Year in Review

2021 in Review: The 40 Most Shocking Cast Exits Announced This Year

TV’s biggest twists don’t always involve shocking paternity reveals, the fighting of frightful fires or unplanned trips to 10,000 B.C.

No, oftentimes it is a cast member’s shocking exit that will send jaws dropping to the floor.

When it comes to 2021’s most unexpected cast exits, Legacies‘ Peyton Alex Smith got the ball rolling back in January, when Rafael relocated to a prison world (as a werewolf does). As the year continued to unfold, we saw a trio of Grey’s Anatomy favorites scrub out, as did no fewer than eight actors from other medical dramas.

In 2021, two original cast members bid The Flash adieu, a Legends of Tomorrow vet decided to disembark the Waverider and multiple members of the NCIS-verse turned in their proverbial badges — including no less than Leroy Jethro Gibbs himself, when CBS frontman Mark Harmon clocked out after 18-plus years.

All told, we tally more than three dozen actors’ departures this calendar year, as detailed below. (NOTE: Since this list is comprised of announcements made in 2021, we’re leaving out the likes of China Anne McClain, who revealed she was exiting Black Lightning in 2020, even though her final appearance aired earlier this year.)

Now, because we’re going into detail about how these characters left their respective shows, expect spoilers throughout! Now would be a good time to get up to speed on any shows you’ve been meaning to finish. Don’t say we didn’t warn you! For everyone else, check down below for our full list of 2021’s most shocking exits (which are presented in chronological order) and let us know your thoughts in the comments. Which character(s) will you miss the most?

Still to come in TVLine’s Year in Review: TV’s Biggest Controversies, Sexiest Scenes, the Character Deaths That Nearly Killed Us, Scene-Stealing Characters, Best Cameos and much, much more!