Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Why These Characters Were Cut Before Their Shows Even Aired

Bringing a TV show to life isn't as simple as writing a script and filming it. Producers, filmmakers, writers, and network executives spend countless hours pouring over story concepts, character descriptions, and episode ideas, and plenty of changes occur between the moment a show gets the green light and when it airs on television. Shows can see plenty of changes and retooling during the development and production process as well.

While it's not uncommon for a show to make changes before airing, most shows and episodes have their core group of characters solidly in place by the time a script is ready to roll before cameras. Deleting key scenes can reshape a story, and editing out a few select moments might help crystallize the concept. But every once in a while a deleted scene also means removing an entire character, whether from an early version of a script or sometimes even after they've been filmed. And some of these lost characters, believe it or not, were once planned to be regular, ongoing cast members in some of TV's biggest hits. Who are they, and why were they cut out? Read on to find out.

Gilda in The Big Bang Theory

Many TV shows film a pilot episode to test their premise, see what works and take note of what doesn't. It's not uncommon for things to change between that first episode and the full series, and plenty of characters have been removed after a pilot. Sometimes, though, we never even view those early episodes, with the pilot going unaired and unseen by the public. In the case of "The Big Bang Theory," its unaired first pilot contained not one, but two characters who didn't pass muster when it went to series.

Much has been made over the years about the character of Katie, played by Amanda Walsh, who was removed due to a lackluster response from test audiences. But there was another that's less often talked about: the geeky Gilda, played by Iris Bahr. A scientist just like Sheldon Cooper, she was the third member of the original trio of nerdy friends, but producers decided to rework the dynamic and remove the woman from the group. 

The character was essentially split into two, becoming the characters of Howard (Simon Helberg) and Raj (Kunal Nayyar). As a result, the series had its iconic main cast, but the absence of women on the show — losing both Katie and Gilda — was clearly felt, because the series later added two more: Bernadette (Melissa Rauch) and Amy (Mayim Bialik).

Kayla Hart in Chuck

Created by producer Josh Schwartz, the 2007 action-comedy "Chuck" made both Zachary Levi and Yvonne Strahovski into TV superstars. They've both parlayed their small screen fame into theaters as well, with Levi grabbing the title role in a pair of "Shazam!" movies. Sadly, one member of the original cast of "Chuck" was left out in the cold, with all of her character's scenes removed from the pilot episode. 

That character was Kayla Hart, played by Natalie Martinez. Kayla was to have been introduced in the pilot as a long-term love interest of the eponymous Chuck (Levi), an ordinary man thrust into the high-stakes world of international espionage. Kayla was a tenant in Chuck's apartment building, and in early drafts it appeared as if she was being set up to recur throughout the series, forming a love triangle between her, Chuck, and Sarah.

In the end, showrunners decided that Kayla's presence was perhaps a bit too much. Not only did they feel that it wasn't believable to have two women in the cast fawning for their bumbling main character, but the added complication of a second love interest overcomplicated the story they had planned. While Natalie Martinez has had a fine TV career since, she never did reach the same level of fame as her two co-stars.

Macy Gray in Empire

Nominated for eight Prime Time Emmy Awards, "Empire" was created by Lee Daniels and Danny Strong and starred Terrence Howard as a powerful music mogul. When the show was first announced, actor and singer Macy Gray was a high-profile addition to the cast and filmed all of her scenes for the debut episode. According to Daniels, though, that episode was sent to network executives for notes ahead of airing, and while they gave him plenty of creative freedom, there was one major change they demanded.

"There was a character that I wrote into the original pilot who was Hakeem's love interest, a mother figure, [played by] Macy Gray," Daniels told The Hollywood Reporter years later. As Daniels recounted, the network wanted the character removed. "There was a love scene, and they said, 'This is too much.'" Apparently, the steamy story didn't sit well with the network executives and their incessant need to meddle, and Gray's character was gone. The fact that Gray was never brought back, however, suggests that they had more objections than a simple sex scene. 

Whether Gray was intended to be a recurring regular or even a main character isn't known, but her presence would have probably added a lot to the series. In addition to a new love interest for actor Bysheer Gray (no relation to Macy), she would have added a powerful real-life singer to the ensemble.

Jon Arryn in Game of Thrones

From "The Big Bang Theory" to "Star Trek," plenty of iconic shows had unaired pilots that saw major retooling before they became a series. One of the most infamous, however, is "Game of Thrones," which had an unaired first pilot that didn't just need some minor retooling before producing more episodes, but was entirely reshot. In fact, several cast members were replaced, and some of the story was rewritten — though much of it remained largely the same. 

One character, however, was removed altogether: Jon Arryn, played by Sir John Standing. Arryn's death is what kicks off the plot of the entire series, and while we do get a glimpse of his dead body throughout the first season, his actual death happens off-screen. That wasn't the case in at least one early version of the episode, as Standing revealed that he filmed an actual death for Arryn that never made it into the final aired version. Standing described a scene where he crawls across a room while taking his last breaths, with a jar of ink spilling on him as he attempts to write one final message. Lamenting that the moment was cut, Standing added that he still nevertheless gets fan mail for his excised scene.

Geert Floortje in Modern Family

The idea of a TV show breaking the fourth wall has been around a long time, with plenty of shows featuring characters talking to the audience. But the concept gained renewed popularity in the 2000s, thanks to series like "The Office." "Modern Family" took that idea and ran with it, though it's never really mentioned who the cast is talking to or why ... but that's only because a major character was cut out of the show's first episode.

In the original version of the show's pilot, there was an entire subplot surrounding Geert Floortje, a foreign exchange student who was close to the Dunphy family. Series co-creator Steve Levitan recalled that Floortje had once lived with the Dunphys and even had a crush on Claire (Julie Bowen) years earlier. To make matters even more complicated, Mitchell (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) had a crush on Floortje. 

But during development and production, Levitan and his co-creator Christopher Lloyd came to realize that the added cast member was overcomplicating the already stuffed series premise and cut the character out. As it stands, the documentary angle of "Modern Family" goes unexplained, and is shown as more of a narrative device than a part of the actual story, as originally envisioned.

Captain Androna in Star Trek: The Next Generation

With decades of history, more than a dozen movies, and nearly as many TV shows, the "Star Trek" franchise has seen its fair share of deleted scenes. A few of those excised moments even included characters we never saw before or since, like Khan's infant child in "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan." On the small screen, though, there was a character removed from the aired version of the series finale of "Star Trek: The Next Generation."

In the landmark 1994 episode "All Good Things...," an alien captain named Androna was left on the cutting room floor. Though the scene was cut so the story could focus more on the main cast, the fact that she was played by Martha Hackett makes the affair noteworthy ... because it was the first of three times the actor was cut from the franchise. Later the same year, Hackett was cast in "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" as T'Rul, a Romulan assigned to the U.S.S. Defiant to operate its cloaking device. Although she seemed destined to become a recurring character, T'Rul vanished after just one appearance.

A year later, Hackett snagged the role of Seska, a Bajoran freedom fighter on "Star Trek: Voyager." This time, Hackett did manage a dozen episodes in the role, but after it was revealed that Seska was really a Cardassian spy, she was killed off at the beginning of the third season.

Vyla Quincannon in Preacher

The 2016 supernatural crime thriller-comedy "Preacher" is based on a groundbreaking 1990s comic book series by Garth Ennis and the late Steve Dillon. A truly unorthodox story about a religious man whose body becomes the host of a demon-child, it was full of eccentric heroes and villains never really seen before in comics. When it made it to the screen, the story was surprisingly faithful to its bizarre source material, but at least one major change was made ... until it wasn't.

One of the biggest villains in the original comic was Odin Quincannon, a meat-packing magnate and one of the richest men in Texas. For the pilot, the character was changed to a woman, Vyla Quincannon, with actor Elizabeth Perkins cast in the role. But during production, after Perkins had apparently filmed all of her scenes, producers decided to revert the character back to the original version. As a result, the role saw Jackie Earl Haley stepping into the blood-soaked shoes of Odin Quincannon.

As for why they decided to change the character back to Odin, series showrunner Sam Catlin said simply in a Reddit "AMA" session, "Elizabeth Perkins amazing actor but we realized post pilot we wanted to go with more old school Quincannon." Sadly, this also meant dismissing actor J.J. Neff, who may have been slated to play Vyla's husband.

The Hell's Angels of the Apocalypse in Good Omens

"Good Omens" has a lot in common with "Preacher" as a supernatural comedy and fantasy that includes characters from religious mythology. Based on a book by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, "Good Omens" tells the story of a demon and an angel who become friends when they take on Earthly identities. Other characters include the archangel Gabriel, not to mention God and Satan themselves. But there was one entire group of characters — the Hell's Angels — that didn't make it into the series due to budget limitations.

An infamous gang of real-world bikers, they appear in the original book when they're recruited by the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. After joining the Horsemens' quest, the Hell's Angels take on new monikers which, true to the tongue-in-cheek spirit of the book, include Grievous Bodily Harm and Embarrassing Personal Problems.  

When it came time to translate the characters to the screen, their added presence couldn't be justified given a ballooning production budget. "Shortly before shooting, even though it was in the script, we did not have the money, and we needed to save money somewhere, the other Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse had to go in order to save money," said co-creator Neil Gaiman in a Twitter Q&A in 2019.

Ethan Minette in The X-Files

A cultural touchstone of the 1990s, "The X-Files" boasts one of the best pairs of law officers in the history of television. But if things had gone differently, the duo of Fox Mulder and Dana Scully may have had a third wheel: Scully's boyfriend. While the series made David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson household names, there was another actor who nearly appeared in the series pilot and was poised to become a regular on the show.

Early versions of the pilot's script had a character named Ethan Minette in the role of Scully's boyfriend. It's said at one point that he's a Washington, D.C. lobbyist, and he has at least some knowledge of Fox Mulder when Scully tells him about her upcoming assignment. He shows up in quite a few deleted scenes, too, suggesting he could have been a major part of the show had he not been cut. But series creator Chris Carter felt the relationship just wasn't working. 

"As it turned out, it was very easy to cut Ethan out because it just slowed down the scenes where you'd see Mulder and Scully together, which is where all the heat really was," he revealed in a behind-the-scenes DVD documentary. While the character never appeared on-screen, the deleted scenes can be found online, with actor Tim Ransom in the role.

Pete in Ghosts

The 2019 U.K. comedy "Ghosts" is a supernatural sitcom about Alison and Mike Cooper, a young couple who come into possession of a stately manor that just so happens to be haunted. But rather than being occupied by a single ghost, the home is the residence of seemingly everyone who has ever lived there. This includes a 19th-century poet, a veteran of World War II, and even a caveman. But series star Matthew Baynton revealed that there was another character planned early on that didn't make it into the show.

"We had a character that, for whatever reason –- I think it was because the scripts were too long, and it was also something that would have been tricky to keep doing –- but we had a character throughout the first series that we then cut," he told Radio Times. According to Baynton, the character's name was Pete, and he would have lived on an adjoining property that no longer existed, and thus had no companions or new residents to haunt. 

The initial idea was for Pete to serve as a point of comparison for the ghosts haunting the Coopers. Because while they aren't happy that the new owners plan to renovate the home and transform it into a hotel, things could be worse: "This place would probably just end up demolished and that's what your fate would be," added Baynton.

Bushwacker in She-Hulk: Attorney at Law

After expanding onto Disney+ with shows like "WandaVision" and "Loki," the Marvel Cinematic Universe expanded even further onto the platform in 2022 with the release of "She-Hulk: Attorney at Law," a legal superhero procedural about Bruce Banner's cousin Jennifer Walters, played by Tatiana Maslany. In the series, fans were treated to several offbeat supervillains making their MCU debut, including Titania, Man-Bull, and the Wrecking Crew. We'd have gotten one more, but he was cut during early development of the series.

It was revealed by series concept artist Wes Burt, who posted images of his version of the character known as Bushwacker on Instagram in November 2022. In the comics, the character is a former priest who turns to the life of a mercenary after the death of his family. He gets a cybernetic arm and goes on to menace the likes of Daredevil, Punisher, and Wolverine, among others. As Bert describes it, Bushwacker was slated to show up in an early episode of "She-Hulk" but was left out when it came time to start production, possibly due to the effects-heavy nature of the character.

Bushman in Moon Knight

Bushwacker isn't the only Marvel villain to miss out on an MCU debut in 2022. Another is the similarly named Bushman, a deadly mercenary from the comics who was a regular thorn in the side of the supernatural hero Moon Knight. Sure enough, the character was initially supposed to appear in Moon Knight's Disney+ series, but was removed during the writing process. 

In fact, Raoul Bushman was initially supposed to be the show's main villain. Head writer Jeremy Slater acknowledged that the idea was for Bushman to be a rival mercenary to Oscar Isaac's Marc Spector, and the season would have been capped off with the villain becoming the avatar for an ancient Egyptian god to rival Moon Knight's Konshu. But the filmmakers had a change of heart. 

"[Bushman] just felt too close to 'Black Panther's' Erik Killmonger," Slater said on Twitter. Both characters are twisted freelance mercenaries out to kill their superhero rival, and Slater wanted to do something different. But because Moon Knight has few recognizable villains, "we decided to invent a villain instead." The result was Ethan Hawke as cult leader Arthur Harrow. Though Bushman is off-handedly mentioned, he is never seen on-screen.

Gordon Peters in Dad's Army

"Dad's Army" might be the U.K.'s most iconic comedy, launching in 1968 and running for nearly a decade, with a feature film released during its run, too. The series centered on a group of volunteer army soldiers during World War II who are deemed unfit to serve, but nevertheless form what would become known as the Home Guard. While most of the characters were would-be soldiers, there was supposed to be another cast member in the pilot episode: a fire chief played by Gordon Peters.

Decades later, Peters recalled his experience with filming the pilot, and how the director gave him the bad news that his scenes were going to be cut. "[Writer] David Croft came to me and said, 'We've been sort of doing a rough timing of the show and we're going to be way, way over,'" Peters said. The only solution to the problem, Croft explained, was to cut all of Peters' scenes as the fire chief. Don't feel bad for the actor, though: As a recompense of sorts, he was hired for four other episodes of "Dad's Army," each in different roles.