Although Disney executives declined to reveal the exact nature of Savage’s misconduct, Deadline stated that it included “verbal outbursts and inappropriate behavior.”
“Recently, we were made aware of allegations of inappropriate conduct by Fred Savage, and as is policy, an investigation was launched,” a spokesman for Disney’s 20th Television said in a statement. “Upon its completion, the decision was made to terminate his employment as an executive producer and director of The Wonder Years.”
ABC’s reimagined version of the beloved TV comedy, which premiered last fall, centers around a middle-class Black family living in Montgomery, Alabama during the civil rights movement. Savage, who played the lead role of suburban teen Kevin Arnold in the original 1980s series, directed eight episodes of the reboot — including the pilot.
This isn’t the first time the former child star has faced accusations of questionable on-set behavior. In 2018, costumer Youngjoo Hwang filed a lawsuit against Savage claiming that he “berated her, struck her arm and behaved aggressively toward female employees” while working on Fox comedy The Grinder in 2015, according to the Associated Press. In a statement, Savage called Hwang’s claims “absolutely untrue,” while Fox said it “found no evidence of wrongdoing” after conducting an investigation. The lawsuit was eventually settled out of court.
In 1993, Savage, then 16, and his Wonder Years co-star Jason Hervey were accused of sexual harassment in a lawsuit filed by the show’s former costume designer. Monique Long alleged the young actors “verbally and physically harassed her daily,” with her complaints over their behavior ignored by the show’s staff. That lawsuit was also settled out of court. Actress Alley Mills, who played Arnold family matriarch Norma on the show, called those allegations against Savage “completely ridiculous” in a 2018 interview with Yahoo! Entertainment, claiming the lawsuit prompted The Wonder Years’ cancellation after six seasons. “I just thought this was a joke. You know, they bought her off, which really made me mad,” she said of network executives’ decision to settle with Long. “They wanted to avoid a scandal or something, but it made them look guilty. You know, you don’t pay someone off when there was no crime, you just fire the girl.”
The rebooted Wonder Years has not yet been renewed for a second season, and it’s unclear whether Savage’s departure will affect the show’s future.