn’t the reason. Apparently, his contract was up with NBC. He wanted a raise, and NBC said no, refusing to renew his contract. At the time, NBC thought the show would survive without Michael Scott, but it ended up losing massive amounts of viewers.

Mischa Barton

Mischa Barton
Mischa Barton The O.C. @thegoods / Twitter.com

Left: The O.C.
Reason: Felt the Character Had Run Her Course, Wanted to Pursue Other Projects
Est. Salary Loss: $15,000-$25,000 per episode*


Mischa Barton left The O.C. because she wanted to pursue other acting ventures, and she had grown tired of the show. Barton maintains that the decision was hers, and she asked to be written off. She played the role of the self-destructive Marissa Cooper, who was killed off in a car accident.

The writers originally wanted the character to just move away to a new town. But Barton said that it wasn’t in keeping with the spirit of the character, who was, as she put it, “a burnout” who would never “sail off into the sunset.”

Jonathan Taylor Thomas

Jonathan Taylor Thomas
Jonathan Taylor Thomas Home Improvement @_hawktheslayer / Twitter.com

Left: Home Improvement
Reason: Wanted to Focus on His Schooling
Est. Salary Loss: $500,000 per episode*


Jonathan Taylor Thomas starred as Randy on Home Improvement, and he left the show in order to focus more on his schooling. Taylor Thomas would later leave Hollywood altogether, much to the chagrin of millions of loving fans worldwide.

In an interview in 2013, Thomas said that he had no regrets about walking away from Hollywood. He said that he’d been “going nonstop” since he was eight years old. Thomas actually reunited with his former Home Improvement dad Tim Allen on Allen’s latest series, Last Man Standing.

Amy Carlson

Amy Carlson
Amy Carlson Blue Bloods @hollyoutbreak / Twitter.com

Left: Blue Bloods
Reason: Contract was Ending, Wanted to Move On
Est. Salary Loss: $200,000 per episode*


Amy Carlson confirmed that she left Blue Bloods on her Instagram in 2018. She was killed off in a helicopter crash on the show. Carlson later said that the reason she left her role as Linda, Danny Reagan’s wife, was because she wanted to do something new with her acting career.

Fans were upset that Carlson’s death occurred between seasons. Carlson said that Donny Wahlberg, who played Danny Reagan on the show, was “generous” and “sweet about her departure.” Carlson said that she understood that her death surprised her fans and castmates, but her contract was up and she simply wanted to move along.

Topher Grace

Topher Grace
Topher Grace That 70'S Show @RandleTD / Twitter.com

Left: That 70’S Show
Reason: Wanted to Pursue a Movie Career
Est. Salary Loss: $700,000 per episode*


Topher Grace was a big part of That ‘70s Show, and he played the role of Eric. Grace asked to be written off the show because he wanted to develop his movie career, and the demanding schedule for filming the sitcom got in the way of him acquiring movie gigs.

Grace’s departure from the show caused ratings to drop. Grace’s exit was followed by Ashton Kutcher leaving, and That ‘70s Show was canceled shortly after. The actor has managed to snag roles in big movies like Spider-Man 3, BlacKkKlansman, Breakthrough, Take Me Home Tonight, and more, so his decision to leave has apparently paid off.

Nicollette Sheridan

Nicollette Sheridan
Nicollette Sheridan Dynasty @digitalspy / Twitter.com

Left: Dynasty
Reason: Family Health Emergency
Est. Salary Loss: $200,000 per episode*


The reasons for Nicollette Sheridan’s departure from Desperate Housewives versus her reasons for departing Dynasty were very different. When Sheridan was on Housewives, she left because writers decided to kill off Edie Britt, her character. However, when she was cast for the role of Alexis Carrington, she originally never intended to leave.

That is, until a family emergency struck, and she found that she had to leave for the sake of her mother, who was seriously ill at the time. Sheridan left in March of 2019, and a new actress was cast in her place to play the manipulative Alexis.

Suzanne Somers

Suzanne Somers
Suzanne Somers Three’s Company @USATODAY / Twitter.com

Left: Three’s Company
Reason: Contract Dispute
Est. Salary Loss: $35,000 per episode*


Suzanne Somers charmed TV audiences with her character, Chrissy Snow. Thus fans were devastated when Somers left Three’s Company following failed contract renegotiations with ABC.

Somers, at the time, was getting paid just $30,000 per episode. She has since stated that she was seeking a salary boost as part of her negotiations, which were denied by the network. Somers then left Three’s Company, with her character soon being recast by Jenilee Harrison.

Sophia Bush

Sophia Bush
Sophia Bush Chicago P.D @CinemaBlend / Youtube.com

Left: Chicago P.D.
Reason: Exhausting working conditions
Est. Salary Loss: $250,000 per episode*


Sophia Bush left Chicago P.D., stunning fans who had come to love her character on the beloved cop drama. Bush opened up more about her reasons for departing the series while on a podcast with Dax Shephard.

Bush stated that while she had “programmed” herself to push through the filming, the conditions were simply too exhausting for her to go on. Though Bush said that there were some parts of filming Chicago P.D. that she liked and would miss, her Season 4 departure was the right thing to do for her mental health. 

Emmy Rossum

Emmy Rossum
Emmy Rossum Shameless @dogvillc / Twitter.com

Left: Shameless
Reason: Wanted to Pursue Other Projects
Est. Salary Loss: $350,000 per episode*


Emmy Rossum played the head of the Shameless clan for nine years, and she revealed her reason for her shocking departure in an emotional Facebook post. Rossum stated that she loved her castmates, who had become like her family. She thanked John Wells in particular for helping her grow as an actress.

Rossum stated that she felt she wanted to move on from Shameless and pursue other roles. It was a surprise that the dark comedy lasted as long as it did, and she wanted to do other things. Rossum’s character was written off after winning a large sum of money. 

Shemar Moore

Shemar Moore
Shemar Moore Criminal Minds @jasonandmoe / Twitter.com

Left: Criminal Minds
Reason: Wanted to Pursue “Other Avenues” Of Life
Est. Salary Loss: $100,000 per episode*


Shemar Moore played Derek Morgan on Criminal Minds, and he was a fan favorite for the many years he spent with the franchise. He stated he had “grown” by playing Derek, and he would miss Criminal Minds and his character; in fact, he “already” did. Moore left Criminal Minds to have a personal life.

He told TV Guide more about his decision to leave, stating that he wanted to “pursue” other ventures in life, such as getting married, having kids, and traveling. Criminal Minds’ shooting schedule took up tons of time, and he felt he wasn’t getting to have a personal life.

Damon Wayans

Damon Wayans
Damon Wayans Lethal Weapon @IndieWire / Twitter.com

Left: Lethal Weapon
Reason: Health Reasons
Est. Salary Loss: $150,000 per episode*


Lethal Weapon was rocked when Damon Wayans, who played the role of Roger Murtaugh, announced that he was quitting the show. He stated that he was leaving due to “health reasons,” and he left in 2018 after shooting wrapped. He was under contract, so leaving was a little tricky.

Based on the original hit film, Lethal Weapon would see numerous cast swap-outs during its relatively short three seasons on Fox. The show reached its conclusion in 2019, and Wayans has since returned to acting in (and often producing) feature films.

Pauley Perrette

Pauley Perrette
Pauley Perrette NCIS @enews / Twitter.com

Left: NCIS
Reason: Cast Disputes
Est. Salary Loss: $22 million a season*


Pauley Perrette was a fan favorite on NCIS, memorably playing quirky forensic examiner Abby. But her sudden departure from the show left fans puzzled – especially given her astronomical salary she was seemingly giving up.

As later revealed by Perrett herself on Twitter, her departure was due to growing disputes with the rest of the cast – often on a creative level. Seeking fulfillment elsewhere, Perrette has sadly stated that she will likely never return to the hit series.

Lecy Goranson

Lecy Goranson
Lecy Goranson Roseanne @princennamdii / Twitter.com

Left: Roseanne
Reason: Left for College
Est. Salary Loss: $250,000 per episode*


There were a lot of different Beckys on Roseanne, but Lecy Goranson was the first (and, according to many fans, the favorite). Lecy left her role as Becky Conner at the end of the fourth season so that she could attend Vassar College as a full-time student. However, she wasn’t gone for good.

Goranson returned for the final season before leaving again. Roseanne did get a reboot, to which Lecy was attached, but that was cut short following the departure of original creator (and star) Roseanne Barr.

David Caruso

David Caruso
David Caruso NYPD Blue @MargaretY1234 / Twitter.com

Left: NYPD Blue
Reason: Money Disputes/Desire to Act in Movies
Est. Salary Loss: $1.05 million per episode*


NYPD Blue was a groundbreaking cop show. It was praised for its grittiness and realness, and it was also somewhat controversial for its depictions of alcoholism and nudity. David Caruso won a Golden Globe in 1994 for his role on the edgy show.

However, despite this accolade, Caruso did not stick around. He left after season two’s fourth episode for two main reasons. First, he left because he wanted a higher salary and the network said no. Second, he left because he wanted to start a movie career. All of this was detailed in Steven Bochco’s new memoir.

Nina Dobrev

Nina Dobrev
Nina Dobrev The Vampire Diaries @SoundOfSeries / Twitter.com

Left: The Vampire Diaries
Reason: Felt the Character Had Run Her Course
Est. Salary Loss: $40,000 per episode*


Nina Dobrev left Vampire Diaries after the sixth season’s finale. Many fans jumped on the assumption that she left because of her breakup with co-star Ian Somerhalder, who was Damon on the show. Turns out, that rumor was incorrect, as the two are still good friends and wouldn’t have objected to working together longer.

The real reason Dobrev left was that she “knew” she wanted her character to only have a “six-season adventure” and no longer. She felt as though Elena, her character, had completed her journey on the show, and she wanted to go out on top.

Shelley Long

Shelley Long
Shelley Long Cheers @OldSchool80s / Twitter.com

Left: Cheers
Reason: To Try Movie Acting, Didn’t Like Frasier
Est. Salary Loss: $300,000 per episode*


Shelley Long left Cheers on December 15, 1986. Apparently, she decided that her character, Diane, had run its course. She and Ted Danson, her co-star, had done “really terrific work” together on the show, according to Long, but she wanted to move on to try her hand at movie acting.

The final episode of Cheers with Long in it aired on May 7, 1987. Though Danson signed on for another season (through 1988), Long departed. Another reason was, according to Kelsey Grammer, her co-star, her dislike of the character Frasier and anger that he was made a regular. She tried to get many of his funny one-liners cut from the script. 

Farrah Fawcett

Farrah Fawcett
Farrah Fawcett Charlie’s Angels @Jeannie Crockett / Pinterest.com

Left: Charlie’s Angels
Reason: Unhappy with Her On-Screen Portrayal
Est. Salary Loss: $40,000 per episode*


Farrah Fawcett became a superstar from her performance in Charlie’s Angels, and she especially was a fan favorite. Her famous swimsuit poster from 1976 led to her receiving the most fan mail out of the Angels, as well as the most media coverage. She also gained critical acclaim for her role.

However, Fawcett later admitted that she left the show because she was unhappy with how the show portrayed her, as well as the other Angels, to audiences. She left after just one season, with her last appearance taking place in May of 1977.

Micheal Keaton

Micheal Keaton
Micheal Keaton Batman Franchise @AlanaBio / Twitter.com

Left: The Batman Franchise
Reason: Felt loyalty to Previous Director
Est. Salary Loss: $6 million per movie*


Michael Keaton is many peoples’ favorite Batman (tied with Christian Bale), and his iconic portrayal of the dark superhero in Batman Returns gained him critical acclaim. But Keaton hung up the Bat cape after director Tim Burton was replaced for the third film, Batman Forever.

Director Joel Schumacher then stepped in to continue the Batman franchise. Out of loyalty to Burton’s original inception of the Bat, Keaton decided to give the part to another actor – and thus Val Kilmer memorable stepped in to answer the Bat signal.

Pamela Anderson

Pamela Anderson
Pamela Anderson Baywatch @PamelaAndersonOnlineSite / Facebook.com

Left: Baywatch
Reason: Wanted to Pursue Other Opportunities
Est. Salary Loss: $200,000 per episode*


Pamela Anderson became famous for her role as CJ Parker on Baywatch, a role she held from season three until season seven. She spent four years on the show and became a cultural icon for her blonde hair and red bathing suit. Anderson left after four years to pursue other ventures in modeling and acting.

However, there were no hard feelings, as Anderson happily reunited with her castmates years later for the reunion special, Baywatch: Hawaiian Wedding, which took place in 2003. Her character was written off the show, with CJ leaving to live in Mexico with a rock star.  

Crystal Reed

Crystal Reed
Crystal Reed Teen Wolf @MTVNEWS / Twitter.com

Left: Teen Wolf
Reason: Age Difference Between Reed and Her Character
Est. Salary Loss: $600,000 per episode*


It’s not unheard of for producers to hire someone in their twenties (or even thirties) to play a teenager, and Teen Wolf was no exception. Crystal Reed was cast as Allison Argent in Teen Wolf, and she asked to be written off the show in season three because she felt there was too much of a difference in age between herself in real life and her character.

Reed, who is 35, stated that she’d be fine with a role on a spin-off or reboot of Teen Wolf. Reed left to go on the show Gotham, portraying Sofia Falcone. 

Steve Guttenberg

Steve Guttenberg
Steve Guttenberg Police Academy @Randy Simpson / Pinterest.com

Left: Police Academy
Reason: Tired of the Role
Est. Salary Loss: $1 million per movie*


Sometimes, actors just get tired of playing a role and don’t want to be bothered with it anymore. That is what happened to Steve Guttenberg, who had a lead role in Police Academy. He grew disillusioned with the role and wanted to avoid being typecast.

When Police Academy producers approached him with a leading film role he declined. The producers later said he gave a “firm no.” He also turned down sequels. His character of Mahoney, at the end of the movie, would have made Lieutenant had Guttenberg stayed with the character. But alas, it wasn’t meant to be. 

Josh Bowman

Josh Bowman
Josh Bowman Revenge @BrianisTuft / Twitter.com

Left: Revenge
Reason: Wanted to Help the Story Move Forward
Est. Salary Loss: $250,000 per episode*


Josh Bowman’s death on Revenge stunned fans, but Bowman himself was the initiator behind the scene. Apparently, Bowman wanted to help the “story” of the show “move forward,” and he felt as though his character was prohibiting that. Bowman said that though it wasn’t “a good thing to leave a show,” he felt that he had to.

Bowman said that his ending was “fitting” and he was happy with the direction that the writers took for his character, Daniel Grayson. Fans didn’t agree, with Hollywood Life stating that he “shouldn’t have been killed off” and they were “not happy.”

Monica Raymond

Monica Raymond
Monica Raymond Chicago Fire @LION / Pinterest.com

Left: Chicago Fire
Reason: Wanted to Diversify Her Roles
Est. Salary Loss: $700,000 per episode*


Monica Raymund spent five years on Chicago Fire playing the role of Gabriela Dawson. She felt that five years was enough, and she wanted to “diversify” her acting career, taking more movie and television roles in other genres. Raymund did return for the midseason finale, showing that there were no hard feelings.

The character of Gabriela Dawson was strong-headed and hardworking. She left Chicago to go work in a hurricane aid job in Puerto Rico. Though it was a good ending, it did leave a void in her romantic interest’s life, as well as one on Chicago Fire.  

Katherine Heigl

Katherine Heigl
Katherine Heigl Grey’s Anatomy @ENewsVideo / Twitter.com

Left: Grey’s Anatomy
Reason: Creative Differences
Est. Salary Loss: $30 million per season*


Katherine Heigl is an amazing actress, and she’s seen a roller coast ride when it comes to Hollywood. But fans will recall that Heigl originally shot to fame on the hit series Grey’s Anatomy, quickly cementing her as one of TV’s most promising new stars.

She then landed an iconic leading role in the comedy Knocked Up, kicking off a film career. Her rising interest in film roles soon conflicted with her Grey’s schedule, leading her to depart the series due to creative differences.

Jerry Seinfeld

Jerry Seinfeld
Jerry Seinfeld Seinfeld @Amusementphile / Pinterest.com

Left: Seinfeld
Reason: Loves the Number Nine, Wanted to Go Out on Top
Est. Salary Loss: $100 million for a tenth season*


Seinfeld was a long-running sitcom created by and starring Jerry Seinfeld. It ran for nine seasons, and its ratings were still supernova-level when it went off the air, puzzling fans. Seinfeld ended because Jerry Seinfeld didn’t want to do it anymore. Reportedly, he is fascinated with the number nine and always planned to end on nine seasons.

In addition to wanting to obey his lucky number, Seinfeld also wanted to go out on top. The show was at its peak, and he preferred to leave on a high note than take the money a new season would bring, sacrificing quality.  

Dave Chappelle

Dave Chappelle
Dave Chappelle The Chappelle Show @TheComedyStore / Twitter.com

Left: The Chappelle Show
Reason: A “Crisis of Conscience”
Est. Salary Loss: $50 million for two seasons*


Dave Chappelle didn’t just leave The Chappelle Show, he left comedy, taking a years-long hiatus while he lived in Ohio with his wife and kids. Chappelle walked away from a $50 million contract for a third and fourth season of TCS with Comedy Central, and that departure created a feud with Neal Brennan, who had previously been his close friend and longtime collaborator.

Chappelle made a triumphant return to comedy in recent years. He explained his decision to leave, stating he had had a “crisis of conscience.” He also stated that the decision was “stupid” and he regretted leaving for so long.  

Jim Parsons

Jim Parsons
Jim Parsons The Big Bang Theory @DiscussingFilm / Twitter.com

Left: The Big Bang Theory
Reason: It had Become “Too Difficult”
Est. Salary Loss: $1 million per episode*


Chuck Lorre’s Big Bang Theory starred Jim Parsons in the role of Sheldon Cooper, and he was a fan favorite. The comedy received critical acclaim and ran for twelve seasons. Apparently, Big Bang was supposed to run for fourteen, but Parsons contacted Chuck Lorre and told him he couldn’t “come back” to the show, as it had become “too difficult.”

The show’s scheduling was difficult, and Parsons needed a break, according to his interview with Hollywood Reporter. Parsons’ decision to leave marked the end of the show, which couldn’t continue without Sheldon. Parsons later said that he knew CBS never wanted it to end. 

Lauren Cohan

Lauren Cohan
Lauren Cohan The Walking Dead @digitalspy / Twitter.com

Left: The Walking Dead
Reason: Contract Dispute
Est. Salary Loss: $50,000 per episode*


Lauren Cohan was one of the long-standing members of The Walking Dead. She is yet another female actress on this list who had to fight for equal pay with her male co-stars, who had been on the show for the same length as her. Unfortunately, that was not a fight that Cohan won.

Cohan left during the ninth season of TWD because ABC refused to pay her the same as her male co-stars. She said that she would “always love Maggie,” her character, but she couldn’t play it. There are rumors of Cohan returning, but those are, as of yet, unconfirmed.  

Michael Weatherly

Michael Weatherly
Michael Weatherly NCIS @TVLine / Twitter.com

Left: NCIS
Reason: Was Feeling “Burnt Out”
Est. Salary Loss: $25 million per season*


Michael Weatherly starred as Tony DiNozzo in NCIS, and he was a fan favorite. He left after 305 episodes in season thirteen. His character left after learning that his daughter’s mother had died in an attack in Israel. Weatherly’s real reason for his shocking exit was that he felt “burnt out.”

He wanted to try new acting roles, even though leaving such a longstanding show could prove risky for him. Weatherly’s prior credits included Bull, a legal drama on CBS. He also was upset at the departure of co-star Cote de Pablo, another motivating factor in his decision to leave.  

Skeet Ulrich

Skeet Ulrich
Skeet Ulrich Riverdale @Variety / Twitter.com

Left: Riverdale
Reason: He “Got Bored Creatively”
Est. Salary Loss: $40,000 per episode*


In a not-so-subtle hit at directors of Riverdale, Skeet Ulrich went on Instagram Live to talk to fans about his departure from the hit teen drama after just four seasons. Ulrich played Jughead’s dad, F.P., on Riverdale.

In response to a fan question about why he left, he said that he “got bored creatively” and wanted to move on. Ulrich said that that was his “most honest answer.” Ulrich waited until May of 2020, three months after announcing his intention to leave, to clarify his reasoning. He was joined in his departure by co-star Marisol Nichols, who also left.   

Matt Damon

Matt Damon
Matt Damon The Bourne Franchise @c4spoilers / Twitter.com

Left: The Bourne Franchise
Reason: Loyalty to Previous Director
Est. Salary Loss: $26 million per movie*


Matt Damon’s reason for leaving the Jason Bourne Franchise was the same as Michael Keaton’s reason for leaving Batman: he felt loyal to the director who originally brought the franchise to life. In this case, Damon was responding the news that original Bourne director Paul Greengrass wouldn’t be returning for the fourth.

However, in 2016, Greengrass and Damon were rumored to be returning for the sixth Bourne movie. Though this has yet to materialize, for now Jeremy Renner has replaced Damon as the franchise’s leading man. Rachel Weisz and Edward Norton will be returning to any future films as well.

Ruth Wilson

Ruth Wilson
Ruth Wilson The Affair @AndrewJCunning / Twitter.com

Left: The Affair
Reason: Creative Differences
Est. Salary Loss: $100,000 per episode*


The Affair is a drama on Showtime that has racked up tons of fans, many of whom were saddened to see that Ruth Wilson was departing the show in 2019. Wilson has never publicly stated the exact reasons for her departure, but creative differences seem to be a major force.

Her sudden departure from the series – which had arguably followed her character since the very beginning – took most fans completely by surprise. To this day we’ll always wonder how The Affair was originally supposed to conclude.

Rob Lowe

Rob Lowe
Rob Lowe The West Wing @MirrorPolitics / Twitter.com

Left: The West Wing
Reason: Salary Dispute
Est. Salary Loss: $300,000 per episode*


In 2002, CNN broke the news that Rob Lowe would be leaving the political drama The West Wing. An actor’s trade magazine confirmed that his reason for leaving was that he was unhappy with his salary. He requested a raise, but the network (NBC) refused, pushing Lowe, then thirty-eight, out of the show.

After The West Wing ended for Lowe, he started working for ABC on the show Brothers and Sisters. However, he returned to NBC for Parks and Recreation. After that comedy ended, Lowe left for Fox, where he currently stars in Fox 9-1-1: Lone Star, a first responder drama.  

Marg Helgenberger

Marg Helgenberger
Marg Helgenberger CSI @allaboutmarg / Twitter.com

Left: CSI
Reason: She Wanted to “Explore Other Opportunities”
Est. Salary Loss: $300,000 per episode*


Marg Helgenberger left CSI for the same reason that her co-star, William Petersen, did. She started the show in 2000, and she stayed on CSI for twelve seasons. In 2012, Helgenberger announced that she wanted to leave CSI in order to explore new opportunities in her acting career, away from the show.

She played Catherine on CSI. Writers wrote her out by having her leave the LVPD’s CSI team after being targeted by assassins. Catherine took a job in Quantico at the F.B.I., thus ending her twelve-year run on the show. Fans were sad to see her go.

Chad Michael Murray

Chad Michael Murray
Chad Michael Murray One Tree Hill @Celebified / Youtube.com

Left: One Tree Hill
Reason: Contract Dispute
Est. Salary Loss: $100,000 per episode*


Chad Michael Murray stunned fans after season seven, when One Tree Hill reappeared without his character present. Murray didn’t make the cut for season eight, despite being a fan-favorite on the show. Apparently, his reason for leaving boiled down to contract negotiations and disputes.

He requested a higher salary and the network refused. The numbers didn’t add up, so he left. Hilarie Burton also left One Tree Hill for similar reasons, and both she and Murray had their last appearances in the same episode. Burton said that her choice to leave, like Murray’s, was “not a rash decision.”

Angus T. Jones

Angus T. Jones
Angus T. Jones Two and a Half Men @CinemaBlend / Twitter.com

Left: Two and a Half Men
Reason: Unknown
Est. Salary Loss: $600,000 per episode (before season 10)*


Angus T. Jones’ role on Two and a Half Men began in the early 2000s, and he stayed with the show for a long time. Jones’ reason for leaving the sitcom was mysterious, and it was also a long-time coming. His character disappeared during the end of season ten, and CBS announced that he would only be a recurring character in season eleven, not a regular.

Jones didn’t appear at all during the eleventh season. He officially confirmed he was leaving the show in 2014, putting out a murky statement regarding his departure from the much-beloved sitcom.

Daniel Gillies

Daniel Gillies
Daniel Gillies Saving Hope @Blah Blah / Pinterest.com

Left: Saving Hope
Reason: Wanted to be on Vampire Diaries
Est. Salary Loss: $20,000 per episode*


Daniel Gillies was killed off on Saving Hope after his character, Joel, pulled a bomb off a patient and accidentally killed himself while doing so. The finale was described as shocking, but Gillies’ departure was not very surprising. Gillies had another project, Vampire Diaries, lined up, and he was ready for his time on Saving Hope, a Canadian medical drama, to end.

Gillies still defended the show, showing that there were no hard feelings. When it was canceled by the network, before being reinstated, he called the decision “unfortunate,” “bizarre,” and “unfair to the show.” Saving Hope did return after fan outcry.

Jennifer Morrison

Jennifer Morrison
Jennifer Morrison Once Upon a Time @enews / Twitter.com

Left: Once Upon a Time
Reason: Wanted to Spend More Time at Home
Est. Salary Loss: $500,000 per episode*


Jennifer Morrison played Emma, a leading character, on the ABC fantasy/drama Once Upon a Time, and fans were shocked in 2017 when Morrison announced on her Instagram that she would be leaving the show. Morrison stated that she wanted to “be home.” She said she was “at an age” where she wanted to spend time with her family and friends.

Morrison also said she wanted to “have a personal life” as well as more time to “do other creative things.” Morrison and producers hid her departure for a while, as neither party wanted to harm the “experience of the storytelling” for Once’s expansive fan base. 

Kal Penn

Kal Penn
Kal Penn House @SBS / Twitter.co

Left: House
Reason: Wanted to Pursue a Non-Acting Job
Est. Salary Loss: $100,000 per episode*


In 2009, Kal Penn’s character on House, Dr. Lawrence Kutner, died a shocking death on the show when he shot himself. Penn’s character was reportedly killed off the medical drama in order to allow Penn to pursue a career outside of Hollywood.

Penn revealed to the LA Times that he didn’t leave for any dramatic, gossipy reasons. There were “no creative differences.” Instead, he left of his own accord to pursue a job he felt was the right move for him.

Anthony Edwards

Anthony Edwards
Anthony Edwards ER @Andy Wre / Youtube.com

Left: ER
Reason: To spend more time with his family
Est. Salary Loss: $35 million*


Back in 2001, news broke that Dr. Mark Greene would be saying goodbye to his scrubs for good. Anthony Edwards played the popular character on the emergency room drama from 1994, but even his $35 million-dollar contract wasn’t enough to make him stay. 

“I think the next season will be it,” said Edwards at the time. “It’s been eight years of my family working around my schedule. It’s been a long time playing Dr. Greene.” It was a sad moment for fans, but a personal triumph for the actor who felt like it was time to take a step back and focus on the important things.

Jeff Conaway

Jeff Conaway
Jeff Conaway Taxi @ cultfilmfreak / Youtube.com

Left: Taxi
Reason: Personal problems
Est. Salary Loss: $50,000 per episode*


Jeff Conaway proved a popular addition to Taxi when it first hit screens in 1983. Conaway was looking for his next break at the time, having starred as Kenickie in Grease in 1979, but unlike John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John, Conaway’s star didn’t really rise. 

Conaway shone as Bobby Wheeler in the ‘80s sitcom, but by this point, his personal issues with substances were affecting his work. He stayed for three seasons, but when it became clear he needed some time off to get himself together, Conaway bowed out. He passed away in 2011 at the age of 60.

Jason Priestley

Jason Priestley
Jason Priestley Beverly Hills, 90210 @EdenLynn_11 / Twitter.com

Left: Beverly Hills, 90210
Reason: Boredom
Est. Salary Loss: $70,000 per episode*


As Brandon in popular teen drama Beverly Hills, 90210, Jason Priestly became a heartthrob. For eight years, he continued to impress fans with his ability to adapt to many ridiculous plotlines, but by 1998, he was done. 

“I felt that the character of Brandon had kind of run his course. I had explored everything I wanted to explore with him,” admitted the actor in 2014. “I do regret leaving. Understanding what I do now about story and character, I believe that Brandon and Kelly would have ended up together at the end of the show and I think I should have stuck around to its fruition.” 

Lisa Bonet

Lisa Bonet
Lisa Bonet A Different World @AndrewNotAndre / Twitter.com

Left: A Different World
Reason: Conflicting ideas
Est. Salary Loss: $35,000 per episode*


Lisa Bonet played bright-eyed youngster Denise on both The Cosby Show and its spinoff A Different World in the ‘80s and early ‘90s. Denise was a much-loved character, so fans were shocked when Bonet departed the series in 1991. 

While many fans thought it was Lisa’s personal decision to leave as she was pregnant at the time with her daughter, the actress tried to figure out a way to stay on the show. According to Debbie Allen, Bill Cosby didn’t want the character of Debbie to be pregnant, so Lisa agreed to leave and move onto pastures new. 

Wil Wheaton

Wil Wheaton
Wil Wheaton Star Trek: The Next Generation @hello_my_alien_ / Twitter.com

Left: Star Trek: The Next Generation
Reason: To Have more time
Est. Salary Loss: $65,000 per episode*


When he first appeared on Star Trek: The Next Generation, Wil Wheaton was just innocent Wesley Crusher. As the seasons began to tick by, he became a more central character. Fans liked him and Wheaton secured a loyal following on the back of it, but he wanted more time to explore other career opportunities. 

Wil later said, “left Star Trek: The Next Generation when I was 18-years old and initially I thought it was a really smart business career move. In some ways it was and in more ways it wasn’t.” Wheaton’s career never quite took off the way he had hoped, although he did experience a resurgence when he was cast as himself in The Big Bang Theory. 

Chevy Chase

Chevy Chase
Chevy Chase Saturday Night Live @100piesqrioso / Twitter.com

Left: Saturday Night Live
Reason: To pursue a relationship
Est. Salary Loss: $20,000 per episode*


Some stars leave shows because they want to do other acting work, others want more money, or just more time. Chevy Chase wanted to settle down with the girl he loved. As one of the original cast members of Saturday Night Live in the ‘70s, it was a shock when Chase decided to leave. 

But, he had a sweet reason for doing so. “I left for a girl that I was in love with,” Chase said. “It had nothing to do with lucrative film deals awaiting me. I didn’t make a movie for three years. It was just a lot of bunk…I was very much in love with a girl who just would not leave California.”

Michael Learned

Michael Learned
Michael Learned The Waltons @IMDb / Pinterest.com

Left: The Waltons
Reason: Boredom
Est. Salary Loss: $45,000 per episode*


Michael Learned took on the role of Ma Walton out of necessity as a single mom with children to raise and no income. Little did she know that the show would prove to be a huge success. After six seasons, fans were saddened when Ma was written out, but the time had come. 

The actress had started to feel bored with the part after the return of John-Boy, and felt that her character had become redundant. In one interview, Learned said she would often be sat around on set for over 14 hours with very little to do, so it just made sense for her to move on. 

Sherry Stringfield

Sherry Stringfield
Sherry Stringfield NYPD Blue and ER @IMDb / Pinterest.com

Left: NYPD Blue and ER
Reason: Little character development/having a family
Est. Salary Loss: $125,000 per episode*


Some actresses wait their whole careers to find success on a hit show, but not Sherry Stringfield. Stringfield played the part of Susan Lewis on the medical drama for the first three seasons, but ended up leaving in order to start a family. She later returned, only to leave for a second time. 

Later in her career, Sherry joined the cast of NYPD Blue as Laura Michaels Kelly. However, the character soon turned out to be redundant when writers couldn’t make room for her. Stringfield asked to be let out of her contract so she could pursue other opportunities.  

Nathalie Kelley

Nathalie Kelley
Nathalie Kelley Dynasty @thenikkidiaries / Twitter.com

Left: Dynasty
Reason: Too challenging
Est. Salary Loss: $75,000 per episode*


When Nathalie Kelley landed the part of Cristal Flores in CW’s reboot of Dynasty, she beat out thousands of other hopefuls – so, why didn’t she return for season 2? It was simply too much work. 

“I signed on before I ever read the script. There was a basic outline. I think I wasn’t up to the challenge of a nighttime soap,” Kelley told TVLine.  “I wasn’t prepared for that genre. It wasn’t something I had experience in…I can say that as an artist, I didn’t dig as deep as I could have. I felt limited and I felt stuck.”

Colton Haynes

Colton Haynes
Colton Haynes Arrow @TVInsider / Twitter.com

Left: Arrow
Reason: No longer needed
Est. Salary Loss: $75,000 per episode*


Arrow was a popular comic book-based TV show that came to an end in early 2020. Stephen Amell played the titular character, while Colton Haynes starred as Roy Harper, aka Arsenal. As a series regular, fans were a little confused as to why Harper wasn’t set to appear in the final season. 

It turns out he simply wasn’t needed. “I didn’t exit the last season of Arrow. I was not asked to come back for the final season as a series regular. But y’all know Roy, he’s never gone for too long.” After some backlash, Haynes did come back, but not in the same capacity as he did before. 

Courtney Thorne-Smith
 

Courtney Thorne-Smith
Courtney Thorne-Smith Ally McBeal @ SatVend / Youtube.com

Left: Ally McBeal
Reason: Too look after herself
Est. Salary Loss: $65,000 per episode*


Ally McBeal was a perfect show that might be considered problematic today. At the time, it was a well-loved series, with Courtney Thorne-Smith starring as Georgia Thomas. Thorne-Smith left after three seasons, saying she wanted to pursue a career in a sitcom. However, the actress later admitted it was a bit more complex than that. 

“I started undereating, overexercising, pushing myself too hard, and brutalizing my immune system,” she told US Weekly. “The amount of time I spent thinking about food and being upset about my body was insane.”

Laura Benanti

Laura Benanti
Laura Benanti Supergirl @heroichollywood / Twitter.com

Left: Supergirl
Reason: Scheduling conflicts
Est. Salary Loss: $125,000 per episode*


Laura Benanti has starred in a multitude of shows over the course of her career, from Nashville to The Good Wife. When she was cast as Alura in CW’s Supergirl, she seemed like the perfect fit, but it wasn’t built to last. 

“Unfortunately Laura, who Greg and I have worked with for years going back to ‘Eli Stone,’ was unable to continue in the role due to work commitments in New York,” said executive producer Andrew Kreisberg. The role was recast, with Erica Durance of Smallville fame taking on the character. 

Meghan Markle

Meghan Markle
Meghan Markle Suits @amandasome / Twitter.com

Left: Suits
Reason: She married a prince
Est. Salary Loss: $450,000 per year*


Meghan Markle is arguably the most famous actress ever to give up a role in a successful show. The actress starred as Rachel Zane in legal drama Suits for seven seasons, but her personal life took on some dramatic changes during that time. Markle found love with Prince Harry and when he popped the question, Meghan sacrificed her career. 

These days, Meghan is best known as the Duchess of Sussex and mother to Baby Archie. She and her husband decided to go their own way and split from the royal family in 2020, and are now residing in Los Angeles. 

Zach Braff

Zach Braff
Zach Braff Scrubs @ThePlaylist / Twitter.com

Left: Scrubs
Reason: Pursue other projects
Est. Salary Loss: $350,000 per episode*


As JD, Zach Braff provided plenty of laughs and iconic moments for fans of the sitcom Scrubs. Equal parts emotional and hilarious, when Braff opted to leave in 2009 it was a sad moment. When asked in an interview about his future plans, Zach had this to say: 

“I’m writing a new movie which is the first thing I’ve written since Garden State (2004). I haven’t really had time. That was another reason to part from Scrubs is that I really wanted to write and make more films and I hadn’t had a chance to do that.”

Christopher Eccleston

Christopher Eccleston
Christopher Eccleston Doctor Who @io9 / Twitter.com

Left: Doctor Who
Reason: Fear of being Typecast
Est. Salary Loss: $250,000 per season*


Doctor Who has been a core part of British pop culture for decades, so when the show was revived in 2004, fans were elated. Christopher Eccleston took on the part of the timelord, to great acclaim.

Sadly, he announced his decision to leave after just one season citing fears of being typecast. Eccleston has since gone on to star in several independent films as well as larger box office hits.

Joe Piscopo

Joe Piscopo
Joe Piscopo Saturday Night Live @WPXI / Twitter.com

Left: Saturday Night Live
Reason: To pursue a movie career
Est. Salary Loss: $35,000 per episode*


Joe Piscopo was one of the actors hired on SNL in 1980 in a bid to try and keep it afloat. As part of an all-new cast, Joe faced a lot of criticism. Viewers didn’t like most of the new players, but they did love Piscopo and Eddie Murphy. As a result, they were kept on while the rest of the team were given the boot. 

By 1984, Joe wanted to leave to seek out new opportunities in the movie world. Eddie Murphy had done it and achieved great success, but things didn’t really work out for Piscopo. He has appeared in several movies and TV shows since, but nothing major. 

Mandy Patinkin

Mandy Patinkin
Mandy Patinkin Criminal Minds @cineporhora / Twitter.com

Left: Criminal Minds
Reason: Creative differences
Est. Salary Loss: $125,000*


Mandy Patinkin played Jason Gideon on Criminal Minds, but he loathed his time on the series. After not showing up to a table read and leaving his cast members a note explaining his decision, his character was killed off. 

“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…It was very destructive to my soul and my personality. After that, I didn’t think I would get to work in television again,” Patinkin explained to New York Magazine. 

Rebecca Gayheart

Rebecca Gayheart
Rebecca Gayheart Firefly @Monumentmagazin / Twitter.com

Left: Firefly
Reason: No chemistry
Est. Salary Loss: $125,000 per episode*


Fashion model and actress Rebecca Gayheart was initially cast in Joss Whedon’s one-season wonder Firefly back in the early ‘00s, taking on the role of Inara Serra. However, fans never got to see her as the character. Gayheart was fired after just one day of filming. 

Apparently, it was due to the lack of chemistry between the actress and the rest of the cast and crew. Instead, Morena Baccarin landed the part and filming continued on without the Scream 2 star. Gayheart didn’t miss out on much as the series was never renewed for a second season anyway.

Nicolette Sheridan

Nicolette Sheridan
Nicolette Sheridan Desperate Housewives @Eva Longoria / Youtube.com

Left: Desperate Housewives
Reason: An argument with the creator
Est. Salary Loss: $175,000 per episode*


As Edie Britt, Nicolette Sheridan brought the drama on Desperate Housewives as one of the core characters in several scandalous storylines. However, the drama wasn’t just on-camera. When Edie was killed off in 2009, it wasn’t exactly at Sheridan’s request. 

According to the actress, she had an argument with the show’s creator, Marc Cherry. As things escalated, Nicolette made a complaint. As a result, her character was axed and she was without a job. Sheridan sued Disney ABC, Touchstone, and Marc Cherry after the fact. “I reported him…and (was) fired off the show. That is against the law,” the star told Entertainment Weekly.

Nick Cannon

Nick Cannon
Nick Cannon Wild ‘N Out @E! Entertainment / Pinterest.com

Left: Wild ‘N Out 
Reason: Was pushed out by Viacom
Est. Salary Loss: $70,000 per episode*


This one just made the news, and it was more of a “fired” than “asked the network to leave” situation. Nick Cannon got in hot water with Viacom after certain comments that he made on his podcast. Cannon has hosted his long-running show, Wild ‘N Out, a sketch comedy show distributed by CBS, for years.

The first episode of Wild ‘N Out aired in 2005, and the final episode is slated to air on July 28, 2020. Cannon’s show has been part of some culturally iconic moments throughout the years, but Viacom has pulled the plug after outcry against his offensive comments. 

Julianne Moore

Julianne Moore
Julianne Moore Can You Ever Forgive Me?  @greginhollywood / Twitter.com

Left: Can You Ever Forgive Me? 
Reason: Creative differences
Est. Salary Loss: $20 million*


In 2015, Julianne Moore claimed that she left the movie Can You Ever Forgive Me? because of creative differences. Can You Ever Forgive Me? then starred Melissa McCarthy as Lee Israel, the protagonist. In 2019, Moore opened up about the real reasons behind her departure from the movie.

She revealed in an interview with Andy Cohen that she was actually “fired” by Nicole Holofcener. Moore was kicked off the set less than a week before shooting was to start. The dispute apparently started over prosthetics. Moore didn’t want to wear a fake nose or “fat suit.” Her contract was voided as a result. 

Wendi McLendon-Covey

Wendi McLendon-Covey
Wendi McLendon-Covey Reno 911 @Comedy Central / Youtube.com

Left: Reno 911 
Reason: Scheduling conflict 
Est. Salary Loss: $20,000 per episode*


Reno 911 is one of the funniest shows around. It aired originally from 2003 until 2009, and it has since reappeared on Quibi, a new platform that has been up-and-coming in the past year. Wendi McLendon-Covey asked to be killed off at the end of season five. The actress (along with two of her co-stars, Carlos Alazraqui and Mary Birdsong) was written off in a parade float accident. 

McLendon-Covey had no hard feelings towards the series, and she was killed off because of scheduling conflicts with another show she was doing. McLendon-Covey will be reprising her role on Reno 911 for the seventh season. She described suiting up as Deputy Clementine Johnson as “surreal.”

Janet Hubert

Janet Hubert
Janet Hubert Fresh Prince of Bel-Air @VibeMagazine / Twitter.com

Left: Fresh Prince of Bel-Air 
Reason: Personal conflict with Will Smith
Est. Salary Loss: $100,000 per episode*


Fans of Fresh Prince of Bel-Air remember when Aunt Viv was switched out. Janet Hubert played the original Aunt Viv, but she was quietly replaced by Daphne Reid after the third season. The reasons behind Aunt Viv getting switched out had to do with conflict between her and the show’s star, Will Smith.

Smith claims that he and Hubert have buried the hatchet, but Hubert denies that. Smith and his co-star, Alfonso Ribeiro, both claimed that Hubert was hard to work with. Ribeiro stated that Hubert would randomly “go off” on people and “ruined” the “family” feeling between the co-stars.

Lacey Chabert

Lacey Chabert
Lacey Chabert Family Guy @michaeldamian1 / Twitter.com

Left: Family Guy 
Reason: Scheduling conflict
Est. Salary Loss: $20,000 per episode*


Family Guy fans might not remember from seasons one through the early part of three, but Lacey Chabert was actually the voice of the Griffins’ much-maligned teenage daughter, Meg. Chabert (who also starred in Party of Five and Mean Girls) voiced Meg until she had too many scheduling conflicts and asked Seth Macfarlane to release her. 

Reportedly, Chabert was still in school at the time she was voicing the role of Meg. Additionally, she was filming for Party of Five at the same time, and the workload was just too much. Macfarlane confirmed that there was no tension and the split was amicable.

Megan Fox

Megan Fox
Megan Fox Transformers series @ Actors and Movies / Youtube.com

Left: Transformers series 
Reason: Conflict with Michael Bay
Est. Salary Loss: $1 million*


Megan Fox and Director, Michael Bay clashed a lot on set. That is why Megan Fox was fired from the Transformers series. Fox’s representatives claimed that she chose not to return and wasn’t fired, but Fox has, in recent months, told a different story.

Michael Bay would reportedly just tell Fox to “be hot” and refused to give her any direction for her scenes. Bay also had her audition for her role in Bad Boys II by washing a Ferrari in heels and an American flag bikini. Fox called him a “nightmare” to work with, which appears true.

Shannen Doherty

Shannen Doherty
Shannen Doherty Beverly Hills 90210 @Dear_Lonely_ / Twitter.com

Left: Beverly Hills 90210 
Reason: Conflict with Jennie Garth 
Est. Salary Loss: $70,000 per episode*


Shannen Doherty left Beverly Hills, 90210 after the show’s producer, Aaron Spelling (the father of her co-star Tori Spelling), asked her to leave. Tori was interviewed about why Doherty left, and she said one of the main reasons was that Doherty had serious conflict with co-star Jennie Garth, to the point where the two threw punches at one another.

Tori Spelling decided this couldn’t go on, and she pressured her father to fire Doherty. Interestingly, Tori said that she and Shannen were friends on the set, despite Tori getting her fired. Shannen called their relationship a “gasoline and match” type of situation. 

Stana Katic

Stana Katic
Stana Katic Castle @morningstark_ / Twitter.com

Left: Castle 
Reason: Felt unneeded for season nine
Est. Salary Loss: $100,000 per episode*


Stana Katic left Castle because of a contract dispute. ABC decided that it didn’t want to engage with her, and, instead, the network canceled her contract. The network decided that it didn’t need Stanic for the ninth season of Castle. The show ended up not making it to a ninth season, as it was canceled on May 12, 2016.

Katic described her reaction to the firing as “hurt” and “confused.” Fans felt the same way about the show’s cancelation, as five other stars had signed new contracts for season nine. Hollywood Reporter described Castle’s cancellation as “the most perplexing move” from the show. 

Selma Blair

Selma Blair
Selma Blair Anger Management @TODAY Show / Pinterest.com

Left: Anger Management
Reason: Conflict with Charlie Sheen
Est. Salary Loss: $1 million per episode*


Selma Blair played the role of Dr. Kate Wales, who was Charlie’s therapist and friend on the two-season sitcom, Anger Management. Anger Management was based on the 2003 movie, and it was supposed to be a redemption project for Sheen. Blair was written off the show because she had conflict with Sheen.

Blair reportedly found Sheen unprofessional to work with, and she claimed she was pushed out of the show after she complained about him delaying filming to learn his lines in the dressing room right before they were supposed to start. Anger Management went off the air in December of 2014. 

Edward Norton

Edward Norton
Edward Norton Avengers @Top Inspired / Pinterest.com

Left: Avengers 
Reason: Wasn’t asked back
Est. Salary Loss: $2-$3 million*


It’s hard to imagine anyone else but Mark Ruffalo playing the role of Dr. Bruce Banner/the Hulk (maybe Lou Ferrigno, back in the day). However, Ed Norton did play the role of the Hulk in a standalone movie in 2008. In 2010, right before Marvel announced the newest Avengers movie at the San Diego Comic-Con, it released a statement explaining why Norton was let go.

It said that it wasn’t “because of monetary factors,” but instead because the set needed someone who had the same “creativity” and “collaborative spirit” as his co-stars. Translation: Norton was not a team player.  

Ryan Gosling

Ryan Gosling
Ryan Gosling The Lovely Bones @DiscussingFilm / Twitter.com

Left: The Lovely Bones 
Reason: Got too fat
Est. Salary Loss: $5 million*


The Lovely Bones was a drama/thriller directed by Peter Jackson. Ryan Gosling was originally contracted to play Jack Salmon in the movie, but he was recast the second he stepped on the set. The reason for this departure was due to Gosling’s massive weight gain.

The famous Hollywood hunk reportedly gained sixty pounds to play the role of Salmon, as he felt that that was how Salmon should look. Gosling would drink melted milkshakes whenever he was thirsty. Peter Jackson, according to Gosling, felt that he was “too fat” for the role and fired him. Gosling said after his firing he was left “unemployed” and “fat.”  

Taylor Momsen

Taylor Momsen
Taylor Momsen Gossip Girl @MisterBroRo / Twitter.com

Left: Gossip Girl 
Reason: Conflict with producers
Est. Salary Loss: $60,000 per episode*


Taylor Momsen played Jenny Humphrey on Gossip Girl, and she made “raccoon eye” makeup super popular. Momsen, who is now a musician, was written off the show for a couple of reasons. One was that her aesthetic as the grungy, rock-star-esque Jenny was no longer fitting in with the glamorous set of GG.

Secondly, Momsen’s behavior, at seventeen, was pretty crazy and reckless. She got into a feud with Tim Gunn of Project Runway and then was spotted acting recklessly at one of her band, The Pretty Reckless’, concerts. Gossip Girl producers decided they had enough and out went Jenny.

Thomas Gibson

Thomas Gibson
Thomas Gibson Criminal Minds @KiSS925 / Twitter.com

Left: Criminal Minds 
Reason: Conflict with co-stars
Est. Salary Loss: $100,000 per episode*


Thomas Gibson was a lot of fans’ favorite character on Criminal Minds, and people were saddened when his character, Hotch, simply disappeared from the show after season eleven. The decision to kick off such a valuable character couldn’t have been easy, but Criminal Minds producers pulled the plug because Gibson was terrorizing people on-set.

Gibson got into a violent altercation with Virgil Williams, the show’s producer and writer, and that led to the former’s two-week suspension. That, combined with alcohol abuse issues and a generally difficult demeanor, led Criminal Minds executives to (rather inelegantly) write off Hotch’s character.

Terence Howard

Terence Howard
Terence Howard Iron Man series @ Fandom Entertainment / Youtube.com

Left: Iron Man series 
Reason: Salary dispute
Est. Salary Loss: $100 million *


It’s hard to picture anyone else but Don Cheadle in the role of War Machine (and Robert Downey Jr.’s best friend), but fans of the Iron Man movies will remember that Terrence Howard played War Machine for the first movie. He left the series, canceling his three-movie-contract after he refused to agree to a pay cut for the sequel.

Apparently, Howard would have made only one-eighth of what he did in the first movie. Howard called his decision to leave a “$100 million loss.” He also accused Robert Downey Jr. of having a part to play in his departure from Marvel.

Chloe Grace Moretz

Chloe Grace Moretz
Chloe Grace Moretz Bolt @allcelebsinfo.com / Pinterest.com

Left: Bolt
Reason: Disney wanted Miley Cyrus to play the role
Est. Salary Loss: $500,000*


Chloe Grace Moretz may be annoying to some, but she is admittedly a good actress. She got her start when she was young. At age eleven, she was slated to voice the role of Jenny in Bolt, but Disney execs pulled the plug on her role in 2008 after she recorded all of her lines. They canceled her contract because they wanted Miley Cyrus for the Bolt voiceover instead.

Cyrus was the bigger actress at the time, as she was the star of one of Disney’s hottest shows, Hannah Montana. Moretz bounced back, getting a starring role in the movie Kick Ass, a 2010 superhero blockbuster.

Columbus Short

Columbus Short
Columbus Short Scandal @spoilertv.co.uk / Pinterest.com

Left: Scandal 
Reason: Off-set conflict
Est. Salary Loss: $100,000 per episode*


Columbus Short was one of the original starring characters on Scandal, playing Gladiator Wright in the first three seasons of Shonda Rhimes political thriller. Short was written off the show after a series of personal issues convinced Rhimes that he couldn’t be a part of the project any longer.

Short did an interview with Access Hollywood where he agreed with Scandal’s decision. He admitted that he was suffering from alcoholism and drug abuse, and those illnesses led him to act out. Short was arrested for domestic violence off-set as well, which was the final straw in Rhimes’ decision. 

Jean-Claude Van Damme

Jean-Claude Van Damme
Jean-Claude Van Damme Predator movies @workingwithdave / Twitter.com

Left: Predator movies 
Reason: Addicted to kickboxing
Est. Salary Loss: $600,000*


Jean-Claude Van Damme auditioned for and won the role of Predator in the Predator series. He was an unknown actor at the time, but producers felt that his physical action capabilities would make him a ninja-like hunter, which would play well on-camera. However, Van Damme’s contract was canceled after he took it too far.

Van Damme reportedly became obsessed with kickboxing. There are rumors that he destroyed a $2,000 Predator head because he couldn’t stop kickboxing on-set. He wanted the Predator to be a kickboxing alien, but directors didn’t agree with his vision. Van Damme refused to drop it, and his contract was scrapped.

Eric Stoltz

Eric Stoltz
Eric Stoltz Back to the Future franchise @1980smovie / Twitter.com

Left: Back to the Future franchise 
Reason: Not energetic enough
Est. Salary Loss: $5 million per movie*


Eric Stoltz was hired for the role of Marty McFly in the Back to the Future series. He was on-set filming the first movie for weeks before producers decided that he wasn’t a good fit. A new book about the filming of the famous series contended that Stoltz was very difficult to work with and widely-disliked on-set.

Stoltz was the second choice for Back to the Future. Michael J. Fox was the first. Producers realized, mid-filming, that Stoltz didn’t have the right energy level for the party and would tank the series. They fired him and waited for Fox to become available to reshoot the whole project.

James Remar

James Remar
James Remar Aliens @RorMachine / Twitter.com

Left: Aliens 
Reason: Off-set troubles
Est. Salary Loss: $50,000*


James Remar was originally cast in the Aliens franchise as Corporal Hicks. Producers canceled his contract after they realized that he was a drag on the movie because of his off-set antics. Remar claims that he didn’t leave because of “creative differences,” as was stated at the time, but because he was arrested off-set.

Remar still got a small role in the film. At the end of the first Aliens movie, when the Marines are entering the nest of aliens, he was one of the extras. His back is turned to the camera, and he definitely didn’t make much money from his role as an extra.

Leah Remini

Leah Remini
Leah Remini The Talk @sambucci54 / Youtube.com

Left: The Talk 
Reason: Conflict with co-stars/producers
Est. Salary Loss: $115,000 per episode*


Leah Remini left The Talk, and she originally blamed co-host, Sharon Osbourne, for her 2012 departure. In a tweet discussing her departure (always a bad idea), Remini claimed that Osbourne thought she and her co-host, Holly Robinson Peete, who was also fired, were “ghetto” and “didn’t know themselves.”

Osbourne denied it. Three years later, Remini apologized for her comments and confirmed that Osbourne had nothing to do with her leaving. Instead, Remini said that she “wasn’t her best self” on the show. She took full responsibility for leaving, stating that she was a “pain in the a**” to work with because she was too outspoken. 

Cameron Diaz

Cameron Diaz
Cameron Diaz @EntNewsShowbiz / Twitter.com

Left: The Shrek Franchise
Reason: Sudden Retirement
Est. Salary Loss: $12 million*


Despite being one of the most bankable talents in Hollywood, Cameron Diaz inexplicably remains one of the most underrated actors of her generation. Yes, she starred in shallow Hollywood hits like Charlie’s Angels – but her dramatic turn in work like Being John Malkovich puts her in a league of her own.

Diaz was making seven-figure paychecks for her voice performance in the long-running Shrek franchise. But when producers approached her about reprising the role in the spin-off Puss in Boots series, Diaz asked them to release her from the part (and her contract) so that she could retire altogether from showbiz.