It was the question that plagued every TV fan in the mid-2000s: what happened to Walt on Lost? The character's sudden disappearance sparked conspiracy theories, but the truth behind his absence was depressingly mundane. Malcolm David Kelley was simply among the ranks of child actors who grew up fast.
Perhaps it's not surprising that there are so many child actors fired for aging too quickly. After all, it doesn’t take much for Hollywood to decide that a child star's luster has faded. Their personal lives might take a turn for the worse, or some might experience an unfortunate loss of cuteness once puberty arrives. Sometimes, they're written out of shows or movies because their kid characters aren’t ready to grow up with them. Whatever the reason they were let go, these charming youngsters mysteriously disappeared from the entertainment world as quickly as they entered it.
- Photo: ABC
Lost is a show full of mysteries and cryptic plot turns – like, say, what happened to Michael’s 10-year-old son, Walt. The writers originally planned to make Walt a pivotal presence on the island, but puberty caught up with actor Malcolm David Kelley to the point where he could no longer convincingly play a 10-year-old boy. Walt was sent away in a life raft after Season 2, though Kelley returned as a guest star three more times.
When questioned about Walt in 2007, executive producer Damon Lindelof said, "We've always known Malcolm was going to grow faster than we could shoot the show. And we planned for it." However, after the show ended, Lindelof quipped that they expected the show to get canceled, and thought they wouldn't have to deal with Kelley aging.
- Photo: Warner Bros.
The Vacation franchise is no stranger to replacing their young stars. According to original Audrey Griswold Dana Barron, this trend started when actor Anthony Michael Hall was cast in Weird Science, and simply didn't have time to return as little brother Rusty. Director Amy Heckerling thought it would be confusing to keep one sibling from the original film and not the other, so Barron had to go.
- Photo: Disney
The boy who brought the voice of Disney’s Peter Pan to life had a far different ending to his journey than his animated counterpart. Bobby Driscoll was a key member of Walt Disney’s wheelhouse of bright-eyed child stars, with roles in classic films like Song of the South, Treasure Island, and, of course, Peter Pan, all under his belt by the time he was 16 years old. Unfortunately for Driscoll, he was stricken with severe acne not too long after Pan, and Disney studio heads unceremoniously terminated his contract.
- Photo: NBC
Lisa Bonet (Denise Huxtable) was a standout on The Cosby Show from the start, and a whole new spin-off series, A Different World, was created to follow Denise through college. After the first season, Lisa Bonet got together with rock star Lenny Kravitz and became pregnant with their child, Zoe. The shows' creators, including Bill Cosby himself, decided that Bonet's pregnancy did not match the "wholesome" values of the show, and promptly sent her character off on a journey to Africa.