19 Stars Who Were Fired From Hit TV Shows
Booking a series isn't always a ticket to job security, as these fired TV stars discovered.
The entertainment business can be volatile—even for big stars who have become household names—which is why landing a role on a TV series can feel a little like job security should the show return for season after season. The reality, however, is that few TV gigs are permanent: Shows get canceled, characters get killed off, and sometimes actors get canned. The following 19 TV stars fall into the last category: actors who were fired for cause and either written off or replaced on hit series. Read on to find out the true stories behind big names who clashed with powerful people or got the wrong kind of press, and then found themselves out of a job.
Lori Loughlin, Fuller House
It's no surprise why Lori Loughlin lost her recurring gig as Aunt Becky on Netflix's Fuller House, reprising the role she originated on Full House decades prior. After her participation in a major college admissions scandal came to light in 2019, Loughlin was fired from the show—and ultimately served two months in prison. Co-star Andrea Barber told Today that Loughlin's firing from Fuller House was very sad. "We wish it wasn't that way, and we wish she could be here because it definitely feels like there's a hole in our hearts and a hole on our set," she said.
Isaiah Washington, Grey's Anatomy
Grey's Anatomy's Dr. Preston Burke left Seattle Grace and Dr. Cristina Yang behind when his portrayer, Isaiah Washington, got let go from the ABC series in 2007 over the controversy following his reported use of a homophobic slur. "I'm saddened by the outcome," Washington told Entertainment Weekly at the time. "I did everything that the producers and the network asked me to do. I came back under great duress and stress, and thought I was doing the job I was hired to do. I thought that was going to speak for my future at Grey's, but apparently that wasn't the same vision that the network and studio had for me."
Charlie Sheen, Two and a Half Men
No star on this list spent more time in tabloid headlines than Charlie Sheen, whose tumultuous behind-the-scenes life has been documented for decades. But when that behavior spilled over into his work life, Sheen was fired from his starring role on Two and a Half Men in 2011, with TV executives writing in a letter to the actor's representation, "Your client has been engaged in dangerously self-destructive conduct and appears to be very ill." Sheen was written off the show, and Ashton Kutcher was brought on as a new lead.
Selma Blair, Anger Management
Sheen's next project, the FX comedy Anger Management, was not without its share of controversies—including the firing of co-star Selma Blair in 2013. At the time, it was reported that Sheen fired her himself via text after Blair questioned his professionalism. Sheen has denied that version of events. Shortly after she was let go, Sheen told Jay Leno that Blair's character was written off the show for plot reasons, and not because of any conflict between the two.
Leah Remini, The Talk
Leah Remini was fired from The Talk after just one season, along with her co-panelist Holly Robinson Peete. In 2012, Remini blamed her firing on another panelist, Sharon Osbourne, a claim that the latter denied by saying she never had that power. Earlier this year, Remini told journalist Yashar Ali, "Although being fired was devastating at that time, in part because someone we considered a friend turned on us for a show we helped to create, I am grateful for the time away to do the work I needed to do."
Roseanne Barr, Roseanne
Technically, it was a show cancellation—but really, it was the firing of the titular lead. In 2018, ABC fired Roseanne Barr from the network's hit reboot of Roseanne following a tweet about former Barack Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett that was widely considered to be racist. The series was canceled, but quickly resurrected as the spinoff The Conners, which premiered with the revelation that Roseanne had died offscreen.
Robert Downey Jr., Ally McBeal
Years before he made a major career comeback as Iron Man, Robert Downey Jr. faced his fair share of legal troubles, including a 2001 arrest for investigation of being under the influence of drugs. The actor was playing the love interest of the title character on the hit series Ally McBeal, but after Downey checked himself into rehab, producer David E. Kelley released a statement saying, "We are wrapping up the stories on the final few episodes … for the season without him," The Washington Post reported.
Chadwick Boseman, All My Children
Downey wasn't the only Marvel superhero to get fired from a popular TV series before finding fame in the MCU. The late Chadwick Boseman, best known for playing Black Panther, told The Wrap that in 2003, he was fired from the soap opera All My Children after complaining about the stereotypical nature of his character one week into the job. The actor who took over the role? Michael B. Jordan, who played the villain Killmonger opposite Boseman in 2018's Black Panther.
RELATED: 40 Stars Who Started Out on Soap Operas.
Gina Carano, The Mandalorian
The Mandalorian actor Gina Carano's social media updates had been stirring up controversy for some time before she got the axe earlier this year. After one post that many deemed anti-Semitic, Carano was dropped from a galaxy far, far away. In a statement, Lucasfilm said, "Gina Carano is not currently employed by Lucasfilm and there are no plans for her to be in the future," per The Hollywood Reporter.
Shannen Doherty, Beverly Hills, 90210
Being labeled "difficult" can follow an actor for decades, and Shannen Doherty has been plagued by those rumors since her abrupt 1994 departure from 90210. Her co-star Tori Spelling took credit for Doherty's firing in a 2015 Lifetime special, saying that she called her dad—executive producer Aaron Spelling—to intervene after Doherty got into a physical altercation with Jennie Garth, Us Weekly reported. Doherty and Garth have since reconciled, and in a 2015 appearance on Watch What Happens Live, Garth clarified that there were never any punches thrown.
Nicollette Sheridan, Desperate Housewives
On dramas like Desperate Housewives, getting killed off is just part of the job, but star Nicollette Sheridan was disturbed by the circumstances of the decision to write her off the show in 2009 during Season 5. Sheridan claimed that she was fired by ABC because she spoke out against show creator Marc Cherry, which ABC and Cherry have denied. Sheridan ended up filing a wrongful termination lawsuit, and the case left the jury deadlocked. "I was vilified for standing up for my rights, not only as a woman but as a human being," she told Entertainment Weekly in 2018. "And I was punished for it. But that wasn't going to stop me because I had to get my dignity back, and if I'd let it slide, I couldn't have looked myself in the mirror."
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Stassi Schroeder, Vanderpump Rules
The national conversation spurred by the Black Lives Matter protests in the summer of 2020 prompted Bravo to revisit the behavior of several cast members on the hit reality series Vanderpump Rules and clean house. The most high-profile of those firings: Stassi Schroeder, who was axed alongside on-again off-again BFF Kristen Doute years after the two reported Black co-star Faith Stowers to the police for a crime she had nothing to do with, Variety reported. Max Boyens and Brett Caprioni were also let go for past tweets decried as racist, and Jax Taylor–who had also falsely accused Stowers of a crime—was fired in Dec. 2020, along with Taylor's wife, Brittany Cartwright.
Janet Hubert, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
The mystery of Janet Hubert's exit from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air—Daphne Maxwell Reid took over the role of Aunt Viv in 1993—was a hot topic during a 2020 reunion on HBO Max, as Variety reported. Hubert did not agree that she was fired, saying she rejected a "bad deal," but she also claimed that star Will Smith had "banished" her. "I lost everything—reputation, everything," Hubert recalled. "Those words, calling a Black woman 'difficult' in Hollywood is the kiss of death. It's hard enough being a dark-skinned Black woman in this business."
Suzanne Somers, Three's Company
Another sitcom star who got a bad deal: Suzanne Somers. Somers played ditzy Chrissy Snow on Three's Company until she was fired in 1980 after asking for a raise, she recalled to People in 2020. "I probably would have never left network series," she said. "I would have kept on going and probably been in every sitcom after that were it not to end the way it ended. But I was ostracized. So I went away."
Columbus Short, Scandal
In 2014, Columbus Short left ABC's Scandal following an arrest for an altercation at a restaurant and spousal abuse allegations from his then-wife, per The Hollywood Reporter. Later that year, he told Access Hollywood, "I was struggling with drugs. I had a lot on my plate, and you know, I was using unhealthy ways to kind of self-medicate and deal with a lot of heavy duty stuff in my life."
Thomas Gibson, Criminal Minds
There was no mystery surrounding Thomas Gibson's 2016 departure from Criminal Minds. He was fired after an on-set altercation with a producer. "Thomas Gibson has been dismissed from Criminal Minds," ABC Studios and CBS TV Studios said in a joint statement, reported by Variety. The star told People, "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."
Taylor Momsen, Gossip Girl
Taylor Momsen wasn't kicked off Gossip Girl all at once. Her character, Jenny Humphrey, simply started appearing less and less on The CW teen drama, with Deadline reporting that she was being put on an "indefinite hiatus" in 2010. That hiatus became a little more permanent in 2011, when TVLine reported that Momsen would not be returning as a series regular for Season 5.
Erinn Hayes, Kevin Can Wait
Viewers were stunned when the sitcom Kevin Can Wait unceremoniously killed off the title character's wife between seasons in 2017, firing actor Erinn Hayes in the process. The decision allowed for Kevin James' former co-star Leah Remini to again assume a starring role. "I get that people are like, 'Whoa, why would you do this?' But it really felt like a thing like this was needed for this show to drive forward," James told the New York Daily News.
Clayne Crawford, Lethal Weapon
The conflict between co-stars Clayne Crawford and Damon Wayans on Fox's Lethal Weapon was apparent enough to be captured on video, which Variety published along with corroboration of the behavior that led to Crawford's 2018 firing. The actor shared his side of the story later that year in an episode of the podcast Drinkin' Bros., in which he claimed he had been set up to fail by the studio, per The Hollywood Reporter.
RELATED: 13 TV Shows That Lost Their Stars.