Ellen Barkin Reacts to ‘Animal Kingdom’ Exit: Smurf ‘Left Her Boys a Hit TV Show’


[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Season 4, Episode 12 of Animal Kingdom, “Ghosts.”]

In Tuesday’s episode of Animal Kingdom, the penultimate of the season, Ellen Barkin’s Janine “Smurf” Cody was killed — and the actress’ subsequent reaction on social media suggests it was not her choice.

That tracks with what executive producer John Wells told TV Insider. “We had lots of conversations about it in advance,” he said. “I have great respect for Ellen and I think she was surprised that the show was continuing as long as it did. We presented it and talked about it as a really strong story.”

“I can’t speak for Ellen, but as an actor, she’s used to doing movies where she does something for like three months and then off you go,” he continued. “So, I think again, I can’t speak for her, but I think she was surprised she stayed alive as long as she did!”

Since the episode aired, Barkin has “liked” numerous tweets about the twist. In some, fans express how much they’ll miss her and her character and praise her performance, while in others, they include their displeasure at her exit.

As seen in the screenshots below, Barkin has even “liked” responses in which fans think Animal Kingdom will be canceled without her.

The TNT series has already been renewed for Season 5, and according to Wells, viewers should see why Smurf’s death doesn’t mean the end of the series.

“We hope that it’s powerful and emotional and feels real,” he said. “It’s remarkable, even when you hate someone or have wished them dead many times, when they actually do pass, you feel like maybe that happened too soon. … It’s complicated. So that’s what we’re hoping comes across when you watch this last episode, that there’s a lot more story to tell.”

Her tweets since her character’s death aired are also worth noting. “Next episode Smurf’s will is opened,” she wrote in one Wednesday. “She left her boys a hit tv show. Carry on Codys…well, maybe not all Codys.”

This isn’t the first time she expressed displeasure with something related to the series this season. In July, she complained about the placement of her replies to the show’s official account. “Why is it that every time I tweet you AK, my tweets get hidden waay down your reply list. Hopin no one will see them?” Barkin wrote on July 11. “It sends a very clear message about all the work you need to do to diminish then vanish one of your lead characters.”

Animal Kingdom, Season 4 Finale, Tuesday, August 20, 9/8c, TNT