10 Shows With Shocking (Non-Death) Exits in 2021

Chicago Fire, The Resident, NCIS
Lori Allen/NBC; Guy D'Alema/FOX; Cliff Lipson/CBS

In the past year, we said goodbye to quite a few of our favorite characters. In some cases, a star’s exit meant a death (some of which have been tough to get over), but in others, the door’s been left open for a return.

Take, for example, the fact that NCIS bid adieu to its fearless leader only four episodes into the current season. Or that Billions said farewell to one of the leads, shocking fans with the announcement that it really was as it appeared after the finale. Chicago Fire celebrated a milestone by sending Truck 81’s captain across country (though it’s not a permanent move). And The Resident surprised fans when, soon after finally getting a couple together, one half had to return home to Nigeria.

Keep reading for those and more exits that shocked us this season and didn’t end tragically.

Damian Lewis as Bobby Axe Axelrod in Billions
Jojo Whilden/SHOWTIME

Billions

The Showtime drama is moving forward into Season 6 without Bobby Axelrod! The Season 5 finale saw Damian Lewis’ character head to Switzerland to escape prosecution, allowing for the possibility for him to show up again in the future (if those legal troubles are taken care of, of course).

Jesse Metcalfe as Trace in Chesapeake Shores
Ricardo Hubbs/Crown Media

Chesapeake Shores

Just as it looked like the Hallmark Channel drama was setting up a reunion for Abby (Meghan Ory) and Trace (Jesse Metcalfe), the two instead broke up. And to explain Metcalfe’s exit (as announced a few months before the Season 5 premiere), he left town.

Jesse Spencer as Matthew Casey in Chicago Fire
Lori Allen/NBC

Chicago Fire

In the 200th episode, Captain Matt Casey (Jesse Spencer) moved to Oregon to look after the kids of his late friend (who died in the pilot). His plan is to be there for three years, until the youngest turns 18, and for now, he and paramedic Sylvie Brett (Kara Killmer) are in a long-distance relationship. It wasn’t until after the episode aired that Spencer’s exit was confirmed.

Torrey DeVitto as Natalie, Yaya DaCosta as April in Chicago Med
Elizabeth Sisson/NBC

Chicago Med

Fans had a couple weeks to prepare for Torrey DeVitto and Yaya DaCosta’s Med exits at the end of last season, though the finale provided anything but closure for Dr. Natalie Manning and nurse April Sexton. The latter decided to become a nurse practitioner — though didn’t say goodbye — and the former actually briefly appeared at the beginning of Season 7 as she moved away.

Tom Cavanagh as Harrison Wells, Carlos Valdes as Cisco Ramon in The Flash
Katie Yu/The CW

The Flash

Original cast members Tom Cavanagh (Harrison Wells, Eobard Thawne) and Carlos Valdes (Cisco Ramon) exited The Flash as series regulars in Season 7, though the former returned for the five-episode “Armageddon” event this fall and the latter in last spring’s finale battle after his character’s earlier departure from Central City.

Antonia Thomas as Dr. Claire Browne in The Good Doctor
ABC/Art Streiber

The Good Doctor

The day of the Season 4 finale, fans learned it would be Antonia Thomas’ last episode. Her character, Dr. Claire Browne, chose to take a job in Guatemala, where the St. Bonaventure staff had been on a medical mission.

Jesse Williams as Jackson Avery in Grey's Anatomy
ABC/Ron Batzdorff

Grey's Anatomy

Two weeks before his last episode, Jesse Williams’ exit was announced — and to some surprise, Dr. Jackson Avery didn’t end up moving across the country to run the Fox foundation in Boston alone. His ex-wife, Dr. April Kepner (Sarah Drew), and their daughter ended up joining him.

Jamie Gray Hyder as Kat, Demore Barnes as Garland in Law & Order SVU
Virginia Sherwood/NBC; Bennett Raglin/NBC

Law & Order: SVU

Almost three weeks before their last episode, we learned that Jamie Gray Hyder (Officer Katriona “Kat” Azar Tamin) and Demore Barnes (Deputy Chief Christian Garland) would both be exiting in the Season 23 premiere. After a scare — she was shot on the job — Kat decided the NYPD wasn’t where she belonged, especially since nothing had changed, and she hadn’t invested enough time to fight. Garland, too, quit, but only because the higher-ups forced his hand, claiming he wasn’t a team player.

Mark Harmon as Leroy Jethro Gibbs in NCIS
Cliff Lipson/CBS

NCIS

Arguably the most shocking exit in recent years, Mark Harmon’s departure as Leroy Jethro Gibbs in the fourth episode of the current season came without fanfare or with even a hint of what was coming. Rather, it wasn’t until after the episode aired and fans saw Gibbs stay in Alaska, seeking some sort of peace (maybe there, maybe not), that it was confirmed it was Harmon’s last on-screen appearance (he remains an executive producer).

Shaunette Renée Wilson as Mina Okafor in The Resident
Guy D'Alema/FOX

The Resident

Fans rejoiced in the Season 4 premiere when Dr. Mina Okafor (Shaunette Renée Wilson) and Dr. AJ Austin (Malcolm-Jamal Warner) finally kissed, then got together … then he agreed to her proposal when he learned her visa was expiring and was planning to move to Nigeria with her when that seemed to be her only option. But when his mom got sick, it was only Mina who left, at which point Wilson’s exit was confirmed.