Roseanne Was Hardly the First: How 10 TV Shows Went on Without Their Lead Characters
What happened: After the popular '90s family sitcom was rebooted and returned to great ratings on ABC in 2018, it was abruptly canceled following a racist tweet sent by the series' creator and star, Roseanne Bar.
What changed: A few weeks after the controversy — and after more questionable tweets from Barr — ABC announced it was moving forward with a spin-off called The Conners, bringing back the Roseanne cast sans Barr, and a slightly new storyline, later in 2018.
HOUSE OF CARDS
What happened: In late 2017, Emmy nominee Kevin Spacey was accused of sexual assault and harassment. Netflix ultimately shut down production on the series, but later decided to revive the show without its star.
What changed: [SPOILER] Interestingly, the season prior had ended with Spacey's on-screen wife Claire Underwood, played by Robin Wright, taking over the presidency, so writers already had a story arc to go on. The show returns to Netflix later this year.
What happened: Longtime star Patrick J. Adams, a.k.a. Mike Ross, chose to leave on his own terms at the end of season 7 in 2018 (at the same time his costar Meghan Markle left for … well, you know why).
What changed: It remains to be seen, as the show isn't back until 2019, but expect to see frequent guests Dulé Hill and Amanda Schull in expanded roles, plus new castmate Katherine Heigl.
8 SIMPLE RULES
What happened: Series patriarch John Ritter died suddenly on Sept. 11, 2003, after experiencing some discomfort on set that morning. The cause of death was later determined to be an aortic dissection.
What changed: The show went on. Ritter had filmed three episodes for the new season; after those aired, his character Paul Hennessy died suddenly of a heart attack while running errands. James Garner and Suzanne Pleshette joined the cast to play his in-laws, and the sitcom continued for two more years.
LAVERNE & SHIRLEY
What happened: Though the '70s series centered on the friendship of Laverne DeFazio (Penny Marshall) and Shirley Feeney (Cindy Williams), its last season was just Laverne, as a pregnant Williams departed the show.
What changed: Not much; the show's eighth and final season, which remained popular, just followed Laverne, then was quietly canceled.
What happened: Following the success of a made-for-TV movie, Charlie's Angels became a primetime series — but one of the show's three female leads, Farrah Fawcett, left inexplicably after one season. She never fully opened up about why she left, though did tell Johnny Carson that she had ideas for her character the network wasn't on board with.
What changed: Cheryl Ladd succeeded Fawcett in a new role as her younger sister. The show continued on for four more seasons, though continued casting changes led to declining ratings.
What happened: After four seasons on the ABC hit, star Michael J. Fox announced his departure in 1998 to spend more time with family in the wake of his Parkinson's diagnosis. The network took some time to decide if it wanted to continue without him, ultimately bringing in Charlie Sheen to play the new deputy mayor.
What changed: Ratings actually went up for a while, as Sheen brought a new dynamic to the series (costarring Heather Locklear, who called the revamp "sexier"). It ended after six seasons, in 2002.
TWO AND A HALF MEN
What happened: Charlie Sheen. The show's star entered rehab in 2010 and announced he was leaving the popular CBS sitcom, though later signed a new contract. However, he returned to rehab in 2011, and at the same time disparaged the show's creator Chuck Lorre in a series of interviews. CBS and Warner Bros. jointly dropped Sheen not long after.
What changed: Sheen's character Charlie Harper was dramatically killed off, and Ashton Kutcher came on for the final four seasons in a lead role alongside remaining star Jon Cryer.
What happened: Star Valerie Harper, who played family matriarch Valerie Hogan, asked for a raise and — execs said no, instead showing her the door. She eventually won a multi-million dollar settlement against the production company.
What changed: After killing off Harper's character, producers brought in Sandy Duncan to play her sister-in-law Sandy Hogan, renaming the show Valerie's Family and later, The Hogan Family.
What happened: ABC's sitcom was one of the most popular on TV beginning in 1976, thanks to the chemistry of its stars John Ritter, Joyce DeWitt and Suzanne Somers. But when Somers asked for a big raise after four seasons — and was denied — things got ugly. After some tough back-and-forth from both parties, ABC let her go.
What changed: Jenilee Harrison was brought in to play a cousin of Somers' former character. A second blonde, Priscilla Barnes, joined the next season, and the show continued until 1984.