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TV Show Lines Actors Refused To Say

To say that a lot goes into the production of a TV show would be an understatement to say the least, especially for the number of experts that are involved in the massive projects. From directors to screenwriters, set designers, special effects specialists, and so on, each project contains the fingerprints of numerous individuals in a grand collaboration. Yet with that said, it is ultimately the actors who are the face of every series and the ones that viewers remember the most.

As the stars of the show, critical cast members can have some serious demands that are often granted more times than not and can even extend to having some control over what their character says. Sometimes lines are adlibbed in, while in other situations, actors discuss their ideas with the filmmakers. But there are also certain instances when thespians revolt and straight-up refuse to do what is asked of them. Here are some of the most famous times that TV actors have rejected lines written in the script, and various reasons why.

Robert Reed in The Brady Bunch

In one of the most ridiculous instances of a TV star refusing to say a line from a script, Robert Reed had a major issue with the words, "strawberry heaven," in "The Brady Bunch." The actor behind the iconic sitcom dad, Mike Brady, seemed to take pleasure in complaining about minute details on the set, as was the case when his character was supposed to remark on how nice the house smelled while strawberries were cooking in the kitchen in the Season 4 episode, "Jan, the Only Child," according to the New York Post.

Even after showrunner Sherwood Schwartz demonstrated to Reed that the fruit does give off a pleasant odor, the stubborn actor remained firm in his objection simply because he had read in "Encyclopedia Britannica" that the berries are not supposed to have a smell when cooked. Just wanting to move on, Schwartz changed the comment to "looks like strawberry heaven in here," but the star even had issues with that, so the line was finally altered to the Reed-approved version, "I do believe I've died and gone to strawberry heaven."

Tom Payne in The Walking Dead

Amidst the savagery that is commonplace in the post-apocalyptic world of "The Walking Dead," Paul "Jesus" Rovia was a stalwart voice of reason who refused to use violence unless it was a last resort. Tom Payne, the actor who played the popular character, fully understood this and therefore thought it did not make sense when the writers wanted him to firmly support the slaying of Negan.

In Season 8, when Maggie tells Jesus that Rick and Michonne made a mistake for letting their nemesis live, she says they will get their revenge and Daryl emerges from the shadows to confirm, "Yeah, we will." During the filming of the scene, Payne also said the same line before Norman Reedus, but, admittedly, did not do so wholeheartedly as the writers intended. Since the actor had already voiced his objection to Jesus making the statement, the brief part of the scene did not make the cut.

In 2022, Payne explained his perspective on the awkward moment during a panel at Fandemic Dead (via YouTube) saying: "I told them at the time, 'I'm not gonna lie. Like, I can't lie on camera because you'll be able to tell.' And I spent the whole season being against war and against all this kind of stuff, and as much as my character would support Maggie, I felt like it was a bit of a weird thing for him to do. I couldn't do it truthfully as an actor."

Frances Bavier in Return to Mayberry

In 1986, decades after the finale of the popular series, "The Andy Griffith Show," most of the cast got back together to film a TV spinoff movie, "Return to Mayberry," including an all-grown-up Ron Howard. But a good number of both the crew and her fellow actors were somewhat content with the fact that the actress who played Aunt Bee, Frances Bavier, would not be joining them for the production.

In his book, "Andy and Don: The Making of a Friendship and a Classic American," Daniel de Visé explains that Bavier not only faked being sick to get out of the filming, but she also strongly declined any participation in the project whatsoever. Even a voice recording was completely unacceptable, especially because of what she was asked to say. In the proposed scene, the actress would under no circumstances tell Andy to "always wear clean underwear." In response to the despised word in the script, Bavier angrily remarked, "I will not say underwear. I have never said underwear, and I will not say underwear now."

Ian Wright in Ted Lasso

In sports-themed movies and TV series, fans often enjoy seeing their favorite players make cameos, so many Arsenal fans were likely delighted when legendary player Ian Wright made an appearance in the hit Apple TV+ series, "Ted Lasso." However, if Wright had followed through with the original script he was given, the diehard club supporters would not have been happy with him, to say the least.

During an appearance on the "Dish" podcast in 2022, cast member Phil Dunster told the humorous story of Wright's reaction and explained, "It was in the script that he says, 'You know, it's gonna be a tough game for Richmond because Tottenham are a great side.' And he was like, 'I can't say it. I'm just not going to say it. I'm sorry.'"

Dunster made sure to stress that there was no anger in Wright's refusal or anything like that, but the complimentary statement was simply not possible to say given his beloved club's bitter relationship with their London rival. The actor added, "He was just like, "You're going to have to change it because I can't say that. I can't go back to north London if I said that.'"

Joyce DeWitt in Three's Company

Despite the massive success of "Three's Company," there were certainly a number of tense and controversial moments behind the scenes, not least of which was the despicable firing of Suzanne Somers. Yet before that rough event, Joyce DeWitt also butted heads with the higher-ups.

The dispute is chronicled in the book, "Come and Knock on Our Door: A Hers and Hers and His Guide to 'Three's Company,'" and all stemmed from a character in an episode who is both a friend of Chrissy, as well as a sex worker. DeWitt's frustration arose because her character, Janet, first had no problem with the friend, but then the script had her make a rather insulting remark aimed at that same friend. When the friend complimented Chrissy by calling her "priceless," Janet was supposed to then say, "And she's going to stay that way," however, DeWitt completely refused to do so.

The disagreement culminated in a stressful exchange (via CBR) as the producer asked what DeWitt's issue was, even though she had already thoroughly explained it. DeWitt described her response to that and said, "I leaned back in my chair and took the deepest breath. And instead of answering this idiotic question. I said, 'Mickey, I'll tell you what the deal is with this line. You can come out with a gun during the five-thirty show and hold it to my head ad I still won't say that line for you. Is that clear enough?'"

Jenna Ortega in Wednesday

A significant number of the best performances on screen often have something to do with the creative freedom of the actor and their ability to make changes to what is said or done by the character if it does not feel right. Jenna Ortega's portrayal of the titular character, Wednesday, in the 2022-released series was so spot-on that viewers were instantly impressed, but as the actress revealed in a Netflix Q&A, her success in the role was also due to actions behind-the-scenes and a willingness to put her foot down when necessary (via BuzzFeed News).

Even though there were a few lines in "Wednesday" that Ortega wanted to cut, there was one in particular that stood out for the actress. In a sweet moment when Wednesday discovers the black dress she wanted on her bed as a gift from Tyler for prom, she was originally supposed to say, "Oh my god I'm freaking out over a dress, I literally hate myself," but that clearly did not happen.

Ortega, rightly so, thought the statement would have been awkward coming out of Wednesday's mouth and she was able to get the line cut. The actress said, "And I was blown away because that sounded like ... it was just a bunch of little things like that where I felt like we were able to avoid a lot of dialogue in an attempt to make her sound human."

Patrick Warburton in Family Guy

As the musclebound, yet handicapped policeman Joe Swanson in "Family Guy," Patrick Warburton has appeared in literally hundreds of episodes of the long-running series. For decades, the actor has built up a tolerance to the extreme moments as showrunner Seth MacFarlane has striven to push the limits of what is acceptable, but there was an instance where it simply was too much for him to take, even though it had little to nothing to do with his character. But because of the scene, he refused to say any lines for the entire episode.

In an interview with Digital Spy, Warburton explained, "This has only happened once in 20 years of being on the show — the episode was so offensive I can't repeat it now. It had to do with Christ on the cross but there was no humor in it, and it was just so, so horribly offensive. It wasn't a Joe line, but I said, 'Guys, I can't participate in this episode if that line is in it. It's a personal thing.'" In the end, though, MacFarlane and the writing team totally understood his objection and had no problem that the actor did not want to be associated in any way with something so needlessly offensive.

James Arness in Gunsmoke

When James Arness starred in the hit series, "Gunsmoke," there was not one specific line that he refused to say, but the actor cut out portions of the script initially reserved for his character on several occasions. It may seem odd that the actor willingly removed some of his own speaking parts from the show, but in a 1973 interview (via The Legacy of Gunsmoke), Arness explained, "With too much dialogue an actor can talk himself right off the air. People get tired of looking at him and listening to him. I try to do a heavy show four or five times a year. By that, I mean I will play a major figure in the story."

With the other characters receiving his lines instead, there was more room for them to flourish in the story as well, which was all part of Arness' plan. The actor added, "Maybe part of the success of 'Gunsmoke' is the fact the lead characters back off a little and give viewers a rest."

Jensen Ackles in The Boys

When Jensen Ackles joined the cast of "The Boys" for the third season, he knew exactly what he was getting into. The shock factor has always been one of the show's major selling points, so it only made sense that the extremely graphic scenes would continue. Episode 6, "Herogasm," is proof of that approach, on top of several other especially raunchy and violent moments.

Yet, despite the already over-the-top storyline shown in the season, there was one part of the script that made Ackles realize there was a limit to how far he was willing to go with the character. When talking with Entertainment Weekly, the actor admitted that he spoke with showrunner Eric Kripke and said something along the lines of, "As a father of three, and a son and a husband and a self-respecting human being, I can't do this. I didn't know where my line was, but you found it."

Fortunately, Kripke did not have a problem with Ackles' refusal to do the controversial scene, as he said, "We worked out a compromise where I got what I needed without him destroying his soul." Co-star Karl Urban later found out what had happened and was thoroughly amused. He commented, "When Jensen Ackles is making calls like, 'I don't know if I can do this,' that's when you know you're in the right place."

Matthew Perry in Friends

As the show that skyrocketed his career into the highest echelons of TV stardom, Matthew Perry thoroughly enjoyed filming the many seasons of "Friends," and considered it the time of his life, as he wrote in his 2022-released memoir (via Insider). Therefore, it was vital to the actor that he delivered the final line of the show.

Perry's wish was granted, yet there was another time in the history of the long-running series in which the actor preferred not to speak or participate at all for that matter. When interviewed by Andy Cohen on "Watch What Happens: Live," the actor was asked about a scene he refused to do, and he responded, "There was a storyline on 'Friends' where Chandler went to a male strip joint cause he really liked the sandwiches, and I called up and I said, 'Let's not do this one.'" Just as with the final episode, Perry got his way and the part was removed from the script.

Jane Fonda in Grace and Frankie

Religion is incredibly important to a significant portion of the population, and there are many actors who are certainly among that massive group. So, even though their day job is to perform scenarios that are entirely fictional, the dedication to their beliefs is at such a high level for some that certain expectations are completely unacceptable, no matter how minor the issue may seem to others.

This type of situation arose for Jane Fonda, who is a devout Christian, on her hit show, "Grace and Frankie." During a panel at the Paley Center for Media's "Going Beyond the Number" event (via The Hollywood Reporter), co-creator Marta Kauffman briefly explained the slight hiccup: "We've had little things, like Jane didn't feel comfortable saying — honestly, it was 'Jesus Christ.' Jane didn't feel comfortable saying, 'Jesus Christ.'"

Kauffman stressed how important it was for her that Fonda felt comfortable voicing her concerns and added, "These four actors are the most professional, glorious people I've ever worked with. I love them. So, when they have an issue, it's not that they're being divas. It's not that they're being self-important. They have a real issue."