Television sitcoms have brought us some of the greatest moments in media history, introducing us to the hilarious bickering of Ricky and Lucy from I Love Lucy, to the awkward encounters of six young New Yorkers on Friends. But behind these lovable characters are real human beings who have real lives – not all of which include portraying the same character for years on end.
When those actors and actresses leave for whatever reason, it’s on the network to replace them, and fast. Some shows picked right up and kept moving, while others failed miserably. Here are ten TV shows where the actor replacements almost destroyed the entire show.
Set in New York City, NewsRadio tracks a group of youthful employees at a radio station after the arrival of a new director, who is much more level-headed and calm than the rest. The show highlights the shenanigans of the group as they provide often satirical commentary on the current events of the day.
As expected, the cast was filled with comedians, most notably Phil Hartman, who starred on Saturday Night Live for nearly eight years before coming to NewsRadio. Between the third and fourth seasons, however, Hartman was tragically murdered by his wife, and the studio replaced him with the also-funny Jon Lovitz.
Lovitz wasn’t cast as the same character as Hartman, but the audience never took to him regardless, and the show was cancelled after four seasons.
9. 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter
Another show stricken by tragedy, 8 Simple Rules centered around Three’s Company star John Ritter as he tried to corral his three teenage children.
The ratings were solid, but Ritter died following an undiagnosed heart condition at the start of shooting season two, and was replaced by David Spade and James Garner. Though seasons two and three were rated favorably, it was not replaced for a fourth season.
8. Blue’s Clues
Steve Burns won the role of Blue’s Clues in the highly acclaimed children’s series, but after 100 episodes, he was ready to move on, saying he “didn’t want to lose his hair on a children’s show”.
The show compensated by airing a primetime episode where Burns “went off to college,” and was replaced by Donovan Patton to play Joe, Blue’s new owner. Even though Patton lasted nearly fifty more episodes, the show officially began its free-fall with the departure of Burns.
7. The Office
Steve Carrell is a comic powerhouse these days, but when The Office first premiered, he was mainly known for his work on The Daily Show and The Forty-Year Old Virgin. The movie roles kept coming, and he left The Office after seven seasons, replaced by James Spader as Robert California.
Spader’s character was cocky, brash, and crude, a star contrast to the affable Carrell. He only lasted one season, and the show only lasted one more after that. Now, fans can relive the glory years by watching the office on Netflix.
6. The X-Files
The success of The X-Files hinged on the chemistry between David Duchovny and his co-star Gillian Anderson, so when Duchovny left the show after seven seasons due to a property rights lawsuit with Fox, it was never the same. Duchovny’s character was replaced by Robert Patrick of Terminator 2 fame, but the show ultimately fell flat.