The career of an actor can be filled with a lot of uncertainty and it’s an incredibly difficult field to stand out in. It’s usually a time of celebration when an actor gets cast as a regular in a television series, especially if that show goes on to become a hit. This is usually how many actors manage to make their mark, get noticed, and sometimes transition over to film.
That being said, sometimes the contract and longevity of a television series can be more like a prison sentence to some actors when they’re not crazy about their character. It can be very disastrous to the morale of a production when an actor phones it in or has lost the passion in their character, but it does happen more than you’d expect. Accordingly, Here Are 20 Stars Who Regret Their Roles In ‘90s Shows.
20 Janet Hubert (The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air)
The tension between Janet Hubert and Will Smith during the filming of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air is no secret. Apparently Hubert wasn’t keen on catering to this up-and-comers every whim and as a result Hubert was even fired from the series and her character, Aunt Viv, was recast. Even now there’s bad blood between Hubert and the rest of the cast, but Hubert brought a certain intensity to the character.
19 Amy Jo Johnson (Mighty Morphin Power Rangers)
If you were a kid from the ‘90s then it’s safe to say that you were at least familiar with Power Rangers in some capacity. Even now the franchise is still running strong. The original series was a formative piece of children’s television and Amy Jo Johnson played a pivotal role as the Pink Ranger. Johnson appreciated the experience and learned a lot from it, but she also complained over how the cast only made around $600 a week, didn’t receive any residual fees for syndication, or any part of the benefits of the legacy that they helped build.
18 Shannen Doherty (Charmed)
Before the UPN was a thing, the WB network was the home for some of the most popular young adult programming of the time. Charmed was a curious mix of supernatural and romance as it had a trio of witches living together. Shannen Doherty’s Prue was a big part of the series, but she laments that she put her all into the role and got very little back in return. More importantly, Doherty was embarrassed over the content, stating that it was a show designed for pre-teens. Her displeasure with it led to her leaving after three seasons and being replaced.
17 Lauren Tom (Friends)
Friends was a series that made the entire cast into major names in comedy, but a lot of audiences were watching because they were deeply invested in the Ross and Rachel romance. It caught many people off guard when Ross shows up with girlfriend Julie (Lauren Tom), right when Rachel is ready to return her love. Tom has spoken about Friends fans being so passionate that they openly expressed their hatred towards her and would even boo when she showed up in scenes.
16 George Carlin (The George Carlin Show)
George Carlin is an incredibly renowned comedian who’s done some of the sharpest work in the business. It was a pretty big deal when he agreed to do a sitcom of sorts in the ‘90s with Simpsons executive producer, Sam Simon, helming the ship. The George Carlin Show didn’t last long and it was unfortunately largely a sour experience for Carlin as he and Simon butted heads over the creative vision for the series.
15 Topher Grace (That ‘70s Show)
Topher Grace was the figurehead of That ‘70s Show and even though he’s incredibly grateful for the role that helped put him on the map, as the series went on he became increasingly anxious playing Eric Forman. Grace was also a bit more of an introvert than the rest of the cast and when he started to do feature films, he was even more eager to find a way out. Allegedly, after his final shot was finished he just got up and left. Grace was generous enough to return in the show’s series finale, but his appearance goes uncredited, which may be saying something.
14 Mandy Patinkin (Chicago Hope)
Many Patinkin is an acclaimed Broadway actor, but he’s had some unfortunate luck with the television roles that he’s signed on to. Homeland seems to be a pleasure for him, but he was vocally upset over his involvement with Criminal Minds, and before that he struck out with Chicago Hope. Right after Patinkin signed onto the series the medical drama morphed into a heightened “ripped from the headlines” sensationalist kind of show that wasn’t what he thought he was agreeing to join.
13 Max Wright (ALF)
ALF may be a pivotal, absurdist sitcom that ended just as the ‘90s were starting, but it’s also such a relic of television because the cute comedy has such behind the scenes horror stories. In order to keep the illusion is ALF being “real,” the floor of the set was heightened so the puppeteer has more freedom to move around. There were also a bunch of trapdoors that the cast had to watch out for. Basically, ALF, a puppet, was put before the cast and Max Wright seemed to be worn down the most from this atmosphere.
12 Sarah Michelle Gellar (Buffy The Vampire Slayer)
Buffy the Vampire Slayer was a very big deal during its time and it still has a very deep level of fandom behind it. It didn’t just help put many actors on the map, but it also largely introduced Joss Whedon to the world and showed off his storytelling capabilities. Sarah Michelle Gellar mostly had a good time on Buffy and still relishes the experience, but she became more burn out on it towards the end of the series. Buffy would have gone on for a few more years if it wasn’t for Gellar’s decision to not renew her contract and step away. Even now, it’s by far the biggest thing she’s ever done.
11 Patricia Richardson (Home Improvement)
Home Improvement was a surprising success story out of the ‘90s, but it found an interesting angle for the family sitcom and even though Tim Allen was largely the centerpiece, his wife played by Patricia Richardson was still along for the entire ride. Richardson got acclaim for her role, but recently she spoke out about what a demeaning experience it was, how her character wasn’t challenged, and that all of the energy was focused on other characters.
10 Cybill Shepard (Cybill)
Cybill Shepherd is a very talented performer who carries a certain attitude that’s hard to emulate. In spite of her skills, she’s had a difficult time on television. Both she and Bruce Willis were quite miserable throughout the production of Moonlighting and when Shepherd got a CBS sitcom in the ‘90s, she wasn’t much happier. Shepherd was jealous over the success of her co-star, Christine Baranski. She also faced tension with the show’s creator, Chuck Lorre, which led to uncomfortable vibes on set. Additionally, there were apparently issues with Les Moonves on top of this, which Shepherd has recently spoken out on.
9 Patton Oswalt (King of Queens)
King of Queens may not be the most challenging of sitcoms that have existed, but it definitely found an audience and helped make both Kevin James and Leah Remini household names. Patton Oswalt wasn’t a main character on the series, but he was still featured heavily. Oswalt grew tired of his experience on the show and felt that it wasn’t even being taken seriously, Accordingly, he even went so far as to pull a stunt where he stands entirely motionless through a scene because he didn’t think anyone would actually notice.
8 Heidi Swedberg (Seinfeld)
Seinfeld was a series that really just focused on its four core characters, but over time there were a few supporting characters that were able to penetrate through. It was a huge deal when George gets engaged to Susan, played by Heidi Swedberg, but eventually Susan meets an unfortunate end and she doesn’t stick around. It’s been revealed that most of the cast didn’t think that Swedberg really meshed with them and they wanted her out. Swedberg picked up on that energy and wasn’t in the best spirits over there.
7 Jonathan Rhys-Davies (Sliders)
Sliders was a very creative idea for a science fiction series, but it went through all sorts of behind the scenes turmoil and a changing of showrunner that plagued the show with problems and squandered its potential. It’s all of these issues that were what frustrated cast member Jonathan Rhys-Davies. Rhys-Davies signed onto the series because of its strong premise, but he was saddened by the direction it had moved, and how the characters had been weakened, or outright replaced.
6 Robert Beltran (Star Trek: Voyager)
Star Trek is a franchise that has seen plenty of actors that cherish their roles, but this is not always the case. Back on Star Trek: Voyager, Robert Beltran was vocal to the public and the crew over how he didn’t like what they had done to his character. He also complained about the quality of the show’s scripts and went so far as to try to get fired just so he could be out of the series.
5 Roy Scheider (SeaQuest DSV)
Some shows are clearly going to be campy experiences, but other times actors can get misled or series can change in the production process. This is what happened with Roy Scheider on SeaQuest DSV. Scheider was so disenfranchised over what the show had turned into that he openly badmouthed it during a Letterman appearance on the show's press tour. He called it "childish trash" and that it was now "21 Jump Street meets ‘Star Dreck.’"
4 Denise Crosby (Star Trek: The Next Generation)
Denise Crosby had a very miserable time during the first season of Star Trek: The Next Generation playing chief security officer Tasha Yar. Crosby went so far as pushing for her character to get killed off because nothing was happening with her and the show was in a creative standstill. Admittedly, The Next Generation doesn't pick up until a few seasons in and her frustrations are totally merited.
3 Saverio Guerra (Becker)
Becker is a sitcom from Ted Danson’s career that often goes overlooked and it’s because it just amounted to a serviceable sitcom that never really elevated itself to something better. Even Danson had frustrations with the series, but it’s his co-stars that got especially shafted. There was frequent unrest on set over payment disputes and Saverio Guerra got it the worst when his character was eventually written off and the show didn’t even provide an explanation for his absence.
2 Shannen Doherty (Beverly Hills: 90210)
Shannen Doherty brings a certain quality to all of her roles, but she also seemed to clash with plenty of her co-stars back in the ‘90s. Much like on Charmed, Doherty stirred the pot on FOX’s 90210. Everyone was vying for the spotlight here and Doherty clashed with Tori Spelling, who ended up winning in the end due to her familial relations. Fences have since been mended, but it’s another series that Doherty was ousted from.
1 Johnny Depp (21 Jump Street)
Johnny Depp is known to be a bit of an eccentric personality, but one of his first big roles was a lead on the television show 21 Jump Street. Both the show and Depp were such a hit early on they were both locked into lengthy contracts. Once Depp was a bit of a movie star, he was eager to ditch the series and stooped to elaborate stunts to get fired, like dressing in absurd outfits or suggesting ridiculous plotlines or quirks for his character. One of his conditions on appearing in the 21 Jump Street movie was that his character could get killed off.
Sources: HollywoodReporter.com, DigitalSpy.com, Variety.com