There are many reasons why an actor would want to leave a show before it has ended. It’s possible that they have been offered a better job elsewhere, or they are being offered less money to renew their current deal.
Interpersonal issues can also be a major factor, as dislike between actors or the crew can grow to be toxic enough to make people want to quit.
There are some actors who have returned in later seasons, due to their previous issues being resolved.
There have also been times when an actor has refused to come back for a final appearance, even if it means depriving the fans of a cathartic ending to one of their favorite characters.
We are here today to look at the actors who refused to return for their character’s last appearance. From the Starfleet officer with expensive memories, to the Doctor who refused to die on screen.
Here are the 15 TV Show Actors Who Refused To Return For The Finale!
15. Terry Farrell – Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Terry Farrell played the role of Jadzia Dax in the first six seasons of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Jadzia was killed off at the end of Season Six, with the Dax symbiont moved to another host.
The reason Jadzia was killed off was due to Terry Farrell wanting to leave the show. She had been offered a role in Becker, where she wouldn’t have to endure extended periods of time in the makeup chair every day.
Farrell has also revealed that she hated working with Rick Berman, which was the final straw in causing her to leave.
The final episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine includes a scene where all of the characters have flashbacks of their time aboard the station.
The producers had wanted Terry Farrell to return for a new flashback sequence, but it had to be scrapped, as they couldn’t meet her salary demands. She also refused to give them permission to use footage of her during any of the other flashbacks.
14. Shannen Doherty – Charmed
Shannen Doherty played one of the three original Halliwell sisters on Charmed. She left the show at the end of its third season, due to issues with the other cast members. This forced the producers to introduce a long-lost fourth Halliwell sister (played by Rose McGowan) to take her place.
The finale of Charmed (“Forever Charmed“) featured no cameo by Shannen Doherty, even though the magical nature of the show would have allowed for it.
Doherty revealed during a panel at the 2013 Oz Comic-Con that she was asked to reprise her role for a cameo in the final episode of Charmed, but she turned them down. The reason for this was due to the fact that she didn’t like what they wanted to do with her character.
13. Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje – Lost
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje is an incredibly talented actor, who gave an amazing performance as the despicable gangster known as Adebisi in Oz. With that being said: it seems like he may have harmed his career due to how he left Lost.
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje played Mr. Eko in the second season of Lost. He was a former gangster who had found God and was shaping up to be one of the most important characters in the story.
Adewale asked to be written out of the show, as he didn’t like spending so much time in Hawaii away from his family, and wanted to return to London.
The fans had expected Mr. Eko to return for the finale of Lost, but he was noticeably absent. The producers of the show asked him to show up in the final episode for a single scene, but he asked for five times the amount of what they were offering.
12. George Eads – CSI
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation ended with fifteen seasons under its belt, to say nothing of the success of the numerous CSI spinoffs. There was still a question over whether the show would be renewed for the sixteenth season, which it ultimately wasn’t.
George Eads played Nick Stokes in CSI: Crime Scene Investigation for fifteen years, where he appeared in three-hundred and thirty-five episodes. He announced that the fifteenth season was going to be his last, even if the show was renewed.
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation would receive a finale in the form of a two-part special, called Immortality. A part was written for Nick Stokes to appear, but George Eads refused the offer to return.
11. Charlie Sheen – Two And A Half Men
Charlie Sheen has done a lot of incredibly stupid things in his life, but insulting Chuck Lorre, the creator of Two and a Half Men when it was one of the most successful sitcoms on the planet has to rank high among them. He had the cush job of a lifetime and he threw it away in a tirade of bile.
Chuck Lorre was willing to let bygones be bygones towards the end of the show’s run. He asked Charlie Sheen if he wanted to appear during the final scene of Two and a Half Men, where he would go on a tirade about the dangers of drug addiction, before having a piano dropped on him.
Charlie Sheen made a counter-offer: he would appear in the finale, but it had to be a heartwarming scene, which was also going to promote his new project. Charlie Sheen wanted the ending of Two and a Half Men to act as a lead-in to his next show – The Harpers.
10. Most Of The WCW Stars – WCW Nitro
The year 2001 saw the end of the Monday Night Wars, with the WWE’s two biggest competitors (ECW and WCW) being bought out by Vince McMahon.
The final episode of WCW Nitro aired on March 2001 and it was a show that was missing some of WCW’s most notable wrestlers.
Hulk Hogan was currently in litigation with WCW at that time, as he claimed that one of Vince Russo’s promos was so scathing that it constituted a defamation of character lawsuit.
Bill Goldberg was still recovering from an injury when WCW was purchased, but he didn’t shoot a “thank the fans” promo, like other wrestlers (such as Diamond Dallas Page) had.
9. Robert Reed – The Brady Bunch
All of the actors on this list knew that they weren’t coming back for the finale by the time it began production. The exception to this is Robert Reed, who was actually on the set for a show that he wasn’t going to appear in.
Robert Reed played Mike Brady in The Brady Bunch throughout its five seasons. He was notoriously difficult to work with, but the show was such a success that the producers were afraid to fire him. Things came to a head near the end of the fifth season, with plans being formed to write Reed out of the show.
Robert Reed was planned to appear in the final episode of The Brady Bunch, but he was so offended by the script that he refused to participate.
8. Richard Coyle – Coupling
Coupling was a BBC sitcom that was basically just a British version of Friends. If you have never seen the show then that’s all you need to know to catch up on Coupling: it’s just Friends with British accents.
Richard Coyle played the role of Jeff Murdock in the first three seasons of Coupling. Jeff was a wacky character who liked to lie about himself and was often caught in the act.
Richard Coyle refused to return for the fourth season of Coupling. The creator of Coupling (Steven Moffat) has confirmed that Coyle also refused to shoot any kind of goodbye episode/sequence and also wouldn’t answer any of his phone calls.
7. Tom Baker – Doctor Who
To many older Doctor Who fans: Tom Baker is considered to be the definitive actor for the role of the Doctor.
This was actually a cause of concern for Tom Baker, as he was worried about being typecast due to the popularity of the role. This was one of the factors that contributed to him leaving the show.
There was a 30th anniversary special for Doctor Who in 1983 which reunited the living actors who had portrayed the Doctor in the past.
Tom Baker was asked to appear in the special, but he backed out, due to a feeling that not enough time had passed since he had left the role. He did agree for footage of his version of the Doctor to be used, which came from an unfinished episode.
6. Lisa Edelstein – House
There was a question among the people at Fox over the fate of House.
The show had taken a serious dip in viewership over its seventh season and many of the actors were publically expressing interest in moving on from the show. The decision was made to renew House for an eighth season, but it would have a reduced budget.
One of the casualties of the smaller budget for the final season of House was Cuddy, who had been one of the most important characters throughout the run of the show. Lisa Edelstein was asked to reprise the role of Cuddy for a reduced pay, which she refused.
Lisa Edelstein neglected to return for a cameo in the final season of House, though she expresses no regrets over this, as she felt that Cuddy’s role on the show had concluded in a satisfying way.
5. Spencer Milligan – Land Of The Lost
Land of the Lost suffered a similar fate to Star Trek: The Original Series, where it didn’t truly start getting ratings until it hit syndication. If the show had been more of a hit from the start, then it may have received more than its initial three seasons.
A more successful Land of the Lost might have convinced Spencer Milligan to stay on the show. He played the role of Rick Marshall, who was one of the protagonists of the show.
Spencer Milligan left Land of the Lost after its second season, due to pay disputes, which were brought about due to the shows extensive merchandise.
Milligan and the other members of the cast weren’t being paid for their likeness being used on Land of the Lost merchandise, so he threatened to walk if a deal wasn’t made.
4. Lara Flynn Boyle – Twin Peaks
The final episode of Twin Peaks left the audience with a lot of unanswered questions, with the most important being about the fate of Agent Cooper.
A prequel movie called Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me was made after the show had finished, but it seemed to ask more questions than it answered.
The vast majority of the Twin Peaks cast returned for Fire Walk with Me, with some of the actors (notably Kyle MacLachlan) only returning for brief cameos. One of the notable absentees from Fire Walk with Me was Lara Flynn Boyle, who was replaced by Moira Kelly.
3. Wayne Wilcox – Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life
Gilmore Girls was a show that many people never expected to ever return. Gilmore Girls ran for seven seasons on The CW from 2000 to 2007, before it was finally canceled.
The show later returned in the form of a four-part miniseries in 2016, called Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, which was funded by Netflix.
One of the actors who didn’t return for the Gilmore Girls revival was Wayne Wilcox, who played the role of Marty. The producers had wanted to bring him back, but scheduling problems prevented this from happening.
The fact that the miniseries was so short meant that there would only be enough room for him to have a cameo, as there were too many other stories they wanted to tell within the limited amount of time that they had.
2. Zachary Quinto – Heroes Reborn
The role of Sylar in Heroes helped to propel Zachary Quinto to stardom. It’s a shame that Heroes imploded in the way that it did, as we may have seen more of Quinto in the show if it had maintained its early popularity.
Heroes returned in the form of Heroes Reborn, which many fans noted was missing several of the major cast members of the original series. One of these was Zachary Quinto, who was approached to star in the revival, but he turned the role down.
Zachary Quinto has been refreshingly honest about his lack of interest in reprising the role of Sylar. He has said publically that he was asked to come back for Heroes Reborn but he refused because he just didn’t feel like going back to the show.
1. Colin Baker – Doctor Who
The unique way in which the Doctor can regenerate from a mortal wound means that Doctor Who doesn’t have to end.
The Doctor can keep coming back in new bodies, which means that an endless chain of actors can play the role. The writers have even bypassed the limitations on the number of times that the Doctor can regenerate.
The vast majority of the Doctor’s actors have stayed around for the death scene of their iteration of the character so that the audience can catch a glimpse of the new version. One of the actors who refused to do this was Colin Baker, who played the Sixth Doctor.
Colin Baker’s tenure as the Doctor was troubled, due to issues stemming from higher-ups at the BBC who wanted to get rid of the show.
It was due to this poor treatment that Colin Baker refused to return for one final story, in which his iteration of the Doctor would die and regenerate. This meant that his successor (Sylvester McCoy) had to film the Sixth Doctor’s regeneration scene while wearing a wig.
Can you think of any other actors who refused to return? Sound off in the comment section!
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