Herald readers' suggestions for the five dumped Shortland Street actors' departure from the top-rating soap ranged from the bizarre to the downright vindictive. ANNE BESTON offers a sampling of the exits.
An ebola virus outbreak at the Shortland Street medical clinic is one Herald reader's dramatic option for writing out actors dumped from the Television New Zealand soap.
The Herald asked for suggestions for an appropriate exit for the axed actors.
Mass axe-murders, nasty plane crashes, "that flesh-eating disease" and a giant bomb were all offered as grand finales, but some suggestions were of a gentler nature.
One reader suggested that the cast all go off to revive the defunct Centrepoint community at Albany, from where they could be easily brought back if the changes to the cast "turned to custard."
Another thought they should all join a crazed cult and chop up the executives responsible for their demise.
Don McDowall's suggestion was also aimed at those behind the camera. A big explosion should be planned for those who thought up Shortland Street's storylines, he said - "Suspension of disbelief only goes so far."
He was a big fan of Geraldine Brophy, who plays receptionist Moira Cochrane, and said he would miss the humorous twinkle in her eyes.
Other readers suggested Moira win Lotto and live happily ever after with husband Dean in Hawkes Bay.
Minnie Crozier, played by Katrina Devine, would also escape serious harm if Herald readers were writing the script.
Most suggested she go back to school or enrol in modelling classes - although one was unkind enough to suggest she go to drama school "where she'll learn how to really act."
One reader, Kellyana Morey, from Northland, invented an elaborate scenario that would not only save the actors from a bloody and painful death but provide a spin-off for a whole new series.
It included the return of Dr Ropata and former receptionist Kirsty in a black smoke-belching Holden Kingswood to lead the Shortland Streeters to a new and better life in the Hokianga.
Moira and Dean would pack the cat, the Crown Lynn pottery, their autographed Paul Holmes CD and Auntie Edie's commemorative teaspoon collection into the campervan to find a better life among the friendly Northland natives.
Minnie tags along because "she realises with a final bang that she has slept with every male character that has been on the show [yes, even Nick]."
Tamsin discovers she is a biological Avondale girl, despite having been raised in Parnell, and ends up heading north in her Ford Escort complete with noddy dog.
Al gets made redundant and, spurned by women's magazines, escapes to a place where nobody knows his name.
Other suggestions were sharper and to the point: "Axe the lot, axe Paul Holmes too."
Some readers questioned the Herald's front-page treatment of the story.
"No matter what one thinks of Shortland Street's artistic merit, it has to be acknowledged it has provided New Zealand actors with wonderful opportunities to develop their craft and earn a living from their profession. For this role alone, Shortland Street deserves our respect, and neither the show nor the actors should be downgraded in a piece of trivial journalism," said Lyn Luxton.
But 13-year-old Nikki Carpenter was less sympathetic.
"I wouldn't miss an episode of Shortland Street, but I think those characters chosen to go, should. They were becoming boring."
Most readers felt cheated of romance with the exit of Al Dubrovsky (played by Malcolm Murray) and nurse Tamsin (played by Jay Saussey), who were supposed to live happily ever after - something they say the storyline suggested but never delivered.
"Viewers would be left wondering whether Al and Tamsin would ever have got together," said one disappointed fan from Auckland.
But the final, if callous, word comes from Gillian Mathewson: "When you've got to go, you've got to go."