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11 Actors Who Asked for Their Characters to Be Killed Off

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AMC Networks

Sometimes an actor’s relationship with a character just runs its course. Here are 11 actors who asked for their characters to be killed off. Though not all of them got their wish (at least not yet), spoiler alerts abound.

1. DEAN NORRIS // “HANK SCHRADER” ON BREAKING BAD

While his character was a fan favorite, Dean Norris wanted Hank Schrader to be killed off in the middle of Breaking Bad’s final season. However, since the final season was split into two parts, Norris had to stay on until the end. As a result, Norris had to turn down the opportunity to star in a sitcom pilot in order to finish filming Breaking Bad’s fifth season.

“I said, ‘Would it be interesting if Hank died in the first eight?'" Norris explained on CBS This Morning. “[AMC] said, ‘No, we kind of need you for the last eight. We’ve been building that up for the last five years’ ... Obviously, I’m glad that they did.”

2. HARRISON FORD // “HAN SOLO” IN STAR WARS

Before making Return of the Jedi, Harrison Ford expressed his interest in seeing Han Solo die during the final installment in the original Star Wars trilogy. But George Lucas disagreed with Ford, because the filmmaker "didn't think there was any future in dead Han toys." However, more than 30 years later, Ford finally got to see Han Solo’s end in The Force Awakens. In a fan Q&A for Entertainment Weekly, Ford admitted that the character’s death made for a better movie.

“I think it’s a fitting use of the character. I’ve been arguing for Han Solo to die for about 30 years, not because I was tired of him or because he’s boring, but his sacrifice for the other characters would lend gravitas and emotional weight.”

3. SOPHIE TURNER // “SANSA STARK” ON GAME OF THRONES

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Sophie Turner wants her Game of Thrones character Sansa Stark to be killed off before the series ends—because she wants her character to die in a memorable and shocking way. Considering that Game of Thrones will only be on HBO for a few more seasons, and that George R.R. Martin, the creator of the books on which it's based, has yet to complete the saga, there’s a good chance that Turner might get her wish.

“I don’t want to survive,” Turner told The Wall Street Journal. “If you’re on Game of Thrones and you don’t have a cool death scene, then what’s the point?”

4. ADEWALE AKINNUOYE-AGBAJE // “MR. EKO” IN LOST

Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje grew more and more unhappy living in Hawaii and working on Lost, and after the death of both of his parents, Akinnuoye-Agbaje wanted to return home to London as soon as possible. Executive producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse weren’t happy to see him leave, but respected Akinnuoye-Agbaje’s wishes and killed off his character at the beginning of season three.

"Our Mr. Eko plans very quickly derailed,” Lindelof explained. “Adewale’s unhappiness was almost instantaneous. On his second episode, he was expressing extreme dissatisfaction. Originally he was going to be someone who challenged Locke for the spiritual leadership of the castaways."

5. JOHN FRANCIS DALEY // “DR. LANCE SWEETS” ON BONES

Although he was a series regular, John Francis Daley’s Dr. Lance Sweets was killed off on Bones at the actor’s request. Daley got a job directing the Vacation reboot, so instead of just leaving the story halfway through season 10, Dr. Sweets was fatally assaulted.

“The directing job was not something that I could walk away from,” Daley told TVLine.com. “It was such a huge opportunity. It feels like a good next step in my career and my life; I always dreamed of being a director. So to be able to do something like this on such a huge scale—it’s a huge studio movie—it’s definitely not something I could turn my back on. It was a sacrifice for sure.”

6. DAN STEVENS // “MATTHEW CRAWLEY” ON DOWNTON ABBEY

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For three years, Dan Stevens played Matthew Crawley on Downton Abbey. But at the end of season three, Stevens wanted to pursue a career on the stage and in movies—so Crawley was killed off in a car accident.

“We were always optioned for three years,” Stevens explained to The Telegraph. “And when that came up, it was a very difficult decision. But it felt like a good time to take stock, to take a moment. From a personal point of view, I wanted a chance to do other things. It is a very monopolizing job. So there is a strange sense of liberation at the same time as great sadness because I am very, very fond of the show and always will be.”

7. SIGOURNEY WEAVER // “ELLEN RIPLEY” IN ALIEN

Alien 3 was supposed to mark the end of a trilogy with the death of Ellen Ripley. At the end of the film, Ripley sacrificed her life to save the planet from a Xenomorph. Apparently, Sigourney Weaver wanted to kill off Ripley because she didn’t want to keep playing the character in movies that sounded awful.

When asked if it was her idea to kill off Ripley during a Q&A at the 2015 London Film and Comic Con, Weaver responded, “Well, yes—because I heard that Fox was gonna do Alien vs. Predator. Which really depressed me because I was very proud of the movies.”

8. ISAAC HAYES // “CHEF” ON SOUTH PARK

In 2006, Isaac Hayes wanted to leave South Park after nine years of voicing Chef, as he was deeply offended with its creators, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, for criticizing Scientology. Hayes, who has been a Scientologist since 1993, asked to be let out of his contract with South Park. Chef was killed off in the season 10 premiere.

"There is a place in this world for satire, but there is a time when satire ends, and intolerance and bigotry towards religious beliefs of others begins," Hayes said in a statement. "As a civil rights activist of the past 40 years, I cannot support a show that disrespects those beliefs and practices."

9. KAL PENN // “DR. LAWRENCE KUTNER” ON HOUSE

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In 2009, during his stint on the medical drama House, Kal Penn took a job at the White House working with the Obama administration. In order to dedicate more time to this new political career, Penn requested that his character, Dr. Lawrence Kutner, be eliminated. The series’ producers and writers obliged and Dr. Kutner committed suicide at the end of season five.

"I was incredibly honored a couple of months ago to get the opportunity to go work in the White House,” Penn told Entertainment Weekly at the time. “I got to know the president and some of the staff during the campaign and had expressed interest in working there, so I'm going to be the associate director in the White House office of public liaison.”

10. T.R. KNIGHT // “DR. GEORGE O’MALLEY” ON GREY’S ANATOMY

Although his character, Dr. George O'Malley, was a fan favorite, the actor who played him, T.R. Knight, found it increasingly difficult to work with Grey’s Anatomy producer Shonda Rhimes. He stated that there was a gradual "breakdown in communication" over the years and that he became frustrated with seeing his screen time dwindle at the beginning of season five. As a result, Knight asked to be written off the TV show, and Dr. O’Malley was subsequently hit by a bus.

"My five-year experience proved to me that I could not trust any answer that was given [about the character George]," Knight explained to Entertainment Weekly. "And with respect, I'm going to leave it at that."

11. JOSH CHARLES // “WILL GARDNER” ON THE GOOD WIFE

In the middle of The Good Wife’s fifth season, Josh Charles’s character, Will Gardner, was fatally shot in the courtroom by his client. While the decision to kill off Gardner was made a year earlier, fans were shocked—and upset. In truth, it was Charles’s decision; he simply decided not to return for season six after his contract was up, as he wanted to pursue other creative projects.

“I had a very short-term deal,” Charles told Deadline. “It was renewed a couple of times over, and at the end of the fourth year my contract was up, and I chose not to renew. It was just a creative decision for me wanting to go and explore new stuff—in my life, in my career.”

In addition, The Good Wife’s creators had to issue an open letter to fans to justify his death: “And when faced with the gut punch of Josh’s decision, made over a year ago, to move on to other creative endeavors, we had a major choice to make,” Robert and Michelle King wrote.

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Man Buys Two Metric Tons of LEGO Bricks; Sorts Them Via Machine Learning
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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva

Jacques Mattheij made a small, but awesome, mistake. He went on eBay one evening and bid on a bunch of bulk LEGO brick auctions, then went to sleep. Upon waking, he discovered that he was the high bidder on many, and was now the proud owner of two tons of LEGO bricks. (This is about 4400 pounds.) He wrote, "[L]esson 1: if you win almost all bids you are bidding too high."

Mattheij had noticed that bulk, unsorted bricks sell for something like €10/kilogram, whereas sets are roughly €40/kg and rare parts go for up to €100/kg. Much of the value of the bricks is in their sorting. If he could reduce the entropy of these bins of unsorted bricks, he could make a tidy profit. While many people do this work by hand, the problem is enormous—just the kind of challenge for a computer. Mattheij writes:

There are 38000+ shapes and there are 100+ possible shades of color (you can roughly tell how old someone is by asking them what lego colors they remember from their youth).

In the following months, Mattheij built a proof-of-concept sorting system using, of course, LEGO. He broke the problem down into a series of sub-problems (including "feeding LEGO reliably from a hopper is surprisingly hard," one of those facts of nature that will stymie even the best system design). After tinkering with the prototype at length, he expanded the system to a surprisingly complex system of conveyer belts (powered by a home treadmill), various pieces of cabinetry, and "copious quantities of crazy glue."

Here's a video showing the current system running at low speed:

The key part of the system was running the bricks past a camera paired with a computer running a neural net-based image classifier. That allows the computer (when sufficiently trained on brick images) to recognize bricks and thus categorize them by color, shape, or other parameters. Remember that as bricks pass by, they can be in any orientation, can be dirty, can even be stuck to other pieces. So having a flexible software system is key to recognizing—in a fraction of a second—what a given brick is, in order to sort it out. When a match is found, a jet of compressed air pops the piece off the conveyer belt and into a waiting bin.

After much experimentation, Mattheij rewrote the software (several times in fact) to accomplish a variety of basic tasks. At its core, the system takes images from a webcam and feeds them to a neural network to do the classification. Of course, the neural net needs to be "trained" by showing it lots of images, and telling it what those images represent. Mattheij's breakthrough was allowing the machine to effectively train itself, with guidance: Running pieces through allows the system to take its own photos, make a guess, and build on that guess. As long as Mattheij corrects the incorrect guesses, he ends up with a decent (and self-reinforcing) corpus of training data. As the machine continues running, it can rack up more training, allowing it to recognize a broad variety of pieces on the fly.

Here's another video, focusing on how the pieces move on conveyer belts (running at slow speed so puny humans can follow). You can also see the air jets in action:

In an email interview, Mattheij told Mental Floss that the system currently sorts LEGO bricks into more than 50 categories. It can also be run in a color-sorting mode to bin the parts across 12 color groups. (Thus at present you'd likely do a two-pass sort on the bricks: once for shape, then a separate pass for color.) He continues to refine the system, with a focus on making its recognition abilities faster. At some point down the line, he plans to make the software portion open source. You're on your own as far as building conveyer belts, bins, and so forth.

Check out Mattheij's writeup in two parts for more information. It starts with an overview of the story, followed up with a deep dive on the software. He's also tweeting about the project (among other things). And if you look around a bit, you'll find bulk LEGO brick auctions online—it's definitely a thing!

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© Nintendo
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Nintendo Will Release an $80 Mini SNES in September
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© Nintendo

Retro gamers rejoice: Nintendo just announced that it will be launching a revamped version of its beloved Super Nintendo Classic console, which will allow kids and grown-ups alike to play classic 16-bit games in high-definition.

The new SNES Classic Edition, a miniature version of the original console, comes with an HDMI cable to make it compatible with modern televisions. It also comes pre-loaded with a roster of 21 games, including Super Mario Kart, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Donkey Kong Country, and Star Fox 2, an unreleased sequel to the 1993 original.

“While many people from around the world consider the Super NES to be one of the greatest video game systems ever made, many of our younger fans never had a chance to play it,” Doug Bowser, Nintendo's senior vice president of sales and marketing, said in a statement. “With the Super NES Classic Edition, new fans will be introduced to some of the best Nintendo games of all time, while longtime fans can relive some of their favorite retro classics with family and friends.”

The SNES Classic Edition will go on sale on September 29 and retail for $79.99. Nintendo reportedly only plans to manufacture the console “until the end of calendar year 2017,” which means that the competition to get your hands on one will likely be stiff, as anyone who tried to purchase an NES Classic last year will well remember.

In November 2016, Nintendo released a miniature version of its original NES system, which sold out pretty much instantly. After selling 2.3 million units, Nintendo discontinued the NES Classic in April. In a statement to Polygon, the company has pledged to “produce significantly more units of Super NES Classic Edition than we did of NES Classic Edition.”

Nintendo has not yet released information about where gamers will be able to buy the new console, but you may want to start planning to get in line soon.

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