7 TV Characters Killed Off Out of Spite

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YouTube

Death is never easy. That’s especially true in television, where the demise of popular characters can alienate audiences and send a series into a tailspin. Sometimes actors want out to explore other opportunities. Other times, something happened off-camera that prompted writers and producers to expedite their fictional demise, often in a way that makes it clear that the parting wasn't amicable. Take a look at seven notable cases of characters who met an untimely end for reasons other than creative necessity.

1. EDDIE LEBEC // CHEERS

The character of pro hockey player Eddie LeBec was introduced as a love interest for waitress Carla Tortelli (Rhea Perlman) during the NBC show’s fifth season in 1987. As played by the late Jay Thomas, LeBec made frequent appearances and even married Carla, setting him up to become a recurring presence. But his spots dwindled in season seven; during season eight, it was discovered that Eddie was run over by a Zamboni off-camera. What happened? According to Cheers writer Ken Levine, Thomas had made some rude comments about Perlman during a radio program he was hosting, alluding to needing “combat pay” to kiss Perlman on camera. Perlman denies she petitioned for his removal, but both Thomas and Levine maintain his comments—there was apparently more than one incident—left Eddie steamrolled.

2. MAUDE FLANDERS // THE SIMPSONS

From 1989 to 2000, voice actor Maggie Roswell portrayed the prim and proper wife of devout family man Ned Flanders on Fox’s The Simpsons. Then, in a highly publicized episode, Maude was killed when a T-shirt gun propelled her off a set of bleachers and to her death. According to the Los Angeles Times, Roswell claimed she was fired from the show for asking for a raise, from her typical $1500 to $2000 per episode to $6000; Fox argued she quit because she no longer wanted to commute from her home in Denver to the voiceover sessions in Los Angeles.

3. VALERIE HOGAN // VALERIE


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It’s unusual for a network to kill off the titular character of a series, but NBC apparently felt it had justification when negotiations with Valerie star Valerie Harper broke down in 1987. Having completed two seasons of the sitcom about a put-upon mother with a pilot husband who’s constantly out of the picture, Harper tried to negotiate new terms to her contract. NBC and production company Lorimar claimed she wanted too much money; Harper said she was merely seeking profit participation that had been promised to her. The parties later ended up in court, and Valerie was renamed Valerie’s Family before settling on The Hogan Family. Sandy Duncan stepped in for Harper’s character, who was killed off in a car accident in the third-season premiere. “It was really weird that the network would kill off a mother in a prime-time comedy with a lot of kids watching,” Harper said in 1988. She would win her suit that same year, collecting $1.8 million in compensatory damages.

4. JAMES EVANS // GOOD TIMES

Like a lot of sitcoms, Good Times both benefited and suffered from the popularity of what was intended to be an incidental character. Jimmie “J.J.” Walker’s “dy-no-mite” catchphrase and physical comedy didn’t sit well with John Amos, who played the patriarch of the Evans family. He voiced his concerns repeatedly to producers and later recalled it wasn’t in the most diplomatic of ways; Amos claimed he was fired as a result. When the show returned for its fall premiere in 1976, his onscreen wife, Florida Evans, read a letter out loud informing her that James was killed in an auto accident.  

Esther Rolle, who played Florida, also began to share criticisms over the show's direction, especially now that there was no male role model in the series. She quit. This time, producer Norman Lear dealt with the situation by having Florida move away to be with her new husband. 

5. CHEF // SOUTH PARK


Comedy Central

The school cook of South Park hung in for nearly 10 seasons before voice actor Isaac Hayes began to have a problem with the show’s trademark satirical bite. It had been leaning heavily into criticisms of Scientology, the religion founded by L. Ron Hubbard in 1952: Hayes, a Scientologist, asked to be released from his contract after one episode devoted to the subject proved too offensive to him. He was released; the show soon aired an episode where Chef fell from a bridge, was impaled by a tree, dismembered by animals, and implicated in child molestation. The series used snippets of Hayes’s prior recordings to complete the scenes.

6. STEVE CROSETTI // HOMICIDE: LIFE ON THE STREET


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A critical hit when it premiered in 1993, NBC’s Homicide—a gritty depiction of life as a Baltimore detective—struggled to find an audience. After two seasons, the network agreed to renew the show for a third, but wanted to bring in actors they thought might be more appealing to a younger audience. Showrunner Tom Fontana told series regular Jon Polito, who portrayed middle-aged cop Steve Crosetti, that they’d be temporarily writing him out of the show—but that Fontana would bring him back when things settled down. By his own admission, the late Polito said he reacted in anger, lashing out at NBC and producers in the press. Instead of being brought back, Crosetti wound up floating in the bay, dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

7. TED HOFFMAN // MURDER ONE


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Trial attorney Ted Hoffman didn’t die, but the circumstances surrounding the character’s departure from ABC’s Murder One in 1996 are too bizarre to go unnoticed. According to series creator Steven Bochco in his autobiography, Truth is a Total Defense, star Daniel Benzali was dismissed from the show after one season because he was an hour late to work each day. The reason, Bochco told broadcaster Rich Eisen, was that Benzali only felt comfortable having his morning bowel movements at his home in Malibu and couldn’t leave until he had his a.m. coffee-fueled evacuation. Bochco offered to rent an apartment for Benzali during the week, but Benzali refused. He was replaced by Anthony LaPaglia in the second season.

The 10 Best Memorial Day 2020 Sales

iRobot,GoWise,Funko via Wayfair, Entertainment Earth
iRobot,GoWise,Funko via Wayfair, Entertainment Earth

The Memorial Day sales have started early this year, and it's easy to find yourself drowning in offers for cheap mattresses, appliances, shoes, and grills. To help you cut through the noise and focus on the best deals around, we threw together some of our favorite Memorial Day sales going on right now. Take a look below.

1. Leesa

A Leesa Hybrid mattress.
A Leesa Hybrid mattress.
Leesa

Through May 31, you can save up to $400 on every mattress model Leesa has to offer, from the value-minded Studio by Leesa design to the premium Leesa Legend, which touts a combination of memory foam and micro-coil springs to keep you comfortable in any position you sleep in.

Find it: Leesa

2. Sur La Table

This one is labeled as simply a “summer sale,” but the deals are good only through Memorial Day, so you should get to it quickly. This sale takes up to 20 percent off outdoor grilling and dining essentials, like cast-iron shrimp pans ($32), a stainless steel burger-grilling basket ($16), and, of course, your choice of barbeque sauce to go along with it.

Find it: Sur la Table

3. Wayfair

KitchenAid Stand Mixer on Sale on Wayfair.
Wayfair/KitchenAid

Wayfair is cutting prices on all manner of appliances until May 28. Though you can pretty much find any home appliance imaginable at a low price, the sale is highlighted by $130 off a KitchenAid stand mixer and 62 percent off this eight-in-one GoWise air fryer.

And that’s only part of the brand’s multiple Memorial Day sales, which you can browse here. They’re also taking up to 40 percent off Samsung refrigerators and washing machines, up to 65 percent off living room furniture, and up to 60 percent off mattresses.

Find it: Wayfair

4. Blue Apron

If you sign up for a Blue Apron subscription before May 26, you’ll save $20 on each of your first three box deliveries, totaling $60 in savings. 

Find it: Blue Apron

5. The PBS Store

Score 20 percent off sitewide at Shop.PBS.org when you use the promo code TAKE20. This slashes prices on everything from documentaries like Ken Burns’s The Roosevelt: An Intimate History ($48) and The Civil War ($64) to a Pride & Prejudice tote bag ($27) and this precious heat-changing King Henry VIII mug ($11) that reveals the fates of his many wives when you pour your morning coffee.

Find it: The PBS Store

6. Amazon

eufy robot vacuum.
Amazon/eufy

While Amazon doesn’t have an official Memorial Day sale, the ecommerce giant still has plenty of ever-changing deals to pick from. Right now, you can take $100 off this outdoor grill from Weber, $70 off a eufy robot vacuum, and 22 percent off the ASUS gaming laptop. For more deals, just go to Amazon and have a look around.

7. Backcountry

You can save up to 50 percent on tents, hiking packs, outdoor wear, and more from brands like Patagonia, Marmot, and others during Backcountry's Memorial Day sale.

Find it: Backcountry

8. Entertainment Earth

Funko Pops on Sale on Entertainment Earth.
Entertainment Earth/Funko

From now until June 2, Entertainment Earth is having a buy one, get one half off sale on select Funko Pops. This includes stalwarts like the Star Wars and Batman lines, and more recent additions like the Schitt's Creek Funkos and the pre-orders for the upcoming X-Men movie line.

Find it: Entertainment Earth

9. Moosejaw

With the promo code SUNSCREEN, you can take 20 percent off one full-price item at Moosejaw, along with finding up to 30 percent off select items during the outdoor brand's summer sale. These deals include casual clothing, outdoor wear, trail sneakers, and more. 

Find it: Moosejaw

10. Osprey

Through May 25, you can save 25 percent on select summer items, and 40 percent off products from last season. This can include anything from hiking packs and luggage to outdoorsy socks and hats. So if you're planning on getting acquainted with the great outdoors this summer, now you can do it on the cheap.

Find it: Osprey

At Mental Floss, we only write about the products we love and want to share with our readers, so all products are chosen independently by our editors. Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a percentage of any sale made from the links on this page. Prices and availability are accurate as of the time of publication.

Never-Shown-on-TV Digital Shorts From The Office are Now Available on iTunes

Oscar Nuñez, Brian Baumgartner, Jake Lacy, Paul Lieberstein, Angela Kinsey, Phyllis Smith, Craig Robinson, Ellie Kemper, Kate Flannery, Ed Helms, and Leslie David Baker in The Office.
Oscar Nuñez, Brian Baumgartner, Jake Lacy, Paul Lieberstein, Angela Kinsey, Phyllis Smith, Craig Robinson, Ellie Kemper, Kate Flannery, Ed Helms, and Leslie David Baker in The Office.
NBCUniversal Media, LLC

It's a good time to be a fan of The Office. The NBC series may have ended nearly seven years ago, but the cast still manages to surprise us on a regular basis. Whether it be an impromptu reunion, or sharing some details about the sitcom in new interviews, fans are still able to reminisce on a daily basis. But the best gift yet for those running out of things to watch while stuck at home may have just arrived: A collection of digital shorts from the beloved series is available to purchase on iTunes, and it's full of never-before-seen-on-TV content.

The collection includes 10 episodes of hilarity from your favorite The Office characters, including Michael Scott, Jim Halpert, Pam Beesly, Angela Martin, and Kelly Kapoor. One of these shorts is actually an Emmy winner titled "The Accountants," which sounds pretty intriguing.

So grab some popcorn (be sure to clean out the microwave when you're done) and a few of your fellow The Office fanatics, because this is your chance to re-live the Dunder Mifflin days all over again. You can access all of the episodes here.