The Rookie's fourth season kicked off with a shock Sunday when fan-favorite character Jackson West met a grisly end, being shot in the back by one of Sandra "La Fiera" De La Cruz's hitmen in the premiere. Jackson, played by Titus Makin Jr., has been a main cast member on The Rookie since the ABC show premiered in 2018, and while there were hints that his character could be facing a potential exit, fans are still reeling from the sudden loss.
Coming off his promotion out of his rookie days in Season 3, it seemed like Jackson was just at the beginning of a new character arc, but showrunner Alexi Hawley told TVLine ahead of the premiere that the episode would "almost immediately" confirm what would happen to the new police officer. "What I can say is that Titus [Makin] was not coming back to the show," Hawley continued, "so we needed to do the best that we could to honor the character who's been so primally a part of the show."
Hawley has not elaborated on the nature of Makin's exit from the show, and the actor has not addressed the reason for his departure publicly. Makin's exit from the show makes the third major departure from the series in as many seasons. Mercedes Masohn left the series near the end of Season 1 after her Captain Zoe Andersen was shot and killed by a gang leader, while Afton Williamson, who played Talia Bishop, left the series after the first season. Williamson alleged incidents of sexual harassment and racial bullying on the show, and although a third-party investigation eventually found no unlawful or inappropriate behavior, Bishop was established on the show as having left the LAPD for a job at the ATF.
"It's heartbreaking," Hawley said of Jackson's violent end, "but I didn't really have a choice. He wasn't coming back, and because of the way we set things up with the [Season 3] finale, there was just no way to tell that story without Jackson.... But we lean really hard into honoring how he was the heart of the show, and it was definitely impactful for us to have to deal with that."