Controversial TV Storylines, Characters, And Relationships That The Writers And Directors Wish They Could Go Back And Change
I can't believe some of these actually happened.
Note: Some of the following contains mentions of sexual assault.
1. "The Principal and the Pauper" is one of the most loathed episodes of The Simpsons, with many fans and critics marking it as the point where the show jumped the shark.
In the episode, Principal Skinner is revealed to be an impostor (whose real name is Armin Tamzarian) who has been assuming the identity of a military friend long thought to be dead.
Simpsons creator Matt Groening eventually called the episode and its storyline "a mistake" in an interview with Rolling Stone, and in the Season 9 DVD introduction, he said it was one of his least favorite episodes.
2. We all know Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, right? Fan-favorite villain turned hero?
Well, turns out that show creator Joss Whedon low-key hated the character. At the very least, he was NOT pleased about Spike's popularity, or the idea of turning him into a love interest for Buffy.
Whedon even threatened to fire James Marsters, who played Spike. Marsters recounted, "I came along and I wasn’t designed to be a romantic character, but then the audience reacted that way to it. And I remember he backed me up against a wall one day and he was just like, ‘I don’t care how popular you are, kid, you’re dead. You hear me? Dead. Dead!’"
Obviously, in this case the fans won out, as Spike became a main character for seasons 4 to 7 — and even got together with Buffy.
3. Speaking of Buffy...there's one character's death that the executive producer at the time, Marti Noxon (who had taken over for Joss in Season 6), stood by at the time but now regrets: Tara's.
"I think that killing Tara was — in retrospect, of all the people, did she have to die?" Noxon said to Vulture of the controversial decision.
4. Another main character's death that the creators regret? The unexpected death of lead character Marissa Cooper in The O.C.
Turns out, The O.C. creator Josh Schwartz is still conflicted about the character's death.
5. On another The O.C. note, Schwartz also said he regrets the way the Season 3 storyline between Johnny and Marissa was handled.
"I think, for a lot of us, the Johnny storyline was probably one we'd like to have a do-over on," Schwartz said in an interview with HuffPost.
6. Remember when Berlin died on Money Heist? Well, turns out that series creator Alex Pina regrets killing him off!
Pina called him a "misogynist, narcissist, and psychopath" but said he made the show interesting.
7. Shonda Rhimes kind of regrets killing a character too — the minor character Dylan Young, who was the bomb defuser in the famous Grey's Anatomy episode with the patient who had a bomb in his chest.
Rhimes said that actor Kyle Chandler would pitch her ideas where his character didn't explode, but she didn't take him up on any of them because exploding was what the character was written to do, even if she didn't want to do it. "I did not expect to have Kyle Chandler," she said. "I didn’t want to explode him."
8. One more character death the creators wish they could go back in time on: Lexa from The 100. Creator Jason Rothenberg walked back on the show's controversial decision to kill off Lexa and even issued the fandom an apology letter.
Rothenberg said he was stunned by the backlash from fans and "heartbroken" over the criticism.
9. A huge part of The Vampire Diaries was the love triangle between Elena and brothers Damon and Stefan.
Well, it turns out that one Vampire Diaries showrunner was NOT a fan of the person Elena ended up with, Damon.
In fact, Kevin Williamson wanted Elena and Stefan to end up together.
In speaking about the series finale, Williamson told Deadline, “I always thought it would be Stefan and Elena. They were sort of the anchor of the show, but because we lost Elena in Season 6, we couldn’t go back."
10. One more love triangle that a show creator doesn't view too fondly...the love triangle with Dean, Rory, and Jess on Gilmore Girls.
In this case, it's not that Gilmore Girls writer Amy Sherman-Palladino felt that Rory ended up with the wrong person — it's that she wishes viewers wouldn't focus on this triangle at all, which suggests she is possibly not a huge fan of the storylines, looking back.
11. Having Spinner and Emma drunkenly get married and then decide to stay together on Degrassi: The Next Generation has been heavily criticized by both fans and the cast.
During a 2018 interview with Miriam McDonald (who played Emma), executive producer Stephen Stohn called having Spinner and Emma end up together "one of the biggest regrets of his life."
More recently, Degrassi director and producer Stefan Brogren, a longtime defender of the relationship, came out against it in an interview with AV Club.
12. On another Degrassi note, the relationship between Miles and Tristan in The Next Generation and Next Class has become controversial in recent years, mostly because of anti-bi comments by Tristan's character that went unaddressed.
In 2021, Degrassi creator and producer Linda Schuyler said that she would definitely write certain aspects of that relationship differently now.
13. Another problematic storyline that a show's creator wishes they could redo...the storyline about Chandler's transgender parent on Friends, who was played by Kathleen Turner.
Friends co-creator Marta Kauffman said, "I think we didn’t have the knowledge about transgender people back then, so I’m not sure if we used the appropriate terms. I don’t know if I would have known those terms back then. I think that’s the biggest one," she said when asked about how the show might change if they were making it today.
14. Kauffman also said she regretted the Friends storyline where Phoebe dates her sister Ursula's stalker.
15. And finally, let's end with a positive one: It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia may seem like a super-successful show now, but after the first season, it was not getting good ratings, so FX told the show creators that they needed to add a big-name star or risk losing the show.
Danny DeVito — who would go on to be the star brought onto the show — was suggested, but the writers were wary.
In fact, the writers said they didn't want to add DeVito or anyone at all — and the network said they'd scrap the show. Against their own wishes, they agreed to meet with and later hired DeVito.
However, in this case, the decision they were against turned out to be the best thing for the show. DeVito is widely regarded as one of the best TV character additions!
Did any of these surprise you? Disagree with any of the creators here? Tell us your thoughts in the comments!
Correction: A previous version of this article mistakenly identified Dylan Young as the patient, not the bomb defuser, in #7. Oops!