Actors Who Were Fired While Filming Hit TV Shows
TV shows often become well-known for the actors who star in them. However, even actors aren’t immune to getting fired. Here’s a look at stars who were given their walking papers, leaving the show to try and carry on without them. In one situation, the series actually ended when the actress was fired.
From pregnancies to drugs to bad public behavior, check out 12 celebrities who were fired from hit TV shows.
1. Lynn Redgrave
House Calls was a TV show that ran from 1979 to 1982. In it, Redgrave played Ann Anderson, a hospital administrative assistant who was romantically involved, but often at odds, with Dr. Charley Michaels. In 1981, Universal Studios released a statement saying that Redgrave had left the CBS series because the studio wouldn’t meet her salary demands, according to an article posted on the Los Angeles Times.
However, Redgrave told a very different story. She asserted she was forced off the TV show because she wanted to breastfeed her 5-week-old daughter on set, per People. Universal denied this claim, but a phone call transcript recorded Pete Terranova, who was a negotiator for Universal at the time, saying that the breastfeeding “is the biggest problem of all for us.”
Next: This actress has been fired off not one, but two TV shows.
2. Shannen Doherty
Doherty managed to get fired from two different TV shows — Beverly Hills, 90210 and Charmed. In 1994, she was reportedly fired after her fourth season on 90210, which was attributed to her bad attitude. Recently, Jason Priestley, who played Brandon Walsh on the ’90s drama, revealed in his book, Jason Priestley: A Memoir, just how difficult Doherty was on set.
In an excerpt of Priestly’s memoir posted on Us Weekly, he said that, “I could not believe my ears at Shannen’s very first words after she boarded. Her butt had barely hit her seat before she said loudly to the PR person, ‘Really? A town car? You send a town car to take me to the airport, not a limo?’ She sighed a very put-upon sigh. I laughed, as I couldn’t really tell if Shannen was kidding or not.”
It was also rumored that Doherty was fired from Charmed after an ongoing feud with co-star Alyssa Milano. According to The Huffington Post, in an interview with Entertainment Tonight, Doherty said there was “too much drama on the set and not enough passion for the work.”
Next: He threatened to quit first, but was ultimately let go.
3. John Amos
Amos played James Evans Sr. on Good Times, a show about a Chicago family who lived in the projects but always tried to make the best of things. The popular show debuted in 1974 on CBS. TVparty reports that when the 1975-76 season began, Amos threatened to quit due to the show’s shifting focus and negative images. He, along with his co-star Esther Rolle, were given hefty raises to remain on the show.
In 1976, Amos’ character was killed off the series, per TVparty. “I did not quit the show but was in fact fired,” Amos revealed to TVparty. “I was informed by phone that I was considered a disruptive factor and that my option would not be picked up for that season or any other episodes.”
Next: Her exit ended the series entirely.
4. Brett Butler
Butler starred in the successful ABC sitcom, Grace Under Fire, for five years. In 1998, Butler was fired, but rather than fire Butler and move forward with the show, ABC decided to pull the plug on the entire series after she was asked to leave the set because of her drug use, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The TV show was a hit its first two seasons, but Butler’s Vicodin addiction made her “unreliable, irrational, and, at the end, unable to function,” per The New York Times.
The show’s ratings began to slip, and it was canceled five weeks into production in 1998. In a TV Guide interview, Butler recalled the day she was let go. “All in one day, like a bad country song, my husband left me, I got fired, and he even gave my dog to my sister. And I knew for sure it was all over [when] I went to the lot to get my stuff and armed guards escorted me.”
Next: She was fired after getting her own spinoff.
5. Lisa Bonet
Bonet played Denise Huxtable on the ’80s sitcom, The Cosby Show, which centered around Bill Cosby as Dr. Heathcliff “Cliff” Huxtable and his family. Bonet’s character was extremely popular with fans, and she was eventually given her own spin-off, A Different World, which was set at the fictional Hillman College and followed Denise and her friends as they attended school.
According to Mental Floss, Bonet became pregnant and engaged to musician Lenny Kravitz after the first season. The end result? The producers wrote her character out of the show, focusing on the show’s other characters instead, writes What Culture. Bonet was allowed to return to The Cosby Show, but that didn’t last long either. She was eventually written off the show, and wasn’t even invited to appear in the show’s finale.
Next: Her exit eventually led to tragedy.
6. Dana Plato
Plato played the role of Kimberly Drummond on Diff’rent Strokes, which ran from 1978 to 1986. Thanks to Plato’s wholesome, girl-next-door vibe, she was a huge hit with the show’s fans. However, she was fired from the NBC show after the 1983-84 season after producers found out she was pregnant, according to Reel Reviews. She did return to make appearances for the show’s final season on ABC in 1985-86.
Plato struggled to find acting jobs after Diff’rent Strokes, and eventually spiraled out of control. She struggled with drug addiction, and in 1991, she held up a local video store. Sadly, Plato was never able to control her addictions, and died of an overdose in 1999, per Biography.com.
Next: He was at the center of quite a Scandal.
7. Columbus Short
Short played Harrison Wright on ABC’s hit show Scandal about a professional fixer, Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington), and her team of “gladiators in suits,” who work to solve the problems of Washington’s most powerful politicians. Short lasted three seasons on the show before finding out in April 2014 that he had been fired after his personal life became quite public.
TMZ writes that Short’s wife got a restraining order against him after she alleged that he put a knife to her throat, threatening to kill her. Additionally, Short has been charged in connection with another domestic violence incident and child abuse, per TMZ. According to The Huffington Post, Short’s self-destructive behavior continued through July of that year, when he was arrested for public intoxication.
Next: Her co-star may be to blame for her exit from this talk show.
8. Leah Remini
Remini was fired from The Talk, a CBS TV show that offers female perspectives on the day’s news, in 2011. Remini remained silent for months after her departure, but eventually opened up to reveal she believed she was fired because of Sharon Osbourne, who is a host on the show.
The Los Angeles Times reports Remini saying in a tweet: “Sharon thought me and Holly were ‘ghetto.’ We were not funny, awkward, and didn’t know ourselves. She has the power that was given to her.” Osbourne has continued to deny these claims, but Remini has stuck to her guns, assuring her fans and followers that Osbourne is the reason she was forced off the show.
Next: Legal action was taken after this Desperate star was let go.
9. Nicolette Sheridan
After getting let go from ABC’s Desperate Housewives in 2009, Sheridan later sued both the network and series creator Marc Cherry for assault and wrongful termination, claiming that Cherry struck her on the head once on set. Cherry maintained he only lightly tapped Sheridan’s head as he was demonstrating how to play a scene and that the decision to kill off her character was made well before Sheridan complained of the incident.
A mistrial was eventually declared due to lack of evidence of the alleged assault. She has since made a series of appeals to file a new complaint alleging that ABC retaliated against her for complaining about working condition.
Next: An apology couldn’t fix this actor’s trauma.
10. Isaiah Washington
In fall 2006, reports surfaced that Washington had used a gay slur on the set of Grey’s Anatomy towards T.R. Knight, who came out shortly afterward. The actor issued an apology, but later stirred up controversy again, when he reiterated the slut during a press conference at the Golden Globe Awards that January.
Washington then issued a second apology, admitting that he had used the slur on set during an argument with co-star Patrick Dempsey and that ABC had since asked him to undergo counseling. Despite his public mea culpas, the network dropped Washington from the series a few months later.
Next: It doesn’t sound like it was really her Anger that needed Management.
11. Selma Blair
Blair was axed from the FX comedy, Anger Management, in 2013 after reportedly feuding with co-star Charlie Sheen. The actress apparently complained to executives of Sheen’s unprofessional behavior on set.
When Sheen caught wind of the complaint, he threatened to quit the series if Blair was not fired. She was axed and eventually replaced by Laura Bell Bundy on the series.
Next: Speaking of Sheen…
12. Charlie Sheen
Before he got his own show, Sheen was fired from a more successful hit comedy. As one of the eponymous stars of CBS’s Two and a Half Men, Sheen’s job seemed all but secure — that is, until he became a problem both on and off the set.
After reports of alcohol and drug abuse, as well as domestic violence and rude comments directed towards series creator Chuck Lorre, Sheen’s contract was terminated in 2011. His character was “killed off,” and Ashton Kutcher stepped in as co-star to Jon Cryer.
Next: A violent altercation led to this firing.
13. Jeremy Clarkson
The former Top Gear host was suspended and subsequently dropped by the BBC in March 2015, following an altercation with a producer at a hotel. According to BBC, producer Oisin Tymon suffered swelling and a split lip in the assault by Clarkson and visited a hospital for his injuries. The host, who had been with the network for 27 years prior to the firing, later spoke out on the incident, saying that getting dropped from the series “was my own damn fault.”
Next: This show’s final season won’t involve its main character.
14. Kevin Spacey
In October 2017, actor Kevin Spacey was accused of sexually assaulting a minor many years before. Following the allegations, Spacey issued an apology, but didn’t exactly own up to what he’d purportedly done.
Following suit, production on Spacey’s Netflix series, House of Cards, was suspended, and Spacey was let go as a star and producer. However, the series will wrap up with one final season starring Robin Wright, whose character took over the presidency from Spacey’s Frank Underwood in the Season 5 finale.
Next: Netflix lost another major star to sexual misconduct allegations.
15. Danny Masterson
This one was quite an ordeal. For years, allegations of sexual misconduct (including violent rape) have followed Danny Masterson, perhaps best known as Hyde from That ’70s Show. The actor, who is a known Scientologist, may have been protected by the church, which is why it took the #MeToo movement to bring them into the public eye.
Masterson starred on the Netflix series The Ranch alongside his That ’70s Show co-star, Ashton Kutcher. Though it took some time, Netflix announced in December 2017 that Masterson had been let go. The actor continues to deny the allegations.
Additional reporting by Michelle Regalado and Becca Bleznak.
Check out The Cheat Sheet on Facebook!