The Real Reason Jen Lilley Left Days Of Our Lives

The character of Theresa Donovan was a quick favorite among "Days of Our Lives" fans from the moment she stepped foot in Salem. Actress Jen Lilley was cast in the role of Shane Donovan and Kimberly Brady's daughter in 2013, per Soaps in Depth. Theresa was born on-screen but later moved to Los Angeles with her parents. When she returned to Salem as an adult, it was clear that she was troubled. Theresa was using drugs and hanging out with a rough crowd, which also included Jennifer Horton (Melissa Reeves) and Jack Deveraux's (Matthew Ashford) son, JJ Deveraux (Casey Moss).

Eventually, Theresa found herself falling for Brady Black (Eric Martsolf), who also had substance abuse problems. The pair formed a volatile union and enjoyed partying together. Eventually, both Theresa and Brady got clean and even welcomed a son named Tate (via Soaps). The duo became a favorite couple among viewers, who liked the pairing of the two legacy characters together. However, things took an unexpected turn when Lilley announced her exit from the NBC soap opera. Fans were very upset to hear that Theresa would be written off the show and that her and Brady's romance would end.

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How Theresa was written off of Days of Our Lives

"Days of Our Lives" fans watched as Theresa Donovan and Brady Black found their groove as a couple and began raising their son Tate. The couple even got engaged, but before they had the chance to walk down the aisle, Theresa's ex-boyfriend, Mateo, a drug lord, found her and ordered her to return to Mexico with him (via Soaps in Depth). Theresa was terrified that her connection to Mateo would hurt Brady and Tate, so she decided to push Brady away and pretend that she wanted nothing more to do with her family. She later left Salem and went to Mexico with Mateo in order to protect her loved ones.

Theresa was gone for two years when she met up with Xander Cook (Paul Telfer) in Mexico. She asked Xander to help rescue her so that she could return to Salem. When she finally came back home, she found that Brady had moved on and was engaged to her own sister, Eve Donovan (Kassie DePaiva), per Soaps. Brady and Theresa engaged in a messy custody battle over Tate, before finally making amends.

Just as things began to look up for Theresa, she was told that her mother, Kimberly Brady, had been diagnosed with cancer. She and Tate left Salem and headed to Los Angeles to help take care of her.

Jen Lilley opted to prioritize parenting over her career

After leaving "Days of Our Lives," Jen Lilley opened up about her decision to exit the soap opera. In 2016, the actress said that it was a huge sacrifice to spend so much time filming scenes for her character, which ultimately took her away from exploring other career opportunities (via TVLine). However, the actress did hint that she'd be open to returning to the sudser in the future. Then in 2019, Lilley made things very clear, revealing a heartwarming reason why she decided to leave the show.

"The main driving factor at that exact moment for me was that I really wanted to become a foster parent," Lilley said (via Soap Central). "I think that if you want to take care of children in a really dedicated manner, especially children who are in foster care who really need a lot of love and attention, and they need a lot of consistency," she added.

One year later in 2020, Lilley got candid about her love for "Days of Our Lives" as well as the cast and crew. She even admitted she would be open to reprising the role of Theresa for a short stint (via Soaps). Of course, fans would love to see Theresa back in Salem and are holding out hope that she'll return for some juicy storylines in the future.