There were two big shocks for EastEnders fans recently, when it was revealed that both Whitney Dean (Shona McGarty) and Karen Taylor (Lorraine Stanley) will be leaving Walford.


McGarty has chosen to bow out after playing Whit for 15 years, while Stanley is to be written out after starring in the BBC soap since 2017.

But as we look ahead to their respective exits, how might these iconic characters depart?

Well, there has been plenty of speculation, but now it's time to explore all the options - from the dark and dismal to the chance of a happy ever after.

Read on as takes you through all the theories.

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How will Whitney Dean and Karen Taylor leave EastEnders?


We're still not over the heartbreaking death of Lola Pearce-Brown (Danielle Harold), so please, EastEnders, don't go killing off our Whit or Karen! But let's face it, this is soapland and we can't rule this possibility out just yet.

Could either - or both - of these characters be the next ones to have us sobbing? A tragic accident could see them lose their lives, or they could be caught in the crossfire of a typical soap showdown. Speaking of which...

Linked to Christmas murder?

Amber cufflinks in EastEnders
Who's wearing the amber cufflinks? BBC

We already know that EastEnders is set to kill off a character this Christmas, but it's been confirmed as a male local, and Whit isn't due to depart until early 2024.

But what if the festive victim is connected to Karen or Whitney, making one of them either the killer or a grieving loved one?

We're thinking Karen's son Keanu Taylor (Danny Walters) or Whit's partner Zack Hudson (James Farrar) could find themselves goners - whether intentionally targeted or not.

Let's not forget that one of our theories suggests that the victim is linked to Zack's sister, and Keanu's on/off lover, Sharon Watts (Letitia Dean)! But let's not digress too far, here.

So, could Whitney or Karen do a runner under a cloud of suspicion, or simply leave the place that holds so memories after a sudden bereavement?

Happy ever after?

Lorraine Stanley as Karen Taylor wearing a denim jacket, smiling into camera
Lorraine Stanley as Karen Taylor. BBC/Jack Barnes/Kieron McCarron

We, and McGarty herself, have already made a plea for some final happiness for downtrodden Whit. But the prospect of a happy ever could take many different forms, as we've already explored.

Might she find new love, presuming she splits with Zack Hudson (James Farrar) at some point between now and her exit? Or could Whit find contentment without romance, becoming a mother through adoption just as she's been planning?

As for Karen, she's another character who deserves to leave on a high. The devastation of losing her daughter Chantelle Atkins (Jessica Plummer) to domestic abuse at the hands of evil Gray (Toby-Alexander Smith) was more than enough pain and suffering to have us wishing nothing but positivity for Karen ever since.

If we really have to lose Karen, it should be for a good, but believable, reason. With her eldest kids all grown up and flying the nest, might she move nearby to younger sons Riley and Chatham, who seemingly live with their father elsewhere? The boys have learning difficulties, and Karen may feel it's time to be closer to them.


EastEnders' Whitney wearing a grey outfit, sitting on a prison bed
EastEnders Whitney Dean in prison.

This would be a great way to ensure an eventual comeback for both characters. Having said that, Whitney has already endured a hellish time behind bars after killing stalker Leo King (Tom Wells). Unless she commits an inexcusable act, we'd hope this isn't on the agenda for her exit.

But we're not inside the minds of the Soap Gods, so perhaps Whit will indeed be sent down.

Remember that hit and run, when the grief-stricken woman was convinced that Ben Mitchell (Max Bowden) had killed Kush Kazemi (Davood Ghadami)? Whit ended up knocking down Kat Slater (Jessie Wallace), who promised never to report her. But what if Whitney's secret were to be exposed, leading to her arrest?

As for Karen, she has also been known to carry out an impulsive act or two in her time. Could she go too far and be handed a short stint in jail? A bar fight gone wrong, or theft out of desperation from the pressures of the cost of living crisis?

Whatever's in store for Whitney and Karen, let's hope it's nothing too drastic as we prepare to lose two more strong women from EastEnders' cast list.

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EastEnders airs Mondays to Thursdays at 7:30pm on BBC One and from 6am on BBC iPlayer. Visit our dedicated EastEnders page for all the latest news, interviews and spoilers. If you’re looking for more to watch, check out our TV Guide and Streaming Guide.
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