12 Backstories On Why Cast Members Were Written Off TV Shows

Find out who got fired or passed away while off-screen.

Have you ever wondered why an actor or actress left in the middle of a season from your favorite show? There are plenty of potential reasons, which could include arguments or disputes on set, an actor becoming ill, or the actor unfortunately dying.

The latest technology with movie-making has been able to cover up a lot of these cases where we don’t even notice, but not everything can be fixed. The following are examples of why films and shows lost their main stars.

1. William Hartnell

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This beloved Doctor Who character had arteriosclerosis and got to the point where he could no longer keep up with the acting lifestyle. The producers wanted to keep the show going, so they came up with the idea of the Doctor regenerating.

2. Maggie Roswell


Mrs. Flanders from The Simpsons had a sudden and unfortunate death after falling off a grandstand from being hit by a shirt from a shirt cannon. The voice actress for Maude lived out of state, and the studio had to pay for her flights to LA when it was time to record. The show must’ve then decided it was cheaper to kill off the character instead.

3. Scarlett Pomers


The character of Kyra from the show Reba left during season 5 with no explanation. She had checked herself into a treatment center for her anorexia after her weight dropped to 73 pounds due to excessive exercising. She returned to the show during season 6 with a brief explanation. Reba asked, “Where have you been?” Kyra responded with, “I went to get something to eat.”

4. Mr. Hooper

This favorite Sesame Street character passed away. Instead of writing him off, they dedicated an episode to Mr. Hopper and explained that he had died.

5. Judith Barsi


You probably don’t recognize her face since she was several beloved animated characters. She was the original voice of Ducky in The Land Before Time, and the voice of Ann-Marie in All Dogs Go To Heaven. As her fame increased, so did the amount of abuse she received from her father. Finally, one night he shot and killed both her and her mother. Two days following their murder, he set their bodies on fire and shot himself.

6. David Yost

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Yost was the original blue Power Ranger, until one day he didn’t come back after his lunch break. He had been experiencing harassment from the crew for years because of his sexual orientation. He went to conversion therapy for 2 years until finally deciding to accept himself for the way he was.

7. Damon Wayans

Donovan X. Ramsey

Damon was acting on Saturday Night Live, but was frustrated because he couldn’t do what he wanted on the show. The crew suspected that Wayans would be too much like Eddie Murphy, who had recently left the show before him. During his last show, he went against the script and played a flamboyant cop instead of a straight cop, knowing he would be fired.

8. Shannen Doherty


Doherty was fired from both Beverly Hills: 90210 and Charmed after on-set fueds with co-stars and executive producers. Rose McGowan stepped in and took her place for the last five seasons of Charmed.

9. Steve Burns


Steve from Blues Clues didn’t go away to college like they said in the show. Burns was actually going bald and said he refused to lose his hair while on a children’s show. By the end of his career on the show, he was wearing a hat to hide his receding hairline.

10. Soleil Moon Frye


Frye was very popular among kids after starring in the children’s show Punky Brewster. The show was suffering from low ratings, in addition to Frye having a condition called gigantomastia. This caused her breasts to grow quickly and very large. She was harassed and taunted by male producers and other boys. By the age of 16, she was considered to have a woman’s body and could no longer portray characters her age. The show was cancelled after four seasons.

11. Heath Ledger

Harry Forbes

Heath Ledger died during the filming of The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. Instead of ending the film, Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell, and Jude Law were casted to portray Ledger’s character in scenes with the thought that he would be transformed while traveling through magical realms, that Ledger was the “real-world” version of himself.

12. Brandon Lee


While on set for The Crow, Lee suffered a fatal gunshot wound. The scene in which he was shot was done with a prop gun that had real bullets, but no gun powder. The prop crew used their own cartridges so the gun would have a realistic appearance. While filming, the revolver was discharged with an improperly-deactivated cartridge. This set off the primer that put the bullet in the barrel and got stuck. When the revolver was fired, it produced enough force to release the bullet in the barrel and hit Lee. He was rushed to the hospital, where he was in surgery for six hours. He was pronounced dead that afternoon.

13. Paul Walker

Cheap Car Center

Walker passed away in 2013 after the car he was in crashed into a concrete lamp post and trees. He was in the middle of filming Fast and the Furious 7, in which was put on hold until the crew could figure out what to do. They moved forward using special effects and stunt doubles for his character to finish off the film.

14. John Ritter

Movie Pilot

This lovable dad from 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter died from a heart attack in 2003. Instead of moving forward with no recognition, his death was written into the series.

15. River Phoenix


River Phoenix passed away during the filming of Dark Blood due to a drug overdose at the age of 23. This drama was left unfinished for 19 years, but was finally released in 2012.