9 Actors (Besides Steve Carell) Who Walked Away From Popular T.V. Shows

Thursday, April 28 by
 

Tonight marks the final episode of Michael Scott’s tenure on”The Office.” After seven seasons, comedian Steve Carell has decided to walk away from the highly popular show. What an asshole.

Just kidding….sort of. I admire him leaving before the quality drops any further, but part of me really wants to see him run that thing into the ground, “Simpsons” style. Either way, he’s not the first to prematurely say adios to a role. Some of TV’s most popular shows have had actors walk away while the ratings were still high. Here are nine such examples.

Mike Flaherty (Michael J. Fox) – “Spin City”

In the forth season of the popular ABC sitcom, “Spin City,” producers were forced to shake change things up when the show’s star, Michael J. Fox, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. His character, Mike Flaherty, left his position as deputy mayor after taking the fall in a mafia scandal. Flaherty went on to become an environmental lobbyist in D.C., working along side Senator Alex P. Keaton, Fox’s character from “Family Ties.” He was later replaced by a new character, played by Charlie Sheen. Things ended poorly two seasons later.

Diane Chambers (Shelly Long) – “Cheers”

In the pilot episode of “Cheers,” the character of Diane Chambers is abandoned at a bar, Cheers, by her boy friend, a married man named Sumner Sloan. Devastated by the experience, she accepts a job at the bar in order to begin rebuilding her life. In the fifth season of the show, Sumner Sloan returns and offers Diane the chance to finish writing her book, “Jocasta’s Conundrum.” She ends up leaving her job and lover, Sam Malone to pursue the opportunity. The character was written out of the show at the behest of actress Shelly Long, whose decision to leave is widely considered one of the biggest blunders in television history.

Henry Blake (McLean Stevenson) – “M.A.S.H.”

When Colonel Henry Blake was discharged from the army and sent home at the end of “M.A.S.H.’s third season, viewers were probably expecting a tearful good bye. But they probably weren’t expecting to have their hearts ripped out of their chests. Writers surprised everyone by having the character killed off in a plane crash during his flight home. They did so after actor McLean Stevenson left the show. He felt his character was becoming a second fiddle to Hunnicut and Pierce.

Richie Cunningham (Ron Howard) – “Happy Days”

When Ron Howard decided to leave his role as the star of “Happy Days,” at least he had a good reason. He was launching his career as a director. But removing the main character of a show about the mid-50’s and early 60’s proved easy enough, and writers shipped his character, Richie Cunningham, off to the army.

Eric Forman (Topher Grace) – “That 70’s Show”

Eric Forman was the glue that held “That 70’s Show” together. His basement was the meeting place for all of the other characters, including his parents. So when Topher Grace decided to leave the show, it seemed like a stretch to keep the show in production. It was. After Forman left to teach in Africa, it lasted only one season.

Benjamin Stone (Michael Moriarty) – “Law and Order”

After four years on the initial “Law and Order,” District Attorney Ben Stone was written off the show, resigning his post after a key witness was murdered while under his protection. Actor Michael Moriarty claims he left the show to protest what he perceived as a government attempt to censor violence in the show. Producers told a different story, involving Moriarty’s “erratic behavior.” Either way, “Law and Order” never missed a beat, and continued for another 16 seasons.

Dr. Mark Greene (Anthony Edwards) – “ER”

Dr. Mark Greene was the first character introduced on the hit medical drama, “ER.” But after eight seasons and no end in site, actor Anthony Edwards wanted to move on. Writers decided to kill off the character with a good old-fashioned case of brain cancer. Despite the loss of such an iconic character, the show lasted another seven seasons.

Lawrence Kutner (Kal Penn) – “House”

The character of Lawrence Kutner was probably the greatest Indian-American Doctor with brutally murdered adoptive Jewish parents in the history of television. That’s why everyone was so bummed when the writers decided to kill him off via suicide. The reason they did so was because actor Kal Penn had accepted a liaison position at White House. Based on the method of his departure from the show, I’m assuming the writers were McCain supporters.

Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) – “The X Files”

“The X-Files” was a wildly popular sci-fi drama that helped bring conspiracy theories into the main stream. Agent Fox Mulder was the heart and soul of the show. After seven seasons of exploring the paranormal, actor David Duchovny walked away after contentious contract negotiations. Writers decided to tie up loose ends in a fitting manner: by having Mulder abducted by aliens. However, his character did return sporadically for the remainder of the series.

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COMMENTS

  1. April 28, 2011 3:26 pm

    Steve Blank

    What about Mr. Eko from LOST?


  2. April 28, 2011 3:26 pm

    Anonymous

    Screw that guy, Steve.


  3. April 28, 2011 3:26 pm

    Anonymous

    great list – that mash clip is a real tearjerker, especially the very end


  4. April 28, 2011 3:26 pm

    RP7

    What about J.D. from Scrubs?


  5. April 28, 2011 3:26 pm

    Frank

    ‘forth season’? Abandoned ‘by her boy friend, a married man’? (Sumner and Diane are engaged and he leaves her for his EX-wife in the first ep, but even putting that aside, who writes it ‘boy friend’?) ‘brutally murdered adoptive Jewish parents’? He was adopted by Jewish parents because his biological parents were the ones that were murdered, which pretty much makes sense when you think about it.


  6. April 28, 2011 3:26 pm

    Frank

    ‘forth season’? Abandoned ‘by her boy friend, a married man’? (Sumner and Diane are engaged and he leaves her for his EX-wife in the first ep, but even putting that aside, who writes it ‘boy friend’?) ‘brutally murdered adoptive Jewish parents’? He was adopted by Jewish parents because his biological parents were the ones that were murdered, which pretty much makes sense when you think about it.


  7. April 28, 2011 3:26 pm

    Frank

    ‘forth season’? Abandoned ‘by her boy friend, a married man’? (Sumner and Diane are engaged and he leaves her for his EX-wife in the first ep, but even putting that aside, who writes it ‘boy friend’?) ‘brutally murdered adoptive Jewish parents’? He was adopted by Jewish parents because his biological parents were the ones that were murdered, which pretty much makes sense when you think about it.


  8. April 28, 2011 3:26 pm

    Spazatron

    J.D. never left. The show had a series finale and then they brought it back. He was in both version of the show.


  9. April 28, 2011 3:26 pm

    Dan Frappollo

    jimmy smits on NYPD BLUE!!!!! and btw mclean stevenson was being upstaged by trapper and pierce. wayne rogers left after mclean so by the next seasons opener was hawkeye going to pick up bj!!! how do you type things without researching!!


  10. April 28, 2011 3:26 pm

    Anonymous

    Oh wow, thats kinda crazy when you think about it.

    http://www.real-privacy.eu.tc


  11. April 28, 2011 3:26 pm

    Guest

    Valerie Harper
    Suzanne Somers


  12. April 28, 2011 3:26 pm

    Carol123437

    Actually the picture of the actor in Mash was not Mclean Stevenson. It is a picture of the character Radar, who was played by Gary Bergdorf. The spelling is incorrect but the name is right. Wrong picture.


  13. April 28, 2011 3:26 pm

    Jason Smith

    What about Richard Dean Anderson from Stargate?


  14. April 28, 2011 3:26 pm

    Techni Myoko

    Dont forget Jadzia Dax (DS9)


  15. April 28, 2011 3:26 pm

    Phat

    Chapelle??


  16. April 28, 2011 3:26 pm

    Anonymous

    The “picture” is a video clip of the death scene, where Radar (played by Gary Burghoff, not “Bergdorf”) announces the death of the character played by McLean (not “Mclean”) Stevenson.


  17. April 28, 2011 3:26 pm

    Anonymous

    The “picture” is a video clip of the death scene, where Radar (played by Gary Burghoff, not “Bergdorf”) announces the death of the character played by McLean (not “Mclean”) Stevenson.


  18. April 28, 2011 3:26 pm

    Anonymous

    The “picture” is a video clip of the death scene, where Radar (played by Gary Burghoff, not “Bergdorf”) announces the death of the character played by McLean (not “Mclean”) Stevenson.


  19. April 28, 2011 3:26 pm

    Anonymous

    The “picture” is a video clip of the death scene, where Radar (played by Gary Burghoff, not “Bergdorf”) announces the death of the character played by McLean (not “Mclean”) Stevenson.


  20. April 28, 2011 3:26 pm

    Fuck

    ron jeremy left celebrity apprentice or some show like that


  21. April 28, 2011 3:26 pm

    Rodion

    Your ‘shake things up’ joke in the Michael J Fox entry was both insulting and disgusting. I have a lot of respect for that man, and i now have none for you.


  22. April 28, 2011 3:26 pm

    Dg

    david caruso? guy was an idiot for leaving nypd blue. i still cant watch anything hes in…


  23. April 28, 2011 3:26 pm

    argonwolf

    That is NOT ehy they killed off Col. Henry Blake on M*A*S*H. They killed him off because Stevenson was a jerk to the crew and cast members. They killed the character off so that it would be impossible to bring him back, making sure they never had to work with Stevenson again.
    Furthermore, they didnt even announce the death to the cast. The first time any of them knew about it, they were filming the surgery scene in which radar comes in and tells them about the crash. All the reactions in that scene are genuine.


  24. April 28, 2011 3:26 pm

    Heather Wallace

    Rob Lowe leaving West Wing!


  25. April 28, 2011 3:26 pm

    Tyler

    What about Tom Wopat and John Schneider from The Dukes of Hazzard? While they eventually came back, the show had lost a lot of its popularity and never picked back up.


  26. April 28, 2011 3:26 pm

    plra

    how about Chevy Chase after one season on SNL


  27. April 28, 2011 3:26 pm

    plra

    how about Chevy Chase after one season on SNL


  28. April 28, 2011 3:26 pm

    Anonymous

    Finally (48 hours) time limit to buy.

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  29. April 28, 2011 3:26 pm

    Sam

    What about Shannen Doherty? She left both Beverly Hills, 90210 and Charmed. Or Rob Morrow from Northern Exposure?