#Movies & TV
The Weirdest TV Character Exits Of All Time
by Jennifer Lafferty
It’s sad to see a popular TV character leave a show, but in some cases the way they exit the series can be truly shocking.
Whether an actor leaves a TV series on good terms or not, writers often come up with surprising and just plain strange explanations for their character’s departure. It can be an opportunity for the story to go in a direction that wouldn’t be possible otherwise, like a character changing careers, faking their own death or starting an outrageous affair. These daring episodes are examples of how an exit can be among a character’s most memorable moments.
Roy Harper: A character faking their own death is a surprisingly popular storyline in TV series, but when Roy Harper (Colton Haynes) did it on Arrow in 2015, it was just one element of a gripping exit. After protecting Oliver Queen by transforming into Arrow, turning himself into police, staging his own death and escaping prison, he further shocked us by quitting team Arrow and driving away. The exit came at the end of Haynes’ 2-year contract but producers hinted to Deadline that he might reprise the role in another project.
Gabe Kotter: It’s challenging enough to write out a beloved supporting character, but if the star of the show leaves, things get really tricky. When Gabe Kaplan departed his popular auto-biographically inspired high school sitcom Welcome Back Kotter over creative differences in 1979, the far-fetched explanation for Mr. Kotter’s absence was his sudden decision to quit teaching in order to go on the road with a stand-up comedy act.
Elena Gilbert: Another star who shocked audiences by leaving their own show was Nina Dobrev when she parted ways with The Vampire Diaries. A clever storyline was devised to write out her character, Elena Gilbert, who had recently become human. The villainous Kai Parker (Chris Wood) binds Elena’s life force to her friend, witch Bonnie Bennett (Kat Graham), meaning that Elena will be comatose as long as Bonnie remains alive.
Dr. Lilith Sternin-Crane: Although she didn’t join the long-running comedy series Cheers until the fourth season, Bebe Neuwirth quickly became a valuable addition to the show as Frasier’s rigid, intellectual girlfriend-turned-wife, Dr. Lilith Sternin Crane. The character’s eccentricities played into the storyline involving her temporary 1992 absence from the series in the midst of Neuwirth’s busy acting career. Lilith has an affair with another scientist and goes off to live with him in a subterranean eco-pod.
Fox Mulder: It seemed fitting for Mulder (David Duchovny) to disappear from The X-Files in the season 7 finale by being abducted by aliens, considering the supernatural nature of the show. But it was not a clean break. Mulder continued to be an integral part of the storyline for half a season as Scully (Gillian Anderson) and her new FBI partner, John Doggett (Robert Patrick), search for him. Shortly after finding his body, Scully brings him back to life. Mulder made a second exit by going into hiding during the Season 8 finale and not turning up again until the season 9 finale.
Regina “Reggie” Kostas: On the 1990s/2000s sitcom Becker, frienemies Dr. John Becker (Ted Danson) and diner owner Reggie Kostas (Terry Farrell) frequently traded barbs, but there was also plenty of sexual tension between the two. However, they didn’t become romantically involved until Farrell exited the show in 2002. After spending the night with Becker, Reggie realizes her life has gone off the rails, prompting her to give up the diner and leave town for good.
Michael Vaughn: When he was shot by a rogue agent at the beginning of season 5, fans were heartbroken to see Michael Vaughn (Michael Vartan) leave Alias. It may have actually been the impassioned pleas from viewers that prompted his return 10 episodes later, when he is found living in Nepal with the all too familiar explanation that he faked his own death. Speculation aside, the reason producers decided to bring him back remains as much a mystery as why he left; the popular assumption being that Vartan’s real life breakup with the show’s star, Jennifer Garner, was the cause.
Dr. Derek Shepherd: When it comes to viewers being outraged by the way a beloved character is written out, Dr. Derek Shepherd’s 2015 exit from Grey’s Anatomy ranks right up there. Having just avoided being part of a terrible car crash, Dr. Shepherd (Patrick Dempsey) is hit by a truck as he is about to leave the scene of the accident, where he’s been providing medical care to the victims. The episode is full of irony, but was more disappointing than profound for McDreamy’s many devoted fans.