What Happened to Charlie Sheen on ‘Two and a Half Men’: A Look Back 10 Years Later
Until March 7, 2011, Charlie Sheen was one of the highest-paid actors on TV for his role on Two and a Half Men as the hyper-sexed bachelor Charlie Harper. But then it all went south for the actor in a very public feud with Warner Bros. Television and producer Chuck Lorre. Here, we break down what happened.
Q&A: Two and a Half Men's Chuck Lorre on Reaching Out to Charlie Sheen, Bringing Back Angus T. Jones and That Finale Ending
The Final Straw
Two and a Half Men, then CBS’ top-rated comedy, had paused production earlier in Season 8 so that Sheen could attend rehab following a year of drug and alcohol-related incidents, as Reuters reported at the time.
The show — co-starring Jon Cryer and Angus T. Jones as Charlie Harper’s live-in brother Alan and nephew Jake — was slated to resume production in February 2011. However, Sheen went off on Lorre in a radio interview with Alex Jones, calling his then-boss a “clown” and a “charlatan.” At other parts of his bizarre rant, Sheen boasted he was an “F-18” with “poetry in [his] fingertips” with an army of “Vatican assassin warlocks,” and that his success rate was “100 percent,” compared to the “5 percent” success rate of “bootleg cult” Alcoholics Anonymous.
So, on March 7, Warner Bros. Television gave Sheen the heave-ho. “After careful consideration, Warner Bros. Television has terminated Charlie Sheen’s services on Two and a Half Men effective immediately,” the company said in a statement.
In a letter obtained by TMZ, Warner Bros. attorneys told Sheen’s lawyer that the actor had been “engaged in dangerously self-destructive conduct and appears to be very ill.” The letter also cited Warner Bros.’ “reasonable good faith opinion that Mr. Sheen has committed felony offenses involving moral turpitude (including but not limited to furnishing of cocaine to others as part of the self-destructive lifestyle he has described publicly).”
Charlie Harper’s Unceremonious Send-Off(s)
Production on Two and a Half Men’s eighth season never resumed, and by the time the show returned for Season 9 that September, Sheen had been replaced by Ashton Kutcher, playing Internet billionaire Walden Schmidt, who bought Charlie Harper’s beach house after Harper fell on the subway tracks in Paris and was killed by a train. (“His body just exploded like a balloon full of meat,” Charlie’s spurned fiancée tells mourners at the funeral.) The character returns at the end of Season 9, this time played by Kathy Bates, explaining that his eternal damnation involves being trapped in an “old broad’s body.”
And in the series finale three seasons later, Charlie makes a surprise resurrection and returns home—only to be crushed by a falling piano in the final seconds of the show, a body double filling in for Sheen the whole time.
Who Gets The Last Laugh?
In his final vanity card during the show’s credits, Lorre told viewers that Sheen was offered a role in the series finale in which the actor would talk about the dangers of drug abuse but specify that he, being a “ninja warrior from Mars,” was immune to those dangers. And then he would be killed by a falling piano.
“We thought it was funny. He didn’t,” Lorre added. “Instead, he wanted us to write a heart-warming scene that would set up his return to primetime TV in a new sitcom called The Harpers starring him and Jon Cryer. We thought that was funny, too.”
Lorre later told us that account is all true. “I was hoping we could make it happen,” he explained. “We thought we had a chance for him to speak into the camera and have the last few minutes of the show entirely to himself. And then just let all hell break loose and start dropping pianos out of the sky. It was not meant to be.”
Regrets, Sheen Has a Few
Now, a decade after the “#winning” drama, Sheen’s braggadocio has turned regret. “People have [said to] me, ‘Hey, man, that was so cool, that was so fun to watch. That was so cool to be a part of and support and all that energy and, you know, we stuck it to the man,’” Sheen told Yahoo! Entertainment in an interview published in February 2021. “My thought behind that is, ‘Oh, yeah, great. I’m so glad that I traded early retirement for a f—king hashtag.’”
Sheen attributed the sorry saga to “drugs or the residual effects of drugs”—as well as an “ocean of stress and a volcano of disdain”—and wryly commented that the only time he was offered the Warner jet was when former CBS CEO Les Moonves asked him to fly to a rehab facility.
“If I could go back in time to that moment, I would’ve gotten on the jet,” he told the site. “And it was that giant left turn in that moment that led to, you know, a very unfortunate sequence of public and insane events.”
Now, Sheen, who has since starred on the FX comedy Anger Management, is taking responsibility for his misdeeds while looking forward to what he calls his third act.
“There was 55 different ways for me to handle that situation, and I chose number 56. And so, you know, I think the growth for me post-meltdown or melt forward or melt somewhere—however you want to label it—it has to start with absolute ownership of my role in all of it,” he added. “And it was desperately juvenile.”