Television is the pinnacle of American entertainment. Just about every American home owns at least one television set. Our favorite shows draw us in weekly for a dose of fun. Actors cannot always stick around for the entire course of the show. Sometimes these actors want to spread their wings in Hollywood or other projects. What happens to our favorite shows when the lead actor leaves?
Scrubs was a long-standing sitcom featuring love interests, drama, wild tricks and pranks all revolving around the central cast of doctors. The main protagonist was JD, the character portrayed by Zach Braff was the focus of the show with his inner monologues and wild day dreams. The show was thought to end after season eight when Zach Braff left. Unfortunately, show runners decided to air another season with a new central cast, featuring the former stars as background fodder. JD even returned for a short run. The show lacked the heart and originality of prior seasons and only lasted one season.
In a tragic turn of events, John Ritter passed away while filming an episode of his hit comedy 8 Simple Rules. The show was forced to find new direction. After casting David Spade as the deadbeat cousin and James Garner as the elderly grandfather, the show continued for another season before being cancelled for low ratings. While the new cast brought a new and fun element to the show, it was impossible to replace the heart of the program where the father was the main purpose of the program.
Steve Carrell was the central character of The Office. His buffoonish, Michael Scott, was the show’s main focus. When he left to follow other pursuits, the show sought replacement. NBC’s top rated sitcom could not be cancelled so easily. After placing Ed Helms (A series regular) in the manager role and casting the legendary James Spader, the show saw two more successful seasons. The show ended when the show-runners determined it’d be too hard to get the central cast together for more seasons due to other projects.
When a central character is recast or replaced, it changed the direction of the show. In the case of The Office, it was not for the worst. Sadly for Scrubs and 8 Simple Rules, the shows never find new footing with a new leading actor. The fans suffer and the shows often suffer even worse fates than anyone could have guessed.