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Image / Living / Culture

7 of the most iconic character exits in TV history


by Jennifer McShane
03rd Apr 2021
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With the news announced on Friday that star Regé-Jean Page’s character Simon Basset, the Duke of Hastings, will not appear in Bridgerton's upcoming second season, we look back at the loss of some of the most iconic character exits in TV history

Be warned, below are spoilers galore in case you’re binging any of these series for the first time…

Derek Shepherd, Grey’s Anatomy

The death of Dr. Derek Shepherd — a.k.a. “McDreamy” — is something Grey’s Anatomy still aren’t over and when he was abruptly killed off in 2015, viewers were stunned. His departure was a surprise, however, he simply said that he felt it time to move on. “It had been long enough. It was time for me to move on with other things and other interests. I probably should have moved on a couple of years earlier,” he said in 2016.

Alex Karev, Grey’s Anatomy

After 16 seasons, the fan-favourite character was, in a happy-yet-shocking-twist, revealed to have reunited with his first wife Izzie Stevens, deciding to move to Kansas after discovering he had kids with his former love interest and so left Grey-Sloan Memorial Hospital for good. After 15 years, he simply wanted to diversify his acting roles. “There’s no good time to say goodbye to a show and character that’s defined so much of my life for the past 15 years,” he said. “For some time now, however, I have hoped to diversify my acting roles and career choices. And, as I turn 50 and am blessed with my remarkable, supportive wife and five wonderful children, now is that time.”

William Gardner, The Good Wife

In an unexpected twist in season 5’s 15th episode, male lead William Gardner was abruptly killed off when his own client shot him in the courtroom. ActoJosh Charles reportedly had actually wanted to leave at the end of season 4, but was convinced to stay for season 5. “It’s been one of the greatest gigs for me in my entire career, but at the end of last year, my contract was up and I was just ready to kind of move on,” he said of his exit.

Mischa Cooper, The O.C

After three seasons of drama, Mischa Barton had felt she had accomplished all she could on the show. After her character’s death, she said: “My character has been through so, so much and there’s really nothing more left for her to do… And I think I just got to the point where I was like, ‘I’m not sure I’m enjoying this anymore.'”

Lexie Grey, Grey’s Anatomy

Chyler Leigh played Meredith’s half-sister Lexie Grey in ‘Grey’s Anatomy. She left the show in 2012 in season 8, after her and on-off boyfriend Mark Sloan both shockingly died in a plane crash in 2012 in the finale episode of season 8 (though she makes a comeback via a dream sequence in the recent season). At the time, Chyler didn’t give an official reason for leaving the show, but her departure followed an extended summer hiatus, which she took to spend more time with her husband and three children.

Zoe Barnes, House of Cards

Could anyone have predicted Zoe Barnes’ untimely death in House of Cards? Viewers were stunned when the ambitious young journalist was killed by Frank Underwood but actress Kate Mara knew about Zoe’s death before she even officially signed on “I knew from the moment I accepted the role that I was only contracted for 14 episodes and would have a grisly death at the start of the second season.”

Prue Halliwell, Charmed

Charmed developed a dedicated following in its day, lasting eight seasons, however, actress Shannen Doherty decided not to return for Charmed’s fourth season, and her character Prue was taken out by a demon at the end of season 3. It wasn’t said at the time, but years later, Doherty said, “There was too much drama on the set.” Reportedly, it was Shannen Doherty and co-star Alyssa Milano’s relationship that was the issue. “There were times when I’d come in and say, ‘Good morning, Shannen,’ and she didn’t say anything to me,” Milano admitted (via E! News). “And there were times when she’d come in and say, ‘Good morning, Alyssa,’ and I wouldn’t say anything to her.”