When a character dies in our favorite show or movie, it’s often a time of shock and confusion for us as viewers. Sometimes for actors too, when they are left in the dark about their alter ego’s demise until they read the script. Story deaths are a necessary part of any high stakes plot to keep things tense and engaging. But other times a character’s death is necessary due to what’s happening behind the scenes.
Whether an actor is butting heads with other crew members, or has just gotten tired of playing their role, sometimes they force the writer’s hand in getting rid of a character. Some actors even outright ask to be killed off. While not every actor or actress on this list got their wish, here are 10 Actors Who Asked For Their Character To Be Killed Off.
10 CHARLIE SHEEN AS CHARLIE HARPER ON TWO AND A HALF MEN
Charlie Sheen makes the list because, while he didn’t come right out and say he wanted to be taken off Two and a Half Men, his actions spoke louder than words could. His longtime co-star Jon Cryer has opened up about all the drama Sheen brought to the backstage environment, and of course Sheen’s infamous problems with executive producer Chuck Lorre are well-known. It doesn’t take Taylor Swift to realize there was “bad blood” brewing between Sheen and his coworkers.
All the celebrity news sites were fixated on Sheen and the way he smiled through the destruction of everything around him. Some felt bad for the actor for getting into drug use and turning to prostitutes over his family. Others applauded this new party hard lifestyle he had adopted. But the fact is, Charlie had become a magnet for drama, and that didn’t endear him to the people who had to deal with it on a daily basis. There’s more than one way of asking to be let go, and apparently Chuck Lorre definitely felt Sheen was asking for it.
9 JOHN FRANCIS DALEY AS SWEETS ON BONES
John Francis Daley is an actor who didn’t hate his role on his show, but also wanted some time to branch out and try other things. Unfortunately, he couldn't have his cake and eat it too by getting to stay on Bones while pursuing a new career. When he asked for time off from filming for Bones, it was suggested that it would probably be more satisfying for viewers to kill off his character Sweets instead of just having him disappear for half a season. Ultimately, Daley agreed, and accepted the death as the cost to pursue directing his own film.
“The directing job was not something that I could walk away from,” Daley said in an interview after he was killed off. “It was such a huge opportunity. It feels like a good next step in my career and my life; I always dreamed of being a director. So to be able to do something like this on such a huge scale —it’s a huge studio movie — it’s definitely not something I could turn my back on. It was a sacrifice for sure.” It could’ve been worse though. At least Daley knew his death was coming when he asked to leave. Unlike the next person on this list.
8 MCLEAN STEVENSON AS LT. COLONEL HENRY BLAKE ON M*A*S*H
Stevenson was one actor who asked to be taken off a show and learned the meaning of being careful what you ask for. Stevenson initially auditioned for the role of Hawkeye Pierce on the show, but obviously didn’t wind up getting the part of the popular jokester. Word is that getting passed over for the character didn’t sit well with Stevenson, and by the third season he couldn’t tolerate being on the show in the capacity of Henry Blake anymore.
When McLean asked to be released from his contract, the writers obliged by his wishes. Though Stevenson was given a bit more than he bargained for when he was written off not only by having his character discharged, but also killed in the process. The plane Blake was discharged on was shot down and resulted in the character’s death, leaving no possibility for his return. Which was unfortunate for Stevenson, as he later decided it was a mistake to leave the show.
7 DAN STEVENS AS MATTHEW CRAWLEY ON DOWNTOWN ABBEY
While some actors have stories of drawn out conflicts leading to their departures, Dan Stevens demonstrates that there is always the potential for a civil exit from a role. Maybe it’s just British sensibilities, but there was no backstage drama that led to the demise of Downtown Abbey’s Matthew Crawley. Stevens simply became tired of being locked into that one career path, and wanted to branch out into literature and theatre work.
“From a personal point of view, I wanted a chance to do other things,” Stevens said in an interview around the time he left the show. “It is a very monopolising job. So there is a strange sense of liberation at the same time as great sadness because I am very, very fond of the show and always will be.” Matthew Crawley died in the finale of the third season during a car accident after visiting his newborn son.
6 DEAN NORRIS AS HANK ON BREAKING BAD
Not every actor who wants to be killed off gets their wish—or at least not right away. Dean Norris, known as Walter White’s DEA brother-in-law on Breaking Bad, requested his death to come at the halfway point of season five in the drug drama. As fans of the show obviously know, this didn’t wind up happening. Norris would eventually get his wish, but he had to pass up some other acting opportunities in the meantime to fulfill his commitments.
Norris had grown tired of being typecast in law enforcement roles, and instead wanted to take part in a pilot for a comedy to stretch his acting muscles. “And then at some point, f**king whoever decided they were going to split it into two eights,” Norris said of Breaking Bad’s fifth season, which was divided into two half seasons of eight episodes each. “So it cut me off from doing a pilot — and I had a pilot I wanted to do.” Norris might have been disappointed, but fans are likely relieved this is one request to die that was denied—at least for a little while.
5 SIGOURNEY WEAVER AS ELLEN RIPLEY IN THE ALIENS FRANCHISE
Alien vs Predator and its sequel obviously were not great movies, but apparently some of the biggest critics of the films were the crew from the original Alien movies. Especially Sigourney Weaver, who apparently wanted Ellen Ripley killed off in Alien 3 because she heard that Alien vs Predator was in the works, and she didn’t want to be associated with the franchise and the direction it was moving in.
With Alien 3 coming out in 1992, it would be over a decade until we saw Alien vs Predator become a reality in 2004, so evidently Weaver thought the idea had lost steam and was convinced to return for Alien 4. While it’s admirable that she felt so strongly about the franchise that she’d do something so major, it looks like the franchise was due for some road bumps regardless of where the story went. Even Ridley Scott’s Prometheus was critically disappointing, leaving the last great movie in the series to be 1986's Aliens.
4 SOPHIE TURNER AS SANSA STARK ON GAME OF THRONES
While there’s still at least two more seasons of Game of Thrones to get through and more deaths certain to happen, one person who isn’t dreading what’s to come is Sophie Turner, the actress behind Sansa Stark. In fact, in a recent interview she revealed she’s hoping her character gets to be one of the victims before the series ends.
“I don’t want to survive,” Turner said. Though it’s not because she’s tired of playing the character or having conflicts with the cast. Quite the opposite, she wants to be killed off because she envies the memorable scenes her fellow cast members who were written off have had. “If you’re on Game of Thrones and you don’t have a cool death scene, then what’s the point?” she continued. And maybe she is right about that. By now some of the most iconic scenes of the drama are its death scenes. Just look at how talked about last season’s big death became.
3 ISAAC HAYES AS CHEF ON SOUTH PARK
South Park is known for mocking anything and everything, so it’s odd that Isaac Hayes didn’t expect something he holds dear would one day enter the targets of South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker. But when South Park finally got around to lambasting Scientology, something Hayes ascribes to, apparently that was the moment the crude humor of South Park went too far. Hayes called the spoof on his beliefs "bigotry" and wanted off the show immediately. The creators obliged, but not without getting the last laugh.
"In 10 years and more than 150 episodes, Isaac never had a problem with the show making fun of Christians, Muslims, Mormons and Jews,” co-creator Matt Stone said to refute Hayes’ objections. “He got a sudden case of religious sensitivity when it was his religion featured on the show. To bring the civil rights struggle into this is just a non sequitur. Of course, we will release Isaac from his contract and we wish him well." And they did. And then they killed off his character Chef and had him devoured by wild animals. You know, as one usually does with those you wish well.
2 LEONARD NIMOY AS SPOCK IN STAR TREK
While Leonard Nimoy didn’t specifically ask to be killed off, he had lost his interest in playing the character of Spock again. So much so that when the second Star Trek movie, Wrath of Khan, was being written, Spock didn’t feature in the original script because Nimoy had made it clear he was done with the character. But as Sophie Turner proved earlier, actors yearn for dramatic onscreen deaths, and that was something Nimoy hadn’t had yet. So when the creators of Wrath of Khan said they would give Spock a death scene if Nimoy returned, it did the trick for him to don the Vulcan ears once more.
So while Nimoy didn’t ask to be killed off, the promise for it to happen did lure him back to bring closure to that part of his life. But obviously Spock didn’t stay dead. Despite Nimoy originally only wanting to have his death scene, Wrath of Khan rekindled his enthusiasm for playing the character, and ironically convinced him to continue doing the role. It just goes to show that while a character’s death might be sad for fans and even the crew, good things can also come out of that change.
1 HARRISON FORD AS HAN SOLO IN STAR WARS
After The Force Awakens, Harrison Ford is probably the most well-known example of an actor who wanted his character to die. And as we saw, he got his wish. Though what might still surprise some people is that this wasn’t something Ford wanted to happen just in the most recent Star Wars film. It’s something that he has been waiting for decades to happen, and has pitched multiple times.
“I think it’s a fitting use of the character,” Ford responded in a fan Q&A when someone claimed to be heartbroken by that scene. “I’ve been arguing for Han Solo to die for about 30 years, not because I was tired of him or because he’s boring, but his sacrifice for the other characters would lend gravitas and emotional weight.” Word is that Ford only even agreed to be in The Force Awakens if Solo was absolutely going to get killed off before the end. Han Solo’s scene with Kylo Ren was definitely one of the most memorable moments in the film, so it looks like Ford succeeded in adding emotional weight to the comeback of one of the biggest film franchises.
Do you know any other actors who wanted their characters killed off? Let us know who in the comments!