10 Actors Who Stupidly Quit a Role and Never Recovered

Some Hollywood actors find themselves in iconic roles that lead to illustrious careers – which naturally translates into many more iconic roles that audiences love. Unfortunately, however, a handful of actors quit those iconic roles too soon and afterward found themselves treading water in the industry. Today, thanks to a particularly insightful discussion on Reddit, Wealth of Geeks takes a deep dive into ten actors who stupidly quit a role and never recovered.

1. Lacey Chabert

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Here's a fun bit of trivia: Mila Kunis was the second actor to voice the character of Meg Griffin on Family Guy after Lacey Chabert quit the show early in its run. Ouch. While nobody would've guessed the show would reach the heights it did, we here at Wealth of Geeks have to assume Chabert is kicking herself for this one!

One user on Reddit puts everything into perspective: “Lacey Chabert left family guy and was replaced by Mila Kunis who has made bank between new episodes and syndication,” they said.

2. Katie Holmes

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While we personally think that her performance in Batman Begins was a little wooden overall, Katie Holmes hasn't quite recovered from quitting the Batman franchise after only one film.

One Redditor made a list of all the projects Holmes passed on after she quit John Nolan's trilogy, and, well… it's not pretty. “Katie Holmes dropping out of Batman to do a bomb called Mad Money. Married Tom Cruise. Turned down Buffy. Turned down OITNB. Maybe she's just a habitual bad decision maker,” they said.

3. David Caruso

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For many fans of TV and film, David Caruso is the poster boy for leaving a show early and never recovering. Just ask this Reddit user:

“I mean, David Caruso is always the actual reason this question exists, no?” they openly pondered in the comments.

Caruso famously left the hit show NYPD Blue and went on to do, well, not a whole lot. It's one thing to bet on yourself in Hollywood, but sometimes it's simply the wrong decision.

4. Katherine Heigl

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Katherine Heigl is known in Hollywood circles for being notoriously picky with her roles, and it seems that it's been downhill for her ever since she quit Grey's Anatomy. Here's one Redditor's summation of the whole ordeal:

“She's still a working actress but when she was on Grey's Anatomy, while simultaneously being in Knocked Up, she was destined for an A+ list career,” she said. “But she decided to shun an Emmy Nomination and leave Grey's because it didn't challenge her professionally and then complained about the hit movie she was just in and essentially threw away her new shiny popularity by being difficult and only doing C list romcoms.”

5. Stuart Townsend

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One Redditor gives it to us straight: “Stuart Townsend was the original casting for Aragorn in the Lord of the Ring movies, but during preproduction and rehearsals he refused to practice things like swordplay, horse riding, action choreography etc. Peter Jackson decided he couldn't work with him, Viggo is brought in literally on the first day of shooting and the rest is history,” they said.

Talk about your all-time missed opportunities! We don't know about you, but failing to keep the role of such an iconic character in a legendary film series ever has to be eating away at Townsend to this very day.

6. Sean Connery

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Not even the great Sean Connery is exempt from some truly boneheaded creative decisions. “Sean Connery turned down the role of Gandalf for $30M +15% of profits which would have got him about $450M. He said he didn't understand the script,” one user explained. “So next time he was offered a script he didn't understand (The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen) he took it, ended up so disappointed in the product that he retired from acting.”

Wow. While we don't blame Connery for not understanding these scripts (hey, they're complicated!), it's still sad that he retired because of some legendarily lousy decision-making.

7. Terrance Howard

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This comment from a Redditor hits particularly hard for us at Wealth of Geeks: “Terrence Howard was in Iron Man and was going to become War Machine… This was the very start of the Marvel movies, the MCU… He got bounced I think for asking for crazy money… Don Cheadle replaced him for Iron Man 2 and all the movies beyond.”

Think of all the money Howard left on the table by getting summarily ejected from one of the biggest film franchises in movie history.

8. Jonathan Taylor Thomas

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JTT's appearance on the list surprised us, but the fact that many users upvoted this particular comment was eye-opening:

“Jonathan taylor thomas leaving home improvement – when he returned to the show not only was his movie career dead in the water but the tv show had left his character behind,” the user wrote.

This particular Redditor isn't wrong. At one point in the 90s, JTT was pegged as the next big thing in Hollywood. But alas, a prominent career as an adult actor in Hollywood just wasn't in the cards for him.

9. Mischa Barton

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In the early 2000s, Mischa Barton seemed destined for greatness, as audiences around the country were transfixed by the “soap opera for young adults” known as The OC. However, Countless users on Reddit lamented the fact that once she left the cast, not only did the plot lines on the show suffer, but her own career did as well.

While some Redditors argued that the media's coverage of her personal life was why she left the show, one simple fact remains: she has barely been a blip on Hollywood's radar for nearly 20 years.

10. Chevy Chase

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It's true – according to Reddit, not even legendary actor Chevy Chase was exempt from this list. One of the highest-upvoted comments said, “Chevy Chase leaving/getting booted from Community,” the user said. “He's just completely irrelevant now just like how he had been for the decade before the show. He's been slowly pushing himself out of the spotlight his whole career thinking he was better than everyone else.”

Not exactly a ringing endorsement of Chevy by the Reddit community!

This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.