23 Actors Who Played Characters So Well, The Writers Decided Not To Kill Them Off

1.After filming Season 3 of Succession, Brian Cox, who played Roy family patriarch Logan, revealed Logan was originally meant to die at the end of Season 1. "But I think they realized that Logan is the centrifugal force of the piece," Cox said. "Everything has to spin off him, and the kids’ vices are all about their father, and relating to their father. Do they love their father, and if so, how do they show that love?”

Close-up of Brian Cox in an interview, dressed in a formal shirt, engaging with an off-camera interviewer

2.Steve Harrington (played by Joe Keery) became a major fan favorite of Stranger Things — but originally, he would have died in Season 1. According to Ross Duffer, series co-creator, "We fell in love with [Keery] during the making of season one, which is why we ended up writing that arc for him where he’s helping to save the day. ... Steve was supposed to be this jocky douche bag, and Joe was so much more than that."

Screenshot from "Stranger Things"

The scene where he first fights a demagorgan was originally supposed to be Jonathan and Will's dad.

Netflix / Courtesy Everett Collection

3.Eleven was also supposed to die back in Season 1 of Stranger Things. At the time, the show was only meant to have one season, so El's sacrifice at the end of Season 1 would've been less open-ended. "It was like, Eleven was gonna sacrifice herself and save the world and then that was gonna be it," co-creator Ross Duffer revealed. However, upon pitching it, studios and streamers were less interested in limited series because they didn't make much money. “I remember when we went into Netflix and we pitched this, they were like, ‘Well, we like this but how could it keep going?’ And you’re just sort of riffing in the moment and we were like, ‘Well, Will’s back from this other dimension and he’s not doing very well.’ And [Netflix] was like, ‘Great!'”

Eleven from Stranger Things walking outdoors in a blue jacket and dress
Netflix / Courtesy: Everett Collection

4.In one last Stranger Things example, Enzo quickly became a fan favorite in the fourth season, and managed to survive until the end. However — "In terms of who makes it, who lives or dies. I think there was a version where Dmitri, AKA Enzo, didn't make it," the Duffer brothers revealed. "That's [the most] radical of a departure from the original idea versus what we ended up with." Luckily, they kept the door open, so we may see more of Enzo in the future.

Two men in a dimly lit room, with one facing the camera and the other's back to the viewer
Netflix / Courtesy Everett Collection

5.Julianna Margulies's character Carol was meant to die in the pilot of ER, and Margulies was making other arrangements for her future — until costar George Clooney called her. "He said, 'If you're thinking about taking a job, I urge you not to. I think in the next couple of days, you might be offered a series regular role,'" Margulies revealed. "And I was like, 'But I died! How does that work?' He was like, 'I don't know, but I think it's going to work.'" He was right — the show was changed to make her character's death by suicide a suicide attempt instead, as test audiences liked her character too much to see her go.

Julianna Margulies as Nurse Carol Hathaway in a scene from the TV show "ER," wearing scrubs and a badge
NBC / Courtesy: Everett Collection

6.Boyd Crowder, played by Walton Goggins, was also meant to die in the first episode of Justified, and he, too, was saved by popularity with test audiences and writers. "When we shot the pilot, Boyd was dead at the end of the pilot. And then we tested the show," showrunner Graham Yost revealed. "And we had all just fallen in love with Walton and the chemistry between Walton and Tim. So we decided to keep him alive."

Walton Goggins in a grey blazer standing with an intense expression
Michael Becker/FX / courtesy Everett Collection

7.Something similar was meant to happen on Lost. Originally, Jack (played by Matthew Fox) was meant to die in the pilot, in order to create a sense that no character was safe. However, producers worried about the audience's reaction to the lead's death so soon, and changed it. Fun fact: Jack was originally meant to be played by Michael Keaton, who changed his mind once they took out Jack's death, as he didn't want to commit to a series.

A man in a suit running from a fiery crash site with a large tire and debris around
Mario Perez / ABC / Courtesy: Everett Collection

8.Hurley was also, at one point, meant to die in the first episode. According to Josh Holloway, who played Sawyer, Sawyer originally dropped Hurley off a cliff "because he was too heavy to hold." In fact, Jorge Garcia, who played Hurley, said that the character breakdown indicated that he was meant to die (though he didn't understand the code word at the time). Lost cowriter Damon Lindelof said of the switch: "The idea was: 'It's pure survival. Darwin. Dog eat dog.' Fortunately, once we cast Jorge, we got pretty married to the idea of not killing Hurley."

Screenshot from "Lost"
Mario Perez / ABC / Courtesy: Everett Collection

9.The main reason Hank wasn't killed off in Season 1 of Breaking Bad was the 2007–8 writer's strike. When the strike began, the show was about 2/3 through production of its first season. Audiences had not yet seen the show, and series creator Vince Gilligan was worried about holding audiences' attention. "I really had the feeling that I needed to throw the kitchen sink at it, that the writers and I needed to get every bit of drama. ... Our ninth episode that year, we were seriously leaning toward killing off Hank." However, due to the strike, the first season ended up being only seven episodes — and by the time production had resumed, Gilligan had decided it was better to take things slow.

Hank in "Breaking Bad"
Ursula Coyote / AMC / Courtesy Everett Collection

10.Jesse was also originally meant to die in Season 1. However, by Episode 2, Gilligan said he realized it "would be a huge, colossal mistake to kill off Jesse" due to what a great actor Aaron Paul was.

Jesse Pinkman, wearing a beanie and plaid jacket, looks concerned while leaning out of a red car window
AMC / Courtesy: Everett Collection

11.One more — Walt Jr. was meant to die before the first season was done as well. After Jesse's death, Walter was going to hold the drug dealer responsible hostage and torture him. Eventually, he'd set up a trip wire to a gun so that the dealer could kill himself. However, Walt Jr. would discover the dealer, and the dealer, wanting to get revenge on Walt, would kill both himself and Walt Jr. with the gun. The writers found the idea too dark. "All my writers looked at me like I had completely lost my mind and was the most horrible person to ever live.”

Screenshot from "Breaking Bad"
AMC / Courtesy: Everett Collection

12.Fan-favorite character Spike was originally meant to die in Season 2 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, only a few episodes after his first appearance. "He was just Drusilla's boy toy for five episodes and he was going to be Angel's first victim," James Marsters, who played Spike, revealed. "Like the whole point of the season...was that Buffy would get her heart broken by Angel. They finally hook up and then Angel goes evil. Then Buffy would really, really cry all the time. And then his first act of evil was to take me down. So they only built me up to be cool so that when Angel killed me, he would look awesome."

Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer in a black leather jacket with a red shirt

13.And Faith, played by Eliza Dushku, was only meant to guest star for five episodes of Buffy. After Faith accidentally killed the deputy major, she was originally going to kill herself. However, Whedon liked Dushku's performance so much that he changed this, keeping Dushku alive and leading to a villain arc instead. Dushku did leave the show, but reappeared multiple times, and appeared on the spin-off, Angel.

Eliza Dushku in "Buffy the Vampire Slayer"
20th Century Fox/Courtesy: Everett Collection.

14.NoHo Hank almost died in the first episode of Barry — but he was just too lovable. According to Bill Hader, who played the show's titular character, "We were lining up the shot where [Hank was] supposed to get shot, and I went over to our [director of photography] and [co-creator Berg] and I was like, [whispers] 'Should we kill him? I don’t think we can kill him.'"

Screenshot from "Barry"

15.Lafayette (played by Nelsan Ellis) in True Blood was another comic relief character that became too beloved by fans to kill. He was originally meant to die early on, like his character in the books. However, he became such a fan favorite that he was kept around for the whole series.

Screenshot from "True Blood"

16.The Wire's Kima Greggs (played by Sonja Sohn) was actually saved by a single executive who wanted her character to live. In Season 1, Episode 10, Kima is shot, and originally, it was meant to be fatal — however, HBO exec Carolyn Strauss advocated for the character to survive, and she got her way (which Sohn called this a moment of "girl power"). Sohn remained on the show for all five seasons.

Screenshot from "The Wire"

17.New character Soldier Boy, played by Jensen Ackles, was meant to die in the Season 3 finale of The Boys, after first appearing earlier that season. Executive producer Eric Kripke joked he survived as "fan service." He also said, "Never close a door if you don't have to" and pointed out it wouldn't make sense to have Maeve survive and Soldier Boy die — so he put Soldier Boy on ice instead. (He then appeared, albeit inside Cate's mind, in Gen V.)

Screenshot from "The Boys"
Jasper Savage / Amazon / Courtesy Everett Collection

18.Liv Hewson, who plays young Van on Yellowjackets, was meant to die in Season 1, Melanie Lynskey, who plays adult Shauna, revealed. "But they were so great, they were kept around," she said. Series creators Ashley Lyle and Bart Nickerson later admitted, “We had toyed around with a tragic, tragic death for Van,” but decided they loved Liv as Van too much to kill the character off. In fact, the moment they decided this was in the scene "when Jackie lined everybody up at the kegger, and Liv made the choice that before they went, they topped off their beer."

Screenshot from "Yellowjackets"

19.Laura Lee (played by Jane Widdop) was also meant to die earlier — she was actually only supposed to have a few lines, then die in the pilot. "It was a little part," Lynskey revealed. "And then, I don’t know if this is public knowledge, but they were not supposed to make it past the plane crash and were so impressive in the table read and in the pilot that then they were brought along.”

Screenshot from "Yellowjackets"

20.After Damian Lewis's character Brody was finally killed off Homeland in Season 3, showrunner Alex Gansa joked that they had been "trying to get rid of" Brody since Season 1. “Originally we thought Saul was going to kill Brody," he revealed. However, Brody and Carrie's chemistry became a driving force of the show (and the reason why the show "worked," according to Lewis), and ultimately he decided to kill Brody later, and make it partially Carrie's fault. "It became clear Carrie had to send her soulmate someplace he wasn’t going to come back from," Gansa said.

Screenshot from "Homeland"
Kent Smith / Showtime Networks / courtesy Everett Collection

21.Emily Swallow's character The Armorer was meant to sacrifice herself in Season 1 of The Mandalorian. "We were being set up for [her death]," Swallow revealed. "Jon [Favreau] told me that he had originally written it that she did sacrifice herself and that was the end of the Armorer. And then he changed his mind, and I was like 'Thank you!'" It was left open for her character to return, which she did in six episodes of Season 3 and one of The Book of Boba Fett.

The Mandalorian in armor stands beside a forging table, holding a piece of beskar
Disney+/Lucasfilm / courtesy Everett Collection

22.Tony's mother Livia Soprano was originally going to die in the first season of The Sopranos — however, Livia's actor Nancy Marchand, who had cancer, convinced series creator David Chase to "please keep me working," telling him "that's keeping me alive." Marchand's character ended up dying after Season 2 was filmed, though she was in Season 3 via CGI and old footage.

Screenshot from "The Sopranos"

23.And finally, Josh was originally meant to die in Season 1 of The Originals. However, apparently the writers room did not agree with showrunner Julie Plec's decision, and the fan favorite stuck around until the last season.

Screenshot from "The Originals"
Bob Mahoney / The CW Network / courtesy Everett Collection

What do you think? Should any of these characters have died early on? Let us know in the comments!