Shonda Rhimes

Shonda Rhimes Admits Killing Off a Character Because She Disliked Actor — Let's Poll This!

Shonda Rhimes kicked up quite the cliffhanger during her current Year of Yes media blitz.

On Wednesday’s The Nightly Show, host Larry Wilmore asked the Queen of Shondaland, “Have you ever killed off a character because you didn’t like the actor? And extra bonus points, who was it? Don’t even think about lying.”

The EP behind Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal and How to Get Away With Murder replied, “Yes, and I’m not naming names.”

All good. This is why God created online polls.

 

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148 Comments
    • Al says:

      ABC fired him for his domestic abuse

      • He could have been fired without necessarily being killed.

        • Bryce says:

          Agreed. ABC fIred Washington for homophobic remarks, but I think Shonda liked him as a person and understood that he had good character despite making a mistake. Harrison being alive would’ve meant he could conceivably come back a la Burke, but I think Shonda was sending a pretty strong message. That being said, the show still honored Harrison while also stating there would be no redemption for Short.

          • Amanda says:

            Disagree, we never really saw Harrison’s body like we’ve done just about every other character killed off in Shondaland. I think they wrote that character’s death with a possibility of a comeback, like a switch from the grave or witness protection. They didn’t have to have a funeral for him, plus he was killed by B613 secretly, his body would have been burned and buried and he would have been just a missing person, not easily found and memorialized.

          • carolgrover says:

            Agree. Amanda, they had a funeral for him so I think we are to take it he is dead. That said, there is no indication Shonda did not like him. She had no choice but to let him go from the show.

    • Annie Sisk says:

      It wasn’t TR. Or Patrick. Two top contenders are Short and Dane (there were several rumors and Blind Itens on other sites about a Grey’s actor who was accused of harassment who WASN’T Washington around the time of the infamous plane crash finale).

  1. Al says:

    Pretty sure it was T.R Kinight

    • rowan77 says:

      I don’t remember there being any hate between them. Columbus Short was out of control and officially charged with criminal domestic violence. There is no way Shonda Rhimes was going to like this guy after that.

      • Pupi says:

        Shonda drastically cut T.R.’s screen time, and because of that, T.R. want to leave the show. So:
        1. why cut his screen time, if Shonda don’t hate him
        2. I don’t know that was a very good job, or a very bad job, but I didn’t notice that George is not “on screen” in the episode, so the realization that he is the guy who hitting a bus, was very shoooocking.

        And for the record Shonda sad that: “Yes, and I’m not naming names.”
        So, not just one person who talking about.
        So I’m saying, it’s T.R. and Patrick.

        • rowan77 says:

          LOL. What did you want her to say? “I’m not naming name?” The saying is “I’m not naming names” regardless of how many people she’s talking about. Your stretch there is adorable. Don’t try so hard.

          I think with such a large cast, sometimes people’s roles get scaled back so that other stories can be told better. What was her problem with T.R.? What purpose did she have to want him to quit the show? What did he do to incur her ire?

  2. Mel says:

    I don’t think it was Patrick. Shonda admitted how hard it was for her to kill off Derek. I think it was T.R. Knight.

    • shay says:

      She lied. TR wanted to leave so don’t think it’s him and I understand him. No story mines for a while while he was one of the MAGIC.
      I think it’s Tim Daly from Private Practice but we know she hates some of the actors on the list and mainly one who didn’t de but had an awful exit (Katherine Heigl as Izzie)

      • Kat says:

        My first thought was Tim Daly from Private Practice because I remember him talking about having different ideas about his character than the writers. I got the impression that he was quite vocal about this.

        It still could be T.R. Knight because George (I still miss this character) didn’t have to die just because the actor wanted to leave.

        I don’t think it’s Columbus Short or Patrick Dempsey either. Clearly if you’ve heard her talk about Patrick and how they share a birthday, she has an affection for Patrick. She may not have liked his attitude and behavior behind the scenes (both rumors) near the end of his run, but she didn’t dislike Patrick. I think the same is true for Columbus who clearly has/had drug/alcohol/anger management problems. Killing Harrison was her way of saying that no one else will play this character. Most likely, Columbus burned a bridge with ABC that even Shonda could not bridge at some later date.

      • Erin B says:

        Ooh, good call! I agree with Tim Daly! I remember reading how he didn’t even get a call from her that he was being written off. It was very impersonal especially when they had worked together for a few years. I could see TR Knight too if only because she’s pretty open about not liking Heigl, & they are/were best friends. I think she would bring Columbus Short back if he got himself cleaned up, & that’s why his death was vague.

    • Amanda says:

      I think the reason why he wanted to leave was because she was killing him off. I too think it was TR, she has just about brought back every person on Greys through dream sequences or made them ghosts except him. Once his character died, never saw him again.

      • Aimee says:

        He was asked to come back in the first episode of season six, he refused. It is TR who doesn’t want back on Greys. He wasn’t happy in the end.

    • Shonda was on record for saying that she didn’t like the way TR handled the public fallout from the Isaiah Washington incidents. So she wrote George into a non-entity on the show when he was initially a central character. And he asked to be released, since she wasn’t using him. So it’s probably TR, whom she initially liked a whole lot.

  3. Al says:

    Your forgetting Private Practice characters

  4. Karen says:

    TR and Shonda didn’t get along after she defended homophobic Isaiah. She’s just a horrible showrunner.

    • Al says:

      She can’t be that bad if
      GA is in S12, Scandal in S5, PP did 6 season and she has a whole night of her programming.

      • shay says:

        People forgot she doesn’t write a lot for GA. So kudos to her team of writers (not always but it’s another thing) and the success of the show is also a part of her writers and the original cast then others like Chyler, Eric, Jesse, Sandra Drew, Jessica & Sara

        • shutuprob says:

          “People forgot she doesn’t write a lot for GA.”
          .
          Well, that would be true if she weren’t the showrunner and lead writer for the show. That means by definition she runs the writers’ room and makes her the author of the show’s entire story as a whole. Showrunning also means that she has the power to do an (uncredited) polish draft on any given script by any other writers, generally for (but not limited to) stylistic consistency. Also, like Joss Whedon, she might not write a lot of the scripts, but she writes the pivotal ones — season finales, deaths of big characters like McDreamyhair, other pivotal exits of characters, etc. IIRC, she also wrote last season’s time-jumpy episode centering on Derek’s several months in DC when his associate made a pass at him and he realized that his heart was in Seattle (and Meredith realized that she could live without him).
          .
          Don’t under-estimate Shonda’s relationship to Grey’s — of all her shows, it’s the one that is her baby.

          • Basically, all the good episodes arw written by her team of writers and when she pens in it’s the really bad messed up one! She was barely involved with Private Practice at all (which was in my opinion her best show), and when she wrote an episode, it was chessy, desperate, and out of touch with the show!

          • You just described the job of a show runner and why is this a problem when the showrunner is named shonda rhimes???

          • Show runner and lead writer means nothing when it comes to actual scripts. Whedon was show runner and lead writer on Buffy, and after season 1 wrote 4-5 scripts a season (which were always late).

        • Isaac John says:

          In the first few seasons she wrote a lot, the first few episodes, the season 1 finale, the bomb episodes, Denny dying episodes, Meredith drowning episodes, Season 3,4 and 5 openers, George dying episode, the shooting episodes, the musical episode, the plane crash episode, derek dying episode. She didn’t write any episodes in season 9 and 10, when Scandal was ‘taking off’ but she tweeted during the 11th season that she did more writing this season then she has in a long time. Also just because she isn’t the sole writer on an episode doesn’t mean she doesn’t contribute some of her writing each script.

    • MiaB says:

      Yes, she’s just awful. That’s why she has three shows currently on the air, not to mention the ones in development. I guess you can do better from behind your computer.

      • 1) A lot of people watch bad television. The worse it is, the better the ratings.

        2) Every single show she’s worked on has had significant cast turnover.

        • Huh says:

          Your definition of significant turnover is skewered. Try keeping the exact same cast for shows that has been on for over five, let alone twelve seasons.

          • Cheers, Supernatural, Frasier, NCIS, Friends, The Big Bang Theory, Seinfeld, The Andy Griffith Show, How I Met Your Mother

          • Kathy says:

            Supernatural is known for killing off recurring characters.
            .
            As to NCIS, are you kidding? The exact same cast? Not hardly. They’re on their third director and third female agent, just to name two.

          • Kathy: Gibbs, Tony, McGee, Ducky and Abby have been there since day one. I would say that’s pretty consistent.

            If you’re going to say how many shows have had the EXACT cast for 10 or more seasons, only Friends meets that requirement. But plenty of shows at least have kept the two leads around as I listed, and most of the supporting cast too. There’s hardly anyone not just from the original group on Grey’s Anatomy left, but even from Season 4-5.

        • mary says:

          Not true. Like JJ Abrams she rotates the actors among all her shows. Many who were on Grey’s are now on Scandal. Those who were on Scandal are now on HTGAWM.

      • Journey54 says:

        Your point? Just because she has many shows and the ratings are good doesn’t mean she is a good writer.

        People like to watch garbage, what can you do?

    • Huh says:

      As a gay person- I will defend Shonda’s record on how she treats the lgbtq community with respect. If she was homophobic- she wouldn’t have fully flushed out gay characters.

      Everybody that works for her has great things to say about her and if she was a terrible show runner- she wouldn’t own Thursday night.

  5. It amazes me how many people ignore Private Practice’s existence.

    Grey’s and Scandal aren’t her only shows.

    And I’m counting a good 5+ relevant characters on that show who bit the dust. It gets my vote for Pete’s death/Tim Daly’s sudden departure.

  6. Joe says:

    Patrick, I read a few articles just before he got killed off that she had been pissed at him

  7. JA says:

    T. R. Knight. Definitely.

  8. shay says:

    I think it’s Tim Daly from Private Practice but we know she hates some of the actors on the list and mainly one who didn’t de but had an awful exit (Katherine Heigl as Izzie)

    Btw you can’t all hate on Heigl but Shonda Rhimes is not professional. If you stand up for yourself you’re fired. I talk about à lot of people on that list

  9. Chris says:

    It was Tim Daly from Private Practice. He even complained that Shonda didn’t call him to tell him his character was being killed off. He found out through his manager.

  10. spindae2 says:

    Obviously it is Eric Dane.

    • tahina says:

      That’s who I’m thinking too. He was fine n the beginning, but he got into trouble and you can see in the last episodes he was in, that he wasn’t in the best of shapes. Good for him he has since rebounded and looks great and in a new pretty good tv show where he is the main character.

    • Annie says:

      Yep. My thought too.

    • Jess says:

      I don’t think so. I really think there was just nowhere else for Mark to go after Lexie died. Shonda talked about how she thought about sending him to Addison but it just didn’t feel genuine of his character anymore. Lexie’s death was the hardest for me to handle in the Grey’s realm, but I was actually glad Mark didn’t go on without her.

      • spindae2 says:

        I thought there would be no story to tell for Mer after Derek’s death or if there was that it wouldn’t appeal to me but if U want something there is a way. Shonda could’ve found a way to keep Marc there and keep it interesting for him.

  11. Chance says:

    OBVIOUSLY it was CShort. Like, so obviously this poll is useless.

  12. Dee says:

    I don’t think it’s Jeffrey Dean Morgan. Even though Denny died, he was brought back and if I hated the actor, he definitely wouldn’t be returning (even as a ghost).

    • Annie says:

      Definitely NOT Morgan. She lurves him. (For good reason IMHO. LOL)

    • Erin B says:

      I agree. She had some show about journalists (I think) that he was going to be on before “Scandal” came about, but it never happened. If she hated him, he wouldn’t have been considered.

  13. pammersc says:

    She didn’t say she only did it once.

  14. Read Tim Daly’s “Random Roles” over at AVClub. It’s definitely Tim Daly!

  15. Steven says:

    My first thought upon hearing this was Rebecca from How To Get Away With Murder.

  16. Mehvash says:

    ohhhh i totally forgot about Tim Daley!! i change my answer to him. he was unceremoniously killed and the lead up to the death his character was such a jerk. i wouldn’t be surprised if it was him.

  17. Mick says:

    Pretty sure Columbus Short lost his job because he couldn’t stay sober and therefore was uninsurable. Not because Shonda didn’t like him.

  18. Frank says:

    You left out ‘All of the above”! Her answer does leave room for multiple people at least.

  19. Keith says:

    I heard a radio interview she did the other day on NPR where she basically said that the actor’s only job is to convey her words and if they dont like it they can leave. So I dont think she likes any actors.

  20. Jake L. says:

    It can’t be Jeffrey Dean Morgan, because if she killed off Denny to avoid working with him, he would have stayed dead, instead of returning for 2 separate arcs years after his character’s death.

  21. Rolfe says:

    Not Jeffrey Dean Morgan. Wasn’t he attached to a Shondaland journalism show after Grey’s?

  22. Dizzle says:

    My outside bet is either Percy (Robert Baker) or Reed (Nora Zehetner) on Grey’s!

    • Isaac John says:

      Her intention was always to kill Charlie* and Reed off, I believe anyways.
      I remember her tweeting something early in the sixth season about hearing the fans not liking the Mercy Westers and just give it some time and that it will be taken care of.
      Jackson was intended to stay, in my opinion being an Avery and April was always a wild card for me. Never knowing if she was staying or leaving.

  23. Deion says:

    I’m going to say Tim Daly. Not only did George get a death episode, she tried to get T.R. Knight to come back and do an ep about George’s last day and he declined. We all know why Harrison got an off screen death. Pete’s death came out of nowhere. We can blame budget cuts, but Tim Daly not coming back to even do the ep where his character died, a season premiere at that, was baffling.

  24. Tw123 says:

    Strong money on TR Knight or Tim Daly. Shonda often writes about much she misses George, but has never said a kind word for the actor who played him. And TR was notoriously a part of the big season 2-4 cast wars between Dempsey, Isiah Washington, Knight, and Katherine Heigel. I’ve seen both Ellen Pompeo and Sara Ramirez talk about it in the past. Even Shonda once admitted that those season’s of Grey’s taught her to have a “no asshole” policy when casting Scandal years later. She wrote Isiah and Heigel off, but killed Knight.

    I’m hedging my bets with Tim Daly, like others said he also famously was having behind the scenes beef with the writers. And he was killed ridiculously abruptly and unceremoniously. That said, I think he also may have killed because budget cuts. They were going to Private Practice’s last season, the ratings weren’t great, and I wouldn’t be surprised if ABC was looking for a way to cut overhead costs.

  25. Lisa B. says:

    Do not piss off The Shonda!

  26. EM says:

    Tim from private practice

  27. Huh says:

    The wife beater, obviously.

  28. CharRicho says:

    I heard a rumor that Eric Dane was fired for harassing a female coworker, so definitely could be him. Of course, Patrick Dempsey is also well-known to be an @$$, so could be him too. Or both.

    T.R. Knight was bff with Heigl and got sucked into her battle with Shonda and ended up leaving because of it, his choice I think, but I also think he also thought when he threatened to leave, they’d give in and they called his bluff. He regrets it now, and I’m pretty sure isn’t even friends with Heigl anymore at all. But I don’t think that was about disliking him as a person, but rather just not letting the actors hold the series hostage and giving in to demands. Shonda proved she was willing to kill off an original, and probably brought everyone into line.

    • Lorna says:

      Are you tr? Do you know he regrets it? And other than rumors for killing mcdreamy off, ive never heard bad about dempsey

      • leo21 says:

        The rumor on Dempsey was that he had an affair with a staffer and his wife confronted hum on set over it before she filed divorce. The other rumor was that he had a huge ego and they couldn’t stand him anymore. He’s probably a legit candidate for this too. He was shocked they bumped him off.

    • shay says:

      That’s BS. TR wanted to leave and wasn’t in the Middle of the battle between Shonda & Heigl because the “fight” was after his departure. And they are still friends even best friends. Heigl is still friends and close to Walsh, Chambers & TR.
      He was right because Georges had no storyline

  29. BrianR says:

    Chyler Leigh because she wanted to leave. She had her die in a plane crash and then eaten by wild animals.

  30. Mr. Tran K says:

    Losing McDreamy on Grey’s was the biggest loss of all the Shonda Rhimes shows. Still not sure on when and if Grey’s Anatomy will end in its first post-McDreamy less season.

  31. Sara says:

    I voted for TR Knight, because she could have just let his character ride off into the sunset and into the army, but instead killed him kind of unnecessarily. Plus, he has said he left because of breakdowns in communication with Shonda Rhimes (suggesting a falling out) and he was a part of the backstage drama between seasons 2-4 (whether he wanted to be or not).
    That said, Tim Daly from Private Practice would also be a vote getter for me. The way she apparently didn’t even have the courtesy to call him to say she had killed him off in the off-season, but rather let his agent tell him the bad news speaks volumes for their working relationship.

  32. Rob says:

    I think it is Tim Daly from Private Practice.

  33. Luli says:

    There is now way it’s Chyler… At the time she asked for less screen time, and then she wanted to leave to spend time with her fam.

    • :-) says:

      After she signed a new full-time contract. If she had asked to be reoccurring before they paid her and thought out the storyline it might have been a different story.

  34. Jess says:

    Can we vote for more than one? There are almost certainly multiple people on that list that qualify…

  35. Jess says:

    I think it’s Patrick Dempsey and she must have REALLY hated him because she didn’t kill off either Isaiah Washington OR Katherine Heigl and they were both atrocious.

  36. jason says:

    Shonda grew to loathe Tim Daly and definitely iced him to get rid of his nonsense. She found Henry Ian Cusick to be slightly difficult so she got rid of him but let the character live. Columbus and Isaiah she liked enough but she didn’t have a choice in those matters. By the time Dempsey left she was happy to get rid of him but that death was more for story and to keep Meredith on and that major love story alive. It was not a punishment. Everyone else wanted off or storyline dictated it.

  37. A fan of TV says:

    Let’s just go with all of the above, shall we?

  38. Lori says:

    racist? Anti-gay. Come on, if it was the other way around????

  39. Patrick AND TR.
    TR was why she lost Isaiah (and the beginning of the end for KH).

  40. Margo says:

    I’m thinking its either Columbus Short or T.R Knight….but who knows! I don’t think we will ever really get an answer!

    And LOL at the few who have said Shonda is an awful show runner…LOL LOL LOL!

  41. Alia says:

    In my opinion: Patrick Dempsey. She killed the soul of the show when it had everything at its favour to send him far away, for example Washington?. Maybe he wanted to leave Grey’s but he was the most loved character so why not let Derek to be alive and be happy with Meredith and their three kids even if they are very far from each other, there is a thing called plane. He doesn’t need to appear on the show anymore and there could be always an open door for him to return even for one or two episodes.

  42. Li F says:

    She’s so professional! lol I’m sure it wasn’t only one. Glad I don’t watch her Shondacrap shows.

    • KC says:

      Couldn’t agree more. I’m always dumbfounded how she gets aways with the crap she writes and people think it’s brilliant. You could take any episode of any of her shows and condense it into 15 minutes if i weren’t for the characters constantly repeating the same things over and over again. And it always feels like she just keeps repeating the same plot lines too, with a few minor changes. In love, out of love…if I had to watch one more breakup of her characters I’d lose my mind. I loved Grey’s the first season and then it all turned to garbage. Same thing with Scandal. There are dozens of other shows with far better writing and characters than any thing coming out of Shondaland. I’m always so embarrassed for the actors who have to read her lines.

  43. brittsll says:

    At first I thought Columbus, but Tim Daly didn’t even cross my mind (not a PP fan).

    I do remember reading that he was upset about the way Pete died, and I don’t remember details or whether the timing is even right, but was he ABC’s choice, not hers?

    He had been on The Nine and it was cancelled quickly (although I liked it!), and I wasn’t sure if they were trying to find another vehicle for him…

    I could see where it began acrimoniously and there was no love between the two if that was the case. Shonda likes to make her own decisions.

  44. Vickijbs says:

    I’ll bet it was more than one. Probably more than two.

  45. Alyse says:

    I definitely think it’s been done to more than one character. I think Patrick was one of them since he renewed his contract for 2 more years (season 11 and 12) yet was killed in season 11. Plus there were constant rewrites during that season, I remember reading press releases for episodes that ended up changing and plots being dropped.

  46. felipe says:

    come on it’s not anybody on Grey’s because the cast there got back for years and years, it was probably someone from a short living role….

  47. Karen says:

    I’m thinking Isaiah Washington. (Dr. Burke). Seems like he left town, but died in the process, if I remember correctly.

    • Callie says:

      He was brought back to give Christina Yang a job running the hospital he was leaving. His character was successful, happily married and very alive

  48. Callie says:

    How is Jeffery Dean Morgan even on this list? After Denny died she kept bringing him back AND had him host one of those recap episodes that they did in the earlier seasons. She angered fans with the whole Izzy’s relationship with Ghost Denny. Ridiculous.