TV characters come and go, whether it is to bump up the ratings of a bumbling TV show or simply because it’s always been part of the storyline.
But what’s more fascinating is when actors decide to leave a hit TV show on their own accord.
Chelsea Peretti, who plays the sassy, well-loved administrative staff Gina Linetti, announced early last month her departure from Brooklyn Nine-Nine.
The actress tweeted her decision: “I won’t be doing a full season of Brooklyn Nine Nine in Season 6. But that doesn’t mean I won’t ever be back.”
Peretti is not alone in her decision to leave a TV show while it’s still on top. Here are some actors who have left on their own accord.
Andrew Lincoln (The Walking Dead)
Lincoln’s character Rick Grimes has been a father figure to many in The Walking Dead, leading and protecting a group of survivors as they navigate a zombie-ravaged world.
Lincoln announced he wants to focus on being a father to his real-life family, hence the current ninth season will be his last.
“I have two young children, and I live in a different country, and they become less portable as they get older,” the British actor told EW. “It was that simple. It was time for me to come home.”
Josh Charles (The Good Wife)
Our hearts fell to the ground when a gunshot rang out in the courtroom and attorney Will Gardner (Charles) was found lifeless towards the end of Season Five of The Good Wife.
Fans of the show did not see this coming, especially since the show always hinted at the possibility of Will reuniting with ex-lover and protagonist Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies).
“Look, it’s a very long season doing a network television show, and somewhere in year 4, I kinda felt burnt out,” Charles opened up about his decision, EW reported.
“(Co-creator) Michelle (King) and I had a long conversation about it, and I just felt a little fried and that I was ready for something different for me. That’s no reflection on how I feel about the show, it’s just more about what I want to do in my life.”
Dan Stevens (Downton Abbey)
After a couple of wrong turns, the headstrong Lady Mary Crawley (Michelle Dockery) finally found the love of her life, Matthew Crawley (Stevens).
And they were perfect for each other.
Then he went to war and thankfully, he survived it. They had a baby together, George, and he’s there to witness it. Then on the way back from the hospital, he died in a car accident! I can’t even.
Stevens explained in an interview with The Telegraph that his initial contract with the show was for three years, and he chose not to renew it.
“And when (the end of the contract) came up it was a very difficult decision. But it felt like a good time to take stock, to take a moment. From a personal point of view, I wanted a chance to do other things.”
Simon Cowell (American Idol)
While Cowell’s brutal honesty on American Idol was a bitter pill to swallow, it was also for this very reason that many viewers tuned in to the show. Unfortunately, Cowell left the show after nine seasons to start the American version of The X Factor.
“(I) didn’t think it was right to do two shows in America at the same time, so (I) decided to leave one and start another.”
Sadly, Idol gradually dwindled after his departure. The show ended its run after 15 seasons but was revived early this year.
Patrick Dempsey (Grey’s Anatomy)
The love story between surgeons Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo) and Derek Shepherd, or McDreamy (Dempsey), was so expansive and drama-filled (spanning 11 seasons), it was the core of the show. So when McDreamy died after getting hit by a truck at the end of season 11, fans cried foul.
Dempsey told EW his character’s fate was “just a natural progression with the way the story was unfolding”.
Creator Shonda Rimes shared with E! the decision was mutual: “We had a lot of discussions about it.”
Tyra Banks (America’s Next Top Model)
After 22 cycles, supermodel Banks announced she would leave America’s Next Top Model, the show she created, and hand over her duties as head judge and host to pop star Rita Ora.
The show just wasn’t the same without her signature catchphrases and tough love mentorship approach. Thankfully, Banks came to her senses and resumed her role on Cycle 24.
“To me, Top Model is a brand, and it stands on its own and it’s very strong, and that’s what I was working for this entire time, to create the legacy,” Banks told Complex.
“And I realised I stepped away from this legacy that I’m trying to create too soon.”
Christopher Meloni (Law & Order: Special Victims Unit)
Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) and Detective Elliot Stabler (Meloni) shared a very good working chemistry since the show debuted in 1999. At the end of the 12th season, Elliot abruptly retired from the police force.
While SVU is still going strong today (now in its 20th season!), Benson never found another working partner quite like Elliot.
In an interview with Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen, host Cohen asked: “How did you know when it was time to leave?”
Meloni responded: “When negotiations broke down.”
Shannen Doherty (Charmed)
When Prue (Doherty), the leader of the Halliwell sister witches, was killed by demonic assassin Shax in the third season of Charmed, nobody saw it coming.
Despite the fact that Charmed was a huge phenomenon, Doherty felt she needed to walk away from it. Word on the street was Doherty and co-star Alyssa Milano didn’t see eye to eye.
In an interview with Entertainment Tonight in 2013, she said: “There was too much drama on the set and not enough passion for the work.”
The 1998 series has a reboot which started airing last week.