Who’s leaving EastEnders in 2023? Who’s returning and joining the cast?

There are some big departures coming up!

Rocky, Shirley, Sam, Whitney and Karen in EastEnders

Who’s leaving EastEnders in 2023? After several exits already and some heartbreaking tragedy we know we’ve got one more death at least to follow Lola’s devastating farewell.

And though we’ve already had some very exciting returns with Peter Beale and Ian Beale coming back to Albert Square along with the once-dead Cindy Beale, the comebacks aren’t stopping there, either.

Because there are  some super dramatic stories in the pipeline, which means are bound to be some more surprises in store.

EastEnders boss Chris Clenshaw has confirmed there are more returns to look out for, including Lauren Branning, who is coming back to Walford.

Here’s a round up of who is leaving, returning and joining the cast of EastEnders in 2023.

Who’s leaving EastEnders in 2023?

Stacey, Suki Linda, Sharon, Denise, Kathy post in an EastEnders press shot in bright clothes, Sharon's in a wedding dress
The Six. But who is the killer? And who will die? (Credit: BBC)

The biggest exit confirmed for this year remains a mystery. In flashforward scenes aired in February we discovered there will be a death at Christmas.

So far, the only clues we have are that it is a male and he will die in The Vic. There was a close-up shot of his cufflinks, so we’re guessing that’s another big hint.

Scenes showed Sharon, Denise, Stacey, Kathy, Suki and Linda standing over the dead body. They all looked shocked and Stacey was covered in blood.

Sharon – in a wedding dress – leant over the body and checked his pulse. She declared: “He’s dead.”

But who is ‘he’? Who will be leaving EastEnders before the end of 2023?

So far guesses are focused on the Panesar family with Nish and Ravi leading the betting. But is that just too obvious?

Rock’s off (Credit: BBC)

Rocky Cotton

It’s been confirmed that newlywed Rocky will be leaving Albert Square. Rumours were rife that Brian Conley, who plays cheeky chappy Rocky had fallen out with the show’s bosses and was leaving because of that.

But now Enders have confirmed that Rocky’s going – and it’s not because of any arguments.

“We can confirm that Brian Conley will be leaving EastEnders. There is absolutely no truth in any claims of a feud with bosses and the show fully support Brian in his decision to leave which was made some time ago. We wish him the best of luck for the future as we continue to work towards his exit storyline which has been in the works for some time.

So how will Rocky be leaving? Could he be one of the victims of the rumoured fire that will sweep through the cafe later this year? Or will his gambling habit, which is already causing him real trouble, finally be the end of him and Kathy?

Will Karen die in the cafe fire? (Credit: BBC)

Karen Taylor

Another potential victim of the blaze could be Karen Taylor, who’s also been confirmed as leaving Walford later this year.

Lorraine Stanley, who plays the mouthy matriarch, will be leaving her role as Karen, who she’s played for six years.

She wrote on her Instagram that was sad to be saying goodbye, but added that she was looking forward to what comes next.

And Lorraine has been messing with fans’ heads, teasing everyone about how exactly Karen departs. She recently shared that she’d finished filming and then posted a fan theory about Karen meeting a fiery end! Was she just trolling us, or was that a huge clue?!

Either way, we’re looking forward to seeing how Karen waves farewell!

Will Whit get a happy ending? Doubtful. (Credit: BBC)

Whitney Dean

Whit’s part of the wallpaper in Albert Square, having been in the show since she was a teenager – 15 years ago.

Since then she’s been through all sorts of heartache, including the shocking reveal that teen Whitney had been groomed and raped by Tony King.

She’s been sexually exploited, she’s been married and divorced, jilted at the altar, snogged married Mick Carter, said a tragic goodbye to her baby, Peach, and even killed her stalker in self defence!

And now it seems she’s finally found happiness with Zack Hudson only for us to be told she’s off? We’re devastated, frankly! And we’re keeping everything crossed that Whit gets the happy ending she deserves.

Jay’s not coping (Credit: BBC)

Jay Brown?

Surely not?! But actor Jamie Borthwick recently teased that he was looking for a new job and Jay’s on a downward spiral after wife Lola’s death.

With Jay and Ben at loggerheads, and Jay developing a very nasty drug habit, could Mr Brown be waving goodbye to Walford?

Who’s returning to EastEnders in 2023?


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Lauren Branning

EastEnders has confirmed that Jacqueline Jossa is reprising her role of Lauren Branning permanently. Lauren was last seen in France when she met up with Peter Beale and their son, Louie.

Peter and Lauren seemed to be growing closer again, but she was horrified to find out he had been keeping the secret his mother, Cindy, was still alive. Lauren couldn’t get over the betrayal and ditched him.

But why will she return to Walford this time? Is a reunion with Peter back on the cards? Or does she know about her secret sister living at The Vic?

On reprising the role, Jacqueline Jossa said: “I’m really excited! It’s such an amazing time to be back as there is so much buzz around EastEnders at the moment, and I’ve been watching and loving it like a fan. Walford holds such a special place in my heart, so it really does feel like coming home.”

It’s good news for Shirley fans (Credit: BBC)

Shirley Carter

It’s fair to say Walford hasn’t been kind to Shirley Carter. She left at the end of December 2022 after her son, Mick Carter disappeared at sea.

Following the death of her sister Tina Carter the previous year, she felt too haunted by their ghosts to stick around.

However, the good news is Shirl will return!

An EastEnders spokesperson told Digital Spy: “Linda Henry will be returning to EastEnders.”

But, how soon will it be before Shirley returns back home? And what will the reception be on her return? After Linda received a photograph of Shirley with rapist Dean Wicks in the background, will Shirl we welcomed back with open arms?

Sam recently took a new job in Spain (Credit: BBC)

Sam Mitchell

Wanting to provide for her son, Ricky Jr, and his unborn baby, Sam Mitchell recently left Walford for a lucrative new job in Spain.

However, the soap has confirmed this is not a permanent exit for her. She will be back!

An EastEnders spokesperson told Digital Spy: “We can confirm that Sam Mitchell has not left Walford for good and Kim Medcalf will be returning to EastEnders.”

Recently it was confirmed that Kim is back filming so Sam’s return has to be soon!

But what will bring her back to Walford? We can guess it’ll be plenty of drama!

Who’s joining EastEnders?

After the recent arrivals of Ravi’s ex Priya and their daughter Avani – who are already making themselves RIGHT at home in Albert Square – there haven’t been any newcomers announced.

But we know that there are bound to be some surprises up the Enders bosses’ sleeves, so watch this space and we’ll share more as soon as we know!

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