9. KAL PENN // “DR. LAWRENCE KUTNER” ON HOUSE
In 2009, during his stint on the medical drama House, Kal Penn took a job at the White House working with the Obama administration. In order to dedicate more time to this new political career, Penn requested that his character, Dr. Lawrence Kutner, be eliminated. The series’ producers and writers obliged and Dr. Kutner committed suicide at the end of season five.
“I was incredibly honored a couple of months ago to get the opportunity to go work in the White House,” Penn told Entertainment Weekly at the time. “I got to know the president and some of the staff during the campaign and had expressed interest in working there, so I’m going to be the associate director in the White House office of public liaison.”
10. T.R. KNIGHT // “DR. GEORGE O’MALLEY” ON GREY’S ANATOMY
Although his character, Dr. George O’Malley, was a fan favorite, the actor who played him, T.R. Knight, found it increasingly difficult to work with Grey’s Anatomy producer Shonda Rhimes. He stated that there was a gradual “breakdown in communication” over the years and that he became frustrated with seeing his screen time dwindle at the beginning of season five. As a result, Knight asked to be written off the TV show, and Dr. O’Malley was subsequently hit by a bus.
“My five-year experience proved to me that I could not trust any answer that was given [about the character George],” Knight explained to Entertainment Weekly. “And with respect, I’m going to leave it at that.”
11. JOSH CHARLES // “WILL GARDNER” ON THE GOOD WIFE
In the middle of The Good Wife’s fifth season, Josh Charles’s character, Will Gardner, was fatally shot in the courtroom by his client. While the decision to kill off Gardner was made a year earlier, fans were shocked—and upset. In truth, it was Charles’s decision; he simply decided not to return for season six after his contract was up, as he wanted to pursue other creative projects.
“I had a very short-term deal,” Charles told Deadline. “It was renewed a couple of times over, and at the end of the fourth year my contract was up, and I chose not to renew. It was just a creative decision for me wanting to go and explore new stuff—in my life, in my career.”
In addition, The Good Wife’s creators had to issue an open letter to fans to justify his death: “And when faced with the gut punch of Josh’s decision, made over a year ago, to move on to other creative endeavors, we had a major choice to make,” Robert and Michelle King wrote.