Before Lexa's (Alycia Debnam-Carey) body was even cold,The 100 has found itself at the center of another controversy. Star Ricky Whittle, whose character Lincoln was killed last week, is saying creator Jason Rothenberg bullied him off the series.
During an interview with AfterBuzz TV, Whittle revealed that Lincoln's death was not supposed to happen this season. But once Whittle decided to leave the series and do American Gods on Starz, they were forced to write the beloved character off.
"At the beginning of the season, he was not supposed to die. He had a whole story line that was cut, that was just nonexistent. It was my choice to go," Whittle said. "This is going to be the most controversial thing I will say, is that basically Jason Rothenberg abused his position to make my job untenable. What he did was disgusting and he should be ashamed."
Whittle's mother had tweeted about her son's alleged mistreatment at Rothenberg's hands last month, saying the showrunner "should be ashamed" of his actions and that "karma rewarded" Whittle for standing up for himself. At the time, Whittle didn't comment on the tweets, but the actor is now standing behind what his mother said.
"A lot was made of something my mom said all over Twitter, but everything she said was true," 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."
Whittle, who previously tried to leave the series in Season 2, insisted Lincoln's decreased screentime wasn't the reason he left, but that it was the unfair reason why his screentime was being cut. "I approached other producers and said, 'What's going on?', the producers that were actually on set because Jason always stayed in Santa Monica, and I said, 'What's going on? Why am I being treated like this?' And the producer I spoke to just [said], 'You need to speak to him. I don't know what his problems are with you.'"
Whittle gave no reason as to why he thinks Rothenberg's attitude towards him changed. But whatever the catalyst, the rift between Whittle and Rothenberg was so deep that Warner Bros. Television Group President Peter Roth and CW President Mark Pedowitz allowed Whittle to audition for American Gods because they saw "[his] character was not being used at all" on The 100.
Although Whittle is proud he stood up for himself, he doesn't ignore the heartbreaking ramifications his decision had on fans — particularly those who 'shipped Lincoln and Octavia (Marie Avgeropoulos).
"I have to say, props to all the fans who championed our cause and attached themselves to that 'ship, because there was very little for them to work with. It literally disappeared and the reason was Jason was trying to cut me out and it was childish, it was immature, it's narcissistical, really," said Whittle. "He chose to belittle me and neglect my character and myself. I often had questions and emails were ignored and things like that. It was ridiculous. ... That's one thing that I'll never forgive him for: He made me walk away from something I really love. I love Lincoln. I love the show. I love that cast and crew. He forced me to make that choice, to walk away. And I'm proud I did it, I stood up and said, 'Enough's enough.' My personal well-being is more important than this."
Rothenberg responded to Whittle's accusations with this 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."
This is the second time in a month that Rothenberg has become embroiled in a controversy tied to a character's death. After the lesbian character Lexa was killed off in March (to accommodate the actress' role on Fear the Walking Dead), Rothenberg was accused of contributing to the #BuryYourGays trope. He later apologized in an essay that acknowledged his own failures in how Lexa was killed.
As of now, Rothenberg has not responded to Whittle's comments.
Watch Whittle discuss his decision to leave The 100 at 20:55 in the video below.