Michael Strahan's announcement in April 2016 that he would be leaving Live to join Good Morning America full-time shocked no one more than Kelly Ripa. After being kept in the dark about her co-host's move, Ripa did not show up to Live the next day. (The official party line was that Ripa had the "day off," but she reportedly called producers at midnight to say she would not be coming in.) Ripa returned a week later. "Our long national nightmare is over," Ripa said. "I first want to honestly sincerely thank you for welcoming me back to the show. The show of support in this bizarre time has been overwhelming. I needed a couple of days to gather my thoughts. After 26 years with the company, I earned the right."
ABC stunned fans when the network confirmed in April 2016 that Stana Katic and castmate Tamala Jones would not return to Castle if it was renewed for a ninth season. The pink slips were reportedly due to "budgetary reasons," which only further enraged fans who'd rather see the series end with Season 8 (two endings were shot) than continue without the co-lead of a passionate 'ship. Making matters worse, reports quickly surfaced of Katic and Nathan Fillion's friction on set, including the pair supposedly having attended couples counseling. Fillion didn't exactly quell the rumors with his rather terse statement about Katic's exit.
Ann Curry tearfully signed off in June 2012 after just one year in the co-anchor chair alongside Matt Lauer, during which ratings had dropped precipitously. Lauer denied persistent rumors that he wanted Curry gone, and admitted that the show botched her exit. "I don't think the show and the network handled the transition well. You don't have to be Einstein to know that," Lauer told The Daily Beast. "It clearly did not help us. We were seen as a family, and we didn't handle a family matter well." In the book Top of the Morning: Inside the Cutthroat World of Morning TV, Brian Stelter wrote that Curry was ostracized by her colleagues and that Today executive producer Jim Bell put in place a plan to oust her called Operation Bambi.
Rosie O'Donnell has twice left the daytime talk show under less than rosy circumstances. In 2007, after a fiery feud with Donald Trump and a dustup with co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck over the Iraq War, O'Donnell exited the show with three weeks left on her one-year contract. She returned to The View in September 2014, but left five months later to focus on her health and her family following her split from wife Michelle Rounds. She also denied rumors that she and moderator -- the title she held during her first stint -- Whoopi Goldberg were feuding.
After settling on a mutually agreed upon date to announce her exit with Barbara Walters, Star Jones broke her word and announced it two days early in June 2006. A "blindsided" Walters made Jones' dismissal effective immediately. Jones said on Larry King afterward that ABC dumped her because it claimed she violated network policy by accepting freebies for her wedding to Al Reynolds in exchange for mentions on The View; Jones said that all mentions were approved by ABC. In Walters' 2008 autobiography, she called Jones dishonest for making everyone cover up her gastric bypass surgery in 2003. By 2012, it was all water under the bridge when Jones returned to the show as a guest.
Fans knew Ricky Whittle's Lincoln wasn't going to be sticking around on the CW drama after the actor landed the lead role on Starz's American Gods. What they didn't expect was the behind-the-scenes drama that led to him pursuing other roles. In a candid interview with AfterBuzz TV in April 2016, the actor claimed that creator Jason Rothenberg bullied him off and purposely minimized his screen time. "Jason Rothenberg abused his position to make my job untenable. What he did was disgusting and he should be ashamed," Whittle said. "He was professionally bullying me, cutting out all the story line that I was supposed to be doing, cutting lines, cutting everything out, trying to make my character and myself as insignificant as possible." Rothenberg did not acknowledge Whittle's claims in his response statement: "Ricky Whittle is a talented actor; I appreciate his work on The 100 and wish him all the best moving forward on American Gods."
What was supposed to be a hiatus for the sitcom while Charlie Sheen entered rehab turned into an insane spectacle involving tiger blood, warlocks and winning. Sheen's meltdown, which included trashing series creator Chuck Lorre, led to his firing in March 2011 and production shutting down on the season altogether -- resulting in the loss of $10 million in revenue. Sheen, who was later replaced by Ashton Kutcher, tried to make amends at the Emmys that year and was offered to return in the series finale in 2015; but the two parties could not agree on how to execute the gag, according to Lorre's final vanity card.
Mandy Patinkin, who left Chicago Hope during its second season right after winning an Emmy, was a no-show at the Criminal Minds Season 3 table read over the summer of 2007. He then asked to be released early from his contract, and the network obliged. In 2012, the Homeland star told New York Magazine that joining the procedural was the "biggest mistake I ever made" because he wasn't prepared for the violence on the show. "It was very destructive to my soul and my personality," Patinkin said. "After that, I didn't think I would get to work in television again." Minds kept his character, Jason Gideon, alive, hoping one day Patinkin would make a guest appearance; but killed him off in Season 10 when that possibility diminished, year after year.
Shonda Rhimes got away with murdering MerDer when she killed off Patrick Dempsey's Dr. Derek Shepherd in April 2015. Choosing his words carefully in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Dempsey, who was in the middle of a two-year contract extension at the time of McDreamy's demise, made it clear it wasn't his decision to leave: "It just sort of evolved. It's just kind of happened. ... Things happened very quickly, where we were like, 'Oh this is where it's going to go.'" Rumors swirled that Rhimes was fed up with him and she fanned the flames in November by admitting that she once wrote out a character because she hated the actor. "I think she loves being provocative and that's fine for who she is. That gets people talking about all the stuff that she's doing. She's an amazing woman who is incredibly productive," Dempsey diplomatically said in response.
After multiple on-set clashes and gay slurs directed at then-closeted co-star T.R. Knight, who was forced to come out, Isaiah Washington was fired by ABC in June 2007. "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore," Washington said, co-opting Network, in response to the news. Seven years later, he returned to the show as part of Sandra Oh's exit arc. "It's important to me that Cristina's journey unfolds exactly as it should," Shonda Rhimes said in a statement. "Burke is vital to that journey -- he gives her story that full-circle moment we need to properly say goodbye to our beloved Cristina Yang."
Shonda Rhimes may have let bygones be bygones with Isaiah Washington, but she has yet to do the same with Katherine Heigl. The actress' drama-filled departure started in 2008 after she withdrew her name from Emmy consideration because she didn't feel she was given the best material. Rhimes later accommodated Heigl with a lighter workload after she adopted a daughter, but not before saddling Izzie with ghost sex. When Heigl did not show up for her return episode in March 2010, both parties decided to release her from her contract. While Heigl has since expressed remorse for her actions and desire to return, Rhimes says she now has a "no a--holes policy" on her shows. "There are no Heigls in this situation," she told The Hollywood Reporter of her Scandal cast.
Shelley Long and Ted Danson's love-hate chemistry on-screen wasn't too much of a stretch, as the actors famously clashed behind the scenes. "Our relationship, Shelley's and mine, has included not being happy with each other and being happy with each other," Danson told People. With a hit movie, Outrageous Fortune, under her belt, Long left the sitcom after five years in 1987, leaving many wondering if the show could go on without that Sam-Diane magic. It did, and lasted longer (six more years) without Long, whose A-list movie dreams didn't materialize.
In 2010, a year after her character Edie was killed off, Nicollette Sheridan sued creator Marc Cherry and ABC for, among others, assault and wrongful termination. Sheridan claimed that Cherry struck her on the head on set and she was fired when she reported the alleged abuse to the network. Cherry said he lightly tapped her head to demonstrate how she should play a scene, and that the decision to write Sheridan off was made in May 2008, four months before the alleged abuse. The assault charge against Cherry was dropped due to lack of evidence, and a mistrial was declared in 2012. Sheridan has tried multiple times to appeal for a retrial, but all have been rejected.
Aaron Spelling has twice booted Shannen Doherty from his shows for feuding with her co-stars. In 1994, Doherty was fired from 90210 following conflicts with Jennie Garth, and her supposed diva behavior -- now immortalized in Lifetime's The Unauthorized Beverly Hills, 90210 Story. Seven years later, she was dismissed from Charmed for butting heads with Alyssa Milano, two years afer serving as one of Milano's bridesmaids. After that, Spelling reportedly banned Doherty from his future projects.
Substance abuse problems led to CBS firing Mackenzie Phillips twice. The first came in 1980, when the actress started missing tapings because of her addiction. After she sought treatment in 1981, CBS rehired her in a reduced capacity, but was forced to can her for good during the sitcom's ninth and final season in 1983 after Phillips, who had relapsed, collapsed on set and refused to take a drug test.
NYPD Blue made David Caruso a star and netted him a Golden Globe win and an Emmy nomination. But four episodes into Season 2 in 1993, he contentiously left the series after not getting the hefty raise he wanted, to try and make it on the big screen. The latter never happened, and he returned to TV nine years later on CSI: Miami, repeatedly acknowledging that leaving Blue was a huge mistake. "I've been pretty upfront about admitting I messed up on a great opportunity," Caruso told the Sioux City Journal in 2002.
The show's breakout star, Suzanne Somers,asked for a 500 percent raise and 10 percent ownership in profits during Season 5 in 1980. When ABC refused, she boycotted two episodes, which led to producers reducing her appearances to awkward phone scenes that were shot separately from co-stars John Ritter and Joyce DeWitt. Somers was fired at the end of the season and replaced by Jennilee Harrison and Priscilla Barnes.
The original Aunt Viv, Janet Hubert was fired after the third season in 1993. She said Will Smith wanted her out and he said her bad attitude was the cause of the departure. In January 2016, Hubert slammed Smith and his wife Jada Pinkett Smith for boycotting the Oscars, but the actor took the high road when asked which was his favorite Aunt Viv. "I think when you make a show, anytime you make a change, it's going to be excruciating and painful. I think that Janet Hubert Whitten brought a really powerful dignity to the show," Smith told BBC Radio 1Xtra. "I think she's brilliant. I think as an artist, there's so many things that she does: She sings, she dances, she's like a really powerful artist. So I loved what she brought to The Fresh Prince."
After just one season, Farrah Fawcett decided to leave the hit series, which led to Aaron Spelling suing her $7 million for breach of contract (she had four years left). The settlement required her to make six guest appearances on Charlie's Angels, which she did in Seasons 3 and 4. "The whole lawsuit almost sank me," Fawcett told People in 1979. "The industry was furious with me and hostile because I was a TV sex symbol who wanted to be an actress. People thought I was really pretentious, and for months no one would touch me."
The second late-night war started in January 2010, when NBC wanted to move The Tonight Show back 30 minutes to make room for Jay Leno after his prime-time show bombed at 10 o'clock (remember that?). O'Brien instead chose to leave his dream job rather than, "participate in what I honestly believe is [The Tonight Show's] destruction." After two weeks of lengthy negotiations, O'Brien reached a $45 settlement to leave NBC. Leno returned to The Tonight Show, which he would host for another four years, and Conan moved to TBS that November.
Think a show can't go on without you because it was made for and named after you? During the second season in 1987, Valerie Harper had a well-publicized dispute with producers after she was denied a raise -- to the point that NBC announced it would replace her with Sandy Duncan if she continued to hold out. Harper temporarily returned, but was fired after another walkout. Duncan officially replaced Harper, and the show was renamed The Hogan Family, running for four more years. Harper sued for wrongful termination and was awarded $1.82 million in damages.