Television actors are a fickle group of stars — and I'm not saying that they are difficult, or that their loyalties shift over time, or anything like that. What I'm saying is that sometimes television actors have one of the hardest jobs in Hollywood: Returning day after day, month after month, year after year to the same character is hard. Even us regular people sometimes struggle with the repetitive act of going to work day after day, month after month — you get the idea. Yet, it's what we do. It's how we get paid and make it through to the next day.
So, it's understandable to think that sometimes actors need a break too, or even see the writing on the wall and they make the decision to find the best possible solution to their future in entertainment. Yet, there are always those actors who just don't seem to get it, and they leave because of "creative differences" or in pursuit of more money and bigger/better roles.
With that in mind, here are seven actors who left for the best and worst reasons:
1. Colton Haynes
From: The Arrow
Best Reason: In an interview with EW, Colton explained that he has suffered from terminal anxiety for his entire life, and he understood that for his mental and physical health, he needed to take a break. Between being physically ill, fainting and already having an ulcer at 27 years old, Colton decided that he needed to focus on his health before his career.
Reaction: There were mixed feelings, but the general consensus is that, for him, focusing on his mental state is the most important. And the creative team at Arrow believes that Colton's character of Roy Harper could return for singular one-shots in the remaining seasons, as that suits his character and Colton's choice to focus on his health. A less demanding schedule for the time being is the best option.
2. Steve Carell
From: The Office
Best Reason: Steve understood that nothing lasts forever, and ultimately with a blossoming film career he knew that it was time to let his character move on with a happy ending.
Reaction: There were a mix of emotions with Steve leaving the show, since The Office thrived on the overly enthused and awkward character that Steve brought to viewers. Yet, everyone was glad to see his character, Michael Scott, leave the show with the happy ending that he had, and the show enjoyed a couple more seasons before wrapping up with a last episode cameo from Steve himself.
3. Josh Charles
From: The Good Wife
Best Reason: There is always a point in every television actor's career where they realize that eventually all good things must come to an end. And that is what Josh Charles found while he was a part of the hit show The Good Wife. He said this about his character leaving the show, "I thought that I felt however much I've enjoyed the experience, I was ready for the next chapter of my life, both creatively and personally."
Reaction: Fans were shocked at how he left the show, and I won't spoil it for you if you happen to be streaming the show, but at the time it was hated by many. However, his leaving ultimately ignited an entirely new fire in Alicia's character, which made the show get so much better.
4. Charlie Sheen
From: Two and a Half Men
Worst Reason: Okay, we all know that Charlie Sheen's choices weren't exactly the wisest, but his exit from Two and a Half Men can be explainable by the fact he was fired by the studio for being "engaged in a dangerously self-destructive conduct and appears to be very ill.” The studio released a letter explaining that Sheen’s personal troubles, including a New York hotel room incident in November, a wild Las Vegas weekend in January and the 36-hour bender at his house that led to Sheen’s hospitalization on Jan. 27.
Reaction: Well, Charlie was pissed, and that's about it. As much as we all enjoyed his character at the beginning, it was easy to see that his personal choices were affecting him greatly. So when Ashton Kutcher stepped in to replace his character it was a breath of fresh air for the series.
5. Claire Holt
From: The Originals
Best Reason: Originally, Claire Holt had signed on for only 16 episodes of the show, and when she chose to not renew for more episodes she was asked her reasoning. It was a simple and understandable mix of missing her home and looking forward to future opportunities. She had this to say about leaving the show, "This show has been so amazing for my career, and I've had such unbelievable material, it was just never my intention to be away from home this long."
Reaction: It was heartbreaking to watch her leave, but after the tension between her character, Rebekah Mikaelson, and her television brother Klaus, it felt as though she had been vindicated and she could finally find peace and love. Claire's leaving the way she did left the door open for her character to return, and return she did; just not as we'd expected.
6. Chris Pratt
From: Parks and Recreation
Best Reason: Chris Pratt left Parks and Recreation without actually leaving to, you know, become one of the biggest Hollywood stars of the last decade. Basic story, but he never planned to leave Parks and Rec, so he was given the necessary time off in order to become the huge actor that we know him now to be thanks to Jurassic World and a little indie film called Guardians of the Galaxy.
Reaction: It was a win-win-win for everybody in this situation. Fans loved Pratt for returning to his beloved character, Andy Dwyer. Fans loved the show for giving him the time off and not just removing his character. And of course Chris Pratt became one of the biggest names of his generation.
7. Christopher Eccleston
From: Doctor Who
Best/Worst Reason: Christopher Eccleston's departure from Doctor Who isn't all that absurd when you consider the concept of a time-traveling Doctor who basically is a revolving door of sorts. The beloved Doctor has been portrayed by various actors through the years, and Eccleston stepped into the role 15 years after the previous collection of episodes had ended, just prior to January 1990. Ultimately, as Eccleston is a serious dramatic actor, it makes sense that he was unhappy in a show where he was directed into truly strange scenarios. It's understandable why he wouldn't be keen to sign on for a second season.
Reaction: Fans were dismayed when they heard the news that Eccleston wouldn't be returning, but it opened the door for David Tennent, Matt Smith and now Peter Capaldi to step through the revolving door and continue the show on for nine more seasons. It's been beautiful to watch.