TV Industry jargon: When an actor leaves a show, and the character they played is then killed off for good, they've been McLeaned. As for why a TV show might do this rather than simply putting the character on a bus, there are generally two reasons:
1. The odds of the actor returning to the show are next to nil, and killing them off gives the writers a chance to inject the series with some drama.
2. Relations between the actor and the show people are somewhat contentious, often as a direct result of the actor leaving, and the writers kill the character off either as an act of "revenge," or as a way of preventing the actor from ever being able to return to the role (unless Death Is Cheap sets in).
The trope is named for McLean Stevenson, and the death of his character Colonel Henry Blake after he left M*A*S*H. This event was of Type 1 above; it was not primarily about retaliation, although the production staff was annoyed by Stevenson's leaving even while co-star Wayne Rogers was wriggling out of his own contract.note Ironically, Rogers' character, "Trapper" John McIntyre, was merely Put on a Bus that went across the Pacific and dropped him off in San Francisco to start the spin-off show Trapper John, M.D. where he was now played by Bonanza's Pernell Roberts. The main reason was to bring home the idea that war can take anyone at any time, and to evoke a strong and unrehearsed response from the cast, most of whom would first hear of the character's fate minutes before the scene was being shot. This isn't to say that the exact manner of Blake's death wasn't just a bit vindictive.
If the death is particularly awkward, anticlimactic, or mean-spirited, it's a case of Dropped a Bridge on Him. When it happens off-screen (especially after the character was already written out in a non-deadly manner), it's a Bus Crash.
If the actor has not simply left the show, but life altogether, then this becomes The Character Died with Him, and the way the character is written out is generally very respectful.
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Nurse Mary Lamont, in Dr. Kildare's Wedding Day (1941). Laraine Day, who'd played the character in several films, told MGM she was tired of the role and asked to be written out of the series. So they had her die in a car accident after marrying Kildare.
Rare film example, from Terminator. Sarah Connor, Linda Hamilton's character, was killed off off-screen, in between the second and the third installments, due to her preferring not to be involved in future sequels since she felt Terminator 2 was how it was supposed to end.
On Angel the writers asked Alexis Denisof what he wanted to do with his character of Wesley as the show and its parent had both been canceled permanently. He let the writers kill him off to make a dramatic point.
Archie Bunker's Place: After All in the Family ended, the writers struggled to explain Edith Bunker's constant absence in the spinoff. Eventually they wrote an episode entitled "Archie Alone" that explains that Edith had died of a stroke, and Archie actively was in denial and trying to keep news of her death from reaching his friends. This is a type 1, as Jean Stapleton merely wanted to pursue other options instead of returning to occasionally guest as her sitcom character.
On Babylon 5, Andrea Thompson, who played the telepath Talia Winters, got a bit demanding on the set. Notably, she wanted to appear in more episodes than she was, in fact in more episodes than most of the regular cast but the lead. She left the show in the ensuing discussions, and was taken back to Psi Corps headquarters by Bester. In a later episode, Al Bester lets slip that they found out things about the crew in the course of her debriefing and dissec...er examination. This one's notable in that Talia was always intended, right from the start to be sent back to Psi Corps. They even wrote in the mechanism that would enable her to return. The only thing that changed is that unlike the original plan, she never came back. This show is somewhat unusual in that there was always a ready plan to do this to any of the main characters, should the need arise.
This was also done with the recurring character General Hague. He had played a major role in season 2, and it was anticipated he would show up in a major episode of season 3. When that episode was about to be taped, he was unavailable. Because of the circumstances, J. Michael Straczynski killed off General Hague—partly out of vindictiveness and partly to add drama—and put Hague's subordinate in charge. One Hilarious Outtake puts the situation best:
Captain Sheridan: Where's General Hague? Major Ryan: General Hague...is doing Deep Space Nine. Apparently he was double-booked by his agent and there was nothing to be done. So you'll have to deal with me, sir.
In the 2004 rendition of Battlestar Galactica, Billy Keikeya's actor Paul Campbell wasn't under contract and was constantly unsure whether he wanted to stay on the show, preventing his character from being involved in any significant plot arcs. The writers eventually got fed up with this and killed off his character.
Gareth Thomas actually insisted on this as a condition of coming Back for the Finale of Blake's 7, hence the unusually graphic blood effects used when he gets shot. In the end it turned out to be academic, as the mooted fifth season never happened.
In Bones, Mr. Nigel-Murray was shot and killed by Sniper Broadsky to add drama which led to the wham ending for the sixth season. The actor left to be a main character on Alphas.
The Brady Bunch: Averted twice (on the original series and again with The Bradys), both thanks to the series being canceled:
With the original series, rumors abounded over Robert Reed's status on the show after the end of Season 5, after he refused to appear in the season finale, "The Hair-Brained Scheme." That, plus his ongoing feud with Sherwood Schwartz and his son, Lloyd, and overall unhappiness with the show meant that, according to several sources, including Barry Williams' "Growing Up Brady," Reed was about to be fired, and one of the scenarios seriously considered to explain Reed's departure was killing off Mike Brady. The aversion came when ABC stepped in and decided to fire everybody.
With The Bradys, Reed's feud with the Schwartzes continued unabated, and when the Schwartzes got wind that a frustrated Reed was complaining directly to CBS about the scripts, Sherwood Schwartz and Paramount Studios considered that a serious breach of protocol. Williams wrote that had the series been renewed for the fall 1990 season, Reed would definitely not be asked back ... and again, killing his character off was among the scenarios that were on the table.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: A very weird example occurred in the last episode. Emma Caulfield wanted to take her career in other directions so explicitly asked to be killed off so that her character could never be used in any of the Spinoffs.
Charmed, a show in which every major character has been killed, some as many as nine times over eight years (including Prue once, she was brought back by a genie), explained that Prue was "dead for good" when Shannen Doherty was kicked off the show. (And unavailable as a Spirit Advisor, unlike every other female member of the Halliwell family who was still dead.) Death was suddenly tragic, to the characters at least. The Handwave for Prue's unavailability is that her death is still too recent for her sisters. For the several years worth of time the rest of the shows takes place over. The comic continuation, of course, has no actor availability problem, so Prue is able to appear as a spirit advisor.
Looking back at the show with the knowledge that Doherty is leaving and that it was due to conflicts on set with other cast members, Season 3 starts looking pretty vindictive toward Prue, with episodes like "Just Harried" (where the darker half of Prue's personality takes over, ruining Piper's wedding,) "Sin Francisco" (Prue is possessed by the Deadly Sin of Pride, making her a raging egomaniac,) and "Look Who's Barking" (where she literally became a bitch when a backfiring spell turns her into a dog.)
Cheers did it with Jay Thomas's character Eddie LeBec, Carla's (Rhea Perlman) husband. Hollywood legend has it that Jay Thomas mouthed off about Perlman on a radio show, Perlman later went to the writers and wanted him gone. Eddie was later killed by a zamboni at an Ice Show.
China Beach when Nan Woods' character Cherry White was killed off in 1989.
Yuki Yajima, the actress who played Mika Koizumi, the original Yellow Four in Choudenshi Bioman, abruptly left the show after only nine episodes due to circumstances that are yet to be known. After one and half (the actress was gone by the second half of episode 9) episodes of the character appearing in suit only and having her voiced dubbed by another actress, Mika was killed off by one of the villains in Episode 10 (even being buried in her uniform!), leading to the introduction of the second Yellow Four, Jun Yabuki.
When Chevy Chase left Community, he returned for a single scene in the Season 5 premier, where it was explained why his character Pierce Hawthorne was Put on a Bus. A few episodes later, Mood Whiplash ensues when Shirley informs the group that Pierce has died. The following episode at least proves to be an oddly touching sendoff, rather than a spiteful one which also set up Troy's Long Bus Trip (in this case the bus is a boat) during the reading of Pierce's will.
Although often presumed to be a Type 2 based on Chase's vocal dissatisfaction with the show and his public feud with Dan Harmon, Harmon stated in an interview that he and Chase had buried the hatchet before Chase had quit the show. However, the terms of Chase being released from his contract apparently forbid him from ever returning to the Community set under any circumstances, thus making this a Type 1 example as well.
CSI: NY had one that was a subversion: Vanessa Ferlito left, and Aiden Burn initially quit her job to avoid Mac firing her. But near the end of the season, she was Stuffed In The Fridge.
Rory Cochrane's character Tim Speedle was killed off on CSI: Miami when he wanted to leave.
Warrick Brown on original CSI: Crime Scene Investigation was not killed as many believe because of Gary Dourdan's arrest,but the actor's personal issues had led to Warrick's death being planned just before it happened, and played out just after.
When Patrick Duffy left for a film career in 1985, the producers killed Bobby Ewing in an auto accident. When they had to bring him back to save the show, they decided that the accident and the season's worth of episodes that took place after it were All Just a Dream.
McLeaned also almost could've been called "Hagmaned". During the famous "Who Shot J.R.?" cliffhanger after the second season, Larry Hagman went into protracted renegotiations, holding out for more money. He ultimately re-signed, but they could've easily killed J.R. off if he didn't.
Happens to protagonist Inspector Richard Poole at the start of series 3 of Death in Paradise.
When Ryan Cooley wanted to return to school, the writers on Degrassi decided the best way to do this was to have J.T. Yorke (his character) stabbed in the back and killed. Driving several characters to different forms of depression over it. This wasn't out of animosity; the death of a friend was not a trauma the series had properly covered yet.
On Dexter, Julie Benz's character Rita is killed off at the end of season 4. In what may have been a surprise move, Benz stars in a new show, No Ordinary Family, which started the season after Rita was killed. You're left to your own opinion about the artistic choices, but there was no hint of antagonism between Benz and the Dexter crew, and she's made at least one flashback appearance so it's a pretty clear "Type 1" McLeaning. It certainly was dramatic. The writers confirmed in an interview just after that finale that she was saddened by the news and definitely didn't want to leave, but understood why it was necessary plot-wise and handled it graciously. She then went on to poke fun at herself on The Soup, pretending to be drunk and bitter about getting canned, but then getting a phone call with an offer to replace the lead on Community because the first actor (Joel McHale) sucked so much.
Doc Martin: Aunt Joan was killed off after Stephanie Cole chose not to return for Series 5. The character was a fixture in the setting and Martin's life, so killing her off was probably the most plausible explanation for her sudden disappearance.
On Downton Abbey, first Lady Sybil died in childbirth, though she'd moved away, and then Matthew died in a car crash after their respective actors decided to leave to pursue film careers. Fandom fury ensued, particularly in the latter's case.
ER: Lucy Knight was murdered by a schizophrenic patient when her actress Kellie Martin wanted to leave the show, wanting to pursue other projects as she'd never really fit in during her time on the show.
The character Zhaan from Farscape died because her actress developed health problems due to the makeup they used, as well as several other outstanding issues.
Forever Knight did this with Schanke, killing him in a plane crash so they could replace him with Tracy Vetter for more Fanservice. John Kapelos was offered a scenario of Schanke making captain, but he didn't want reduced screen time. In season 3, more characters died,a Kill 'em All scenario.
An in-show example takes place on Friends. In a parody of the L.A. Law incident (see below), Dr. Drake Ramoray, the character played by Joey in the Show Within a Show version of Days of Our Lives, falls down an elevator shaft (reluctantly) after Joey claims in an interview that he writes his own lines (he merely changes the wording of the lines at times in an inconsequential manner), with the in-show "tragedy" being that the only doctor who could have saved Drake was Drake himself. Years later, Joey was able to return to the show as Dr. Drake Ramoray when the character played by Susan Sarandon's character was killed off in the McLean manner as well (in a horse-riding accident, even though the character was established to be afraid of horses), and according to soap-opera logic, Drake received her brain and fully recovered. By the next "episodes" the brain transplant thing was dropped.
When John Amos was fired from Good Times in 1975 for complaining about the quality of the show in Ebony magazine, his character James Evans was promptly killed in yet another auto accident (this one was particularly tragic, since James was planning on moving to Mississippi).
The Good Wife used this for maximum emotional impact when de facto male lead Josh Charles wanted to leave. Although the writers initially considered writing his character, Will Gardner, out by having the ethically challenged attorney disbarred, they instead killed him off when his unhinged client went on a shooting spree in their courtroom, about two-thirds of the way through Season 5. Between killing off arguably the most important male character and having no precedent for such violence on the series, it made for quite the Wham Episode.
Bart Bass was killed off on Gossip Girl when actor Robert John Burke wanted to leave. (He turned out to be just hiding.)
When David Anders left Heroes to film Children of the Corn, his character was quickly killed off to make way for a new villain. They brought him back for Hiro's dream trial a year and a half later when Anders was available.
When Alexandra Vandernoot wanted to leave Highlander due to the commute between France and Vancouver and family issues, Tessa was killed off. The writers had established that she'd never leave Duncan while she was alive, but it appears they also saw it as a good chance for a Wham Episode.
The Hogan Family: Valerie Harper walked from Valerie over a demand for creative control and salary; her character was promptly run over by a car and replaced by Sandy Duncan, and the show was renamed twice, to Valerie's Family: The Hogans and finally The Hogan Family.
Steve Crosetti. Originally Jon Polito was Put on a Bus because network executives felt he wasn't particularly photogenic and the cast needed more women characters, so they wrote out Crosetti and brought on Isabella Hofmann as Megan Russert. Then Polito said bad things about Tom Fontana and Barry Levinson, the show's producers. So they decided to kill Crosetti off instead. A rare example of Type #1 and Type #2, as Crosetti's death was a type of revenge, but it also allowed for a fair amount of drama.
A more straightforward Type #1 example is Beau Felton. Daniel Baldwin left (along with Ned Beatty) in Season 4 so in Season 5 the producers chose to kill him off for good.
When Kal Penn left House to serve in the Obama administration, the producers had his character, Kutner, commit suicide. Though this was due to the first reason, not because of any friction with the rest of the cast. They just wanted some drama and a Very Special Episode. The director later joked that if he'd left for another acting role, the death would have been autoerotic asphyxiation.
L.A. Law: Diana Muldaur's departure resulted in her character Rosalind Shays walking into an open elevator shaft. It should be noted that this was not because of dislike of Muldaur, but rather because the writers hated the character, who was very harsh and bitchy, and they thought the character was ruining the show.
Prosecutor Alexandra Borgia was kidnapped, brutally beaten, Bound and Gagged, locked in a car trunk, and choked to death on her own vomit. Rumor has it that her particularly brutal McLeaning is a result of Annie Parisse, who portrayed her, refusing to sleep with one of the show's writers. But this rumor has been debunked. Word of God says she wanted to leave so she could act in more movies, and the reason the writers McLeaned her is because it had been ages since they'd killed off a major cast member (as part of a crime. See below).
When Jill Hennessey left the show, prosecutor Claire Kincaid was killed by a drunk driver hitting her car in the driver's door. This is a particularly interesting case, though, since the producers originally intended to have the character merely paralyzed, but changed it to killing her off when Hennessey refused to return for one more episode that would show this.
Kincaid's death was a result of miscommunication, Jill Hennessey claimed she was perfectly happy to reprise her role and was rather shocked to hear they actually killed off Kincaid. When the original series was still broadcasting, Hennessey also stated she wanted to come back to do 'weird flashbacks' but the producers (unfortunately) never took her up on her offer.
There was George Dzunda's Max Greevey, killed before he could testify against mobsters.
Across the pond, Law & Order: UK 's Matt Devlin was killed in a drive-by shooting when actor Jamie Bamber finished his contract with the show. Much like on the other versions of L&O, the writers probably wanted to kill off a major character, especially since Bamber was now the third actor to depart the series and the other two had left without much fanfare. It's a pretty classic example of Reason #1 — the following episode was one of the series best as the team struggled to deal with their grief while doing their best to ensure that his killer was brought to justice. Though one wishes it would have occurred to the writers that this would be the umpteenth of Bamber's characters to be killed off and find another way to write him out.
When the actress who played Alice Garvey on Little House on the Prairie wished to move on to other projects, Alice ended up dying in a fire in the two-hour "May We Make Them Proud."
LOST: Though many characters have died, there were only two occasions it wasn't a planned plot death and was due to actors leaving:
When Adewale Akkinuoye-Agbaje left the show, Eko was killed off and the really involved arc they had planned for him was mostly pushed onto other characters, with bits being lost forever.
Caesar seemed to be an important character and was advertised as such, then was killed abruptly on his fourth episode without contributing anything critical to the plot. It was done because Saïd Taghmaoui decided not to stay for the next season and the planned character arc was apparently passed on to Bram, who debuted just minutes after Caesar met his demise.
When Mira Furlan wanted to leave the US, they killed Danielle off. However, it sounds like her character wouldn't have survived season 4 anyway: Alex's resulting death was very important to the plot and was planned, so apparently she was just killed off earlier than they had originally planned, before she could get a long-awaited centric episodes though the events of it were placed into season 5.
She was however brought Back for the Finale, along with the entire main cast from all past years and multiple recurring characters.
Contrary to popular belief, Michelle Rodriguez's character Ana Lucia Cortez was not killed off due to her DUI arrest. According to Word of God, Rodriguez had only ever been interested in appearing in one season, so Cortez's brutal death was planned from the beginning.
Elizabeth Mitchell left at the end of the fifth season in Type 1 fashion to star on another ABC series, V
In fact, it was said that being killed on Lost was not a big deal, because most deceased characters were brought back at least once after their demise, with only a few exceptions.
Mad Men has only killed off one major character in its entire run: Lane Pryce, who hanged himself near the end of Season 5. Lane's death was admittedly the result of Jared Harris deciding he had to leave in order to honour his other acting commitments, particularly playing Professor Moriarty in the Sherlock Holmes films, and the writers and Harris agreeing that the series could continue without Lane (his financial/management wizardry role being transferred to Joan).
The fourth series of Merlin was kick-started with the deaths of not one, or two, but three major characters, all of whom went on to star in other projects. All the departures seemed amiable enough (Type 1) and the deaths themselves were immensely dignified and fitting for the characters involved.
She was followed by Santiago Cabrera who also sacrificed himself in order to close the veil (so that Cabrera could take a role on Alcatraz). Cabrera's role on Alcatraz was dropped, leaving him available to return for one more episode of Merlin, which unfortunately seemed to veer into Type 2 of this trope given the circumstances: Lancelot reappeared as a mindless tool of Morgana, manipulated into destroying the relationship between Arthur and Guinevere, and promptly killed off again.
In the next episode, Anthony Head's character King Uther was killed off by an assassin, so that Head could star in Free Agents. Free Agents was cancelled after four episodes.
Played for laughs in Mystery Science Theater 3000, after Trace Beaulieu left the show, it was revealed at the beginning of Season 8 that his character Dr. Clayton Forrester was killed offscreen by his own mother. Done as a sort of parody of Type 1, and not out of any real bitterness—Trace continues to be good friends with much of the cast, including his Crow replacement Bill Corbett, to this day. They were able to set this one up in advance since they knew Beaulieu would be leaving; the finale of Season 7 has Forrester get turned into a star child and his mother gushing over being given a second chance to raise him right. When Pearl shows up in Season 8, she remarks that despite her attempts Clayton still went evil, so she killed him.
NCIS: When Sasha Alexander wanted out, her character was shot between the eyes. Although she did spend the next season's two-part premiere dressing up like an idiot and bothering the not-dead cast, which is more than Lauren Holly got a few seasons later.
When Rick Schroder left NYPD Blue to spend more time with his family, his character, Danny Sorenson, was killed off by a Mafia assassin.
The O.C.: Everyone knew Mischa Barton was leaving the show at the end of the third season, and the episode had the plotline that she was going away to live with her dad. However, on her way to the airport, she was in a car accident and died. This was quite a surprising twist when it originally aired in the US. For some reason, the Australian station on which the OC was playing felt that instead of allowing the viewers to experience this shock twist, it should start having ads three weeks before the finale saying "MARISSA... WILL... DIE". Thanks, channel 10.
In Power Rangers Lost Galaxy, Valerie Vernon was diagnosed with leukemia during filming, so her character, Kendrix (the Pink Ranger) was killed off by sacrificing herself to save another Ranger. Thankfully, her leukemia was cured in time for her revival in the final episode. This is another example not inspired by ill will towards the actress, but rather because they weren't sure Vernon would even be able to return.
Primeval: At the end of Season 3, three of the main characters were trapped in the past, and Laila Rouass's character, Sarah, was the only one left from the main team (not counting military guy Becker). As of the first three episodes of Season 4, she has yet to make an appearance, and it seems she won't be as it was stated in internet 'webisodes' that she was killed on a mission between the series to try and get the missing team members back from the past.
Private Practice did this with Tim Daly's character Peter Wilder when he left the show in between the fifth and sixth seasons. It's revealed he died offscreen of a heart attack.
Done three times in Grey's Anatomy: George (T.R. Knight), Lexie (Chyler Leigh), and Mark (Eric Dane) all died in season finales. Izzie was a subversion, she would have died in the same cliffhanger episode as George if Katherine Heigl decided not to appear again; she decided this later and the character was instead put on a bus. The finale of Season 8 was intended to be this: a few of the actors had not yet decided to renew their contracts, so there was a plane crash so that some characters could easily be killed off by the beginning of the next season.
Sliders was notorious for this. When Sabrina Lloyd wanted to leave the show, they stuck Wade in a Kromagg breeding camp, then brought her back briefly as a brain in a jar. When Jerry O'Connell wanted out, they had Quinn merge with an alternate-reality version of himself which erased his personality. When John Rhys-Davies... well, you get the picture. Getting out of Sliders was almost as bad as staying in Sliders. Rhys-Davies was reportedly disgusted with the direction the show was taking, but he didn't want to leave, nor did he ever express total opposition to coming back. His departure was a full-on Type 2, as much of the production staff (as led by David Peckinpah) loathed Rhys-Davies for his constant criticism. Rhys-Davies' story (he was credited as co-author) was greatly altered from its original version to the point where it's barely recognizable. While not naming names, Rhys-Davies did not ever want to work with a certain executive producer ever again and it was Peckinpah that stayed with the show until its end.
Spooks will usually either brutally kill or permanently exile the character of any actor who leaves the show. As early as the second episode, the show had established the fact that any character could be killed at any time which makes for exciting viewing because it neatly averts the "main characters are always safe" trope.
Specifically, when the actress who played Fiona Carter had to leave due to pregnancy, she was kidnapped, tortured and then shot trying to escape. She died in her husband's arms.
The actor who played Fiona Carter's husband later decided to move on. He was blown up by a car bomb.
Jadzia Dax from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine got offed when Terry Farrell quit the show at the end of the sixth season. Interestingly though, only Jadzia was killed off; they could keep the Dax symbiont around in another actress (Nicole de Boer), The Nth Doctor-style, and run a new, more insecure, character, yet one that had some similarities to the original.
Tasha Yar was killed off by a sentient oil slick when Denise Crosby left midway through the first season. Although her character came back twice in later episodes, both times were due to time travel; the "original" Tasha was gone for good. On the other hand, it turned out she had an identical half-Romulan daughter who served as a recurring villain, so the actress managed to come back a few times anyway. Had she known the series would be such a success and that every member of the crew got at least some Character Development, she would've probably stayed. She originally left the show for fear she would be typecast.
And ultimately averted in the case of Patrick Stewart. One reason the famous "Best of Both Worlds" cliffhanger at the end of season three was created was because it was unknown if he would renew his contract at the time, and thus this allowed things so that Picard could be killed instantly in the fourth season's premiere.
When Jensen Ackles left Smallville to begin filming Supernatural, his character Jason Teague was revealed to have died offscreen in the former's cliffhanger meteor shower that occurred during the fourth season finale and fifth season premiere.
Teen Wolf: Gage Golightly was leaving the show, so the producers decided to have her character Erica killed off by Kali and created Cora Hale to continue the storyline that was planned for Erica in the first place. She does return for a flashback sequence on season 3 though, so it's assumed that Golightly and the writers parted in good terms.
Happened twice in season 3B. The Carver Twins were leaving the show, so the writers killed off Aiden and had Ethan leave town out of grief. More shocking was Crystal Reed's departure after playing one of the lead characters (Allison Argent) since Season 1. She gave the writer fair warning and co-wrote her own death scene, which as well as being a dramatic moment in itself will seem to have repurcussions for the other characters in Season 4.
Matt Davis who played Alaric on The Vampire Diaries was killed in the Season 3 finale. The day after, CW announced it had picked up Cult, starring Matt Davis. Though, once Cult was cancelled, he returned, finally permanently in the Season 5 finale, and as a regular in Season 6.
In a fictional example on 30 Rock, Jack conspires to kill off his telenovellaDoppelgänger, the Generalissimo, in an effort to appease his Puerto Rican girlfriend's grandmother. It backfires when, in true Soap fashion, the Generalissimo dodges every bullet fired at him then drinks a potion that will make him immortal. He compromises by making the Genralissimo into an elderly Hispanic woman's Mr. Fanservice.
On Top Gear, the original Stig (played by Perry McCarthy) was a Type 1. According to McCarthy, when his contract wasn't going to be renewed, they agreed to have the Stig go out with a bang "as much like a scene out of James Bond as possible." See the scene here on the show's official YouTube channel. Unusually for this trope, when the replacement Stig left the show on exceedingly bad terms with the rest of the team, breaking his non-disclosure agreement to write a tell-all book in which he said some very unflattering things about the other presenters, this trope was completely averted; although they did refer to him as "Sacked Stig" and shot up cardboard effigies of him in one special, they put someone else in the costume the following series and, soon after "New Stig"'s debut, proceeded as if nothing had happened.
After his tumultuous exit, and his subsequent media war with producer Chuck Lorre, Charlie Sheen's character on Two and a Half Men met a very permanent end. The season opener following Sheen's exit opened at Sheen's character's funeral, with the cast discussing his demise. Sheen's character was honeymooning in Paris when his new wife caught him with another woman in the shower. He got chased into the Metro, "slipped," and ended up as a "meat explosion". As it is an American sitcom, the "explosion" occurred off-screen. Just to rub it in, the rest of the episode was spent giving Charlie the Chef treatment, making fun of his corpse, having wacky sitcom shenanigans with his ashes, and the girl who very obviously murdered Charlie getting away with it unscathed.
On The Walking Dead, Dale was killed off after the actor who played him requested to leave when showrunner Frank Darabont was axed.
Doctor Who: The Sixth Doctor's regeneration into the seventh was an obvious type 2, as BBC head Michael Grade hated Colin Baker's performance. The bad blood was apparently mutual, as Baker refused to do any kind of send-off. He was Shemped for the Cold Open of Season 24, where he was offed by a mere Tap on the Head.
Eric Balfour had only signed up the sixth season of 24, and since it was already planned for the following season to be a Re Tool that was going to get rid of most of the characters anyway, he asked the producers to kill him off. This led to his character Milo getting shot in the face late in the season.
Bill from Left 4 Dead died shortly before the events of "The Passing" DLC for Left 4 Dead 2; Valve had previously been unable to get his voice actor back to record new lines for the earlier Crash Course DLC (which the character appeared in, alive). Jim French (the voice actor) is a radio personality, and was too busy to record lines for Valve. Seeing as Valve was unable to get new lines twice due to the VA's unreliability, they unfortunately decided to kill off the character.
In Mass Effect 3, Adam Baldwin, the actor who played Kal'Reegar in Mass Effect 2, was no longer available to voice any lines. Thus, in Mass Effect 3, as you learn in an e-mail, he dies heroically when a turian communications relay falls under attack by the Reapers and Reegar and his squad sacrifice themselves to save the relay. Morinth gets a less dignified death: her voice actress, Natalia Cigliuti, was also unavailable for any more recorded lines, so her appearance in Mass Effect 3 amounts to a single e-mail. She's eventually brainwashed into a Banshee by the Reapers, and Shepard must kill her during the final mission on Earth.
Celebrity Deathmatch has another good example. Stacy Cornbred, the somewhat ditzy interviewer, was apparently killed off after her voice actress left the show. How'd they do it? A sudden case of spontaneous human combustion.
When Isaac Hayes left in protest over its satirical treatment of Scientology, Chef joined a club of brainwashing pedophiles, then was burned by a lightning strike, dropped off a bridge, impaled on a large branch, shot multiple times and then had his face and limbs eaten by a mountain lion and a grizzly bear. Only to be later revived as Darth Chef. While parts of it (the burning and limb-losing mutilation) can be credited as a Revenge of the Sith parody, it still seems like an over the top retaliation.
Furthermore, the background of Isaac Hayes's departure is rather sketchy, even for the South Park creators. He either a) quit on his own due his outrage over their parody of Scientology (which seems unlikely, given certain interviews), b) was forced to leave by Scientology, c) left without his knowledge — someone else (i.e. Scientology) did it for him, or d) his agent used the Scientology episode as an elaborate excuse, the real reason being health issues. Isaac Hayes died two years later.
The episode in question might even be considered a parody of McLeaning, given the plot (Chef gets brainwashed by the "Super Adventure Club", an obvious satire of Scientology, and acts crazy until the kids manage to deprogram him) and the resolution (where the boys effectively say to the audience "Let's not hate Isaac for leaving, let's be happy because we had a lot of fun with him the last few years.")
Almost all one-episode characters who die have this happen to them. Hell, almost every death is this. Most of the time, characters die and it will never be mentioned again.
The parody is more obvious in that part of his 'acting crazy' mentioned above is that every one of his spoken lines are (poorly) clipped together quotes from previous episodes.
The Simpsons: When Maggie Roswell walked over a pay dispute, her primary character, Maude Flanders, was killed in a tragic T-shirt launching accident and all her other characters were given to another actress to voice. Roswell was eventually rehired and given all those characters back, but Maude remains dead, reappearing only in flashbacks.
The brutal and onscreen death of Blurr in a compactor in Transformers Animated, coupled with the appearance of a cube in his exact shade of blue being tossed down the garbage chute a scene later, makes it pretty clear he's not coming back bar anything short of a miracle from Primus. A likely motive besides drama might be the fact that getting the fastest-talking man in existence as his voice actor is pretty expensive.
According to the Allspark Almanac, he didn't die. His spark was supposed to be visible inside the cube, but wasn't properly animated. Cliffjumper never got around to putting him in the incinerator either. There's hints that he's still alive, mainly that he didn't turn grey (the de facto "he's dead" signal for the show). Still, he's never seen or heard from again. Which is kind of disturbing, when you think about it...
A relatively common occurrence in Survival of the Fittest if a character's handler disappears and nobody is available or willing to adopt him/her: the administration staff simply takes over and roleplays the character's death through whatever means is available, from being killed in self-defense to being murdered by a killer to suicide to various accidents (including, infamously, running into a bear in a cave).
Parodied in Brad and Jerrid. Jerrid was replaced with Brad's friend Brian due to real life matters, and Brad lampshades this by way of complaining about Bewitched and The Other Darrin. At the end of the episode Brian asks Brad what happened to Jerrid, and Brad comments he saw him last getting on a plane with Henry Blake.
Inverted with the character of Ma-Ti in Suburban Knights. The character's death was written in from the start of the script, but after filming the actor decided to leave to explore other options, and so when he appears again in To Boldly Flee it's just as a voice and actually is another member of team doing an imitation of the original actor.