The Show Goes On: 4 Shows That Continued After Major Actors Left

Thursday, November 17 by Marina Szaven

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Sometimes the show must go on, even when the star has left the building. The 2011 TV season saw two popular TV series lose major actors: “Two and A Half Men” sent actor Charlie Sheen packing and “The Office” retired bad boss Michael Scott, when actor Steve Carell left to focus on his successful movie career. The jury is still out on how these two shows will thrive or tank after the loss of a major actors, but these 4 shows managed to carry on after losing a key player.

“Cheers”

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	One of the most popular and critically acclaimed series of all time ran for 11 seasons on <a href='http://www.screenjunkies.com/tag/nbc-490/' class='linkify' target='_blank'>NBC</a> and anchored the “must see TV” Thursdays on the network. In spite of the success of the Boston-based series about a local watering hole, actress Shelley Long opted to leave the series after 5 seasons as the female lead, Diane Chambers, whose <a href='http://www.screenjunkies.com/tag/romance/' class='linkify' target='_blank'>romance</a> with Sam Malone (Ted Danson) formed the backbone of the series. Although audiences wondered how the show would survive the absence of the central storyline, Kirstie Alley joined the series and it continued to thrive for 6 more seasons, and inspire the equally successful spinoff “Frasier,” which lasted for 11 seasons.</p>
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	<strong>“NYPD Blue”</strong></p>
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One of the most scandalous departures from a successful show was the decision of actor David Caruso to leave this top-rated police drama after only one season as Detective John Kelly. Caruso did appear in four episodes of season two, but left due to a salary dispute and a desire to pursue movie roles. The producers changed the show’s premise from a star vehicle focused on one cop and opened up the series to become an ensemble drama. Jimmy Smits took over as the primary male lead, but and and then ran for a total of 12 successful seasons. Caruso eventually returned to television on another crime show, “CSI: Miami.”

“Bewitched”

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This classic 1960s sitcom about a witch enjoying a suburban lifestyle lasted for 8 successful seasons, with the enchanting Elizabeth Montgomery as Samantha, the nose-twitching sorceress. For the first five seasons actor Dick York played Samantha’s husband Darrin, but a disabling back injury made it impossible for him to continue the role. Dick Sargent replaced York, but their eerie physical similarity made the transition seamless. Many audience members did not even notice the change, and the series continued on for another 4 years.

"M*A*S*H"

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	Although this <a href=classic Korean War ensemble dramedy limped along during its first season, popular success and critical acclaim came during the second season when CBS placed it behind “All in the Family.” Tensions soon developed among some of the cast members when Alan Alda’s character, Hawkeye Pierce, started getting the best lines and became the central focus. McLean Stevenson, who played the commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Henry Blake, told producers he wanted to leave the show at the end of the third season. His character was killed off and replaced in the army hospital by Colonel Sherman Potter (Harry Morgan). Actor Wayne Rogers, who played Hawkeye’s best buddy and fellow doctor Trapper John McIntyre, also left after the third season due to a salary dispute. The show lasted for 11 seasons, and was ranked the 25th greatest series of all-time by TV Guide

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