We’ve all been there: Start a show, get hooked on the show, fall in love with a particular character, curse the sky and give the finger to Hollywood when said character up and dies. ESPECIALLY when they’re killed off in a less-than-satisfying manner. It can break our hearts. What we don’t see is behind the curtain when the actor or actress playing that character you can’t live without literally wants out so desperately that they’re willing to sacrifice the fictional soul of basically a part of themselves (you know, if they played the character for longer than one season) not to mention sacrifice the love of their fan base. Here are 15 actors who were so fed up with their counterparts that they asked to be killed off of their respected shows (some producers complied, others didn't). Well, SOME actors were fed up, while others simply asked for the fatal hammer to drop in order to move on to bigger and better things.
15 Patrick Dempsey (Grey's Anatomy)
SPOILER ALERT! If you have never watched ABC’s hit medical drama Grey’s Anatomy here’s a suggestion: Never, and I mean NEVER EVER, get attached to one particular character. Chances are they’ll be killed off by creator Shonda Rhimes in a plane crash/ferry accident/shooting/car accident/cancer/athlete’s foot (okay, not athlete’s foot, but Rhimes is really running out of ways to off a dude). Fans fell madly in love with Patrick Dempsey’s character Dr. Derek Shepherd and his passionate romance with Dr. Meredith Grey. So when McDreamy ended up going brain dead after a car accident, fans were beside themselves. Dempsey had asked to be written off of the show in order to pursue outside interests after playing doctor for 11 seasons, but it was Rhimes who decided to kill him off. She explained that Shepherd would never willingly walk out of Meredith’s life so there was only one way to grant Dempsey’s wish: crush the soul of fans and kill the good doctor (but a neurosurgeon going brain dead? C’mon, Shonda – that’s going a little too far with the irony).
14 Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (Lost)
ABC’s show Lost was an acquired taste for some viewers. While critics praised its originality in the first few seasons, it seemed to lose its power after it appeared writers had written themselves into an odd corner. Smoke monster? Time traveling? Disappearing island? A fat guy who never lost weight DESPITE BEING STRANDED ON A DESERTED ISLAND WITH LITTLE TO NO FOOD SOURCES? One thing is certain whether you loved or hated the show: Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje’s character Mr. Eko was seriously freaking awesome on all levels. Executive producer Damon Lindelof expressed that Akinnuoye-Agbaje was extremely unhappy with the way his character had turned out so asked to be killed off early on. Originally, Mr. Eko was supposed to serve as a character who would go toe-to-toe with the spiritual John Locke (played by the brilliant Terry O’Quinn) and when the writers and producers decided to expunge that idea, Akinnuoye-Agbaje was less than pleased.
13 Dan Stevens (Downton Abbey)
PBS and Masterpiece Theater had a surprisingly low-key hit on their hand when it came to Downton Abbey, a show about a royal family and their servants in 19th century England. We got caught up in the lives and loves of all the characters, especially the love life of the pretentious Lady Mary Crawley (played by Michelle Dockery who makes resting-b*tch-face seem almost lovable), a character who was content judging others and had no time for falling in love. Until Matthew Crawley (Dan Stevens of Legion fame) came along and swept Mary off her feet. Finally, FINALLY, we saw the Lady actually crack a smile! It was weird. After only sticking around for a couple seasons, Stevens felt that it was time to take off to greener pastures and asked for his character to be written off. So what did creator Julian Fellowes do? Well, after marrying Mary and Matthew and blessing them with a baby, he killed off the latter in a car accident as he was driving after seeing his newborn son for the first time. Thanks for the freaking tears, Fellowes.
12 Kal Penn (House)
While the reason actor Kal Penn wanted to leave his cushy job on the set of the hit series House was reasonable enough (he was offered a position in the White House during the Obama administration as associate director in the Office of Public Engagement – hell yes), his character’s death certainly was brutal. Penn played Dr. Lawrence Kutner, a physician specializing in diagnostics under the intelligent, but jerk-face, Dr. Gregory House (Hugh Laurie). Early on, fans had to get used to the new characters coming in after House’s original diagnostics team parted ways, so it was a joy seeing a familiar face like Penn’s cast. Kutner stuck around for around four seasons before Penn was offered the position at the White House in 2009. He didn’t hesitate to ask to be written off the show in order to take the job. And what did the writers do? They unexpectedly had Kutner take his own life, an act that fans never expected out of his carefree character.
11 T.R. Knight (Grey's Anatomy)
Like I said before, never fall in love with a Grey’s Anatomy character. In the salad days of its conception, it was widely known that some of the actors on the drama didn’t quite get along and had taken it public. This included tension between actor T.R. Knight, who played Dr. George O’Malley, and creator Shonda Rhimes that occurred after Knight’s screen time was pretty much slashed in half. Knight went on the record and said that his departure was due to a “breakdown of communication” between himself and Rhimes. Rumors started circulating that his screen time had been slashed due to Knight coming out as homosexual, a rumor that has been brutally denied by Rhimes herself. Even though his cast members attempted to talk him out of leaving, Knight stood his ground and asked to be written off of the show that made him a star. Writers ended up killing George by having him get hit by a bus.
10 Dean Norris (Breaking Bad)
There is absolutely no denying that Vince Gilligan’s groundbreaking drama Breaking Bad will go down in history as one of television’s most innovative shows. Actors even called up Gilligan from time to time and ask if they can star on the show in order to be killed off in a surprising fashion. What fans don’t know was that one such actor was Dean Norris, you know – the guy who played Hank Schrader ON the show itself. Schrader was the DEA agent brother-in-law of main character Walter White, the high school teacher turned murderous drug lord. Norris literally called up Gilligan and asked that his character be killed off within the last eight episodes of the series. AMC, however, picked up 16 episodes and split them into two eights, and Norris was upset since he wanted to leave the show in order to film a comedy pilot. Hank ended up being killed in the episode “Ozymandias”, which is arguably one of the most powerful episodes in the entire series. Thank god producers didn't comply to his request.
9 Dominic Monaghan (Lost)
Some of the characters on J.J. Abrams Lost you can do without. Others you’re devastated to see killed off. Dominic Monaghan’s character Charlie Pace sort of walked a fine line between the two. Charlie was a former junkie rock star who was a vapid egomaniac before crashing on the island and changing his ways. Charlie ended up sacrificing himself in the third season finale for the better of the group and went out a hero. Monaghan said in an interview with TV Guide that he always knew that if his character had to be killed off, it needed to be in a heroic fashion. Monaghan went on to explain that he wanted to leave the show because he had become “frustrated” and believed that it was time to move on from the hit show. He was relieved when producers finally granted his wish in the third season. I was fine with this fact considering that if I had to hear Charlie sing that one minor annoying hit he had in flashbacks, I was going to drown him myself.
8 Sophie Turner (Game of Thrones)
HBO’s Game of Thrones is a lot like Grey’s Anatomy in regards to fans not becoming too attached to certain characters. Author of the series George R.R. Martin kills off beloved characters with so much vigor, he puts slasher horror movies to shame. Given the popularity of the show itself, it’s odd when an actor ASKS to have their character killed off (though if you have to go, might as well have Martin do it for you). This is the case with Sophie Turner who plays Sansa Stark, once spoiled little rich girl turned complete bada$$ who helps her half-brother Jon Snow take back House Stark by beating House Bolton. Thanks to character development, Sansa is now one of the most loved characters on the show, so hearing that Turner hopes Sansa is eventually killed off is quite the surprise. Now, just because she’s asked for a cool death for Sansa in the past doesn’t mean Turner will get her wish. Turner has been quoted saying that she hopes the nefarious Littlefinger ends up on the iron throne. “I want her to die and I want Littlefinger to end up on the throne,” she said. “I don’t really care about anyone else.”
7 Samuel L. Jackson (Deep Blue Sea)
Actor Samuel L. Jackson is notorious for ringing up directors and simply asking them to write him into their movies – most famously director Quentin Tarantino who usually writes Jackson into a majority of his movies (some big, some small, all awesome), sometimes just to be killed off. So it’s not really a stretch to learn that Jackson was thrilled that his character in the film Deep Blue Sea was going to be killed off. Well, that is until you hear the back story. Originally, Jackson wanted to play the role of the Preacher in the smart shark action movie, but the role went to LL Cool J instead. Not happy with the way his character was written, Jackson asked the writers to beef up his part. They came up with the character being suddenly eaten by a shark. The scene itself was shocking as all hell because Jackson died mid epic-booster speech, which was about fighting back against these Albert Einstein-like sharks.
6 Steven Yeun (The Walking Dead)
The character of Glenn managed to survive six seasons thwarting zombies with his buddies before he was finally killed off in a gruesome manner that paralyzed fans in shock. According to showrunners, Yeun actually knew what was in store for his character and widely approved being killed off. During the seventh season premiere of The Walking Dead, Glenn was beaten to death by Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) with a barbed wire baseball bat as a punishment for Daryl (Norman Reedus) deckeding Negan. When asked about Glenn’s death, Yeun was nonchalant. “Personally for me, I think the death in the comic, Robert wrote such a messed up but at the same time incredible way to take something away – to make a story as impactful as it is,” Yeun told Talking Dead host Chris Hardwick. Yeun had known way ahead of time how his character was going to get taken out and said that knowing made his job all the more difficult.
5 Leonard Nimoy (Star Trek II)
What on earth would Star Trek be without Spock? A heaping pile of steaming crap that would have resulted in Captain Kirk loving on his own reflection daily, that’s what. Rumor has it that the greatest actor to ever portray the half human-half Vulcan, Leonard Nimoy, was the one who asked the creators to kill off his famous character in Star Trek II because he was sick of constantly being associated with the character. He was finally finished and wanted Spock laid to rest. Originally, the movie wasn’t supposed to star Nimoy because no Spock was written into the first draft of the film, but it was so horrible that screenwriter Jack Sowards went to Nimoy and asked him to take on the role one last time. Thinking that Nimoy wouldn’t come back, Sowards wrote in the character only to have him killed off at the very end. Nimoy took the bait and starred in the film, which was incredibly satisfying to both the audience and the legendary actor himself.
4 Issac Hays (South Park)
For 10 seasons, Isaac Hays voiced the iconic, smooth-talking Chef in Comedy Central’s groundbreaking cartoon South Park, but when the cartoon ended up spoofing Hays’ religious practice Scientology, he quickly asked to leave the show. Co-creator Matt Stone even went on the record about Hays departure and how peeved it made him. “In 10 years and more than 150 episodes, Isaac never had a problem with the show making fun of Christians, Muslims, Mormons, and Jews,” he expressed. “He got a sudden case of religious sensitivity when it was his religion featured on the show. To bring civil rights struggle into this is just a non sequitur. Of course, we will release Isaac from his contract and we wish him well.” As viewers know, Chef was killed off in such a violent way, it would made Game of Thrones look like a Saturday morning kid’s show. He fell over a cliff, stabbed, and then eaten by animals. And the kicker? The creators then had some hunters accidentally shoot Chef instead of nailing the animals. Because of course.
3 Harrison Ford (Star Wars)
When Harrison Ford admitted something on Jimmy Kimmel Live, an exasperated gasp was released from the geek community. Apparently, Ford specifically wanted his character Han Solo from the Star Wars franchise to be killed off in the first movies. He even went to creator George Lucas and asked for it. “I asked him to ask the writers to kill me off because I thought that it would be good that the character who appeared to have not so much of a complex interweaving with the theme of the Force and all that good stuff,” the iconic actor told Kimmel. “No, I thought that would be good, uh, if he sacrificed himself in a noble way.” As we know Solo wasn’t really killed off during those movies, he just ended up being frozen in Carbonite for some time. Now another certain movie is something else entirely… but we won’t go there.
2 Kit Harington (Game of Thrones)
WAIT, WHAT? ARE YOU TELLING ME A POPULAR MAIN CHARACTER IN THE GAME OF THRONES SERIES DIED?! IMPOSSIBLE! As fans of the show already know, yes, Kit Harington’s moody bastard Jon Snow was actually killed off only to, you know, be brought back to life by the creeper lady in red. But filming the actual death scene was a massive relief to Harington who had carried the burden of knowing that Snow was going to perish at the hands of the Night’s Watch. “It’s like I’ve been sitting on this big f***ing secret,” Harington said. “I’ve had to watch what I say, but it’s a big moment, it’s a beautiful ending, and it’s how I wanted to go.” Harington had to, OF COURSE, keep Snow’s eventual revival a secret for an entire year following the death as well. He has since said he let the truth slip out to his girlfriend (former co-star Rose Leslie), his mother, and a cop in order to get out of a speeding ticket.
1 Topher Grace (That 70's Show)
By the time the final season of the once hit comedy show That 70’s Show came around, the program had already jumped the shark at least a dozen times. This was primarily due to the fact that two of the most famous leads, Ashton Kutcher and Topher Grace, had departed. Grace had left the show to star in the third Spiderman movie (tanked hard), but he had absolutely no regrets about leaving the show that made him famous (even if he did go running back to Point Place for the final episode). Rumors also arose that Grace hated working with the rest of the cast according to E! True Hollywood Story. It was said it was because the supporting actors around Grace were quickly becoming stars in their own right and he felt he was being left behind. Producers of the show covered up his seventh season quick departure by saying the character Eric Forman left for Africa – something that was completely absurd for Forman to actually do. As we know, Eric wasn’t killed off, he was actually replaced with a similar, yet cooler, character named Randy Pearson (Josh Meyers). Probably would have been way better if Eric gotten eaten by a lion.
Sources: huffingtonpost.com, theguardian.com, tvguide.com, cnn.com