Why Theo James Was Right Not To Return For Sanditon Season 2


  • Theo James’ absence from Sanditon season 2 was well-handled, and his character’s death added depth to the story.
  • The decision for Theo James not to return was the right call, as it allowed for the development of other characters and a more ensemble performance.
  • James’ departure benefited both the show and his career, giving him the opportunity to pursue other projects like The White Lotus.

Theo James didn’t return for Sanditon season 2, which was disappointing for fans of the PBS Masterpiece series until they saw just how well the show handled Sidney’s (James) absence, but it begs the question – why did Theo James leave Sanditon? James played the brooding hero Sidney Parker opposite Rose Williams’ Charlotte Heywood in the series, which is inspired by Jane Austen’s unfinished story. When the innocent Charlotte came to the seaside resort town of Sanditon and met Sanditon‘s cast of wealthy gentry, she and Sidney fell in love. However, they didn’t declare their feelings until the final episode — after Sidney decided he had to marry a wealthy heiress to financially rescue his family.

Sanditon received a surprise renewal for seasons 2 and 3 beginning in 2022 – however, it would continue without one of its most loved performers. The joy of Sanditon‘s resurrection was temporarily undercut by Theo James announcing that he would not return for seasons 2 and 3. Sanditon season 2 killed Sidney off while investigating Georgiana’s fortune in Antigua. The season honored Sidney’s legacy beautifully, making his death a driving factor in Charlotte’s journey to becoming a Governess, his brother Tom’s bravery, and Georgiana’s protection from those who would use her. Theo James’ Sanditon absence has been noticeable but for all the right reasons.


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Why Theo James Not Returning For Sanditon Season 2 Was The Right Call

Rose Williams and Theo James on a hill in Sanditon

While unplanned actor exits often occur due to scheduling or creative conflicts, the Theo James Sanditon season 2 departure and beyond has more to do with Sidney Parker’s character arc and the journeys of those around him, much like Bridgerton season 2’s Regé-Jean Page exit. Here’s how Theo James framed things in his statement:

“Although I relished playing Sidney, for me, I’ve always maintained that his journey concluded as I wanted it to. The broken fairytale-like ending between Charlotte and Sidney is different, unique and so interesting to me and I wish the cast and crew of Sanditon every success with future series.”

Despite Theo James not being in Sanditon season 2, Sidney would go on to become a central figure in the show, and his shocking death in Antigua at season 2’s outset has formed a cornerstone of many characters’ trajectories. Losing Sidney inspired Charlotte to abandon her pursuit of love and marriage, instead opting to become a Governess (even though, in her grief, she ended up engaged). Understandably, Sidney’s passing also greatly affected his brothers, who both became more interesting characters in the shadow of his death. James is right to laud the “broken fairytale-like ending” between Sidney and Charlotte, and his desire to preserve this ending is the main reason he didn’t return for Sanditon season 2, and Sandition season 2’s ending benefitted from it.


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Sidney Being Killed Off Was Good For Sanditon And Theo James

Despite Theo James not gracing the screen, Sidney remains pivotal to the story in Sanditon season 2. James’ departure from Sanditon meant that the show saw Charlotte pursue and then give up on her governess dreams and settle for marriage with Ralph, the farmer, and Tom finally stood up to Colonel Lennox after taking inspiration from his brother’s passing. Sidney’s death removed his and Charlotte’s position as the central couple and greatly expanded the stories for the rest of the Sanditon cast, making it more of an ensemble performance than a show with two main characters.

Sidney being killed off in Sanditon season 2 was great for Theo James too. If the actor did return to lead the show, James likely wouldn’t have been able to play Cameron in The White Lotus season 2, as schedule conflicts with Sanditon would have prevented it. James received praise for his performance in the satirical HBO drama, and The White Lotus season 2 was the recipient of so many award wins, including a Golden Globe win for Jennifer Coolidge. Though most of the cast changed between season 1 and season 2, there’s a small chance James could return in The White Lotus season 3 too.

Sanditon is available to stream on PBS Masterpiece through Prime Video.

  • Sandition TV Show


    Rose Williams, Theo James, Anne Reid, Kris Marshall, Jack Fox, Crystal Clarke, Charlotte Spencer, Kate Ashfield, Leo Suter, Ben Lloyd-Hughes

    Release Date:


    Drama, History

    Story By:
    andrew davies

    Andrew Davies, Justin Young

    Streaming Service(s):
    Amazon Prime Video

    Andrew Davies

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