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Actor Exits

ABC, CW, CBS

Sometimes, you  just have to call it like it is. And right now it's a pretty terrible time to be a TV fan—especially if you are a fan of Grey's Anatomy or The Vampire Diaries.

First, TVD fans heard the news, from Nina Dobrev herself, that she is leaving the show after six seasons, because she wants to, which was devastating to fans who believe she is the rock of the show, and the show should not go on without her. 

Then, Patrick Dempsey, yet another lead on a beloved, long-running show, was killed off of Grey's Anatomy.  It feels odd even now, a full week later, writing those words. Because the death was so unexpected. Yes, there were rumblings of "diva behavior" on set, and even Patrick himself hinted in an interview that he would be leaving soon,  but the way in which his character Dr. Derek Shepherd was killed off rocked fans to the very core. There is a lot of anger. And a lot of hurt.

Some fans feel so betrayed, they are promising to never watch again.

Some fans, of course, are ridiculing those other fans, because this is "just TV," after all. These are fake stories about fake people in a fake place. And TV shows can be wholly unwatchable when they make storyline decisions based solely on what the fans want. As much as we loved Glee, we think many fans will agree that the final season felt at parts like fan fiction (that surprise double wedding?), because the writers wanted so much to give the fans what they wanted. If Grey's Anatomy or The Vampire Diaries went about their shows that way, just think of the ridiculousness that would ensue.

The Vampire Diaries

The CW

In a perfect world, we should be able to trust showrunners and writers to go about storylines in the way they feel will best serve the show and their characters, under the real-life circumstances which sometimes are completely out of their control.

But what happens when you don't feel that the decision that was made was in the best interest of the show? That there were other options that would have kept the integrity of the show in tact, but those avenues weren't taken? What then?

The truth is, at the end of the day, we, as fans, are powerless when it comes to storyline decisions—or the call to keep a show running for another year. We can only choose whether to continue watching. Whether it's worth giving something we have loved a chance to show us how it can bounce back from what seems to be an insurmountable loss. Maybe.

WWK, Grey's Anatomy Spoiler

ABC

Sometimes, of course, showrunners don't have all the power either. Sometimes, they have no choice over whether to keep an actor. Either the actor wants off a show, or has to go because of unforeseen circumstances. And in those cases, the showrunners must simply decide the hardest thing of all: HOW do you write out a beloved character?

What storyline do they choose? When and how?

Over that, they do have power. They do have choices. And so we also have the power to have some very real opinions about those choices.

Below, we have a look at the best and worst ways TV shows have handled exits of beloved TV characters, who had to be written out for a real-life reason.  

We'd also love to hear your thoughts on Patrick and Nina's exits in the comments section below, or via Twitter (@kristindsantos). What stage of grief are you?