It’s a sad day when popular shows come to an end. But it’s even sadder when a long-running series comes to an end because one of its main actors decides its time for a new venture, leaving the show behind.
From Jim Parsons saying goodbye to Dr. Sheldon Cooper on The Big Bang Theory to Sarah Michelle Gellar ending an era of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, here are some popular shows that were canceled solely because a lead actor decided to leave.
Ted Danson Wanted To Move On From Cheers
First aired in 1993, Cheers quickly became a must-watch sitcom in more than one household. Holding a top-ten rating for most of its run, the series came to an abrupt halt when lead actor Ted Danson decided it was time to move on to other ventures.
As the guy who owned the bar “Cheers,” executive producer, and co-creator Les Charles knew there was no chance the series was going to survive without Danson. Even though the rest of the castmates pleaded with the actor to do a final season, it didn’t happen. The show ended its long-run after 11 seasons.
Chuck Norris Wanted A Life Outside Of Walker, Texas Ranger
While believability wasn’t Walker, Texas Ranger‘s strong suit, people weren’t really tuning into the action crime series for its solid storyline. People wanted to see Chuck Norris roundhouse kicking bad guys in the face for an hour straight. As the lead actor and executive producer, that’s exactly what Norris gave viewers for eight seasons.
By the end of the 200th episode, though, Norris was getting tired. He takes full responsibility behind the series ending, saying that he wanted to leave Walker, Texas Ranger behind and actually have a life. With Norris saying goodbye, the series came to an end.
Jensen Ackles And Jared Padelecki Walked Away From Supernatural
For 15 seasons, fans watched as the Winchester brothers fought demons, monsters, ghosts, and pretty much every other supernatural being mythology books can whip up. In the end, Supernatural gained a huge following, fandom, and a solid rating of 93% on Rotten Tomatoes. But when the two lead actors, Jensen Ackles and Jared Padelecki, decided it was time to walk away, the show concluded.
No one could really blame the two actors for wanting to leave the show. After 15 seasons, they thought it was time to be with their families in the States instead of spending most of the year filming in Vancouver.
Jim And Jeannie Gaffigan Left The Jim Gaffigan Show
A fictionalized telling of his actual life, The Jim Gaffigan Show starred real-life husband and wife Jim and Jeannie Gaffigan as two parents living in a New York apartment with their five young kids. Getting off to a bumpy start, the series soon found its footing and its ratings shot through the roof.
But that wasn’t enough to keep the Gaffigan’s on. At the end of the second season, the two leads decided it was time to step away from the series and spend time with their actual children, all five of them! With the title character leaving, the series came to an end.
Sarah Michelle Gellar Was Done With Buffy The Vampire Slayer
Even though many “slayers” were introduced in the final season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, showrunner Joss Whedon couldn’t bring himself to proceed with the series after star Sarah Michelle Gellar left. Hanging up her wooden stakes after seven seasons, Michelle Gellar said goodbye to her alter-ego as vampire slayer Buffy Summers, and fans, reluctantly, said goodbye to an era.
During an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Michelle Gellar spoke of her decision to leave the series, saying, “Buffy, in this incarnation, is over.” Who knows, perhaps a reboot, and not another undeveloped spin-off, will happen sometime down the road?
Hilary Duff Walked Away From Lizzie McGuire
One of the most beloved shows to come out of the Disney Channel was Lizzie McGuire, the series about a quirky middle school girl and her two best friends. Two seasons and one epic movie later, lead actress Hilary Duff walked away, and the series ended. But she didn’t walk away for the sake of doing so.
After the wildly successful two seasons, Duff’s mom couldn’t reach a contract agreement with the Disney executives. Mama Duff wanted her daughter to be paid more, but the executives weren’t budging on the salary. So, Lizzie was gone, much to the tween population’s displeasure.
Stephen Amell Left Arrow For Family
The hit CW series Arrow not only brought some beloved DC comic book characters to life, but it wound up being the start to an entire “Arrowverse.” But after eight seasons of being a vigilante and saving Starling/Star City time and time again, lead actor Stephen Amell said goodbye to the character of Oliver Queen/The Hood/Arrow/Green Arrow.
Unfortunately, a series can’t really keep afloat when the title character decides to up and leave. For Amell, the decision to leave Arrow didn’t come lightly. But, in the end, he wanted to spend more time with his new wife and child.
Jim Parsons Left And The Big Band Theory Ended
Doctor Sheldon Cooper was one of the leading characters in the critically acclaimed series The Big Bang Theory. Portrayed by the brilliant Jim Parsons, the role of Dr. Cooper was wildly praised, earning the actor more than one award, including a Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series.
His performance was so loved that fans and his co-stars couldn’t believe their ears when Parsons announced his departure from the series. With his departure, Parsons single-handedly ended the longest-running multi-camera sitcom in the history of television. Even a reported $50 million offer for two years of work wasn’t enough to make the actor stay!
Bea Arthur Left The Golden Girls After The Seventh Season
For many viewers, The Golden Girls was the epitome of what television could be: sassy, smart, and brilliant in all of the right ways. And with a cast of four older women, nonetheless! Even so, one of the main golden gals, Bea Arthur, aka Dorothy Zbornak, opted to leave the show at the end of the seventh season.
The reason for leaving was simple: the series fell out of the Nielsen rating top-ten for the first time, so it was time to move on. Unfortunately, Bea leaving the show also meant it came to an end.
Larisa Oleynik Left The Secret World of Alex Mack
The SNICK series The Secret World of Alex Mack was continuously one of the top three most-watched shows on the network. Following the story of Alex Mack, a teenager who is doused in toxic chemicals and winds up with superpowers, the show was a huge success. Too bad the star Larisa Oleynik opted to leave the show after four seasons.
SNICK didn’t want to see her leave, though. In the end, they offered her a spin-off movie deal and boatload of money to do a fifth season. Oleynik declined, and the series was canceled.
Richard Dean Anderson Was Tired Of MacGyver
For seven seasons, viewers tuned in to MacGyver to watch the adventures of Angus MacGyver, a secret agent who knew a thing or two about survival and making weapons out of any available materials. And while the action on screen was enough to keep people entertained, the lead actor, Richard Dean, was not.
He was more than ready to leave the series once the filming of season seven came to a wrap. Even though losing the title character meant an end to the show, Dean was ready to move on. During an interview with TV Guide, the actor said, “I was physically exhausted and had no life.”
Miley Cyrus Grew Out Of Hannah Montana
In the early 2000s, one of the most-watched series was Hannah Montana, the show about a regular girl who, at night, becomes an international pop star. But even with catchy tween tunes and a quirky coming-of-age storyline, there came a point when lead actress Miley Cyrus decided it was time to act her age.
Thinking she was becoming too old to portray Miley Stewart/Hannah Montana, Cyrus left the show. And with her went any hopes of a fifth and final season.
Kevin James Left The King Of Queens
Centered around the lives of the New York suburb working-class couple Doug and Carrie Heffernan, the sitcom King of Queens came to an abrupt end after nine seasons. Even though it was an award-winning series, lead actor Kevin James didn’t want to risk its cancelation (insert shrug here).
Even though there were no talks of cancelation, James didn’t want the prospect to put a dent in his very new movie career. Too bad the sitcom probably did better than a solid chunk of his feature films.
Elizabeth Montgomery Was Bored Of Bewitched
Through the 60s and 70s, the fantasy sitcom Bewitched was one of ABC’s most popular series. As the second-rated show in the country following its first season, it came as a shock when the series began going downhill by the time the eighth season rolled around.
Unfortunately, for lead actress Elizabeth Montgomery, there were still two years left in her contract with the network. But she was bored and wanted nothing more than to leave the character of Samantha Stephens behind. As a result of her breaching the contract, Bewitched ended and was replaced by The Paul Lynde Show.
Demi Lovato Ended Sonny With A Chance
Actress Demi Lovato is quite transparent about her time working for Disney. Long story short, it wasn’t great for her mental health. To focus more on herself, after two seasons, Lovato decided to leave the series that ultimately put her name on the map, Sonny with a Chance.
Even after Lovato’s hiatus (they thought she’d return), Disney moved forward with a third season, reconstructing the show to more of an SNL sketch series for kids rather than a sitcom. Once Lovato announced she wasn’t planning to return to the show, the third season got a new title, So Random!
Claire Holt Grew Out Of H20: Just Add Water
H20: Just Add Water is an Australian series about three girls who find a mystical pool and turn into mermaids. While it might sound strange, the series actually had a huge following in both Australia and abroad. For three seasons, fans watched as teenagers Emma, Rikki, and Cleo go through typical teenage drama while hiding the fact that they turn into mermaids when wet.
Well, that premise can only go on for so long since actors grow up. And when actress Claire Holt decided it was time to take on new, age-appropriate ventures, the series came to an end.
Dave Chappelle Literally Left The Chappelle Show
The sketch-comedy series The Chappelle Show, starring Dave Chappelle, was critically acclaimed during its run on Comedy Central. And while the series is famous in its own right, it might be even more so due to Chappelle’s abrupt departure halfway through filming the third season.
When he left, the show obviously came to an end. The network wound up offering the comedian a solid $50 million to return. He didn’t, later telling David Letterman that he left his own show because he was afraid of the amount of fame heading his way.
Kat Graham & Ian Somerhalder And The Vampire Diaries
Amazingly, The CW hit series The Vampire Diaries didn’t come to a screeching halt when lead actress Nina Dobrev decided to leave the series after season six. The supernatural drama did come to an end when actors Kat Graham and Ian Somerhalder made it known that season eight would be their last.
With contracts coming to an end and writers running out of creative juice, Graham and Somerhalder called it quits. This time, the showrunners knew it was time to pull the plug on the drama. The good news is there was more than enough material for several successful spinoffs.
Amy Poehler Thought It Was Time To End Parks And Rec
After seven seasons of the beloved sitcom Parks and Recreation, actress Amy Poehler decided it was time to bring the show to an end. The thing is, the show wasn’t exactly “canceled” in the typical sense. Poehler and creator Michael Schur believed the story of the Pawnee Parks and Rec department had been told.
They pitched the idea of a shortened, final seventh season to NBC. The network agreed. And with the departure of Leslie Knope, an end to an era came. Thankfully, they did a flash-forward, giving fans of the series at least a little peace of mind.
Alexis Bledel And Lauren Graham Brought Gilmore Girls To An End
Witty banter, a grade-A mother and daughter relationship, and enough drama to fill pre-teen and teenage hearts. That’s pretty much the sum of Gilmore Girls, one of the best shows to come out of The WB’s catalog. Unfortunately, when showrunner Amy Sherman-Palladino decided to leave after the sixth season, it didn’t take long for stars Alexis Bledel and Lauren Graham to follow suit.
After one more season, the two lead actresses decided it was time to call it quits. The story wasn’t the same without Sherman-Palladino. The decision to cancel came abruptly, without the cast and crew having a proper farewell wrap party.