When it comes to difficult actors, revenge can be a dish best served on screen. The history of TV is littered with characters who met their demise thanks to the troublesome behavior of the men and women who played them. Here’s a look at 20 of the most famous.
20. Prue (Shannon Doherty)
Ever since her iconic Beverly Hills, 90210, stint Shannon Doherty has had a reputation for being difficult. So few were surprised when she reportedly began clashing with co-star Alyssa Milano on the set of supernatural drama Charmed. Things allegedly got so bad between the on-screen sisters that producers decided they had no option but to kill off Doherty’s character. Prue Halliwell met her maker at the hands of a demonic killer named Shax at the end of season three.
19. James Evans, Sr. (John Amos)
John Amos’ character in 1970s sitcom Good Times wasn’t even given the courtesy of dying on screen. Audiences only learned of patriarch James Evans, Sr.’s passing in a car crash via a letter read out on in the fourth season premiere. Amos had become disillusioned with the “dumbed-down” path that the comedy had taken, particularly his “Dy-no-mite” catchphrase, pigeon hats and amusing walk. But creator Norman Lear disagreed and promptly booted him off the hit show.
18. Professor Maximilian Arturo (John Rhys-Davies)
John Rhys-Davies also found out that you insult the writing team at your peril when he was dismissed from ’90s sci-fi Sliders. The Welsh actor, who later described its dialog as “incomprehensible gibberish,” regularly complained about the quality of the scripts during his stint on the show. But writers got their own back when they fatally shot his character, Professor Maximilian Arturo, halfway through its third season.
17. Libby Smith and Ana Lucia Cortez (Cynthia Watros and Michelle Rodriguez)
’00s phenomenon Lost once had to deal with two trouble-making stars at the same time. Cynthia Watros and Michelle Rodriguez, who played clinical psychologist Libby Smith and police officer Ana Lucia Cortez respectively, spent much of their time on the Hawaii set hellraising. And both were arrested for drink-driving, incredibly within 15 minutes of each other, in 2005. Both of their characters were buried next to each other after being shot dead by Michael in season two.
16. Charlie Pace (Dominic Monaghan)
Another Lost actor, Dominic Monaghan, reportedly also made things difficult on set. There was the Entertainment Weekly interview in which he vented his frustrations about working in such a large ensemble cast. The National Enquirer also claimed a bitter split with co-star Evangeline Lily increased the behind-the-scenes tension. But Monaghan’s most shocking outburst came when he tweeted that leading man Matthew Fox “beats women.” Monaghan’s much-loved character, Charlie Pace, was killed off when he drowned in the third-season finale.
15. Pierce Hawthorne (Chevy Chase)
It was little surprise when Chevy Chase was given the boot from cult sitcom Community. The legendary comedian’s disruptive behavior, which included clashes with producers and cast members and publicly insulting the show, had been the subject of tabloid reports for years. In fact, many believe that his narrow-minded character, Pierce Hawthorne, was simply a case of art imitating life. After five turbulent seasons, the moist towel tycoon met his maker off screen.
14. Dr. George O’Malley (T.R. Knight)
Dempsey wasn’t the only Grey’s star to reportedly incur the wrath of Rhimes. T.R. Knight alleges the showrunner significantly reduced his screentime, and eventually killed his character off, after his run-in with co-star Isaiah Washington. Knight claims Rhimes didn’t want him to publicly come out after the incident in which Washington was fired for homophobic abuse. Rhimes, who gave Dr. O’Malley a heroic death when he sacrificed his life to save a woman from an oncoming bus, denied the allegation.
13. Harrison Wright (Columbus Short)
But the biggest troublemaker in Shonda Rhimes’ TV universe was Scandal’s Columbus Short. The actor, who played litigator Harrison Wright, was dismissed after various serious incidents which made his position untenable. Short was twice arrested for allegedly physically assaulting his wife, as well as threatening her with a knife, and also got into trouble with the law for his involvement in a bar fight. In the end, his character was murdered by a government agent in the season three finale.
12. Edie Britt (Nicollette Sheridan)
Few behind-the-scenes disputes have gotten as ugly as that involving Nicollette Sheridan and Desperate Housewives creator Marc Cherry. The former’s character, Edie Britt, was killed off in 2009, reportedly due to the actress’ volatile relationship with the showrunner. But Sheridan didn’t take things lying down and sued Cherry, who insisted her dismissal was due to economic and creative reasons, for wrongful termination. Sadly for Sheridan, the lawsuit resulted in a mistrial, while several appeals also proved to be unsuccessful.
11. Charlie Harper (Charlie Sheen)
Charlie Sheen doesn’t do things by halves, and neither does the creator of Two and a Half Men. The troubled actor created headlines in 2011 when he made antisemitic comments about showrunner Chuck Lorre and described him as a “maggot.” Lorre subsequently got his revenge by canceling production of the sitcom’s eighth season and killing Sheen’s central character, Charlie Harper, in a train accident on its return. To add insult to injury he then replaced Sheen permanently with Ashton Kutcher.
10. Eddie LeBec (Jay Thomas)
Jay Thomas certainly didn’t see on-screen kissing as a perk of his job. While hosting his morning radio show on KPWR-Power 106, the actor was asked by a listener about his experience of playing hockey professional Eddie LeBec on hit sitcom Cheers. Thomas reportedly took this as an opportunity to complain about smooching his on-screen wife Rhea Perlman. Unfortunately for him, Perlman was listening at the time, and subsequently his character was killed off in a bizarre ice resurfacer accident.
9. Jason Gideon (Mandy Patinkin)
It’s amazing Mandy Patinkin managed to last 47 episodes on Criminal Minds considering how much he hated his time on the show. The actor told New York magazine that the crime drama was destructive to his soul and potentially ruined his career, and he had never messed up bigger in public. In the end, Patinkin just stopped turning up to the set, forcing writers to kill off his character, Jason Gideon, via an off-screen shooting. Patinkin did later admit he’d “behaved abominably.”
8. Marissa Cooper (Mischa Barton)
Mischa Barton also confessed to some pretty inappropriate behavior after getting her marching orders from The O.C. The hard-partying actress told People magazine that she had “spiraled out of control” while playing Marissa Cooper in the hit teen drama. Co-star Tate Donovan agreed, once claiming that she was the show’s biggest diva and confirming her “terrible reputation” while being interviewed. As a result of Barton’s antics, Marissa was killed in a car accident in the third season.
7. Jimmy Darmody (Michael Pitt)
Michael Pitt was apparently such a difficult individual behind the scenes of Boardwalk Empire that even his own agent got rid of him. According to sources, the actor repeatedly failed to remember his lines, rewrote his dialogue and queried his character’s motives while working on the period drama. As a result Jimmy Darmody was fatally shot in season two. But even then Pitt couldn’t stop causing trouble, allegedly getting into a fight with co-star William Forsythe during his death scene.
6. Steve Crosetti (Jon Polito)
Jon Polito certainly ended up regretting the very public remarks he made about changes to Homicide: Life on the Street. In fact, after complaining about his character, Steve Crosetti, temporarily being written off the acclaimed drama, producers wrote him out for good. The police detective committed suicide by drowning after an extended vacation in season two. And to make matters worse, his washed-up body was only found much later. Polito later admitted himself that his conduct had been unprofessional.
5. Maude Flanders (Maggie Roswell)
Even animated characters aren’t immune to getting the boot due to behind-the-scenes drama. The Simpsons’ Maude Flanders was given a rather graceless exit thanks to a pay dispute between Fox and the woman who voiced her. Maggie Roswell quit the show when the network failed to bump her per episode pay from $2,000 to $6,000, and offered a paltry raise which didn’t even cover her travel costs instead. As a result, Maude met her maker at a Nascar race in a T-shirt gun-related accident.
4. Chef (Isaac Hayes)
However, when it comes to undignified animated deaths, South Park’s Chef wins hands down. In his final episode, the popular character was brainwashed into becoming a child molester. He also fell off a bridge, was torn apart by a bear and lion and was last seen soiling himself. Showrunners Matt Stone and Trey Parker killed off Chef so brutally after a dispute with the man who voiced him, Isaac Hayes, over their handling of his Scientology beliefs.
3. Valerie Hogan (Valerie Harper)
A contract breakdown also sparked one of the most surprising TV character exits ever. Despite being the eponymous star of NBC’s Valerie, actress Valerie Harper found herself surplus to requirements when producers killed her character off and changed the show’s title. Valerie subsequently became Valerie’s Family and then The Hogan Family, but Harper didn’t take things lying down. After suing Lorimar Pictures, she walked away with a tidy $1.8 million payout and a significant share of the sitcom’s profits.
2. Susan Ross (Heidi Swedberg)
Poor Heidi Swedberg wasn’t given the push from Seinfeld for any particular kind of bad behavior but simply for her perceived lack of chemistry. Jason Alexander, who played her on-screen fiancé George Costanza, once told Howard Stern that the actress was lovely, but that their combined comedy instincts often misfired. Alexander would no doubt have been relieved when her character, Susan Ross, passed away from licking the cheap wedding envelopes, which proved to be fatally toxic.
1. Dr. Derek Shepherd (Patrick Dempsey)
Patrick Dempsey’s Dr. Derek Shepherd became the breakout star of long-running medical series Grey’s Anatomy. However, his popularity didn’t stop creator Shonda Rhimes from giving him the chop. “McDreamy” was killed in a car crash at the end of season 11 after reports that the married Dempsey had been having an affair with a staffer. Rhimes added fuel to the fire while appearing on The Nightly Show when she admitted an actor’s personality once inspired her to write their character out.
But while it was the actors that gave rise to their character’s demises here, sometimes the characters can actually cause the actors to walk away. One common misconception about actors is that everything is rosy and painless when it comes to starring in blockbuster movies. In reality, there have been plenty of on-set incidents that have pushed actors to the point of quitting, like these 20 film stars, who almost turned their backs on some of your favorite movies thanks to their famous scenes.
20. Jennifer Lawrence in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay
Even though she’s one of the most bankable stars of the 21st century, Jennifer Lawrence still found herself up against it during filming for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay. Indeed, she and the rest of the cast agreed that spending three weeks in waterlogged costumes filming the sewer scene was a thoroughly miserable experience.
19. Faye Dunaway in Chinatown
Remember the scene from Chinatown in which Jack Nicholson’s character surprises Faye Dunaway’s Evelyn in her car? Well, director Roman Polanski certainly does. The story goes that he refused to let Dunaway use the bathroom while filming it, so she had to pee in a cup. As a consequence, the actress was so annoyed that she then threw the fluid in Polanski’s face.
18. Daisy Ridley in Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Rising star Daisy Ridley had a tough start while filming Star Wars: The Force Awakens. During an early desert scene, her performance was labeled “wooden” by director J.J. Abrams, consequently leaving her close to tears. “I was petrified,” she told Glamour magazine. “I thought I was gonna have a panic attack.”
17. Zoe Saldana in Pirates of the Caribbean
Zoe Saldana has become one of the biggest box office performers in recent years, but she considered giving up on acting after filming her small part in Pirates of the Caribbean. “It was very elitist,” she subsequently told The Hollywood Reporter. “I almost quit the business.”
16. Jessica Alba in Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer
Although Jessica Alba was among the hottest stars in Hollywood around the time of Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, one confrontation during filming caused her to consider leaving the film industry. The scene in question required her to weep, and the director subsequently demanded that she “cry prettier.” In an interview for Elle magazine, Alba later said the incident almost made her quit acting altogether.
15. Brad Pitt in Interview with the Vampire
If you sign up to play a vampire, you should probably assume that you won’t be seeing much of the sun during filming. But try telling that to Brad Pitt. He informed Entertainment Weekly that spending “six months in the f***ing dark” while working on Interview with the Vampire almost broke him. Indeed, he would have walked if it hadn’t been for the $40 million get-out clause.
14. Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio in The Abyss
During the scene in The Abyss in which Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio’s character is resuscitated, her movie husband repeatedly slaps her face. What’s more, after several grueling takes, it was discovered that the camera had broken. And when the actress found out that she would have to film the scene again, she almost walked.
13. Michelle Rodriguez in The Fast and the Furious
On the other hand, there are instances where actors call the shots. For example, Michelle Rodriguez took issue with scenes in The Fast and the Furious that saw her have an affair with undercover cop Brian. Baffled by the idea, Rodriguez threatened to leave if the storyline wasn’t altered.
12. John Cena in 12 Rounds
You’d think WWE superstar John Cena wouldn’t be scared of anything, but during filming for the action movie 12 Rounds, that turned out to be far from the truth. Yes, the brawling badass’ fear of heights became very clear during a scene that required him to scale a skyscraper. In fact, his terror was so acute that he almost left the production.
11. Mike Myers in Wayne’s World
Mike Myers certainly stuck to his convictions when filming Wayne’s World. His plan to have Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” play in the infamous car scene was contested by the studio, which suggested something less costly. But the actor refused to budge, threatening to leave the film if the song wasn’t included. Thankfully, he got his wish.
10. Kate Capshaw in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
One of the grossest scenes to watch in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is the one in which actress Kate Capshaw has to deal with thousands of bugs. Well, it seems that she didn’t enjoy filming it much, either. “The bugs were really gross, really bad. I think I took a Valium,” Capshaw later told Empire.
9. Emma Watson in Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows: Part 1
Emma Watson found the demanding work schedule on Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows: Part 1 hard to cope with. Above all, she disliked the cold and wet conditions that many of the outdoor scenes were filmed in. Watson told Entertainment Weekly, “This has definitely been the most intense, grueling period of film-making I’ve ever done.”
8. Gene Hackman in The French Connection
The infamously demanding Gene Hackman met his match in director William Friedkin when filming The French Connection. The scene of dispute? The one in which Hackman chases a criminal while wearing a Santa costume. After Friedkin re-shot it 27 times, the movie’s star came close to throwing in the towel.
7. Vanessa Hudgens in Spring Breakers
When Vanessa Hudgens came to film a racy three-way romp with co-stars James Franco and Ashley Benson in Spring Breakers, she almost quit the film. Eventually, she got the job done – but says the experience has put her off filming sex scenes for life.
6. Jamie Foxx in The Soloist
When Jamie Foxx took on the most demanding role of his career in The Soloist – an inspirational movie about a schizophrenic cello player – he paid a high price emotionally. In fact, he became so entrenched in the part that he required therapy even before filming had finished.
5. Tippi Hedren in The Birds
Never one to go easy on his performers, Alfred Hitchcock put Tippi Hedren through the mill while filming his horror classic The Birds. Hedren had been assured that for the climactic attic scene, mechanical birds would be used. But when it came to filming, real birds were used instead, resulting in the terrified Hedren having a nervous breakdown.
4. Christian Bale in Terminator Salvation
Of course, this one is as highly publicized as they come. When a member of the crew walked into Christian Bale’s line of sight during filming, Bale embarked on an expletive-laden rant and threatened to quit if the culprit wasn’t fired. The actor later apologized for his outburst.
3. Russell Crowe in Gladiator
The finale to Gladiator is one of the most iconic endings in film history, not least because of the immortal line, “And I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next.” What’s less known, however, is that Crowe hated the line so much that he stormed off the set twice while filming the scene.
2. Shelley Duvall in The Shining
Poor Shelley Duvall. The actress had a tough time while shooting The Shining, particularly the scene in which she fends off a crazed Jack Nicholson with a baseball bat. It took 127 takes to perfect with Stanley Kubrick at the helm, and Duvall almost quit from exhaustion as a result.
1. Carl Weathers in Rocky IV
Carl Weathers, who played Apollo Creed in Rocky IV, actually got into a real brawl with co-star Dolph Lundgren during filming. After Weathers was thrown into a corner of the boxing ring by Lundgren in their fight scene, punches were thrown by both men, with Weathers quitting the production for four days as a result.