Top 10 Character Deaths Caused by Production Issues

Written by Garrett Alden Sometimes off-screen trouble can result in a character’s ultimate demise. Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 character deaths caused by production issues. For this list, we’re taking a look at TV characters that were killed off as a result of conflict behind the scenes. However, we’re excluding characters that died as a result of the actor’s own death or illness. Also, since this list involves character deaths, there will be spoilers ahead. Special thanks to our user Jesse Polowin for suggesting this idea, check out the voting page at WatchMojo.comsuggest/Top+10+Character+Deaths+Caused+by+Production+Issues
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Top 10 Character Deaths Caused by Production Issues

Sometimes off-screen trouble can result in a character’s ultimate demise. Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 character deaths caused by production issues.

For this list, we’re taking a look at TV characters that were killed off as a result of conflict behind the scenes. However, we’re excluding characters that died as a result of the actor’s own death or illness. Also, since this list involves character deaths, there will be spoilers ahead.

#10: Maximillian Arturo
“Sliders” (1995-2000)

The grumpy, pseudo father figure of the Sliders group, Professor Maximillian Arturo was played by veteran actor John Rhys-Davies. Rhys-Davies was quite vocal in his criticism of “Sliders”’ writing throughout his run on the show, but he was supported by the network. A number of explanations have emerged as to why he departed “Sliders,” including that he was fired for insulting an executive who was later put in charge of the show, the aforementioned criticism of the writing staff, and possibly to make way for younger cast members. The official reason though, which Rhys-Davies maintains, is “creative differences.” Whatever the case, Rhys-Davies’ move was written into the story when the Professor was shot protecting his friends.

#9: Sixth Doctor
“Doctor Who” (1963-89; 2005-)

The sixth incarnation of the regenerating time traveler was a controversial one, particularly given his choice in wardrobe and less than friendly introduction. However, it was behind-the-scenes issues that ultimately led actor Colin Baker to depart the role. BBC controller Michael Grade had an infamous dislike for “Doctor Who” and, Baker in particular (whose ex-wife Grade was particularly close to). After putting the show on hiatus for over a year, Grade forced through Baker’s firing, leading to the character’s abrupt, and embarrassing, death and regeneration portrayed by his successor in a wig.

#8: Tuco Salamanca
“Breaking Bad” (2008-13)

This drug lord and intense psychopath was all set to be a major antagonist for Walter White and Jesse Pinkman to contend with at the end of “Breaking Bad’s” first season. However, actor Raymond Cruz actually requested that the character be killed off, citing his difficulty playing the role. Given the character’s intense personality, we can hardly blame him, and Tuco’s death did make way for some excellent villains down the line. Cruz seems to have gained some more confidence, however, if the character’s reappearance on the show’s prequel, “Better Call Saul,” is anything to go by.

#7: Susan Ross
“Seinfeld” (1989-98)

George’s fiancée and a former television executive, Susan Ross was a perfectly decent person – however that’s what made her a nightmare for someone as irascible as the balding bumbler. Behind the scenes, several cast members, including Jason Alexander, expressed difficulty in playing off of actress, Heidi Swedberg. So when Julia Louis-Dreyfus said, “don’t you want to just kill her,” co-creator Larry David got an idea. In one of the show’s darkest and most polarizing episodes, Susan dies from licking poisonous wedding invitations, which George bought because they were cheap. This leaves him free to continue being the hilariously terrible man he is while pursuing other women.

#6: Pierce Hawthorne
“Community” (2009-15)

Lewd, crude, and more than a little weird, Pierce Hawthorne was the strange older figure on “Community.” Actor Chevy Chase was often critical of the show and its creator, Dan Harmon, expressing confusion over its humor. This ultimately led to his and the executives’ mutual decision for him to leave. Pierce was phased out at the beginning of the show’s fifth season, first appearing as a hologram, before dying off-screen of dehydration, due to… ahem… samples he donated, which were ironically part of his final gifts to his friends.

#5: Dr. Lawrence Kutner
“House” (2004-12)

As one of House’s newer and more adventurous diagnostic team members, Kutner quickly proved popular with audiences. However, in real life, actor Kal Penn was offered a position in President Barack Obama’s administration and chose to take the job. Kutner’s death by suicide led to an intense episode, which took a hard look at what happens when someone takes their own life. The mystery of why he killed himself had a profound impact on House himself, with his inability to see it coming, prevent it, or to discover the reasons behind it, haunting him, quite literally, until the final episode. The writers truly made the best of Kal Penn’s departure.

#4: George O’Malley
“Grey’s Anatomy” (2005-)

Although his somewhat naïve and relatable personality endeared him to audiences, this young doctor and fresh-faced U.S. army recruit was destined for a death brought about by difficulties behind the scenes. Actor T.R. Knight had already experienced production related drama in 2006 when a homophobic slur prompted him to come out of the closet. Three years later, Knight would cite his character’s lack of screen time and an overall collapse in the degree to which show creator Shonda Rhimes communicated with him as significant factors in his decision to depart. Meanwhile, his character is killed when a horrific bus accident leaves him unable to be identified, after which he’s declared brain-dead and the plug is pulled.

#3: Maude Flanders
“The Simpsons” (1989-)

The wife of the Simpsons’ mustachioed neighbor, Maude Flanders meets her untimely death after getting knocked off some bleachers by a t-shirt launched at Homer. The character’s actress, Maggie Roswell, had moved to Colorado to raise her daughter and needed to fly to California to record twice a week. She requested a pay increase to justify that ongoing expense. However, Fox refused to meet her demands and she left the show. Although briefly recast, Maude was soon killed off by “The Simpsons”’ producers to allow for more story options featuring Ned Flanders as a single father. Advances in remote recording technology have allowed Roswell to return to the program, although Maude remains in heaven.

#2: Chef
“South Park” (1997-)

A musically gifted mentor of the South Park boys, Chef had been a mainstay on the irreverent cartoon satire since its first season. However, in 2006 actor Isaac Hayes departed the program following a recent stroke and due to the show’s infamous episode poking fun at the Church of Scientology, of which Hayes was a member. So creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone went whole hog when they killed off Chef, having him join an organization of child molesters, before being lit on fire, falling off a bridge, getting impaled, shot, and mauled by animals! Talk about overkill!

#1: Charlie Harper
“Two and a Half Men” (2003-15)

After actor Charlie Sheen publicly criticized the creator of “Two and a Half Men,” Chuck Lorre in 2011, Sheen was fired from the hit show. Following his TV meltdown, the character of Charlie Harper was apparently killed off-screen after a jealous lover pushes him in front of a train. The show continued to add insult to injury by having the character supposedly haunt his brother in the guise of Kathy Bates while he’s in hell, serving as a kind of karmic punishment. However in the series finale, Harper is then revealed to be alive, only to be really killed by a falling piano after having escaped 4 years of capture. Chef’s death might have been overkill, but Charlie Harper’s is something else entirely.
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