10 TV Shows That Cast Major Actors (Just To Die)

Imagine casting Ian McShane for a 15-minute Game of Thrones cameo.

Agents Of Shield Lucy Lawless

There's a fair argument to be made that TV has surpassed the quality of cinematic storytelling over the last decade-or-so, with episodic content offering richer, deeper characterisation across more rewarding long-form narratives.

Once upon a time it was vaguely taboo for revered actors to spend much time in the TV arena, but that stigma has long since evaporated, and even the most bankable big-screen icons haven't been able to resist the allure of a stint on the small screen.

But for many actors, the appeal of TV lies in the opportunity to only appear fleetingly in somebody else's story, to show up for a couple of episodes at most and then be sent on your merry way.

And so, it's becoming increasingly common for A-listers and highly respected character actors alike to show up, bring their natural gravitas to the table as the show requires, and then make their hasty exit with a fat paycheck in tow.

These 10 actors, all of them well-liked and widely respected in their own rights, were cast on TV series in roles most likely assumed would be a little more substantial. Instead, they came and went in a blip, though nevertheless made a notable impact...

10. Lucy Lawless - Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Agents Of Shield Lucy Lawless

There was much excitement when the great Lucy Lawless, Xena: Warrior Princess herself, was cast in a secret role in the second season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Lawless was later announced to be playing S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Isabelle Hartley, with fans speculating on the character's juicy potential by casting such a popular, well-liked actress.

But as it turned out, Lawless' role on the series was depressingly short-lived - she was both introduced and bumped off in the season two premiere episode "Shadows."

Though Hartley briefly gave Lawless an opportunity to flex her signature sass in the Marvel world, before episode's end she gets killed in a car accident caused by the Absorbing Man (Brian Patrick Wade).

Perhaps sensing their mistake, however, the showrunners did have Lawless return in flashback form for the mid-season episode "One Door Closes."

Even so, considering the asset Lawless could've been to the series, and how highly anticipated her role was by fans, this was a tremendously disappointing waste.


Stay at home dad who spends as much time teaching his kids the merits of Martin Scorsese as possible (against the missus' wishes). General video game, TV and film nut. Occasional sports fan. Full time loon.