20 Actors Who Abandoned Hit Shows and Regretted It Later

Hey there, film buffs and TV aficionados! Have you ever wondered why some actors decide to ditch the roles that shot them to stardom, only to slip into the Hollywood abyss?

Well, buckle up, because we’ve got a list of 20 actors who rolled the dice on their careers—and let’s just say not all of them won the jackpot. Ready for a rollercoaster ride through some “Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda” stories of showbiz? Let’s dive in!

The Bond Blunder

George Lazenby has to be the top answer. Dude with zero acting experience lands the role of James Bond after Sean Connery, and was offered a multi-film deal to be Bond for the foreseeable future. Then, his agent just totally misguides him, telling him both that “it’s the summer of love and nobody is going to keep wanting to see spy movies about killing people,” but also that since he’d already appeared in a film, he could ask for whatever he wanted and they couldn’t turn him down. They brought Connery back for a film instead and Lazenby’s acting career basically ended on the spot.

Spinning the Wheel of Misfortune

“Chuck Woolery left WHEEL OF FORTUNE only to see PAT SAJAK host it for over 40 years.”

The MAS*H Exodus

“Several of the actors of MASH left early to make it big… none of them really did…”

Teen Wolf to Lonesome Pup

“Crystal Reed from Teen Wolf. She was so certain she was done she had them kill off her character only for her career to flop outside of Teen Wolf and ~10 years later would come back and have them revive her character for the movie.”

An Idol’s Fall From Grace

“Brian Dunkelman was co-host of Season 1 of American Idol with Seacrest, and then quit. Over the years it has toggled back and forth between whether or not he would have been fired anyway, but in at least one interview he admitted to quitting and then almost becoming suicidal over it.”

When Pushing Too Hard on The Matrix Backfires

“Marcus Chong was “Tank” in The Matrix. Main character in a HUGE franchise. He had all of these big ideas about how the movie should be done and how his character should progress. That’s fine, but he wouldn’t stop pushing them on the directors and producers. When it came time to make Matrix 2 he was not invited back. Dude could have literally just shut up, been cool and thankful, and made huge bank and a bigger career.”

Gotham’s Missed Opportunity

“Katie Holmes took a pass on The Dark Knight to go be in a movie called Mad Money… and like you, I haven’t seen it either.”

Downton Abbey’s Departing Half

“Like, half the cast of Downton Abbey.”

Fast & Furious to… Nowhere Fast

“Ja Rule was in the first Fast and Furious movie.”

A Transporter Too Far

“Ed Skrein left Game of Thrones as Daario Naharis thinking that if he starred in the reboot of The Transporter it would spawn sequels.”

Hopping Off the Blue Crew

“David Caruso leaving NYPD Blue, and Shelley Long leaving Cheers are good examples.”

A Lord Without His Swordplay

“Late to the party but Stuart Townsend was the original casting for Aragorn in the LOTR movies, but during preproduction and rehearsals he refused to practice things like swordplay, horse riding, action choreography etc, always responding “You’ll get it on the day”

A Stargate That Swings Both Ways

“More niche but Michael shanks leaving stargate SG-1 only to come back a season later buff as hell. I think he expected to get more roles but at least they let him come back from the dead”

Goodbye, One Tree Hill

“Chad Michael Murray on One Tree Hill.”

Valerie Doesn’t Harper Any More Attention

“Valerie Harper left her show Valeri and they replaced her with Sandy Duncan”

Saying ‘No Thanks’ to Family Guy’s Fortune

“Lacey chabert left family guy and was replaced by Mila Kunis who has made bank between new episodes and syndication”

The Emmy Nominee Who Talked Too Much

“Remember when Kathrine Heigl was nominated for an Emmy, and she withdrew herself from the nominees because she felt the writing hadn’t been good enough? I feel like her career never recovered from that. She also went on to say she didn’t like the film Knocked Up which she starred in. I think talking shit about projects your involved in is a really good way to burn your bridges.”

The Original MAS*H Goodbye

“McLean Stevenson from MASH.”