As we eagerly await the arrival of The Rookie season 6, slated for early to mid-2024, the anticipation is tinged with curiosity and intrigue! Over the years, we’ve grown attached to the characters that make up the dynamic ensemble, each contributing their own distinct flavor to the show’s narrative. However, with each passing season, we’ve also witnessed some characters departing from the series, leaving us with unanswered questions and unexpected voids in the storyline.
Join us as we explore the reasons behind the sudden departures of these beloved characters, and delve into the unexpected twists that kept fans on the edge of their seats! From emotional goodbyes to shocking exits, we’ll answer all your questions below!
The Rookie characters who left the show unexpectedly
Jackson West (played by Titus Makin Jr.)
Titus Makin Jr., known for his portrayal of Police Officer Jackson West, was undeniably one of the most beloved characters in The Rookie. His journey through the first three seasons showcased his unwavering courage and commitment to protecting the community, culminating in his promotion to Police Officer II in season 3. However, the character of Jackson West took a tragic turn when he and Lopez were kidnapped at Angela Wesley’s wedding during the season 3 finale, leading to Jackson’s announced death in season 4.
So, why did Titus Makin Jr. leave The Rookie?
Titus Makin Jr.’s departure from the show was driven by his concerns about police behavior against people of color and his discomfort with portraying a police officer on TV in light of these issues. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Makin Jr. revealed that his decision was influenced by the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor in 2020. He explained:
"“A lot of people are finding a voice, and I found that for myself, where I was like, ‘Oh wow, I’ve been complacent.’ I woke up one morning and I was watching the news, and I was like, ‘I can’t do this.'”"
Despite his sudden departure, it’s worth noting that Titus Makin Jr. left on good terms. According to reports, he spoke with showrunner Alexi Hawley and explained his reasons for wanting to leave, and Hawley, understanding the actor’s concerns, agreed to write the character out of the show. This departure left a lasting impact on both The Rookie and its dedicated fanbase.
Jackson West may be gone, but his legacy and the important conversations sparked by his departure will continue to resonate with The Rookie fans.
Talia Bishop (played by Afton Williamson)
Afton Williamson’s portrayal of Talia Bishop in the first season of The Rookie left a significant mark on the show. Her character, Police Officer III Talia Bishop, served as a training officer in the Mid-Wilshire Division of the LAPD and played a pivotal role as the training officer for John Nolan, the show’s protagonist, during the first season. However, Afton Williamson’s unexpected departure from The Rookie sent shockwaves through the fanbase. In the season 2 premiere, “Impact“, it was revealed that Bishop had left the LAPD to join the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) as a Special Agent. This transition was not shown on-screen, and Bishop’s character did not reappear on The Rookie after her departure.
But why did Afton Williamson leave The Rookie?
Afton Williamson’s decision not to return for the second season was driven by a troubling and serious set of allegations, including claims of racial discrimination, bullying, and sexual harassment. In a heartfelt Instagram post, she detailed her distressing experiences, which included racially charged comments from the hair department, bullying from executive producers, alleged sexual harassment from a recurring guest star, and a reported sexual assault at a wrap party.
Despite being offered the opportunity to return for the second season, Williamson chose not to continue with the show, leaving fans with a void in the storyline and raising important conversations about workplace dynamics in the entertainment industry.
Afton Williamson’s portrayal of Talia Bishop may have ended on The Rookie, but her courage in speaking out against workplace misconduct made a lasting impact.
Zoe Andersen (played by Mercedes Mason)
Zoe Andersen, portrayed by Mercedes Mason, was a significant character in the first season of The Rookie. As the Commanding Officer of the Mid-Wilshire Division of the LAPD, she held a pivotal role in the show’s early episodes. However, her character met an unexpected and tragic end in season 1, episode 16, titled “Greenlight,” leaving fans across the globe shocked. In a dramatic turn of events, Captain Zoe Andersen was killed in the line of duty while assisting Police Officer John Nolan in a shootout.
But why did Mercedes Mason leave The Rookie?
Contrary to many cast departures, Mercedes Mason’s exit from the show was not a personal decision, but a creative one made by the show’s creators. Showrunner Alexi Hawley and the producers opted to write her character out of the series following the airing of season 1, episode 16, on March 19, 2019. Hawley took to Twitter to explain that the decision to kill off Zoe Andersen was made to elevate the storyline and deliver a significant impact. He stated:
"“It’s heartbreaking. But the stakes of this new life Nolan has chosen are all too real, and we can’t run away from them creatively.”"
Despite her character’s untimely demise, it’s evident that Mercedes Mason maintains a positive relationship with the executive producers. In a surprising turn of events, she made a cameo appearance in the third season of The Rookie. In this appearance, Andersen was seen in a flashback during the graduation of Nolan, Lucy Chen, and Jackson West from the police academy. This cameo provided a touch of nostalgia and a glimpse into the past for fans who had mourned the loss of her character.