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Sometimes the lead of a popular sitcom leaves for a better future in movies or family. Here are 9 popular TV comedies that lost their lead actor and kept going.
- Spin City (Michael J. Fox). Sadly, Michael J. Fox had to step down from his role on Spin City because of Parkinson’s Disease. He was replaced with Charlie Sheen, who stayed on Spin City until it was canceled two years later.
- A Different World (Lisa Bonet). The Cosby Show spin off A Different World was centered on Denise Huxtable in college. However, Lisa Bonet left the comedy after one season because of her pregnancy. A Different World re-focused its attention on Jasmine Guy’s character Whitley Gilbert for an addition five seasons. Marisa Tomei was nowhere to be found.
- That ‘70s Show (Topher Grace). Topher Grace left That ’70s Show to focus on his movie career (which worked out great for him), while Josh Meyers replaced him as Randy Pearson. That ’70s Show lasted for another season, while Ashton Kutcher also left the sitcom.
- The Office (Steve Carell). At the end of season seven, Steve Carell left The Office to focus on his movie career, while the attention shifted to Rainn Wilson, John Krasinski, and Jenna Fischer for two more seasons.
- Happy Days (Ron Howard). After playing Richie Cunningham on Happy Days, Ron Howard left the sitcom after season seven to take up a new career as a film director. Ted McGinley replaced him as the Cunningham’s nephew Roger for four more seasons.
- Laverne & Shirley (Cindy Williams). Shirley left Laverne & Shirley after she thought producers were trying to write her off the show because of her pregnancy. The sitcom was still called Laverne & Shirley despite going on without Cindy Williams and her character Shirley. It lasted for one more season.
- Valerie (Valerie Harper). While the series was created for Valerie Harper, which is why it was called Valerie, she left the show after a dispute with producers after season two. She was replaced with Sandy Duncan and the sitcom was re-titled Valerie’s Family and then The Hogan Family. It lasted for an additional four more seasons.
- Cheers (Shelley Long). At the height of its success, Shelley Long left Cheers to focus on her movie career (which, again, worked out great for her). She was replaced with Kirstie Alley for six more seasons and some of the best episodes of Cheers.
- 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter (John Ritter). Unfortunately, John Ritter died in 2003 in the middle of working on 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter. His untimely death was written into the sitcom, which was shortened to 8 Simple Rules. James Garner and David Spade were brought into the cast for an additional two seasons before it was canceled.