Users of Reddit were asked: "What's a reason an actor or actress has been written out of a tv show that I probably did not know about?" These are some of the best reasons shared!
1. Tommy Chong left That 70's Show because he went to jail for 9 months for "selling drug paraphanalia." In jail, he was cellmates with Jordan Belfort (as portrayed by Leo DiCaprio in Wolf of Wall Street), and Chong was one of the major influences convincing Jordan to write his book.
Tommy Chong would later reprise his role as Leo on That 70's Show after getting out of jail.
2. Dominic Monaghan asked to be written out of Lost because he was seeing Evangeline Lily, but she dumped him and broke his tiny Hobbit heart and he couldn't stand to work with her anymore.
3. William Hartnell left Doctor Who because he had arteriosclerosis and his health was declining to the point where he couldn't keep up with a TV acting schedule. The producers came up with the idea that the Doctor could regenerate into a new body, because the show was doing well and they wanted to keep it going. Hartnell was apparently the one who suggested Patrick Troughton should take over the role. So ultimately Hartnell's illness inspired the premise gimmick that would make the show (and its hero) effectively immortal.
4. Remember when Maude Flanders died via a volley from a t-shirt cannon brigade? Maggie Roswell, the voice actress for Maude, got into a payment dispute with the show -- she lived out of state and had to pay for her own flight to LA and wanted a raise to compensate those expenses. The show found it cheaper to just kill her off.
5. On Cheers, Carla's husband Eddie was written off because of some rude comments that the actor made. He had a national radio show at the time and made some jokes about Rhea Perlman's looks and getting "combat pay" for kissing her. Perlman wanted him off the show, the show runners agreed and had him killed off by a zamboni.
6. In the fourth season of House M.D., where House started with 30 trainee doctors and fired a few people every day in the show, even the actors didn't know who was going to be around on the next week's episode. The writers were making up decisions about which character would get fired in-show at the last minute, so the actors didn't know if they'd remain on the show or not until the end of a week of filming.
7. Here's a sad one. In the 1970s Sesame Street added their first new "human" character (as in not a puppet). Northern Calloway played the character David. David was supposed to be the hip older brother type. At a time when a lot of inner city kids were turning to drugs here was Sesame Street providing a more positive role model. He worked at Mr. Hooper's Store and was going to college to get a law degree. Later he took over Mr. Hooper's Store. Popular character who got less and less air time until he just disappeared one day. Why?
Well, he was secretly bipolar. He took lithium for it, which helped, but also took cocaine which did not. His mental health continued to deteriorate until one day he went on a rampage in Nashville wearing only a Superman t-shirt. He beat a woman with an iron rod and smashed windows. When he was arrested he screamed he was David from Sesame Street and they were trying to kill him.
He bounced in and out of institutions for the rest of his life. He actually died in a mental hospital in 1990 after a prolonged psychotic episode.
8. Livia Soprano, Tony Sopranos mother, was ranked #3 in Rolling Stones 40 Greatest TV Villains of All Time. We loved to hate her, and were disappointed to see our favorite villain pass away in the third season of The Sopranos. What most fans didnt realize was that her character was written off the show because the actress, Nancy Marchand, actually died of lung cancer. She continued to work on the show up until her death, to the admiration of her colleagues. In order to provide closure for their audience, the shows creators decided to use CGI to insert her likeness into the show for a final scene.
9. The original owner of the store on Sesame Street was a wonderful, kind old man named Mr. Hooper. The actor who played him died, and rather than quietly write him out, Sesame Street had a whole show explaining he died. I cried. Saddest TV moment of my young life.
10. Here's one that I'm a bit weirded out that I know. Kyra from the show Reba (Scarlett Pomers) left the show, with the full support of the cast, mid-season in 2005 to get treatment for anorexia. She was 5'2" and weighs only 73 pounds.
After completing treatment and getting her weight back up and life back together she returned to the show. She walks into the house and someone asks, "Hey, where have you been?" To which she replied, "I went to get something to eat!"
11. They told us Steve left to go to college. He really left because the actor was going bald. (He also had some musical interests he wanted to explore, but the actor said, "Mostly because I refused to lose my hair on a kid's TV show, and it was happening fast.") I missed Steve so much. Blue's Clues wasn't the same after that.
12. The Office: He wasn't killed off, but when Ryan went to "Thailand" he actually was taking time off to film Inglorious Basterds.
13. Cuddy was written out of the last season of House because her salary couldn't be agreed upon.
14. On Seinfeld... Elaine's gruff father only appeared once because he made Jerry nervous in real life.
15. Kal Penn was written out of House to go work for the White House. From one house to another...
16. Michael O'Hare, who played Jeffrey Sinclair in Babylon 5, left the show due to suffering from psychological issues (paranoia, hallucinations, etc). They wanted to put the show on hiatus while he sought treatment, but he insisted be written out so the show could go on without him while he got help. The shows creator agreed to keep his condition a secret till after O'Hare's death (at his request).
17. In the UK show Misfits the character Kelly was written off because the actor in real life had to do community service.
18. One of the many reasons that Punky Brewster was cancelled is because the star of the show, Soleil Moon Frye suffered from a condition called gigantomastia, literally giant breasts, and had a breast reduction surgery prior to her 16th birthday to reduce her 38DD to a more manageable size. The actress developed so quickly and so large that the producers felt there was no way they could reasonably portray her character age-appropriately.
19. Janet Hubert - The original Aunt Viv in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air was fired from the show after violating her contract by getting pregnant. She wasn't written off but she was replaced by Daphne Maxwell Reed in the last 3 seasons.
20. In case you were wondering why Shirley was not in the sixth season of Community, Yvette Nicole asked to be written off so she could be with her ill father :(
21. Dean Forester (Jared Padalecki) from Gilmore Girls, left to be Dean's brother, Sam Winchester for Supernatural.
22. Lisa Bonet was written off of The Cosby Show for 'creative differences', but in reality it was because she was in Angel Heartand had done a topless spread in a magazine. It didn't fit with Cosby's vision so she was fired.
23. Dale from The Walking Dead, played by Jeffrey DeMunn. Jeffrey DeMunn was loyal to Frank Darabont in TWD fiasco in Season 2. So when Frank Darabont got fired, he didn't want to act on TWD anymore. So they killed his character.
Its pretty apparent too, since his death is completely ridiculous. He's walking in an open field. And he comes across a cow thats been torn open by a walker. He turns around and theres a walker RIGHT THERE!! How did the walker get there so fast? They don't run, they only shuffle around. There weren't any bushes, trees or tall grass for the walker to hide behind. He just sort of apparates behind Dale. Its one of the stupider deaths on the show.
24. Billy the Blue Ranger (David Yost) wasn't fired from The Power Rangers, but he randomly walked off the set during his lunch break one day and never came back.
Turns out, the crew had been harassing him for years about his sexual orientation and he'd been contemplating suicide. After he left the show, he put himself in conversion therapy for two years, then finally accepted his sexual orientation after a psychological breakdown.
25. Mandy Patinkin left the case of Criminal Minds because the content in the show was getting too dark and morbid for him, so they simply retired his character.
26. Marissa Coopers death in The O.C. stunned fans, but her departure from the show was actually Mischa Bartons choice. While The O.C. was a huge success, she wanted to pursue a career in film and the show creators killed off her character in a dramatic car accident. Since leaving the show, Barton has mostly featured in horror films, but has stated that she is open to returning to TV if given enough artistic license.
27. The Big Bang Theorys Mrs. Wolowitz is Howards overprotective mother who never appears on screen but fans immediately recognize her distinctive voice. She appeared throughout the first seven seasons of the show, but dies in Season 8. The decision to kill her off was actually made due to the off-screen death of voice actress Carol Ann Susi. Rather than find a sound-alike replacement, the creators of the show decided to write Mrs. Wolowitz off the show out of respect for Susi.
28. South Parks Chef was killed off extremely dramatically - first dropped off a bridge onto rocks, then impaled by a branch, and finally mauled by wild animals. South Park has never been shy about killing off characters - one of the longest running gags was the death of Kenny in every episode. But Chef was actually killed off after actor Isaac Hayes criticized the show following an episode about Scientology, calling it intolerant of religious beliefs. Its almost like hes never seen South Park before.
29. Scandals Harrison Wright died after three seasons, surprising the shows fans. But his departure was actually caused by actor Columbus Short, who was involved in a bar fight and ended up threatening to kill himself and his wife while intoxicated. The shows creators decided that it was best to distance themselves from Short following his criminal charges.
30. Laurie Foreman was supposed to be a regular character on That '70s Show. She was Eric's sexy sister who distracted Kelso and always needed to mooch money from her parents. But by the fourth season, Lisa Robin Kelly (the actress who played her) was suffering from alcoholism and had to be written out of the show. The character returned briefly in the sixth season, played by a different actress. Lisa Robin Kelly passed away in her sleep while at a rehab facility in 2013.
31. George O'Malley was a beloved character in Greys Anatomy, but actor T.R. Knight hated working on the show and wanted to be written out. He suggested that his character should go live in a cabin. Instead, the writers had him get hit by a bus and disfigured to the point where none of his friends could recognize him. I guess thats one way to do it.
32. Charlie Sheen is hardly known for his even temper and modesty in public. But after his public meltdown and public criticism of Chuck Lorre, Sheen was written out of the Two and a Half Men. It seems like Lorre got his revenge, when Sheens character was killed when he fell off a metro platform in Paris and "exploded like a balloon full of meat."
33. Dr. Hahn was a controversial addition to Seattle Grace, as an openly gay character on a show full of hormone-driven heterosexual relationships. When ABC decided to fire Brooke Smith from Grey's Anatomy, they never publicly confirmed a reason. However, her departure was blamed on controversy about her sexuality, paired with her atypical physical appearance - she was a highly talented actress, but did not fit the shows skinny-pretty-glamorous type. Her departure was extremely controversial and offended many gay rights groups around the country.
34. Glees Ken Tanaka was the aggressive, dimwitted coach who would take out his frustrations with his fianc Emma on his football team. His character abruptly disappeared from the show at the end of the first season of the show. Fans speculated that Patrick Gallagher (the actor who played Tanaka) had suffered a nervous breakdown, but he said that the storyline had simply run its course.
35. Tina Pinciotti was supposed to appear regularly as the younger sister of Donna in That '70s Show, but the writers seemed to simply change their mind about the character. Tina does show up for one episode, but that episode ends up being her only appearance. Shes the character that could have been.
36. Dr. Goodman was a recurring character on the hit show Bones in its first season, but he never returned for the second season. He announces that he will leave the Jeffersonian Institute for a three month sabbatical, but then the character never returned. The show's creator felt that, "his energy did not mesh well with the rest of the talent." Ouch.
37. Communitys Pierce Hawthorne dies at the beginning of Season 5, and an entire episode was written about the execution of his will. In reality, Chevy Chase left the series toward the end of filming for Season 4, but was included in the last episodes of that season because the filming for those was completed prior to his departure. Chase left the show after a tumultuous four seasons, during which he publicly criticized the show for not being funny and butted heads with the shows creator, Dan Harmon. This conflict actually led to Harmons removal from the show for Season 4, and when Chase left, Harmon returned for Season 5. Chase did make a cameo appearance in Season 5, where he shows up as a hologram on Greendale Community College campus.
38. One of the least loved characters on The West Wing was Mandy, played by Moira Kelly. She disappeared quietly from the show, and isnt mentioned after Season 1. While no reason has been publicly confirmed about her departure, theories suggest that her abrasive personality wore on the audience and the actress herself was unhappy with the storylines she was given. Mandy was also supposed to be a potential (and former) love interest for Josh Lyman, and she didn't have as much chemistry with Bradley Whitford as Janel Maloney did. Her quiet departure went mostly unnoticed by many fans, especially after the dramatic cliffhanger finale of Season 1. But Mandy wasn't the only character to disappear from the show...
39. Leo McGarry, Chief of Staff to President Bartlet in The West Wing, died offscreen in Season 7 while serving as running mate to presidential candidate Matt Santos. But his character was actually written off because the John Spencer passed away unexpectedly near the end of filming. According to executive producer Lawrence O'Donnell, Jr., the writers originally intended for Vinick to win the election. However, the death of Spencer forced him and his colleagues to consider the emotional strain that would result from having Santos lose both his running mate and the election. It was eventually decided that the last episodes would be rescripted with a Santos win.
40. Julie Mcullough allegedly was written out of Growing Pains after show star Kirk Cameron called for her dismissal because of her having posed for Playboy. Cameron had become a born-again Christian during the run of the show, creating many challenges and alienating him from his co-stars.
41. After being arrested for drug possession, Robert Downey Jr's character Larry was written off of Ally Mcbeal before completing the final episode of the season; in which he was meant to marry the titular character!
42. Heidi Swedberg, who played George Constanza's fiancee Susan Ross in Seinfeld, was killed off in an absurd storyline wherein she licks poisonous glue to seal a letter to their wedding. According to later interviews, it was revealed that Jason Alexander felt she was difficult to work with.
43. Lorne Michaels, creator of Saturday Night Live, fired Damon Wayans after he appeared in a sketch performing an effeminate gay cop instead of the character written into the script. He has said he was frustrated with his sketches and ideas not being considered for the show.
44. JoMarie Payton's character Henrietta on Perfect Strangers was so successful, the show's creators decided to feature her as the star of a spin off; Family Matters. Once the character of Steve Urkel was introduced in the 12th episode, the show shifted to focus on his character. It's often thought that JoMarie Payton left halfway through the 7th season because of her frustration with the emphasis on Steve Urkel. She has refuted this and said she finds those claims hurtful. Payton has said she left simply because it was time and she was ready to pursue other opportunities.
45. Shannen Doherty's character Brenda was written off of Berverly Hills: 90210 after becoming increasingly difficult to work with. Co-stars on the show were requesting less scenes with Doherty. The producers were done with her after she cut her hair without telling anyone, throwing off filming continuity.
46. Katherine Heigl left Grey's Anatomy after publicly slighting the writing crew when she declined to be considered for an Emmy nomination. Creator Shonda Rimes has suggested in interviews that Heigl was difficult to work with. Heigl has since said she was embarrassed by the negative attention and rumours of her difficulty, eventually leading her to enroll in therapy.
47. Grey's Anatomy actor Isaiah Washington was dismissed from the show following the developments of an on set incident where he allegedly used a homophobic slur. He has called the controversy "a misunderstanding."
48. Gates Mcfadden, who portrayed Dr. Beverly Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation, was written off the show after the first season, only to return for the third. She left the show because she did not like the direction her character was being taken in, and difficulty working with producer Maurice Hurley. After Hurley left, the actress who portrayed Dr. Crushers replacement left, a writing campaign by fans, and support from Patrick Stewart, Mcfadden was invited back to the show.
49. Topher Grace and Ashton Kutcher left That 70's Show because they were tired of the long running show and wanted to move on to other projects. That's why Eric went to college and Kelso got a job in Chicago. Topher got a role in Spider-Man 3.