Spoiler alert for The Expanse, Season 5 episode 10.

It appears that Cas Anvar, who plays Alex Kamal, has been let go from the show, following allegations of sexual misconduct.

Unfortunately, the show producers decided to kill off his character. And - after filming had already wrapped, so, in a very abrupt way that doesn't tie in with anything, not even his own plot lines this season.

Why could the show not have simply replaced him with a different actor next season? I mean, sure, it's not the smoothest thing in the whole world, but - it's been done in other TV shows, with reasonable success. Rosanne's Becky comes to mind; or Daario Nahaaris in Game of Thrones...

NewsWeek story on the matter

  • Daarin Nahaaris was a much less established character when he was replaced, IMHO Feb 5, 2021 at 6:01
  • I’m actually glad they wrote him out instead of replacing him. IMO it horribly ruins a show when they replace actors to keep a role going. The viewer is expected to assume the totally different face and voice are still the same character. It just doesn’t work, unless you can find a VERY good likeness who can act like the original did. Especially this many seasons in. Feb 7, 2021 at 4:14
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    I've updated my answer (see below)
    – Yasskier
    Feb 8, 2021 at 21:47
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    Darrin on Bewitched... ;-)
    – RobJarvis
    Aug 13, 2021 at 21:01
  • It's also possible to lampshade the change. In Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the character of Greg moved away from LA early in the second season because Santino Fontana was unavailable for any more than that. They then brought the character back in the last season played by Skylar Astin, and made a big deal about how the Greg's time away had changed him, and he was a "whole different person" now. Aug 14, 2023 at 15:40

1 Answer 1


Because it is unbelievable

All movies/series and especially science fiction/fantasy/horror depend on willing suspension of disbelief from the viewers: You know that what you are watching is an impossible story, because there is no magic, space ships are nearly as advanced and the worst thing you can find in dark basement is a rusty nail, but you keep watching, because the story is more interesting and probable, assuming that you are not too critical.

But authors can push too far and suddenly people start noticing the gaps in your story and replacing one actor with another is.... well, cheesy - it is a big sign saying "what you watching is not probable". It sometimes works ,especially if it is a minor character, sometimes you can cover things up with tons of characterisation (Dumbledore after the first Harry Potter is a good example here). Sometimes the background of the story tells you that such changes are possible, like in the Altered Carbon, where this is the main theme of the show or in the Matrix: Revolutions, where you know that the visible world is just a simulation, but usually this is a risky move.

It is much easier (and safer for the suspension of disbelief) to replace one character with another - viewers might not like the replacement, but at least they won't feel like being taken for idiots who supposed to believe that the new actor and the old one are the same person.

It keeps people on the edge

When you are watching a TV series, you are usually sure that the main characters, no matter the trouble they are in now, will eventually if not win or at least survive (or do some sort of heroic sacrifice in the final episode). Killing one of the main characters puts the viewers on the edge, because suddenly they realize that anyone can die and the trouble the heroes are in are much more serious. Arguably, this was one of the main reasons why Game of Thrones was so popular - characters that you've liked (or liked to hate) were dropping like flies, so viewers were more emotionally invested in the story.

It cuts off the station from the offence committed by the actor

This is a bit of PR/legal stunt: if the actor is accused or committing an offence, keeping his character in the show can bring a backslash towards the show, hence the producers will want to remove the actor, often even before the accusations are proven true in court (just look at Kevin Spacey and "House of cards"). Killing that actor's character might be a loophole allowing the station to cut the ties to the actor without breaking his contract and paying fees: he is not fired, but no longer needed in the story. Replacing the actor with another one for the same character could open a whole can of worms: what if in the end the accused was found innocent? He could take the station to court!

Also,by killing the character, station says "we hate such crime so, so much, that we are completely cutting off from this person".

  • 2
    Dumbledore was replaced. Gregor Clegane was played by three different actors. Rachel Dawes was played by different actresses in two Batman movies. Rhodey was played by a different actor in Iron Man to the rest of the MCU films. Ross's ex-wife was played by two different actresses. The list goes on and on and on and on, and is substantially longer for TV shows than movies.
    – Moo
    Feb 5, 2021 at 2:46
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    @Moo Most of those characters, while important are quite minor and/or have been replaced relatively early in the show. Which is nowhere near to the "popularity" of Alex who is in the (arguable) top 5 characters and has been recognisable by participating in the 5 seasons of the show
    – Yasskier
    Feb 5, 2021 at 3:23
  • Seriously, the amount they have changed in the Expanse storyline so far, changing actors is far from the worse thing they will have done - I cant watch the show because its so far from the books. And now they kill off a main character despite his ongoing storyline in later books... Changing actors should have been the thing they did here.
    – Moo
    Feb 5, 2021 at 3:48
  • @Yasskier: He's about as central as Aunt Viv in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. The first few episodes required adjustment, and then we stopped focusing on it. It's not that it can't be done, but rather that sometimes the showrunners choose to not do it. Your point still stands that this is what they decided to do, but it wasn't a logical inevitability. It was a purely subjective choice, based on what they though would be the best decision. Successful examples of both options exist.
    – Flater
    Feb 7, 2021 at 2:25
  • "keeping his character in the show can bring a backslash towards the show," <- Keeping his character with a different actor? If anything, that emphasizes even more how the network/station is distancing itself from the actor. Your two examples are non-examples for your point - in both of those cases, the character was killed off, not the actor replaced.
    – einpoklum
    Feb 8, 2021 at 22:15

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