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The Real Reason Alfred Enoch Left How To Get Away With Murder

When How to Get Away with Murder premiered on ABC back in 2014, part of the Shondaland show's appeal was, well, murder. With such an explicit title, viewers came in knowing that characters were going to die. 

What was less clear from the show's premise was who would be murdered. While How to Get Away with Murder dabbled in the deaths of supporting characters early on, viewers were thrown for a loop when it was revealed during season 3 that Wes Gibbons, played by Alfred Enoch of Harry Potter fame, was the show's latest victim. One of the original Keating Five, Wes' boy-next-door charms and semi-outsider status made him the lens through which viewers saw the competitive (and deadly) world of Middleton Law School. The series' most prominent everyman, Wes is taken under the wing of Suicide Squad star Viola Davis' Annalise Keating, where he learns the often unjust inner-workings of the criminal justice system.

Wes eventually becomes romantically entwined with Laurel Castillo (Karla Souza), who reveals that she is pregnant with their child around the time of his death in a mysterious fire. This relationship is ultimately what led to the axing of Enoch's character. His departure sent a ripple through the HTGAWM fanbase, upsetting those who weren't yet ready to say goodbye to the character, and confusing viewers about the real reason for Enoch's departure. 

Alfred Enoch's departure of How to Get Away with Murder was a creative not a professional decision

Wes' death was one of the show's most shocking and unexpected moments, leading to much speculation about why the character's storyline had come to an abrupt end. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Enoch explained that the decision was creative rather than professional. The show's shortened episode order — no more than 16 per season based on Davis' contract stipulations — stifled the actor's ability to "go and do something else in the hiatus." Narratively, Wes' death was a move that made sense in terms of the show's need to develop other characters, as well as stay true to its twisty mysteries and moral dilemmas. 

"We've done so much Wes story," Enoch told the magazine. "It'll be interesting, it'll be good, they'll be able to do something else. Also, I think it's good because some of the tensions are getting unresolved. Do you know what I mean? Are they never going to find out that Bonnie [Liza Weil] killed Rebecca [Katie Findlay], because how are Wes and Bonnie going to exist under the same roof? I would much rather this happen than they find out, and they make up. I would be like, 'That can't happen.'"

For Enoch, it was virtually impossible to keep things believable without doing something significant with his role. "That's one of the challenges of the show. Sensational and dramatic things happen, and then the writers amazingly find ways to keep the characters coexisting, but that's pretty tricky," the actor said. "The nature of the show throws up these problems, so I think this is a good resolution to many of those."

Enoch's axing helped make room for other characters and keep things believable

Before his death, Wes got away with a murder of his own — specifically the death of Annalise's husband, Sam (Tom Verica). Wes and his then-love interest Rebecca broke into the Keatings' home to find evidence of Sam's role in the death of a female student. When Sam caught them, a struggle ensued before Annalise's husband fell from a landing. But Sam re-emerged and attempted to kill Rebecca before Wes stopped him. Killing Sam, along with the Five's other dark acts, weighed heavily on Wes, and he increasingly proposed turning themselves in. When Wes fell in love with Laurel, who came from a powerful Mexican crime family, his passion for accountability threatened the family business, leading Laurel's mom to put a hit out on him.

The biggest question before Wes' death was how someone who doesn't want to get away with murder navigates life with people who do. "That was something we struggled with the first season because we were shooting those scenes, and we didn't know Wes had killed Sam," Enoch told EW. "The characters know it, but finding it out, it was tricky to be like, 'Why does everyone forgive him for embroiling them in a murder plot, which ultimately he has nothing to do with?' They could've left. How do they get past that?" 

While it may have made artistic sense, fans still lamented his departure, and Enoch appreciated their sentiments. "People — at least the people who talked to me about it have seemed to care about it," Enoch told Access Hollywood. "But you know, that's sort of what the show's about. It's twists and turns to a little bit of heartbreak here and there." 

Alfred Enoch never returned to HTGAWM as Wes, but successfully predicted his appearance as Wes' son

While Enoch's time as Wes came to an end during season 3, it wasn't the last time he appeared on the show. In an interview with TVLine following the series' cancellation and the finale, How to Get Away with Murder showrunner Peter Nowalk revealed bringing Wes back was never a legitimate possibility in the way that it was for other characters, like Sam or even Karla Souza's Laurel

"It would have been if we hadn't seen him and shown his autopsy, which was such a horrible, graphic thing," Nowalk told TVLine. "I mean, work backwards from there — Annalise seeing him on the stretcher was one of our biggest twists, one of our most painful twists and most painful decisions to make. That would have had to be, like, the police put makeup on him. There was no way to make that work."

But Alfred Enoch did return appearing at Annalise's funeral in a flash-forward as Wes and Laurel's grown son. Oddly enough, it happened in the very same way Enoch proposed a possible return for himself. "Maybe they could do some real age makeup, and you know, the show's always about flash-forwards," Enoch told Access Hollywood in 2017. "So maybe cut ahead like 25 years? But maybe they wouldn't give me the part of Wes' son. That would be too weird."  

Apparently, it wasn't "too weird." Nowalk told TVLine that getting the former HTGAWM actor back was, in the end, the fitting and true to the series' spirit. "It wasn't set in stone until [Enoch] said he would do it," Nowalk said. "And luckily, he was thrilled to do it. But yes, that was my pitch. That was a way to kill Annalise and also stay in the style of the show, which is flashing forward. This is the ultimate flash-forward."