10 Actors Whose Bad Behavior Changed the Course of a Show
What happens when an opinionated actor doesn’t work well with other cast members and staff? Often, it results in a lot of behind-the-scenes fighting. Take this list of 10 TV shows, for example, which all went through changes after a cast member continuously fought with other actors, writers, and even producers. It often doesn’t work out great for the disagreeable actor, either. In fact, character write-offs and immediate firings often ensue shortly after.
Curious about shows that have been disrupted by behind-the-scenes fighting? Here’s a list of 10 shows that had to adjust when an actor just couldn’t get along with, well, anyone.
1. Chevy Chase and Community
Chevy Chase and Community creator, Dan Harmon had several very public fights during Chase’s time on the show. What Culture says the first dispute started at one of the show’s wrap-up parties, where Harmon said some unkind things about Chase in front of his friends and family (note: Chase has a reputation for being a somewhat difficult person to work with). Things quickly escalated from there. Chase left Harmon an intense voicemail, cursing him out, which led to very obvious tension during shooting.
While filming the show’s Season 3 finale, Chase actually walked off the set, putting the entire episode in jeopardy. As a result, the Community cast was unable to film certain scenes due to time constraints. By then, Harmon had had it. He left the show at the end of the third season. Chase only stuck around for one more season, leaving at the end of the fourth season. After his departure, Harmon then resumed his show-running duties for the show’s fifth season.
2. George Eads and CSI
George Eads took a leave of absence from CSI’s 14th season after a heated exchange with one of the show’s writers. Eads has played Nick Stokes since the series began in 2000. However, he didn’t appear in several episodes in the fall of 2013 as a result of the fight. At the time, a representative for Eads released a statement to The Hollywood Reporter saying the actor would miss “several episodes” due to a “behind-closed-doors disagreement with a CSI showrunner.”
The dispute stemmed from Eads’ unhappiness with the creative direction of his character. He reached out to a writer to discuss his concerns, which led to a heated exchange. The exchange got back to showrunner Carol Mendelsohn, resulting in a meeting between Mendelsohn and Eads where the actor threatened to quit. Eads returned to the show in late November after his temporary reprieve, per Entertainment Weekly.
3. Kirk Cameron and Growing Pains
Everyone loved the ‘80s sitcom about the middle-class family, the Seaver’s. But the happy facade that the group of actors put on for the show was just that — a facade. When Kirk Cameron, who played the dreamy teenager Mike Seaver, became deeply religious, problems quickly followed. According to Cracked, in some of the later seasons of Growing Pains, Cameron spent the majority of his time judging his co-stars for what he deemed as immoral behavior. He then took it a step farther when he started requesting script revisions that fit with his religious beliefs. For example, Cameron started calling for script rewrites when his character had to lay in bed with a woman, Cracked reports.
Eventually, his religion led to the firing of another cast member. Cameron turned on his co-star, Julie McCullough, who played his girlfriend on set. McCullough had once appeared nude in Playboy, and when Cameron found out, he demanded that ABC fire her. ABC went along with Cameron’s demands (he was responsible for much of the show’s popularity), forcing the Growing Pains writers to re-write a major plot line — McCullough and Cameron’s characters were supposed to be getting married.
4. Shannen Doherty and Beverly Hills, 90210
Problems occurred when Shannen Doherty became too hard to deal with on Beverly Hills, 90210. Eventually, Doherty’s character, Brenda Walsh, was kicked off the show by having her sent off to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London. Many of Doherty’s fellow cast members described her as being difficult to work with. Producer Aaron Spelling characterized her in a People Magazine article, saying that, “She is a very honest person who wears her emotions on her sleeve. If you ask her a direct question, she’ll give you a direct answer.”
In that same article, Doherty acknowledged that she may have earned her demanding reputation. “I always stood up for the right causes, but I don’t think I was always diplomatic,” she told People Magazine. “But recently I have learned to be diplomatic.”
5. Charlie Sheen and Anger Management
This fight involves notorious troublemaker Charlie Sheen. Surprised? His behind-the-scenes fighting on FX’s Anger Management with co-star Selma Blair eventually led to her being fired. The disputes started when Blair complained to executives about Sheen’s work ethic and his notorious lateness. Cast members would often sit around for hours waiting for Sheen to arrive. Sheen found out that she had complained about it, and in Sheen-like fashion, a major blowup quickly followed.
In fact, after hearing what Blair had done, Sheen responded by firing her through a text message. He then said he’d refuse to shoot the show if she came to the set the following day, according to TMZ. The dispute is actually quite ironic; Sheen originally went to bat for Blair and worked hard to secure her a spot on the show.
6. Janet Hubert and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
Fights between Janet Hubert and Will Smith eventually led to the firing of Hubert, forcing the show’s producers to hire someone else (Daphne Maxwell Reid) to play Aunt Vivian for the show’s fourth season. TV executives reported that Hubert’s dismissal was due to contractual disagreements (she violated her contract by becoming pregnant), but Smith told a different story, saying her dismissal was due to her poor attitude.
Style Blazer writes that Hubert claimed her firing was due to her off-screen fights with Smith, which led to NBC picking him over her. In 2011, Hubert said during a TMZ interview that she would never make amends with Smith, but she has recently backed off that statement, saying she may be willing to put the past behind her. Maybe there’s hope for a Fresh Prince of Bel-Air reunion after all.
7. Shannen Doherty and Charmed
Shannen Doherty makes this list not once, but twice. Doherty and Alyssa Milano were well-known for their fights on set while filming Charmed. Doherty ended up leaving the show in 2001, which many speculated was because of the extreme fighting on set. The Huffington Post reports Milano saying:
I don’t know if she got fired, we never really found out what happened. I can tell you that we were on the air with her for three years and there were definitely some rough days. Holly [Marie Combs] and Shannen were best friends for like 10 years before the show started so it was very much sort of like high school. I would hope that in our thirties it wouldn’t feel like that anymore … but it was the best job I’ve ever had in my life and certainly a learning experience.
After hearing Milano’s comments, Doherty responded in an Entertainment Tonight interview, saying that, “There was too much drama on the set and not enough passion for the work.” Needless to say, the Charmed cast seemed to be anything but charming toward one other.
8. Columbus Short and Scandal
Columbus Short played Harrison Wright on Scandal. Things took a turn when his wife got a restraining order against him after he allegedly threatened to kill her and put a knife to her throat. The show fired him in 2014.
Later, the actor came forward and said he was abusing drugs. “I was doing cocaine and drinking a lot,” he told Access Hollywood Live, “and trying to balance a 16-hour work schedule a day, and a family, and I just lost myself back then.”
9. Thomas Gibson and Criminal Minds
Thomas Gibson played Aaron Hotchner on the crime drama. Things got heated on-set between him and writer and producer, Virgil Williams. The interaction was so heated that they got into a physical altercation. “I feel like it took years to make a good reputation and a minute to damage it,” the actor told People Magazine.
The fight led to Gibson getting fired. “My pride and reputation are hurt, but in the end I know the good work is what people will remember. I just need more opportunities to do good work and be a good guy.”
10. Isaiah Washington and Grey’s Anatomy
The actor played Dr. Preston Burke on Grey’s Anatomy. He was a big part of the show until he insulted costar, T.R. Knight. He reportedly called Knight a homophobic slur and did it for a second time at the Golden Globes. “After the incident at the Golden Globes, everything just fell apart,” Washington told The Huffington Post. “I lost everything. I couldn’t afford to have an agent …I couldn’t afford to have a publicist…I couldn’t afford to continue.”
The actor did rebound and is now acting on The 100. He also returned to Grey’s Anatomy years later for one episode to reprise his role.
Additional reporting by Nicole Weaver.
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