He has had several breaks from EastEnders over the years but, for the most part, Max Branning (Jake Wood) has been a Walford staple since 2006 and has had more than his fair share of memorable and dramatic storylines.
From seeing not one, but two children, plummet to their deaths from the roof of The Queen Vic, to being buried alive, to watching the worst Christmas DVD any family has gathered to enjoy, he has been a character to remember over the years. But he will be saying goodbye to Albert Square soon as the soap has announced that Max is leaving EastEnders.
But he still has some time left with his exit tipped for early 2021 and so, here are some theories as to how we think Max will exit.
Will Max to go back to prison?
It certainly wouldn't be Max's first visit to jail and considering all the dodgy things he has done over the years, it would hardly be a stretch to assume that his departure could be one that sees him move back to prison for a lengthy stint.
As for what could lead him to wind up back there, well he is about to start a big old feud with frenemy Ian Beale after Ian stole a huge amount of cash from him to buy Sharon the pub. Max is currently getting angsty about getting the money back and, given how precarious Ian's financial situation is, he doesn't look to be getting it any time soon. Could we see Max arrested for a serious assault on Ian? It would make sense with Adam Woodyatt also temporarily taking a break... Perhaps though, Max's dicey cashflow problems could lead him to commit a crime that he could also go down for - heading to prison is definitely a likely option.
More heartbreak with Stacey?
Max has had many a love interest over the years - too many to count - but we have always felt like his one true love is Stacey Fowler (Lacey Turner). With Stacey returning to EastEnders, and with that return coinciding with the news that Max is off, we would be surprised if this troublesome love story isn't revisited.
But it has always felt like the love between them was a tad one-sided with it appearing to be the case that Max's feelings were stronger than hers. Could it be that the relationship between them will pick up once again and Max will soon realise that Stacey's heart is not in it? With family low on the ground for Max now, and so many bad memories in the square for him, could a failure in any potential reunion cause Max to take off and leave Walford behind for good?
Will Max go on the run?
Touching on our theory about Max potentially going to prison, perhaps the same events could happen but he will decide he is better off going on the run instead. We can see him lashing out at Ian, and we can certainly imagine him doing something criminal to get funds, but if prison was on the cards, he wouldn't want to go back.
If he was arrested and released on bail, it wouldn't be out of character for him to start planning a way to flee and start a new life somewhere that the police could not find him. It is worth noting that Stacey too went on the run several years ago and it was Max that helped her flee - it would be a nice touch for the situation to be reversed and for it to be Stacey that helps him escape this time.
Max to die in shocking twist?
We love a stunning surprise from our soaps and Max dying would certainly be a sting that viewers would not see coming. It has been said, by both EastEnders and Jake Wood, that the door has been left open for Max to come back, but it wouldn't be the first time that we have heard that, only for the character in question to meet a grizzly end.
The prospect of us all expecting to see Max leave in one piece, only for the rug to be pulled out from under us, is an enticing one and it would certainly give the soap an unpredictable feel that it needs to keep people talking. As for how he could die? Well, there are many options, and many people who could show up to do it, but we can't help but feel the perfect place for it to happen would be on the roof of a certain East-End pub...
A happy ending for Max?
Okay, we know that of all the options on the table, a happy ending for a character like Max is not the most likely, but allow us to pretend just for a moment. There are ways that this could happen and we wouldn't be opposed to the show surprising us with something happy for once.
Tanya (Jo Joyner) is still out there and while the chances of a reunion between them are slim, this is Soapland so the pair reconnecting and heading off together is not off the table entirely. Then there's Lauren (Jacqueline Jossa) who, last we heard, is living in New Zealand. Jossa has said she would be open to a return in the distant future, but it's possible the producers would be able to tempt her back for a brief stint, especially if it involves the departure of her on-screen dad. And we would love to see Max reconnect with at least one of his two surviving children before he leaves Walford for good.