The TV Episodes These Actors Simply Wouldn’t Do
For most TV shows, the actors and the crew have to work pretty quickly to churn out dozens of episodes each season. Often, actors will receive their scripts as they go. In other words, they don’t always know what path their character will take. Usually, actors accept the fate of their character without much fuss. However, in some cases, actors can become so upset about the direction of the show that they completely refuse to film an episode or two.
We’ve taken a look at some of the irresolvable impasses in TV history. Whether these actors hated the script, they hated their co-stars, or they simply couldn’t agree on a fee, they all refused to do at least one episode of a TV show. Want to find out which TV episodes never came to be because of an actor? Here are some TV episodes that actors simply would not do.
Katherine Heigl backed out of this Grey's Anatomy episode
Katherine Heigl abruptly left “Grey’s Anatomy” in the sixth season after a series of controversies surrounding her performance on the show (via People). Apparently, viewers were meant to get some closure before her departure from the series, but Heigl reportedly didn’t want to come back to film an episode. As showrunner Krista Vernoff told the Los Angeles Times, they had planned on giving Heigl’s character, Izzie, a final episode that would “tie up” the loose ends between her and Alex, played by Justin Chambers. “The day before it was supposed to start prepping or shooting, I can’t remember, we got a call that Katie wasn’t coming,” she said. “Just wasn’t coming. Wasn’t going to do it.”
It turns out that this story may be a little more complicated than Vernoff made out. A source told Entertainment Weekly, “Krista is mistaken. Katherine was back in L.A. After parental leave (when she adopted her daughter) waiting to be called to set.” Whatever the truth is, it sounds like Izzie’s final episode almost happened, but things just got in the way.
Christopher Eccleston didn't like the script for this Doctor Who episode
Christopher Eccleston took on the role of the Doctor in the long-running show “Doctor Who” for the first season of the show’s reboot in 2005. After leaving the show, Eccleston toyed with the idea of appearing in the 50th anniversary episode that would feature multiple previous incarnations of the Doctor; however, he ultimately turned it down.
During a 2019 Comic Con panel, Eccleston explained (via Radio Times), “When [‘The Day of the Doctor’] came along I did speak to them. I didn’t feel that what they were asking me to do did justice to the Ninth Doctor. So I said no.” In addition to the actor’s uncertainty about the script, he was presumably also hesitant about filming the episode because of his relationship with the show’s producers. He revealed to Radio Times in 2018, “My relationship with my three immediate superiors — the showrunner, the producer and co-producer — broke down irreparably during the first block of filming and it never recovered.” And, as he said at Comic Con, he never received an apology from the network.
Sounds like this was one role that Eccleston was never that keen on reprising in the first place.
Matthew Perry asked to not do this Friends episode
“Friends” is one of those shows that almost everyone has seen at least once. Over the course of its ten seasons, the show presented us with a number of questionable plotlines, such as the Fat Monica flashbacks, Ross’ arguably sexist parenting, and the uncomfortable, offensive jokes surrounding Chandler’s father.
It turns out that there could have been another somewhat problematic plotline in the show, but actor Matthew Perry asked the writers to change it. He told “Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen,” “There was a storyline on ‘Friends’ where Chandler went to a male strip joint because he really liked the sandwiches, and I called up and I said, ‘Let’s not do this one.'”
It sounds like this particular episode plot line didn’t sit well with Perry. It may have been because it was a little too homophobic or it may just have felt like the wrong path for his character. Or maybe Perry just didn’t think the episode was that funny. No matter, it’s one plot line that we aren’t too sorry to not have seen.
Amber Benson wasn't interested in coming back to Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Amber Benson played Tara, Willow’s love interest, in “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” Her character died in Season 6 of the show, leaving many fans devastated, but she could have rejoined the cast at one point. As the show’s creator Joss Whedon explained to IGN in 2003, the character almost made a return to the series, but Benson said no to the offer.
Whedon explained that Tara’s death ended up helping him show Willow dealing with guilt and grief — but this wasn’t always the plan. “Quite frankly,” he said, “that was not plan A. Plan A was to bring Tara back.” He went on to explain that his plan was to feature Tara in a few flashbacks and then bring her character back at the end of the show. “It was going to be Tara’s her one true love, people are going to be blown away,” he said. However, Benson didn’t want to come back. “Quite frankly, Amber just didn’t want to do it — which is her decision,” he shared.
In an interview with Digital Spy, Benson gave her side of the story. Apparently, Whedon had proposed that a villain would have taken her character’s form. She didn’t want fans to see Tara as a villain, so that’s why she said no.
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje turned down a guest spot on Lost after leaving the show
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje played Mr. Eko on “Lost.” The character was hugely popular, but he only lasted from Season 2 until Season 3 when he was killed by the smoke monster.
For a while, it seemed as though Akinnuoye-Agbaje would return for the final season. In 2009, before the show’s last season, the actor told Entertainment Weekly, “I loved playing that character … Adewale is open for business. We have had talks about some things they might do for the final season and there are other dead folks coming back allegedly but at the moment it is still a maybe.”
Unfortunately, Akinnuoye-Agbaje ended up turning the producers down. According to E! News, he wasn’t happy with the proposed sum — in fact, he reportedly wanted five times the salary they offered him. Sadly, fans never got to see Mr. Eko return because of this disagreement. It’s clear that Akinnuoye-Agbaje knew exactly what he wanted, and he was willing to stand his ground to get it!
Charlie Sheen wouldn't do the Two and a Half Men finale
Charlie Sheen was the star of “Two and a Half Men” until he was fired after several controversies during the show’s eighth season. The show continued for four seasons without Sheen (via CBR). Apparently, the show’s co-creator Chuck Lorre had thought about bringing Sheen back for the show’s final episode. As he told TV Insider, “There was so much really earnest and heartfelt demand from the fans of the show to have some kind of closure. When we found a way that we felt was workable and appropriate, we reached out to him a month ago and pitched it out to him.” Sheen reportedly didn’t like the script and had his own ideas, which didn’t go over well with the “Two and a Half Men” team. Lorre shared, “We shook hands and went our separate ways … It was not meant to be.”
In the end, the final episode featured a return of the character, who turned out to still be alive in the form of a Charlie Sheen body double. The character was ultimately crushed by a piano and presumably killed off for good.
Patrick Warburton thought this Family Guy episode was too 'offensive'
Patrick Warburton has played Joe Swanson on “Family Guy” for years. Even though the show is known for its lewd, controversial comedy, there were some things that even Warburton found to be too much.
When it came to one episode in particular, Warburton had to put his foot down. He told Digital Spy, “It had to do with Christ on the cross but there was no humor in it and it was just so, so horribly offensive.” In fact, one line was so bad that Warburton told the producers that he wouldn’t take part in the episode if the line stayed in, even though it wasn’t a line his character had to say. He recalled telling them at the time, “If you ever do this on the show, it’s diminished returns. It’s not funny but so offensive to any Christian.” Luckily, it seems the writers took note, and Warburton praised the writers for understanding. “They are all great and listen to you. They know I’m a team player. They know how offensive that was,” he said.
Kim Cattrall refused to do a single episode of the Sex and the City reboot
When the “Sex and the City” reboot was announced in 2021, fans were thrilled. However, the announcement came with the news that Kim Cattrall would not be returning as Samantha.
It turns out, Cattrall turned down the part in the reboot because she had, quite simply, had enough of the character and the show. As she told The Guardian in 2019, she had actually wanted to quit much earlier. “I went past the finish line playing Samantha Jones because I loved ‘Sex and the City,'” she said. “It was a blessing in so many ways but after the second movie I’d had enough. I couldn’t understand why they wouldn’t just replace me with another actress instead of wasting time bullying. No means no.”
As the Daily Mail reported, Cattrall had made her intentions pretty clear after the second movie, saying she would “never” do another “Sex and the City” project. Apparently, she and co-star Sarah Jessica Parker didn’t exactly get along. After Cattrall’s brother died, she responded to Parker’s message of condolence, saying, “You are not my family. You are not my friend.” Yikes, no wonder Cattrall couldn’t be persuaded to do another episode as Samantha.
Paul McCartney said no to this episode of Friends
We all know Paul McCartney from his days as a member of The Beatles, McCartney has done some acting from time to time, too. And as the “Friends” casting director Leslie Litt told HuffPost, she was desperate to cast him in the show. Apparently, she thought he’d be perfect as Emily’s father, Mr. Waltham, who tries to use Ross’ parents’ money to pay for his renovations.
“I went through his manager and gave him all the details,” Litt recalled. It seems that McCartney considered the offer, but ultimately said no. As Litt said, he sent her a personal fax. “He thanked me for my interest and said how flattered he was, but it was a very busy time for him.” It would have been pretty amazing to see McCartney take on this iconic “Friends” cameo opposite Jennifer Saunders, who played Emily’s mother. Ultimately, the role went to British actor Tom Conti.
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