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Why Did Titus Makin Jr. Really Leave The Rookie?

For the first three seasons of ABC's police procedural "The Rookie," Titus Makin Jr.'s Jackson West serves as one the show's most important characters alongside Nathan Fillion's John Nolan. That's why it was an absolute shock to fans when it was announced around the start of Season 4 that Makin Jr. would not be returning for future installments of the series. In-universe, West makes the most heartbreaking exit possible, as the officer dies of a bullet wound after saving the life of Angela Lopez (Alyssa Diaz) in the Season 4 premiere, "Life and Death."

It's no surprise that fans have felt rather blindsided by Makin Jr.'s sudden departure and West's resulting death on "The Rookie." While the circumstances surrounding the actor's exit from the series are rather obscure, certain interviews and quotes from both him and the show's creative team paint a clearer picture of what occurred. Simply put, Makin Jr. didn't want to return to "The Rookie" after Season 3 for certain reasons. Here's what we know about the circumstances behind the actor's departure.

Makin Jr. decided to leave The Rookie

After Titus Makin Jr. exited the cast of "The Rookie," the actor did not provide any public statement on the circumstances of his departure. Instead, the only one to give an official comment was "The Rookie" showrunner Alexi Hawley. "It's heartbreaking but I didn't really have a choice," he told TVLine regarding Makin Jr.'s exit and West's death. "He wasn't coming back, and because of the way we set things up with the [Season 3] finale, there was just no way to tell that story without Jackson ... But we lean really hard into honoring how he was the heart of the show, and it was definitely impactful for us to have to deal with that."

While there hasn't been a definitive reason given for Makin Jr.'s departure, there is one potential factor. Prior to his exit, Makin Jr. was vocal about grappling with the fact that he was portraying a Black police officer amid real-world issues like police brutality and racial profiling. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, the actor revealed that he pushed for the series to explore these subjects and more going into Season 3. "I'm extremely grateful that ABC and 'The Rookie' has given us a platform and have been so willing to tell these tricky stories," he said. "It's something that they very well could have ignored, but they don't want to."

While Makin Jr.'s input did bring about change in terms of the show's themes and its approach to exploring topical subjects like the issues Black officers face in the police force, it's possible that he ultimately didn't feel comfortable continuing to appear on "The Rookie" as his character. Nonetheless, this remains pure speculation until someone with knowledge of the matter provides further context.

Makin Jr. has gone on to other creative projects

While Titus Makin Jr. may no longer be a part of "The Rookie," that doesn't mean the performer has left the acting business entirely. In 2022, the actor appeared as part of the cast for Sanaa Lathan's musical drama film "On the Come Up" alongside well-known names like Lil Yachty and Mike Epps. He has also appeared in a few short films, such as "Aliens on Halloween" and "Pool Service, Inc." 

Makin Jr. has also kept himself with other ventures. He has delved deeper into fashion, as he owns his own clothing company Erly. The performer is notably also a musician under the moniker of Butterfly Ali, though he hasn't released new music since 2021.

Overall, Makin Jr. is still active, though he has seemingly stepped out of the spotlight for the time being. It remains to be seen whether he makes a full-scale return to TV on another series, but it's seems pretty unlikely that fans will see him again on "The Rookie" or any other similar show of that sort.