The world of television production is one of the most highly-competitive and high-pressure environments in the world – and the CW network is no exception.
Standards are high and actors are frequently expendable in the face of a multi-million dollar production. While some actors may be in high demand and forced to make a choice between projects, many of them do not leave their series on good terms. In fact, a goodly portion of them were fired from the shows they starred in.
Whether they prove to be impossible to work because of a haughty attitude or creative differences with the rest of the cast, have their own personal issues that have to take precedent over their acting work or just plain have the ill-fortune to have their characters killed off for the sake of telling a more thrilling story, there are a variety of reasons why an actor might be pressured to leave a television series.
This is particularly true on The CW, which has seen a wide variety of stars come and go from various series for one reason or another, despite barely having been in existence for just over a decade.
Read on to learn more about 16 CW Stars Who Left Their Shows For Shady Reasons!
16. Katie Cassidy
It’s unclear precisely why Katie Cassidy’s character Laurel Lance was written out of Arrow near the end of the series’ fourth season, though a variety of rumors still persist.
One claims that Cassidy had been feuding with the producers over her decreased importance on the show in the wake of the writers’ attempt to capitalize on the chemistry between Stephen Amell and Emily Bett Rickards. Another claims that Cassidy asked to be written out, so that she could pursue more film work.
The simplest explanation is probably the most likely – the character had run her course and the writers had no idea what else to do with her. This seems likely given that Laurel had no real purpose on the show following her achieving her goal of resurrecting her dead sister, Sara, in the episode “Haunted” and she spent most of the fourth season just taking up space.
15. Chad Michael Murray
The relationship between aspiring author Lucas Scott and music producer Peyton Sawyer was considered by many to be the core of the teen drama One Tree Hill. While the show continued on for three more years after actors Chad Michael Murray and Hilarie Burton left at the end of season six, the series was never quite the same without them.
When quizzed about Hilarie Burton making an announcement about her departure from the series by fan photographers, Murray made a surprising claim – that he was being removed from the show because of economic considerations.
14. Manu Bennett
Though the character was greatly changed from the classic Teen Titans comics, most loved Manu Bennett’s performance as Slade Wilson (aka Deathstroke) during the first two seasons of Arrow. Many were less than thrilled when Slade was brought back in the third season episode “The Return” only to be easily defeated by a barely-trained Thea Queen… particularly Manu Bennett!
Bennett feuded with the Arrow producers online, refusing to do any more cameo appearances for several years. A peace was finally reached, however, and Bennett returned to portray Slade Wilson in the season five finale and the season six episodes “Deathstroke Returns” and “Promises Kept.”
Fans hoped the two-part story might be setting-up a Deathstroke solo-series. Unfortunately, it only set-up a fitting ending for Bennett’s take on Deathstroke, as Warner Bros. decreed Slade Wilson was now off-limits on Arrow, so they could promote the DCEU version.
13. Nina Dobrev
Playing the role of Elena Gilbert – a seemingly ordinary high school student who suddenly found herself caught in a love triangle between two feuding vampire brothers – Nina Dobrev was the face of The Vampire Diaries.
Dobrev reportedly grew bored with the role after six seasons, however, and when offered a chance to renew her contract with The CW Network, she declined so that she could focus on other acting opportunities.
It was hard to imagine how the series could continue without its lead female protagonist, but The Vampire Diaries made it work for two more seasons. Elena was put into a magical sleep, with her fate tied to that of another character. The series then shifted focus to the relationship between the brothers Stefan and Damon Salvatore, though Dobrev did return to film the final episode.
12. Wentworth Miller
Wentworth Miller proved quite the chilling presence when he was cast as Captain Cold on The Flash. Though never a full-time member of the cast, Miller always stole the show as easily as Leonard Snart robbed banks whenever he appeared as a special guest performer. Small wonder then that the thief with a code of honor was recruited to be part of the crew of The Waverider for the first season of the spin-off series DC’s Legends Of Tomorrow.
Unfortunately, as popular as Wentworth Miller was with DC Comics fans, he was not unexpendable. When push came to shove regarding his splitting time between his duties as Captain Cold and his lead role on the Fox series Prison Break, he had to go with the series where he was the star rather than one member of an ensemble cast.
11. Jessica Biel
Jessica Biel’s girl-next-door good looks made her a natural for the role of Mary – the eldest daughter of the conservative Camden clan on 7th Heaven. Shortly after turning 18, the actress proved she could play the bad girl just as well, posing semi-clad for a racy photo shoot in Gear Magazine.
It was speculated at the time that Biel wanted out of her contract to pursue other opportunities, but Biel claims now that she was just being young and foolish and rebelling against the 7th Heaven producers who wouldn’t let her change her hairstyle.
Whatever the case, Biel was fired from the show, with Mary Camden being shipped off to her grandparents’ house, in order to turn her life around after a downward spiral that included falling in with the wrong crowd and stealing money from her siblings.
10. Calista Flockhart
Despite being a critical success on CBS, Supergirl‘s status was uncertain as it ended its first season. The special-effects driven series was quite expensive by CBS standards. Thankfully, most of the expense issues were easily addressed when the series moved to The CW. The production costs were much less expensive in Vancouver compared to Los Angeles.
Unfortunately, not all of the Supergirl cast was willing to relocate to Canada for the sake of the show. This was especially true of Calista Flockhart, who played the role of Kara Danvers’ boss, Cat Grant. It was for this reason that Cat Grant virtually disappeared from Supergirl, apart from guest appearances in the season two premiere and finale, with Kara now reporting to editor Snapper Carr instead of Cat Grant.
9. Hilarie Burton
Fans were devastated when Hilarie Burton announced her intention to leave One Tree Hill at the end of its sixth season to pursue other projects. Though the series lasted for another three seasons, many fans felt the show was never quite the same after Burton’s departure.
In 2017, it was revealed that Burton had another reason for leaving the series. Burton confirmed reports by other victims that One Tree Hill creator Mark Schwahn had created an incredibly uncomfortable work environment for the female cast and crew, crafting a culture in which the actresses were pitted against each other and Schwahn spread false rumors about what other women had done in order to secure his sponsorship.
8. Victor Garber
A distinguished actor with a long career on stage and screen, many were surprised to see Victor Garber cast in the role of the stoic scientist Professor Martin Stein, whose experiments led to the creation of The Firestorm Matrix on The Flash. Though Garber has performed in a variety of roles, he was better known for his work in various historical films and musical theater than science-fiction or action television series.
As enjoyable as Garber may have found his time on The Flash and DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, it was not enough to inspire him to resist the siren song of a return to the stage. Martin Stein was given a hero’s death during the Crisis On Earth-X crossover event, allowing Garber a chance to trod the boards once more in the recent Broadway revival of Hello Dolly! with Bernadette Peters.
7. Jessica Szohr
An aspiring film maker who was only able to attend the prestigious Constance Billard School for Girls because of a scholarship, Vanessa Abrams struggled to fit in among her classmates on the series Gossip Girl.
Actress Jessica Szohr faced a similar struggle fitting in with the rest of the cast – a problem that only became worse following her break-up with actor Ed Westwick, who played the role of Chuck Bass on the show.
By the time Gossip Girl reached its fourth season, Szohr was as sick of playing Vanessa Abrams as audiences were sick of the character. Szohr talked with the producers about the direction the character was heading and, when it was realized nobody was sure where to take Vanessa, it was agreed that they would slowly phase her out of the series, allowing Szohr to leave at the end of the season.
6. Caity Lotz
The producers of Arrow found themselves facing a fan uprising over the “fridging” of Sara Lance in the third season opener, “The Calm”. While their plan had always been to develop Laurel Lance into Black Canary, Caity Lotz had become popular in the role of The Canary. This created an odd situation where Laurel was seen as a usurper to the title that was her intended destiny!
The problem was one of timing. Had Sara died a hero’s death in the second season finale, Laurel’s desire to take up her sister’s staff might have seemed more natural and she would have had more time to train. As it was, Sara’s death reeked of plot-contrivance as did Laurel’s accelerated journey to replace her and most fans were more interested in Sara’s quest for redemption than Laurel’s seeking revenge. Small wonder then that Sara was brought back for Legends of Tomorrow.
5. Mark Sheppard
The twelfth season of Supernatural ended with an explosive finale that saw many members of the cast dead. Among the casualties was Crowley, the snarky King of Hell, who had acted as both ally and antagonist to the Winchester brothers.
Mark Sheppard, who played Crowley, apparently left the series on good terms. Yet he became aggrevated when Executive Producer Jim Michaels suggested on Twitter that it would not be impossible for Crowley to come back from the dead. This declaration caused Sheppard to reply “There are NO plans to have me return to SPN at ANY juncture.”
It remains unknown what may have occurred behind the scenes to make Sheppard so adamant that Crowley is truly gone for good, but it seems likely that Michaels’ comments killed any chance Sheppard might be persuaded to return.
4. Ricky Whittle
Few were surprised when the character of Lincoln was killed off, nobly sacrificing himself to save his people on The 100. The move followed actor Ricky Whittle being cast in the lead role of Shadow Moon in the television adaptation of the Neil Gaiman novel American Gods.
It turned out that Whittle had reasons for leaving The 100 other than a better role. Whittle confirmed an atmosphere of bullying on the set of the show, which he claimed was encouraged by Executive Producer and showrunner Jason Rothenberg.
Whittle said that while leaving the show was entirely his choice and that there was no effort to force him to quit, he had still had his lines cut and his role on the show reduced after he attempted to question Rothenberg about Lincoln’s storyline – or lack thereof.
3. Nigel Barker
Being a former model and a fashion photographer, Nigel Barker was uniquely qualified to serve as a judge on the reality TV series America’s Top Model. Coming onto the series in its second season, Barker proved an engaging and popular presence on the show until he was suddenly fired at the end of Cycle 18.
While disappointed, Barker said that he understood why he had been let go and that it was purely a business decision driven by the need for new blood to keep the show fresh and interesting. The ratings had been dropping steadily for several years and Barker had barely avoided the chopping block several times during that period.
2. Colton Haynes
Fans were stunned by Colton Haynes’ sudden departure from Arrow about halfway through the series’ third season. The official reason for this was that, after leaving Teen Wolf two years earlier, Haynes was reluctant to get tied down to another television series. The producers claimed they had persuaded Haynes to commit to a two-year contract in the hopes of convincing him to stay just a little bit longer.
This turned out to be a cover for the truth – Haynes had been diagnosed with anxiety and the physically demanding role of Roy “Arsenal” Harper was more than he could cope with. The producers came up with the “two-year contract” conceit to allow Haynes to maintain his privacy until he was ready to talk publicly about his condition.
1. Taylor Momsen
The life of good-girl Jenny Humphrey on Gossip Girl spiraled downward in a dark journey that mirrored the life of actress Taylor Momsen. She became infamous for her bad-girl behavior behind-the-scenes, making several shocking statements to the press, dressing edgily with heavy make-up, and acting in an erratic manner.
Momsen proved unreliable enough about showing up ready to work during Gossip Girl‘s third season that the producers reworked her role from that of a regular cast member to a recurring character for season four.
The producers say that Momsen was fired outright before the start of Gossip Girl‘s fifth season due to her failure to shape up. Momsen claims that she quit the show in order to focus on her music career. Either way, Momsen hasn’t acted since.
Is there a shady CW story we missed? Let us know in the comments!
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