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11 Character Departures That Ruined The Show And 10 That Actually Made It Better

Good riddance, Mark Brendanawicz and Elena Gilbert.

It happens in every long-running show: Actors want to leave a show, so their characters are written off.


Sometimes, character departures breathe fresh life into the show! But other times, a character's departure is so unwarranted and frustrating that it actually makes you stop watching the show.


Below are 10 times that character exits helped shows, and 11 times they hurt!

1. Hurt: Allison on Teen Wolf

Allison tells Scott she loves him

I will never be over this. Allison was such a strong female character, and we got such a great arc where she'd gone from helpless to strong to radicalized against werewolves to a young woman finally coming into her own; AND THEN SHE DIED. I never felt her death was properly mourned (no funeral!! Even KATE got a funeral and she wasn't even dead!), and the show really felt her loss. It was never the same.

2. Helped: Mark on Parks and Recreation

Mark gives Leslie his plans for the park before he leaves

Mark was THE WORST and we all knew it. He added absolutely nothing to the show, and anything that put some kind of conflict between Ann and Leslie just felt annoying. He had zero personality and we did not miss him. Goodbye!

3. Hurt: Alex on Grey's Anatomy

Meredith cries reading Alex's letter, which says she's his best friend but he's where he should be

Not only was it horrible that his character left the show, but the reason they gave for it was awful. Fans were NOT happy that he went to go live with Izzie and their secret children (??) without even saying goodbye in person to anyone, finding it super out of character.

4. Helped: Lucas and Peyton on One Tree Hill

Lucas and Peyton in Peyton's car driving out of Tree Hill
The CW

I know there are some people out there who didn't even try to watch after Lucas and Peyton left, and to you I ask this: Did you actually like Lucas or Peyton that much?? Both were angsty and tiring, and the focus on their relationship in seasons 5 and 6 made the show drag. Adding Quinn and Clay (yes, Quinn was a little boring, but Clay was AMAZING) and giving more time to Julian elevated Season 7 way above 5 and 6. Honestly, good riddance to Lucas and Peyton!

5. Hurt: Coach on New Girl

Coach saying goodbye to the roommates outside the apartment

Coach wasn't the strongest part of the New Girl pilot, but Damon Wayans Jr. is an amazing comedic actor who could've brought so much to the early seasons of New Girl β€” he proved this by returning in Season 3. I loved seeing him come into his own as a teacher and grow an unlikely bond with Jess. And then he left again after Season 4! It's not a coincidence that the show started to go downhill after that.

6. Helped: Vanessa on Gossip Girl

the literary agent asks why Barcelona, and Vanessa says nothing's keeping her in New York
The CW

Like Dan, Vanessa was super righteous without actually being a good person to back it up (as evidenced by her helping Juliet ruin Serena's life and selling Dan's book without telling him). Her purpose in the show was basically just to pull Dan back to his Brooklyn side, a fruitless mission that became tiring after Season 2 and would've been much more effective if Vanessa had actually been nice. Her individual storylines fell flat (remember when she was kind of dating Scott?), and her relationship pairings felt off (I cannot believe they put her with Chuck).

7. Hurt: Michael Scott on The Office

Pam hugs Michael goodbye

Look, I don't like Michael Scott as a person. But...The Office WAS Michael Scott. He carried the humor of the show, even if it wasn't always my favorite type. Without him, there was no show.

8. Helped: Robb and Catelyn on Game of Thrones


The Red Wedding was possibly the biggest plot twist in TV history, and that was a good thing β€” it showed us that no one was safe. While I missed their characters, their deaths added an extra layer of fear and excitement to a show that occasionally dragged in earlier seasons. This was Game of Thrones at its bestΒ β€” unpredictable and willing to do anything.

9. Hurt: All the characters in Once Upon a Time (except Henry and Regina)

all the characters eating at Gran's Diner
ABC / Via

Every time I get mad that a show is ending its run voluntarily, I think of Once Upon a Time. There was no need to start again with a new cast that many seasons in, especially not one led by an adult Henry. No one had ever watched for Henry, and that wasn't going to change in the seventh season. The show really should've ended much earlier instead of replacing its cast and going on.

10. Helped: Elena from The Vampire Diaries

The CW

I loved the whole Damon-Stefan-Elena triangle, and although Elena wasn't an amazing character, it didn't feel as if the show would exist without her. HOWEVER, I was very pleasantly surprised after she left. Season 7 was actually really strong: Losing Elena gave us more time to focus on characters we actually liked, like Bonnie and Caroline, and gave Damon and Stefan room to become the core relationship of the show. SO MANY great Damon-Stefan and Damon-Bonnie scenes came out of Elena's departure.

11. Hurt: Derek on Grey's Anatomy

Derek right before his car crash

It is very difficult to pull off killing one of your main characters, even on a show that had done it successfully before. The heart of the show (especially after Cristina's exit) was Derek and Meredith's relationship, and killing Derek just took the ridiculousness of the show and its tragedies way too far.

12. Helped: Ethan on 90210

The CW

I literally cannot remember a single thing about Ethan's character other than that he was hot...and I think he hit a girl with his car? Why did Naomi and Annie fight over him?? Thank god they got rid of that dead weight basically right off the bat β€” though they did replace him with Liam, who was hardly better.

13. Hurt: Charlie on Lost

Charlie in the water before he drowns with his hand up against the window β€” he's written "Not Penny's boat" on it

This one really hit home for me. Charlie felt unfairly sidelined (his relationship with Claire was so sweet, then the show seemed to forget about it!!), and even though he had a sort of heroic death, it felt really pointless. NOT PENNY'S BOAT still makes me cry. He had more story to tell!

14. Helped: Beck on You

the author's page of Beck's book

I am NOT going to say it was a good thing that Joe killed Beck. She did not deserve to die, and I was rooting for her to make it out. BUT switching locations and female leads worked really well for Season 2. Victoria Pedretti's Love was a lot more dynamic and entertaining than Beck, and it was really fun to finally see Joe meet his match.

15. Hurt: Caleb on Pretty Little Liars

Caleb telling Hannah he has to go and she has to say, because it's best for both of them

Why do they always steal the best characters from a show for the spinoff? Caleb and Hanna's relationship was one of the highlights of Pretty Little Liars, and having someone around who was capable and smart and actually helped the Liars was really nice. Taking him out of a bunch of episodes to put him on the ill-fated supernatural spinoff Ravenswood was a huge mistake β€” thank goodness he came back. Still, the writers had to jump through hoops when he came back to not make Pretty Little Liars supernatural too.

16. Helped: Skye on 13 Reasons Why

Skye says she can let Clay go and still love him, and that she'll always love him

I actually really liked Skye's character. It was so nice to see a character explicitly struggling with their mental health receive professional help and get better. It was also really nice to see a character tell Clay off for his whole "saving people" complex. Skye's departure felt right because the show was telling its viewers that sometimes you have to remove yourself from a toxic environment to move forward, and recovery can be a long, difficult process that shouldn't be used for entertainment value. For once, 13 Reasons Why actually seemed to respect a character instead of putting them through further trauma for drama's sake.

17. Hurt: Andy on Modern Family

Andy looking back at Haley at the airport

Andy and Haley are my OTP, and I'm still mad they didn't end up together. They matched each other so well and were such a funny pair. Adam DeVine was a great addition to the show, and he really freshened up some storylines that were getting tired. I was so sad to see him go, and having Haley end up with Dylan felt like a step back for her character.

18. Helped: Mutt on Schitt's Creek

Mutt during Alexis and his breakup

Mutt still showed up every once in a while after he and Alexis broke up, but it was rare after that. Mutt was honestly a super-boring character β€” he barely spoke! While I appreciated having a straight man to play against the over-the-top Roses, Patrick and Ted did WAY better jobs of that by actually being three-dimensional.

19. Hurt: Marissa on The O.C.


Once again, killing off a main character is very hard to pull off β€” especially when you've only got four of them. Ending Marissa and Ryan's star-crossed romance this way just made everything else feel kind of pointless. Even if Marissa annoyed you, you have to admit that the show was not the same without her.

20. Helped: Pierce on Community


When I started Community, I instantly hated Pierce, and I asked the friend who'd made me watch how long I was going to have to put up with him. It ended up being longer than I would've liked, but at least he left eventually. We already had the asshole character with Jeff β€” we didn't need such an openly racist, sexist character. Good riddance!

21. And, finally, hurt: the Originals on The Vampire Diaries

Klaus, Elijah, and Rebekah really revamped The Vampire Diaries, allowing later seasons to be even better than the first two. They had some great relationships with the characters of the show: Elijah with Katherine, Klaus with Caroline, and Rebekah with Matt. It was cool that they had their own show, but it came at the cost of The Vampire Diaries, which was never the same after they left.

Did I miss any? What do you think about the examples above? Let me know in the comments!

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