8 TV Shows That Lost Their Lead Actor But Kept Going
Sometimes shows have trouble continuing on when one of the leads decides to leave the series, but other times the show can literally continue on without the lead character for several more seasons without any serious consequences. These 8 shows did just that. They lost a lead, but they were able to keep going for at least a couple more seasons.
8. One Tree Hill
After six seasons on One Tree Hill, both Chad Michael Murray and Hilarie Burton decided not to return for the show’s seventh season. They were two of the series’ five protagonists and their characters had one of the show’s central love stories. To help fill the void, Quinn, Haley’s sister, and Clay, Nathan’s sports agent, were added to the cast. The show continued for another three seasons until April 4, 2012 and Murray even made a special appearance during the show’s finale.
7. Three’s Company
Susanne was one of the three leads on Three’s Company when she was fired from the show during season five for demanding a significant salary increase. Jenilee Harrison was brought in to replace her that season as her character’s clumsy cousin, but she only lasted one season and was replaced during season six with a new blonde roommate named Terri Alden (played by Priscilla Barnes). After Somers’ departure, the show lasted another four seasons until it ended after season 8.
6. Two and a Half Men
After Charlie Sheen’s Two and a Half Men character Charlie Harper was unceremoniously killed off at the beginning of season nine and replaced with Ashton Kutcher as Walden Schmidt, the show managed to keep going for another four seasons! In season 11, the show also lost Angus T. Jones. He had been relegated to recurring status for season 11, but he didn’t make another appearance until the show’s finale. The series was officially cancelled after 12 seasons in February 2015.
Sergeant Nicholas Brody was a central character for first three seasons of Homeland; however, given that his character was a double agent, it was going to be impossible to keep him around indefinitely. After his character was hanged during season three, the show continued on without him and has recently been renewed for a seventh and an eighth season, which will be the series’ last.
4. Happy Days
Ron Howard was one of the main characters on Happy Days and many of the plots revolved around his character, Richie Cunningham. When he decided to leave the series to pursue a career as a director, producers were worried about what impact his departure might have on the series. Happy Days continued on without Richie for another four seasons; however, the writing seemed to go downhill after Howard left the series.
3. Spin City
Michael J. Fox starred on Spin City for four seasons as Mike Flaherty; however, at the end of season four, he had to leave the series to deal with his Parkinson’s disease, so Charlie Sheen came in to replace him as Charlie Crawford. With Sheen, the show continued on for another two seasons until it was cancelled in 2000 due to low ratings.
2. The Vampire Diaries
Nina Dobrev – who played Elena Gilbert on The Vampire Diaries – left the series after season six, but the show continued for another two seasons without her. To make sure that they could bring her character back at some point, the writers left Elena in a coma. Two seasons later, at the end of season eight, the show came to an end and Dobrev came back for the finale. Elena finally woke up from the coma, chose Damon and they lived happily ever after.
Nashville fans were devastated when Connie Britton’s character Rayna James was killed off the show during the show’s fifth season in a car crash. Despite losing Britton, who was considered the heart and soul of the show, the series has continued on without her and has already been renewed for a 16-episode sixth season that is set to air in January 2018.