The show must go on! After Kevin Spacey was accused of multiple instances of sexual misconduct in the fall of 2017, Netflix decided to do one more season of "House of Cards" without him even though he was one of the drama's main characters. Robin Wright is now ably leading the series in its final season, which debuts on Netflix on Nov. 2, 2018. In anticipation of the "House of Cards" premiere, Wonderwall.com is taking a look at more series that went on without their biggest stars. Keep reading to see which shows didn't end when a main character left!
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The "Roseanne" cast continued without its titular former star in the fall of 2018. After a successful first season of a rebooted "Roseanne" in the spring of 2018, Roseanne Barr came under fire for posting a racist tweet about a former President Obama adviser while she was using the sleep aid Ambien. ABC reacted quickly, canceling the comedy star's namesake show. But after fans and colleagues made it clear they were disappointed that the Conner family would be leaving TV again, the network decided to keep the rest of the actors employed and agreed to air a new show, "The Conners." This sitcom is a spinoff of "Roseanne" that focuses on the family moving forward after its matriarch's death from an opioid overdose.
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The FOX drama "9-1-1" continued without Season 1 character Abby after lead Connie Britton decided to leave the show. Creator-producer Ryan Murphy expressed hope they could lure Connie back one day when he said, "We're in the process of renegotiating her deal so she can come in and do a couple of episodes to keep her character alive." We're keeping our fingers crossed!
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For its seventh and final season, "Once Upon a Time" went on without the main players! Jennifer Morrison, Ginnifer Goodwin, Josh Dallas, Jared Gilmore and Emilie de Ravin all departed "Once Upon a Time" by the end of Season 6.
Most stars stick with a show once it becomes a massive hit, but not Farrah Fawcett! The blonde beauty left "Charlie's Angels" after the first season, right when the show was exploding in popularity in 1977. Farrah wanted to pursue a movie career, according to executive producer Leonard Goldberg, but the actress later clarified that she didn't enjoy the over-the-top sexuality or the direction of her character. "It's hard to explain… because the show was successful and I loved the girls and everyone associated with the show, but I had very strong feelings about my character and things that I felt should happen and they disagreed," she told Johnny Carson. "I felt that they should go into a little more character development of each girl… they didn't care." Cheryl Ladd replaced Farrah, joining as her character's sister, on the show's second season. "Charlie's Angels" continued on ABC for four more seasons, with Farrah making frequent guest appearances to avoid being sued for breach of contract.
The CBS sitcom "Kevin Can Wait" underwent a major casting shakeup between its first and second seasons: Erinn Hayes — who portrayed Donna Gable, the wife of Kevin James' character — mysteriously left the show after it was announced that Season 1 guest star Leah Remini, who previously co-starred with Kevin on "The King of Queens," had signed on as a series regular. The second season kicked off a year after Donna's sudden death. "The goal was to give Kevin's character a real drive and a real predicament [involving] how a family comes back together [after tragedy]," executive producer Rob Long said of the decision to write off Donna. He added that the show's writers were "really attracted" to the idea of seeing Kevin's character as a single dad and watching him "learn how to do all of the [single parent] stuff." Fans ultimately didn't embrace it, however, and the show was canceled after its second season.
Suzanne Somers' departure from "Three's Company" was riddled with drama. The actress asked for pay parity with her male co-star, John Ritter, after starring on the show for four seasons and earning a Golden Globe nomination for best actress. Suzanne requested a $150,000-per-episode paycheck along with 10 percent of the show's profits, but network execs only offered her a $5,000 raise on her $30,000-per-episode salary. Rightfully upset, Suzanne missed tapings for two of the shows. Producers then drastically reduced her screen time in Season 5 and ultimately fired her the following season. Jenilee Harrison replaced Suzanne, playing her character's cousin, Cindy Snow, and the CBS comedy continued for another three seasons. "I think we should all be paid commensurate with the amount of tickets that we sell and I was selling more tickets than any other woman on television. So why were all the men, who weren't selling as many tickets as me, being paid 10 and 15 times more?" Suzanne told Fox News.
Nina Dobrev took to Instagram to announce that she was leaving her starring role as Elena Gilbert on "The Vampire Diaries" at the end of Season 6. "I always knew I wanted Elena's story to be a six season adventure, and within those six years I got the journey of a lifetime," she wrote. "I was a human, a vampire, a doppelganger, a crazy immortal, a doppelganger pretending to be human, a human pretending to be a doppelganger. I got kidnapped, killed, resurrected, tortured, cursed, body-snatched, was dead and undead, and there's still so much more to come…" Nina wanted to explore other opportunities, and we can't blame her for wanting to leave a series that also starred her ex-boyfriend, Ian Somerhalder.
Dr. McDreamy was a big reason to watch "Grey's Anatomy." Sadly, Dr. Derek Shepherd was killed off on Season 11 in 2015. Patrick Dempsey played the role for 10 years and is still deeply missed at Seattle Grace Hospital.
Charlie Sheen was fired from his role as Charlie Harper on "Two and a Half Men" in 2011. The show even went on hiatus so that Charlie could go to rehab, but in 2011, things hit a new low. He went on Twitter rants about tiger blood, winning, warlocks and his goddesses. He also took jabs at the show's creator, Chuck Lorre. After he was canned, they cast Ashton Kutcher as the new lead — he played Walden Schmidt alongside Jon Cryer until the show's end in 2015.
Thomas Gibson left "Criminal Minds" after some serious drama. He played Aaron Hotchner, the chief of the FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit. After an alleged physical altercation with one of the show's writers, Thomas was let go in mid-2016. On the show, Aaron was sent on a "temporary duty assignment" and no longer appeared after the first two episodes of Season 12.
Sean Bean played one of the biggest roles on "Game of Thrones" — Eddard "Ned" Stark — but he was shockingly killed off toward the end of the first season in 2003. It made us feel like no character was safe on the show! In an interview with Larry King in January 2016, Sean spoke about the possibility of Ned returning. "I don't know; there's been talk of Ned Stark coming back. I don't know how he could come back, maybe as a zombie in retrospect," he said. The show, of course, has remained one of television's most successful and beloved drama series ever and will run for one more season on HBO.
Mischa Barton left "The O.C." when the show was at its peak. She starred as Marissa Cooper until 2006, when she moved to England and took a break from Hollywood. In April 2016, Mischa said during an interview that aired on "Dancing with the Stars" that "I think I just got to the point where I was like, 'I'm not sure I'm enjoying this anymore.' I just felt like I was in a machine and I couldn't really get off. So it was time to step back. So I went back to England and it was just a year of real self-exploration." "The O.C." killed off her character and stayed on the air for another year.
Steve Carell took on the role of bumbling boss Michael Scott on NBC's remake of the British comedy "The Office," but he left at the end of Season 7 in 2011 to focus on his film career. After his last episode aired, audiences saw a five-minute video of Steve being interviewed by co-star Angela Kinsey. He said, "One of the things [my wife] said, which really hit the nail on the head, was that it's a part that has kind of defined me professionally, but on top of that, 'these are your friends.' That to me is why the show has been so important to me and the fact that people have watched it and enjoyed it and will continue to enjoy it because it remains a fantastic show." The series continued until 2013.
FOX's "9-1-1" isn't the first show Connie Britton left that continued on without her. A few years earlier, the actress departed the hit series "Nashville" after ABC canceled the country music drama. CMT picked up the show but Connie wanted to move on creatively, leading to her character, Rayna, being killed off. "When CMT picked up the show, Connie came to [co-showrunner] Ed Zwick and myself and said that she felt inner conflict," showrunner Marshall Herskovitz told Variety. "She felt that creatively, she wanted to move on from the show, and she was very torn because she loved the show. She loved the people on the show and it was like a family, but after four years, she felt she needed a different challenge, which is something I really understand as an artist." "Nashville" continued on for two more seasons before ending in 2018.
Zach Braff played Dr. John "J.D." Dorian on "Scrubs." He was the show's narrator for eight of its nine seasons — he left the comedy in 2009. Season 9 was narrated by Kerry Bishe's Lucy Bennett. Zach said goodbye to "Scrubs" and went back to pursuing his passions of writing and directing films. He wrote, directed and starred in the 2014 movie "Wish I Was Here."
George Clooney was the talented and dreamy Dr. Doug Ross on "ER." He left the role in 1999 to pursue his film career. On the show, his character quit the hospital before he could be fired for his involvement in a patient's death. "ER" ran until 2009.
Michael J. Fox played main character Mike Flaherty on "Spin City." In 2000, Michael's Parkinsons symptoms worsened, and he announced that he was leaving the show at the end of Season 4 to focus on fighting the disease and raising money for research. "This big idea that the show must go on — after a while it just didn't seem as compelling an idea," he told The New York Times. "It just seemed like the right time." "Spin City" continued to air for two more seasons until 2002 with Charlie Sheen joining the cast as the new lead.
Lisa Bonet starred as Denise Huxtable on "The Cosby Show" spin-off "A Different World" for its first season, which concluded in 1988. That was the year that Lisa announced her first pregnancy and gave birth to daughter Zoe Kravitz with then-husband Lenny Kravitz. But creators didn't want college student Denise to be pregnant on the show, so Lisa exited. The sitcom continued for five more seasons until 1993 (although Lisa did briefly return to guest star on Season 3).
Dan Stevens starred as Matthew Crawley on "Downton Abbey" until 2012. Matthew was the eventual heir to Downton Abbey, but he was killed off in a car accident after Dan told producers he wanted to leave the series and pursue other projects. Despite fans' dismay at his exit, the beloved series continued for three more seasons and Dan's film career took off. ("Beauty and the Beast," anyone?)
Topher Grace starred as main character Eric Forman on "That '70s Show." Even though his basement was where all his friends hung out, Eric did not remain on the series until its end. Topher left the show at the end of Season 7 in 2005 to pursue other work, though he did return for the series finale one year later in 2006.
Chad Michael Murray was a total stud as Lucas Scott on "One Tree Hill" until he left the show in 2009. At the time, a video of Chad talking about why he was departing surfaced. "They're not bringing me back next year… because they want to save money," he said in the video. "Start blogging and being pissed off." The show continued without Lucas but brought him back for one episode titled "Last Known Surroundings" in 2012.
Shelley Long starred as Diane Chambers on "Cheers" until 1987. After controversy and reported tension with Ted Danson on set became too much, she left to further pursue her movie career. Without her, "Cheers" ran for another six seasons, with Kirstie Alley joining the cast as the new female lead.
Ron Howard starred on "Happy Days" as lead character Richie Cunningham for seven years. But the show ran for 10! Ron left his role as the all-American teenager in 1984, but when producers panicked, he agreed to return for some guest spots. Richie ended up joining the Army and was shipped off to Greenland.
"Lethal Weapon" will have to continue on without not one but two of its lead actors. Clayne Crawford took on the role of Riggs when the TV reboot debut in 2016, but his reportedly toxic behavior and angry outbursts on the set led to his firing in May 2018. "American Pie" alum Sean William Scott was hired to replace him, and everything seemed to be going well… until the show's other lead, Damon Wayans, announced plans to leave the series, citing his age and health. "You have to look yourself in the eye and ask, who are you? It can't be all about work. I'm from a big family, a loving family. All the family gatherings, I haven't seen them. I'm too tired or I can't because it conflicts with work," he told Electronic Urban Report in October 2018. "I have seven grandkids. I've been missing recitals and graduations. To me it's just not worth it. There is a better way to live life." Damon planned to finish production on the 13 episodes ordered by FOX for Season 3. No word yet on his replacement!
After 13 years, Michael Weatherly left the role of Anthony "Tony" DiNozzo on "NCIS" in the spring of 2016. He told TV Insider that his decision was a result of Cote de Pablo's departure, and he also wanted to branch out more professionally. "Their great dynamic, the badinage and sparring and flirting between [Tony and Cote's Ziva] and how they would swing from siblings to near lovers and back to buddies, that was gone, and then I got to the point where I felt I'd stayed at the party for too long," he said. "I would look around the room and other people were really in sync and having fun. The show was a huge success, but I just suddenly realized that I probably had other things that I should be doing. And then the wanderlust set in. I directed a documentary. I have a production company. And I wanted to spend time with my family." The drama kicked off its 15th season in September 2017.
It's hard to picture "Laverne & Shirley" without Shirley Feeney, but Cindy Williams left the show after the second episode during its eighth and final season. At the time, she was pregnant with her first child. She spoke about her decision on the "Today" show in June 2015. "When it came time for me to sign my contract for that season, they had me working on my due date to have my baby," she revealed. "And I said, 'You know, I can't sign this.' And it went back and forth and back and forth and it just never got worked out."
Michael Pitt starred as Jimmy Darmody on "Boardwalk Empire," HBO's critically acclaimed period drama. It came as a huge shock when Jimmy — a star character who was the protégé of the lead, gangster Nucky Thompson (played by Steve Buscemi) — was killed off after two seasons in 2012. The show went on for another three seasons without him.
Christopher Meloni stopped playing Elliot Stabler on "Law & order: SVU" in 2011. He'd been on the show since it began in 1999, so his exit broke many hearts. The show continues to this day without the seasoned detective. In March 2016, Christopher was asked by HuffPost Live if he would return. "No, I heard that rumor along with everybody else," he said. "I have no idea where that came from or what that's about."
When John Ritter unexpectedly died in 2003, his hit show, "8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter," tried to continue on without him. The ABC sitcom went on hiatus then returned with his character's death written into the show. Guest stars filled in for John but audiences didn't take to the new format and "8 Simple Rules" was cancelled after two seasons.