From the outside, being on a successful TV show appears like a dream come true. Imagine getting paid thousands of dollars to portray a recognized character that will be remembered (and sometimes immortalized) for years and decades to come. Sure, there might be a lot of fame and hard work involved in building a legendary show and performance, but this is what we like to refer to as First-World problems.
Even so, there are still a handful of TV actors who regret their roles for various reasons. Some of them detested the overall direction of the show or their character, while others felt that they couldn't quite shake off the typecasting afterwards. The late Adam West, for example, praised all the success and fandom that Batman brought him, but even he admitted that it cost him future roles because he was always seen as the guy who played the Caped Crusader.
There are others who weren't quite as diplomatic as West and publicly bemoaned their parts at every opportunity. A few still harbor grudges to this day, while others have let bygones be bygones over time.
This is where we step in to uncover the 15 Iconic TV Stars Who Regretted Their Roles.
15 Angus T. Jones (Two And A Half Men)
Two and a Half Men launched Angus T. Jones' name and face into households around the world. Portraying Alan's son, Jake, he worked his way into our lives as we loved and laughed with the youngest member of the Harper family. By the age of 17, Jones penned a contract that would guarantee him $7.8 million over two seasons, making him the highest-paid child star on TV at the time.
In 2012, though, Jones publicly blasted the show in a now-infamous YouTube video.
"Jake from Two and a Half Men means nothing. He is a non-existent character. If you watch Two and a Half Men, please stop watching [the show]. I'm on Two and a Half Men and I don't want to be on it. Please stop watching it and filling your head with filth. People say it's just entertainment. Do some research on the effects of television and your brain, and I promise you you'll have a decision to make when it comes to television, especially with what you watch," he said.
Jones remained on the show until 2014, when he announced his official departure and labeled himself as "a paid hypocrite". He did return for a cameo in the series finale, which aired in February of 2015.
14 Penn Badgley (Gossip Girl)
It's safe to say that Gossip Girl turned Penn Badgley into a star – even if the big reveal of him being Gossip Girl didn't quite live up to fans' high expectations. Consequently, you'd think he'd have more appreciation for what the show did for him, but he's made it crystal clear (on several occasions) how he regrets and is almost embarrassed by his role as Dan Humphrey.
Speaking to Salon about his performance in Greetings from Tim Buckley, Badgley took a subtle swipe at Gossip Girl.
"To be proud of something is a really nice feeling. And it's a new feeling, and it's something that I wanna keep going with. I can walk a little taller feeling that I don't have to be constantly apologizing for the work that I’ve done in the past," he said.
In a separate chat with Vulture, he had some further disparaging remarks to make about his character Dan. "He's not real. He's a tool on a show with soap-operatic arcs and he needs to be a judgmental d-bag sometimes."
As it turns out, he's not the only cast member who disliked his character, as both Blake Lively and Chace Crawford have openly expressed disappointment and regret over their parts.
13 Stephen Dillane (Game Of Thrones)
Being cast in Game of Thrones is something every person in the world dreams of – even crooner Ed Sheeran got a chance to live the epic life and appear on the show.
It's a little surprising to find out that Stephen Dillane, who portrayed Stannis Baratheon, would rather play a cop in The Tunnel than be a part of Westeros.
In an interview with The Times, Dillane revealed his true feelings about his time on the fantasy drama.
"I've flicked [the show] on [since leaving] to see if I could figure out what was going on, but I couldn't. Liam Cunningham [Davos Seaworth] is so passionate about the show. He invests in it in a way I think is quite moving, but it wasn't my experience. I was entirely dependent on Liam to tell me what the scenes were about – I didn't know what I was doing until we'd finished filming and it was too late. The damage had been done. I thought no one would believe in me and I was rather disheartened by the end. I felt I'd built the castle on non-existent foundations," he said.
Sheesh. You'd think he'd be over the moon to play a Baratheon on the show, but alas.
12 Chevy Chase (Community)
Despite appearing like someone you'd want to hang out with, Chevy Chase has a reputation of being difficult to work with and a bit of a grump. The role of Pierce Hawthorne on Community revived Chase's career, but he's not exactly grateful about it. In an interview with HuffPost, he discussed how he felt about the role. "It was a big mistake! I saw this pilot script, thought that it was funny, and I went into the room where they were casting and said, 'I would love to play this guy.' Then they mulled it over. Then they hired me and I just sort of hung around."
Chase added that he prefers "movies because the money is better and certainly because you really know where you stand when you are making movies". Furthermore, he bemoaned the medium of television.
"The hours are hideous, and it's still a sitcom on television, which is probably the lowest form of television. The hours are hideous, and it's still a sitcom on television, which is probably the lowest form of television. That's my feeling about it. I think the reason I have stuck around is because I love these kids, the cast - they are very good. It's not like I am working with the great innovators of all time, but at the same time, they are my friends," he said.
Perhaps the famous comedian needs more ice cream in his life, because he certainly needs to cheer up.
11 Mischa Barton (The O.C.)
When The OC hit our screens in 2003, it made an instant star out of Mischa Barton. In fact, when she left the show at the end of season three, the series never recovered and was cancelled a season later. The audience loved Marissa Cooper and didn't want to watch the teen drama without her.
In 2014, The Metro asked her if she would take the role again knowing what she does in retrospect.
"Probably not," she said. "It's something I came so close to not doing. I had a really great thing with film. People say be grateful for what you have but it's certainly not the kind of thing I was expecting it to be… I've kind of seen it all."
Sadly, it appears that Barton still believes herself to be a bigger star than what she actually was at the time. Her career didn't take off after The O.C. and the only reason she remains in the headlines is for very different reasons. Her co-stars Adam Brody and Ben McKenzie are doing well for themselves and not blaming the popular TV series for slowing down their careers. Maybe Barton could learn a thing or two from them in hindsight.
10 George Reeves (The Adventures Of Superman)
While George Reeves' name might not be the first you think of when someone mentions Superman, he was the Man of Steel for a generation who watched The Adventures of Superman.
Unfortunately, the cape weighed heavily on Reeves as he harbored serious acting aspirations. According to Time, he felt Superman was beneath his dignity and disliked the need to diet for the role. Additionally, he once referred to his heroic tights and cape as a "monkey suit".
That said, the role made him famous, even if the audiences couldn't see him as anything else but Clark Kent.
As a result of this, Reeves struggled to find other work and, when he did, it was rather minor in comparison to his Superman role. It frustrated him, as he believed he could always do more. Reeves went on playing the Man of Steel, but when filming for the seventh season of the show began, he sadly took his own life.
Regardless of how he felt about the role, though, he remained true to the young fans as he took his role model status seriously. He avoided smoking cigarettes in areas where children could see him, eventually quitting smoking altogether, and kept his personal life private.
9 Isaac Hayes (South Park)
To be fair, there are no sacred cows on South Park. Everything and everyone has been insulted and the show pulls no punches in its sharp (and offensive) social commentary. This is why it's surprising that the late Isaac Hayes, who voiced Chef, reacted the way he did when the series insulted Scientology.
Hayes quit the show after one of the episodes portrayed Stan as the successor to L. Ron Hubbard. In a statement, he said, "There is a place in this world for satire, but there is a time when satire ends, and intolerance and bigotry towards religious beliefs of others begins. As a civil rights activist of the past 40 years I cannot support a show that disrespects those beliefs and practices."
South Park co-creator Matt Stone shot back. "This has nothing to do with intolerance and bigotry and everything to do with the fact that Isaac Hayes is a Scientologist and that we recently featured Scientology in an episode of South Park. In 10 years and more than 150 episodes Isaac never had a problem with the show making fun of Christians, Muslims, Mormons and Jews."
Hayes distanced himself from the role and performance, and sadly never made amends before his passing in 2008.
8 Johnny Depp (21 Jump Street)
Nowadays, Johnny Depp is a massive name in Hollywood, but back in the late '80s, he was trying to carve a name out for himself in Tinseltown as a young actor on the cop show 21 Jump Street. It worked as his performance as the baby-faced Tom Hanson garnered the attention of TV audiences everywhere and made him a hot property.
The role made him a teen idol – something that took its toll on Depp.
"I'm dealing with it the best way I know how which is I try to meet as many people as I can," he said to Entertainment Tonight. "I try to sign as many things as I can. I don't want to hurt anybody's feelings or make them feel like I don't have time."
After four seasons of playing the same character, though, Depp grew impatient and wanted out. He toyed with the idea of doing more films, wanting to leave behind the so-called limited medium of television and do something different. The role of Hanson had become an albatross for him.
He was granted his release, and didn't look back as he became an A-lister in the years ahead. Though, he did make a cameo appearance in 2012's 21 Jump Street, an action comedy adaptation of the popular series, which showed his stance towards the role has softened over time.
7 Shannen Doherty (Charmed)
Shannen Doherty's time as Prue Halliwell on Charmed was tumultuous to say the least. The ladies on the show didn't seem to get on, with scandal after scandal rocking the production. In 2001, it was officially announced that Doherty would be leaving the show.
"There was too much drama on the set and not enough passion for the work," Doherty told Entertainment Tonight. "I'm 30 years old and I don't have time for drama in my life anymore. I'll miss Holly [Marie Combs] a lot… She's one of my best friends and I love her dearly, and there were never, ever, ever any problems between the two of us." In a separate interview, Doherty went on to label Charmed as "a show for 12 year olds".
Co-star Alyssa Milano discussed her thoughts on Doherty's exit with Entertainment Weekly. "I think it's unfortunate that she left, and that she needed to bad-mouth everyone involved and the audience. She sounds really angry. I just hope I didn’t contribute to that anger."
When the show wrapped up its final season, the producers reached out to Doherty to return for the finale. Proving there was still bad blood, she declined, saying it didn't feel authentic, interesting, or anything that was true to the character.
6 Robert Reed (The Brady Bunch)
The biggest issue with Robert Reed on The Brady Bunch was that he was a Shakespearean-trained actor. While the show was meant to be silly and goofy, Reed believed more could be done with his character Mike Brady and the storylines. Consequently, he clashed with the creator and executive producer, Sherwood Schwartz, often providing detailed notes and questioning character motivations at every turn.
In a 1983 interview with The Associated Press, Reed revealed the extent of their clashes. "We fought over the scripts. Always over the scripts. The producer, Sherwood Schwartz, had done Gilligan's Island... Just gag lines. That would have been what The Brady Bunch would have been if I hadn't protested," he said.
The tension between Schwartz and Reed became unbearable, and the creator had taken the decision to replace Reed if the series was picked up for another season, but it ended up being cancelled. In the aftermath, Reed admitted he'd only taken the role because of financial reasons, adding that he tried to remain professional at all times. Despite his genuine unhappiness about the show's quality and direction, he never had a bad word to say about his co-stars and acted as a father figure to the young cast members.
5 Mandy Patinkin (Criminal Minds)
Mandy Patinkin is an actor who needs no introduction. He's been a part of TV and film for decades now, so when Criminal Minds cast him as Jason Gideon it was considered a major coup for the series.
In 2007, Patinkin failed to show up for a table read, with many presuming it was a contractual dispute at play, but they were wrong.
He didn't return for the season as he quit the series due to its excessive violence and left apologetic letters for his cast members explaining his decision.
Speaking to New York magazine about his reasons for leaving the show, Patinkin said, "The biggest public mistake I ever made was that I chose to do Criminal Minds in the first place. I thought it was something very different. I never thought they were going to [assault] all these women every night, every day, week after week, year after year. It was very destructive to my soul and my personality. After that, I didn't think I would get to work in television again."
He added, "I'm not making a judgment on the taste [of people who watch crime procedurals]. But I'm concerned about the effect it has. Audiences all over the world use this programming as their bedtime story. This isn't what you need to be dreaming about."
4 Miley Cyrus (Hannah Montana)
Before she was dressing up like Beetlejuice, sticking her tongue out like Gene Simmons, and twerking for Robin Thicke at the 2013 Video Music Awards, Miley Cyrus' path to stardom started on the Disney musical comedy Hannah Montana. The show made her a teen idol with a huge fan following; however, it received negative attention when Cyrus began to behave more provocatively and not Disney-friendly.
In an interview with CBS Sunday Morning, Cyrus revealed the similarities between her and the character she portrayed on screen were, in fact, quite real. "I think why people loved Hannah Montana was because Hannah Montana did feel real, and that's because I was under there." She added that this blurring of personas into one caused her some emotional damage in the long run, though. "I think that's probably what's a little bit wrong with me now. I mark that up to doing some extreme damage in my psyche as an adult person."
Well, Cyrus has done her best to distance herself from this character and it's worked so far. It seems like Hannah Montana is a distant memory and only Miley Cyrus, the edgy pop singer, remains. The question is, which version of her do her fans prefer?
3 Bea Arthur (The Golden Girls)
The late Bea Arthur was a shining light of The Golden Girls with her razor-sharp wit and impeccable comedic timing as Dorothy Zbornak. It's easy to say that she was the main star of the show.
According to Jim Colucci, author of Golden Girls Forever: An Unauthorized Look Behind the Lanai, Arthur was upset about her character's portrayal in the latter seasons and the so-called "Dorothy bashing". Speaking to FOX411, Colucci said, "Bea was offended, When the writers called Rose [Betty White] dumb or Blanche [Rue McClanahan] a [lady of questionable morals] or Sophia [Estelle Getty] old, it could roll off those women's backs because they were not like their characters. Unfortunately, the things that were said about Dorothy were that she was big and ugly. And that wears on an actress after a while."
He said that Arthur was a "quirky and complicated woman", who often spoke about returning to Broadway. Moreover, he revealed that she wanted to quit the series. "By the start of the seventh season, Bea made it very clear that she was done. She thought the quality was starting to slip. She wanted to go out while it was still a good show and she felt she was done with it," Colucci said.
2 Katherine Heigl (Grey's Anatomy)
If you want to find out the definition of self-destruction, just look up Katherine Heigl's career. By opening her mouth at every turn, she's single-handedly ensured she's persona non grata in Hollywood.
Her problems started on Grey's Anatomy, where she played the role of Izzie Stevens. As a main cast member of the popular medical drama, Heigl had the world at her feet. Things took a turn after that.
In 2008, she pulled out of the Emmy race, stating, "I did not feel that I was given the material this season to warrant an Emmy nomination and in an effort to maintain the integrity of the academy organization, I withdrew my name from contention. In addition, I did not want to potentially take away an opportunity from an actress who was given such materials."
Miraculously, Heigl avoided being fired for her comments, but she did leave the show in 2010. That said, Grey's Anatomy's mastermind, Shonda Rhimes, is no fan of Heigl's behavior or the actress. Speaking toThe Hollywood Reporter about her new show, she said, "I don't put up with [expletive] or nasty people. I don't have time for it. There are no Heigls in this situation."
1 Hank Azaria (The Simpsons)
In recent times, the character of Apu Nahasapeemapetilon on The Simpsons has come under heavy criticism due to racial insensitivity. Social media has been rife with disapproval and even a documentary titled The Problem with Apu has addressed the racial stereotyping of the character.
Hank Azaria has voiced Apu since 1990 and he's finally spoken up about the issues with the character.
Appearing on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, he provided his candid thoughts on the matter, including some newfound perspective.
"I have given this a lot of thought, and as I say, my eyes have been opened. And I think the most important thing is we have to listen to South Asian people, Indian people, in this country, when they talk about what they feel and how they think about this character, and what their American experience of it has been. And, as you know, in television terms, listening to voices means inclusion in the writers' room. I really want to see Indian, South Asian writers in the room – not in a token way – genuinely informing whatever new direction this character take, including how it is voiced or not voiced. I'm perfectly willing to step aside or help transition it into something new," he said.
Are there any other iconic TV actors who regret roles? Let us know in the comments!
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