One of the best things about television is that it allows viewers to invest in the stories and characters over the course of several seasons. If a character is well written and a story is compelling, we’re going to root for them when they fail and when they succeed. That’s what makes these shows so entertaining to watch.
The CW is no stranger to creating good characters. From superhero shows to teen dramas, this network has given us plenty of awesome characters — with great performances — to enjoy.
However, these stories need to evolve in order to hold our interest, and sometimes that means writing characters out of the show. This could happen when a character meets a tragic end, or they simply move on to better things.
If this happens to a beloved character, such a departure is difficult to handle since we’ve invested so much time in these characters. Sometimes that absence can even ruin a show because it just isn’t the same without them.
Other times, though, a show can actually benefit from a character exit. As good as the shows on the CW are, some characters are not as well liked as others.
Here are 8 Character Departures That Hurt CW Shows (And 7 That Saved Them)
15 Hurt: Lucas Scott and Peyton Sawyer (One Tree Hill)
One Tree Hill was the epitome of teen melodrama on the CW. There were a lot of good characters on the show, but few defined it as well as Lucas and Peyton.
The entire show starts with Lucas as he struggles to find his place in Tree Hill. He competes with his own brother, Nathan, in basketball, and navigates a strained relationship with his father. Peyton dated Nathan at the time, but ends up falling in love with Lucas and eventually marries him.
Not only were they main characters, but they were one of the best couples on the show. When they left in season seven to travel the world with their daughter, it felt like something was missing from the show because we lost a lot of different character dynamics, especially between Lucas and Nathan, and Brooke and Peyton.
Nothing can hide the impact that Lucas and Peyton left on One Tree Hill.
14 Saved: Finn Collins (The 100)
The 100 has built up a reputation as a gritty sci-fi drama on the CW. It found its footing after ditching Finn Collins in season two.
Finn is one of the hundred juvenile prisoners sent down to Earth to see if the land is survivable. He took the heat for a crime his girlfriend Raven Rayes committed. On the ground, he takes a liking to Clarke Griffin, which creates a love triangle between these characters when Raven arrives on Earth.
Not only is Finn sleazy, but he's too violent. Finn takes out an entire village of Grounders in pursuit of Clarke. This ultimately leads to his passing.
Finn just didn't mesh well with the rest of the show.
His departure allowed Clarke to build more meaningful relationships with other characters — including Raven.
13 Hurt: Lex Luthor (Smallville)
With the Jesse Eisenberg's botched portrayal of the iconic Superman villain in the DCEU, it's sometimes hard to remember that there was a time when a great Lex Luthor existed. However, the CW's Smallville pulled that off with Michael Rosenbaum's Lex.
Like in the comics, Lex Luthor is the archenemy of Clark Kent/Superman. He's a character that is smart, cunning, and ruthless. His relationship with Clark is that much more tense given the pair's extensive history.
When Lex left the series in season seven — thought to be deceased after the Fortress of Solitude collapses — he left a huge gap in the show. Smallville still made it through the next few seasons, but things just weren't the same without his villainous presence.
Rosenbaum reprises his role at the end of the series, but it would have been better had he stayed.
12 Saved: Hawkman and Hawkgirl (Legends of Tomorrow)
Although Legends of Tomorrow is a pretty successful show now, it got off to a rocky, uneven start in season one. This was back when Hawkman and Hawkgirl were still a part of the show.
We got our first good look at the duo when they appeared in the "Flarrow" crossover event. The team battled Vandal Savage, who served as Legends of Tomorrow's Big Bad. Hawkman and Hawkgirl played a big part in that arc, but the performances were so bad that everything fell flat.
Thankfully, Hawkman is absent for a lot of the show after Savage ends his life, reducing him to a limited role. However, Hawkgirl soon enters into an awkward relationship with Ray Palmer that makes her character even less interesting.
The two characters exit the show at the end of the first season, after which the show noticeably increased in quality.
11 Hurt: Roy Harper (Arrow)
Arrow was truly in its prime in its first couple seasons. This was back when Roy Harper graced our television screens on a weekly basis.
Roy was a street-smart guy living in what was then Starling City. He becomes inspired by the Green Arrow, and eventually joins Oliver's team as Arsenal. Roy was also the love interest of Thea, which made him an important part of the show's dynamic.
Roy was arguably the best supporting member of Team Arrow.
Plenty of other characters have tried to fill his place, but they lacked the skill and grounded personality that Roy had.
The showrunners must have taken note of Roy's absence, too, because it was recently reported that Colton Haynes will return as a series regular for season seven. Hopefully the show can recover some of its old magic.
10 Saved: Adam Milligan (Supernatural)
Supernatural was recently renewed for a fourteenth season. The reason the show has lasted as long as it has is because of the stellar dynamic between Sam and Dean Winchester. These brothers continuously make Supernatural compelling, which is why the show didn't need to introduce another brother in Adam Milligan.
Adam is Sam and Dean's half-brother, the son of John Winchester and Kate Milligan. He first appeared on the show in season four. At this point, a ghoul had taken over his body, and Sam and Dean eventually gank the ghoul. Adam is later resurrected as the vessel for the archangel Michael, but he is currently trapped in Lucifer's Cage.
The family dynamic is already so strong in Supernatural, so the fact that Adam even exists doesn't make much sense. His presence was brief, but still unnecessary in the first place.
9 Hurt: Lexa (The 100)
The 100 has created a rich mythology regarding what the Earth looks like after the nuclear Apocalypse. No one illustrates that better than Lexa.
Lexa was the Commander and leader of the Grounders. Like Clarke, her primary goal was to save her people, and together, the two were able to do that and create peace — at least for a little while. Their relationship turned romantic — arguably forming the best couple on the show — which makes Lexa's passing that much more heartbreaking.
She could hold her own against the best fighters of any clan, but she also understood Clarke's struggles as a leader better than anyone. Lexa was a strong character, and although her departure was devastating, it also happened way too soon.
8 Saved: Wally West (The Flash)
When it was first announced that Wally West would be joining The Flash, the news caused a lot of excitement among fans. After all, Wally is the best known speedster behind Barry Allen. Adding another speedster to the mix seemed like a fantastic idea.
While Wally's presence did shake things up a bit, the show never really got his character right.
He always felt sidelined compared to the other members of Team Flash, which made him an underdeveloped character. That's not what you want from one of the most iconic speedsters.
With Wally officially part of Legends of Tomorrow, it allows The Flash to focus fully on its core characters. It also means that Wally can play a bigger role elsewhere. Really, this departure is a win-win for everybody.
7 Hurt: Cat Grant (Supergirl)
Season two of Supergirl corrected a lot of the show's mistakes from season one. Replacing Cat Grant was not one of them.
Cat Grant is the CEO of CatCo Worldwide Media, the company that Kara, James and Winn worked for. She had a fiery personality and was somewhat antagonistic towards Kara at first. However, the two grow closer as Kara finds her footing in the company, and they share a lot of respect for one another.
Unfortunately, Cat decides to take a leave of absence in season two. Cat resurfaces here and there, but now, she's the White House press secretary. This effectively ended what was becoming an interesting dynamic.
This was partly because the shooting location in season two changed to Vancouver, which actress Calista Flockhart was unable to do. She's sorely missed.
6 Saved: Miss Grundy (Riverdale)
Riverdale rapidly became one of the CW's most popular shows. It gave viewers the perfect blend of angsty teen drama and mystery. There are plenty of fun characters on the show, but Miss Grundy wasn't one of them.
Miss Grundy was the music teacher at Riverdale High. She takes a liking to Archie Andrews, and the summer before Archie's sophomore year, the two engage in a highly illegal affair. When Jason Blossom's body is found, Grundy falls under suspicion for this and for her relationship with Archie. She then skips town for a while, but reappears in season two only to meet her end at the hands of the Black Hood.
Miss Grundy had an ill-advised character arc that added a lot of uncomfortable elements to the show.
It's just as well that she's gone now.
5 Hurt: Elena Gilbert (Vampire Diaries)
Elena Gilbert was the central figure of The Vampire Diaries. Her complicated relationship with the Salvatore brothers, Damon and Stefan, as well as her connection to the Petrova bloodline created a lot of fun, intense drama.
When actress Nina Dobrev decided to leave the show at the end of season six, she took the heart of the show with her.
The Salvatore brothers are good characters, but despite their best efforts, The Vampire Diaries was never the same.
When the main character of your television show doesn't want to do the show anymore, it's probably time to call it quits. Still, the show chugged along for another two seasons. Elena returned for the finale, but the show took a massive hit while she was gone.
4 Saved: Laurel Lance (Arrow)
Laurel Lance/Black Canary is a major character in the Green Arrow mythology. Here, she served as the Green Arrow's love interest and was a great character in her own right.
Unfortunately, that sentiment didn't translate to the CW's version of the show. Laurel was by no means the worst character, but she didn't bring much to the table. In season four, the show controversially took this version of Laurel out of the show — where Damien Dahrk ended her life.
This was a shocking departure, but it actually allowed for more interesting characters to take center stage. It also allowed actress Katie Cassidy to take on a new persona as Black Siren, who is way more fun to watch. In the end, Arrow benefitted from this character exit.
3 Hurt: Michael Cordero (Jane the Virgin)
On Jane the Virgin, Michael Cordero was a homicide detective tracking down the ruthless drug lord, Sin Rostro. He was also one of Jane's primary love interests — that is, until his heartbreaking passing.
Michael and Jane had somewhat of a rocky road leading up to their marriage. They became engaged at the beginning of the series, but following Jane's accidental insemination, things get complicated very quickly.
Michael wasn't always the most admirable character, but he cared deeply for Jane and worked hard at his job.
His shocking departure really shook up the dynamic of the show.
Sometimes risks like this are worth taking, but Jane and Michaels relationship — and marriage — feels like it was cut off far too abruptly. The show is already dramatic enough without throwing in brutal twists like this.
2 Saved: Jenny Humphrey (Gossip Girl)
Absolutely no show did teen melodrama better than Gossip Girl. The drama was as entertaining as it was ridiculous, which is why Gossip Girl is still one of the best CW shows. It benefitted by getting rid of Jenny Humphrey.
Jenny — like Gossip Girl himself, aka Dan — is an outsider trying to worm her way into the social circles of the Upper East Side. She quickly goes from being a sweet kid to a manipulative, power-hungry diva. Jenny will tear down anyone and everyone to get what she wants, whether it's turning her back on her own family or turning people against each other.
Sometimes that kind of character works really well in a drama, but Jenny comes off as annoying and downright heartless. She was without a doubt the worst character on Gossip Girl, and her exit caused a sweet sigh of relief.
1 Hurt: Captain Cold (Legends of Tomorrow)
Before he boarded the Waverider on Legends of Tomorrow, Leonard Snart/Captain Cold made his debut on The Flash as the snarky rogue with a cold gun. He was easily the best Rogue on The Flash, which also made him one of the best characters on Legends. His departure threw the whole dynamic of the team off.
Snart was initially seen as an outcast for his villainous past. However, Snart proves to be an important member of the team, and sacrifices himself at the end of the first season. He later resurfaces in season two as a member of the Legion of Doom, but the Legion's defeat ultimately signaled the end of Snart's main storyline.
Snart reappears in the timeline here and there, and while his sacrifice was noble, it was also premature. There was so much potential for his character — whether in a heroic or villainous capacity — but his departure wasted those opportunities.
Which departed CW character do you miss the most? Let us know in the comments!