Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Characters Killed Off Because Of The Actor's Bad Behavior

Losing a job is never fun. Sometimes it can be downright traumatic. You lose contact with the coworkers you got used to seeing every day, you lose your daily routine, and depending on your situation, you might lose your health insurance and your financial security. But imagine if, along with all the other losses you're forced to endure, being let go from your job meant losing your life.

That's what happened to the actors on this list ... well, only in a sense. It's no secret that some actors — regardless of their talent or popularity — lose jobs because of their behavior when the cameras are turned off. Some stir up public controversies on social media or in interviews, some get hostile when it's time to renegotiate contracts, and quite a few are known for making life far too difficult for the rest of the cast and crew. 

While the characters these actors play usually just disappear, sometimes that isn't enough. In some cases, whether it's out of malice or necessity, the writers decide the best way to say goodbye is to straight-up annihilate the character. Keep reading to learn about characters from TV and film who were killed off because of an actor's bad behavior.

Jay Thomas kissed and told too much

Between 1987 and 1989, the late Jay Thomas played the recurring role of hockey player Eddie LeBec on the hit sitcom Cheers. LeBec is a hockey player for the Boston Bruins who gets involved with the tough, no-nonsense waitress Carla (Rhea Perlman), and eventually, the pair tie the knot. Sadly, their wedded bliss doesn't last long. The Bruins fire Eddie because of his age, so he's forced to take a job as a skating penguin in a traveling ice show. In season eight's "Death Takes a Holiday on Ice," we learn the former hockey player was killed in a bizarre Zamboni accident. 

According to Ken Levine — one of the Cheers writers who, among other things, co-wrote the two-part episode "Never Love a Goalie" that introduces Eddie LeBec — the hockey player's demise was the result of the actor saying the wrong thing while the wrong person was listening. In a 2006 blog post, Levine explained that at the same time Thomas had a recurring role on Cheers, he was also a DJ in Los Angeles on Power 106. When a caller asked him on the air what it was like working on Cheers, Thomas joked that it was "brutal" because he had to kiss Rhea Perlman. According to Levine, Perlman happened to be listening to the show, and as a result, Thomas was never seen on Cheers again.  

John Rhys-Davies clashed with the writers of Sliders

A few years before he was chopping through orcs as the dwarf-warrior Gimli in Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings series, John Rhys-Davies played Professor Maximillian Arturo on the science fiction series Sliders. Arturo acts as mentor to Quinn Mallory (Jerry O'Connell) as they and their friends use wormholes to travel to parallel universes. In the season three two-parter "The Exodus," Arturo sacrifices himself to save Quinn, taking a bullet meant for the younger hero. 

Nearly two decades after his departure from Sliders, Rhys-Davies told Digital Spy that the real reason he took the bullet wasn't to save Quinn but to save himself from bad writing. He said Sliders "could've been the best show on television," but that the writers "didn't have the vision" to tap its full potential, and he called the scripts "incomprehensible gibberish."

"If you're writing science fiction," Rhys-Davies said, "you should have read some science fiction and you should actually understand some science!" Rhys-Davies went on to say he clashed with the writers on a regular basis. "I would go to [the writers] and complain. But they would say, 'John, why don't you just say the words as written?' and I'd say, 'I'll tell you what, I will actually say the words as written when you can actually write intelligent sentences!'" The actor wasn't clear about whether he was fired or quit, but either way, he said his conflicts with the writers were to blame for his departure.

Roseanne Barr tweeted the wrong thing

Beginning in 1988, Roseanne aired for nine seasons, ending in 1997. Then in 2018, the sitcom Roseanne enjoyed what was initially an extremely successful revival. With the original cast on board and hit ratings, the new Roseanne looked set to possibly enjoy many more seasons ... until the lead star tweeted the wrong thing. In July 2018, Barr tweeted a racist insult about Valerie Jarrett, a former adviser to President Barrack Obama. Soon afterward, ABC fired Barr and canceled the series, but while it was the end for Roseanne, it wasn't the end of the character's story. 

In October 2018, The Conners premiered, featuring all of Roseanne's cast, minus Barr. The first episode reveals the Conner family matriarch has died. At first, a heart attack is blamed for her death, but later in the premiere, we learn she died of an opioid overdose. Roseanne and The Conners showrunner Bruce Helford said the choice to kill off her character was made "to make her departure clearly permanent" and the manner of her death was meant to be "one that was relevant and could inspire discussion for the greater good about the American working class."

Barr apparently didn't agree. After the premiere, Barr wrote a long response to her character's demise on The Conners, saying the choice "lent an unnecessary grim and morbid dimension to an otherwise happy family show."

Marcus Chong made strange demands

In The Matrix films, one of the more conspicuous absences after the first movie is Tank, played by Marcus Chong. In spite of being one of the few good guys to survive the original film, his character is killed off between movies and doesn't appear in either The Matrix Reloaded or The Matrix Revolutions. The reason Tank dies is that when he was approached to reprise the role, Chong decided on an absolutely bizarre negotiating strategy. 

The writer/director team of the Wachowskis reportedly wanted Chong to return and offered him $250,000 to do so. But, depending on which version of Chong you ask, that was either way too much or not nearly enough. Chong wanted $1 million to reprise the role of Tank, but that was too much for the Wachowskis, and they refused. So, Chong had his lawyer deliver a letter in which the actor said he would return for the sequels either for $500,000 or for free. "I will do it for free," Chong wrote, "because I love our project and want to protect the role and the integrity of the [Wachowskis'] vision." Instead, the Wachowskis decided the franchise could survive without Tank.

Unfortunately for everyone involved, it wasn't the last the Wachowskis heard from Chong. He was arrested for threatening the filmmakers, and he later unsuccessfully sued Warner Bros., AOL Time Warner, and Eon (the Wachowski's production company) for breach of contract, slander, and fraud.

Charlie Sheen did a little too much 'winning' for his own good

For eight seasons, Charlie Sheen played jingle writer Charlie Harper on the CBS sitcom Two and a Half Men. But in the season nine premiere, it's revealed that Harper dies an utterly ridiculous death when a helicopter drops a grand piano on top of him. Sheen's character is then replaced by internet tycoon Walden Schmidt (played by Ashton Kutcher).

While the manner of Harper's death likely surprised plenty of viewers, the fact that he died surprised no one. Long before he was even cast on Two and a Half Men, Sheen had built himself a disturbing reputation that included drug abuse and domestic violence. In February 2011, Sheen hammered the final nails in his character's coffin with vicious attacks on Two and a Half Men creator Chuck Lorre when Sheen appeared on The Alex Jones Show and hurled anti-Semitic insults directed at Lorre and posted an open letter rant on TMZ. In early March, Warner Bros announced enough was enough, and Sheen was fired from Two and a Half Men

However, the season nine premiere proved to not quite be the end of Charlie Harper. In the two-part series finale "Of Course He's Dead," it's revealed Charlie's stalker neighbor, Rose (Melanie Lynskey), faked his death and has been keeping him a prisoner in a pit for the last four years. Harper escapes, but he's once again (or for the first time, depending on how you look at it) killed by a helicopter that drops a grand piano on him.

Isaac Hayes (possibly) felt South Park went too far

For nine seasons, the late soul singer and actor Isaac Hayes lent his voice to the character Chef on Comedy Central's controversial animated show South Park. Chef would often deliver wisdom to the show's young heroes — wisdom that usually involved breaking into a soul song. But in 2006, Hayes asked be released from his contract. Hayes cited what he called the show's "intolerance and bigotry towards religious beliefs" as his reason for departing. Hayes, a Scientologist, didn't directly reference the season nine episode "Trapped in the Closet," which criticized Scientology, but many — including South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone — assumed that episode was what he was talking about. 

In an official statement from Comedy Central, Stone pointed out what he saw as Hayes' hypocrisy, writing, "Isaac never had a problem with the show making fun of Christians, Muslims, Mormons, or Jews. He got a sudden case of religious sensitivity when it was his religion featured on the show." However, we should point out that Hayes' son has said that his dad had a stroke in 2006, and that the Church of Scientology penned this letter in his name, so perhaps the actor wasn't responsible for the letter.

Regardless, in the season ten premiere "The Return of Chef," Parker and Stone made sure Hayes knew how they felt about his departure. After a hiatus, Chef returns to South Park as a member of the "Super Adventure Club," a blatant stand-in for Scientology. At the end of the episode, Chef is on a rope bridge as it's struck by lightning. The bridge breaks, he catches on fire, falls down a cliffside, and winds up impaled on a branch. Then he's shot and mauled by both a mountain lion and a bear.

Shannen Doherty and Alyssa Milano feuded while making Charmed

Of the things actress Shannen Doherty is known for, working and playing well with others isn't one of them. She was reportedly the source of plenty of behind-the-scenes chaos on the set of the teen drama Beverly Hills 90210, including a fistfight with co-star Jennie Garth. In 2015, Doherty's 90210 co-star Tori Spelling admitted that she asked her father — 90210 producer Aaron Spelling — to fire Doherty, a request he honored. 

Regardless, Aaron Spelling tapped Doherty again for Charmed, a supernatural drama about the Halliwell sisters, witches who use their powers to fight evil. Doherty played the oldest of the three, Prue Halliwell, and she was joined by Alyssa Milano as Phoebe and Holly Marie Combs as Piper. But while the series lasted eight seasons and won an impressive cult following, Doherty was only there for the first three. In the season three finale, Prue is murdered by the demon assassin Shax (Michael Bailey Smith). 

This time, while Doherty's departure was because of all the wrong kinds of drama, she refused to get the proverbial ax. For unspecified reasons, Doherty and co-star Milano had stopped speaking to one another during the course of the series. When Milano demanded Doherty be fired, the latter reportedly heard about it through the grapevine. Rather than be fired, Doherty not only quit, she directed "All Hell Breaks Loose" — the season three finale in which Prue meets her end.

Chevy Chase was too much like his Community character

By the end of the sitcom Community, almost half of the actors from the original line-up of Greendale Community College's most well-known study group had moved on. But the only character who literally didn't survive the series was Chevy Chase's Pierce Hawthorne. While Pierce had a penchant for faking heart attacks throughout the show in order to get out of trouble, apparently his final one was the real deal. According to Community creator Dan Harmon, the main reason for Hawthorne's death was that Chase and his character were a little bit too much alike. 

The last straw fell during the filming of the season four episode "Advanced Documentary Filmmaking." During filming, Chase apparently went on an angry rant, which included a racial slur. Afterward, NBC and Chase came to the agreement that season four would be Chase's last, though he made a cameo in the season five premiere as a hologram. His death was announced later that season.

Harmon has since gone on record that the rant during season four was just the tip of the iceberg. Not only did Chase have a history of leaving the set before his filming was completed, but in a 2018 New Yorker interview (via Den of Geek), Harmon and Chase's co-star Donald Glover said the older actor would often make racist cracks at Glover between takes, including suggesting that the audience only found Glover funny because he was Black. 

Criminal Minds was the wrong job for Mandy Patinkin

For the first two seasons of CBS' police procedural Criminal Minds, Mandy Patinkin played expert criminal profiler Jason Gideon. Early in season three, Patinkin left the show abruptly, and Joe Mantegna stepped in as the new profiler David Rossi. So why the change-up? Patinkin had asked to be released from his contract after failing to show up at a table read. Then further down the road in the show's tenth season, it was revealed that Gideon had been murdered off-screen by a suspect from one of his earliest cases.

In a 2012 interview with New York magazine, Patinkin opened up about his departure from Criminal Minds, saying that working on the show was the "biggest public mistake" he'd ever made. Apparently playing a criminal profiler was having too many damaging side effects on Patinkin's mental and spiritual well-being. "I never thought they were going to kill and rape all these women every night, every day. ... It was very destructive to my soul and my personality." Patinkin went on to suggest Criminal Minds and shows like it were detrimental to society. "Audiences all over the world use this programming as their bedtime story," Patinkin warned. "This isn't what you need to be dreaming about."