13 TV Shows That Lost Their Stars
Batwoman will continue without Ruby Rose, like these other TV series that lost their main actors.
The news that Ruby Rose would be departing The CW's Batwoman came as something of a shock. After all, Rose is Batwoman—it's hard to imagine what the series looks like without its lead actor in the titular role. But Batwoman is far from the first show to lose its star: Plenty of classic TV series (and a few currently running shows) have moved on from major actor departures. From Cheers and ER to Nashville and The Vampire Diaries, here are 13 TV shows that lost their stars and kept going. And for more notable recasting, check out these 16 TV Actors Who Were Replaced Like It Was No Big Deal.
Batwoman, Ruby Rose
On May 19, Ruby Rose announced in a statement that she would be leaving Batwoman in advance of the second season. "This was not a decision I made lightly as I have the utmost respect for the cast, crew, and everyone involved with the show," she said. The creative team behind the series have said they will be recasting the role of Kate Kane (AKA Batwoman), and made a point of noting that the new actress, like Rose, would be a member of the LGBTQ+ community.
Two and a Half Men, Charlie Sheen
Remember "winning" and "tiger blood"? In 2011, Charlie Sheen's "dangerously self-destructive behavior"—and his unkind words about creator Chuck Lorre—led to his firing from Two and a Half Men. In Season 9, Ashton Kutcher joined the cast as billionaire Walden Schmidt. Sheen's character, Charlie, was granted an unceremonious, off-screen death.
Spin City, Michael J. Fox
After Michael J. Fox announced that he had Parkinson's disease in 1998, Spin City worked to lessen the actor's load. Ultimately, however, his symptoms became severe enough that he decided to walk away from the series in 2000. His deputy mayor character was written off the show, and replaced by a new deputy mayor, Charlie Crawford, played by… Charlie Sheen. And for more series you might need a refresher on, revisit these 20 '90s TV Shows You've Completely Forgotten About.
The Vampire Diaries, Nina Dobrev
When Nina Dobrev left The Vampire Diaries in 2015, it was a big deal. The actress didn't just play heroine Elena Gilbert—she also played villainous vampire Katherine Pierce. But the show managed to continue for two seasons without Dobrev, whose character was written into a mystical coma. The actress did reappear in the finale, and got a well-deserved happy ending alongside Ian Somerhalder's Damon Salvatore.
8 Simple Rules, John Ritter
When John Ritter passed away suddenly in Sept. 2003, 8 Simple Rules was in the middle of filming its second season. Ultimately, three Season 2 episodes featuring Ritter as patriarch Paul Hennessy aired, after which the series took a month-long hiatus and resumed with a two-part episode about the family mourning Paul's death. The show continued its season and returned for a third before being canceled.
Charmed, Shannen Doherty
Not only was Shannen Doherty's Prue Halliwell one of the central trio of witch sisters on Charmed—she was the most powerful of the three. But when Doherty decided to leave the show, her character was killed off in the Season 3 finale. When the show returned in Season 4, Rose McGowan joined the cast as Paige Matthews, a half-sister of the Charmed Ones, and ultimately a powerful witch in her own right.
Superstore, America Ferrera
Technically speaking, America Ferrera hasn't left Superstore yet, even though she announced her departure from the series in March. While Season 5 was set to be her last, the coronavirus pandemic cut production short and the season was forced to end on a cliffhanger, with Ferrera's character, Amy, being offered a new job in California. Ferrera will return for the beginning of the next season to resolve the storyline—and Amy's romance with Ben Feldman's Jonah—before Superstore soldiers on without her. And for more series suffering production delays due to the pandemic, here are 10 Beloved TV Shows You Won't See Again in 2020.
The X-Files, David Duchovny
David Duchovny left The X-Files at the end of the long-running sci-fi series' seventh season, but he wasn't exactly gone for good. While his character, Fox Mulder, was abducted by aliens (maybe), Robert Patrick and Annabeth Gish joined the cast to make up for his absence. Still, Mulder appeared here and there, and when the show returned for a 2016 revival, Duchovny was back to full-time status. And for more reboots you're better off forgetting, these are The 13 Most Disappointing TV Reboots of All Time.
Roseanne, Roseanne Barr
How do you continue Roseanne without Roseanne Barr herself? You don't, exactly. The 2018 revival of the ABC sitcom was a huge hit and had already been renewed for a second season when Barr was fired for a racist tweet. Technically speaking, the show was canceled—but not for long. ABC picked up The Conners, a new, Roseanne-less version of the series centered on the other members of the titular family. As for Roseanne? The character died off-screen from an opioid overdose.
Cheers, Shelley Long
Despite the fact that Cheers was one of the most highly rated (and highly awarded) sitcoms on television, Shelley Long had aspirations of movie stardom. That meant leaving the series—and her character, Diane Chambers—behind. Long was replaced by Kirstie Alley, who got to be the new love interest for Ted Danson's Sam Malone. In the series finale, Sam and Diane finally reunited, only to realize they didn't belong together after all. And if you're in the mood to laugh, check out these 17 Underappreciated TV Comedies That Are Available to Stream Right Now.
House of Cards, Kevin Spacey
When sexual misconduct allegations against Kevin Spacey emerged in 2017, Netflix halted production on House of Cards, ultimately deciding to fire the star. After five seasons that had focused on Spacey's nefarious politician Frank Underwood, the final season upgraded co-lead Robin Wright—who played Frank's equally craven wife Claire—to solo starring role (and the presidency). Frank's sudden (off-screen) death became one of Season 6's central mysteries.
Nashville, Connie Britton
When Nashville made the move from ABC to CMT in 2016, Connie Britton took her role as country music star Rayna Jaymes with it. Well, for the first half of the season at least. Rayna died suddenly following complications from a car accident, at which point it was announced—somewhat obviously—that Britton would be leaving the show for good.
ER, George Clooney
Of all the TV actors who left their hit series to become movie stars, George Clooney might be the most notable success story. While he was beloved as Dr. Doug Ross, his decision to exit ER during Season 5 turned out to be an exceptionally smart career move, two Academy Awards later. Clooney did do right by the show that helped make him famous, returning for a final season arc alongside Julianna Margulies as Carol Hathaway.