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20 Stars Who Walked Away From Successful TV Shows

Sometimes celebs walk away from the very TV shows that made them famous in the first place. It’s actually not altogether uncommon of a thing.

There’s a ton of reasons actors and actresses might have to leave a show behind. Sometimes it’s about money, other times, they seek more creative control of their roles, and other times they just want to pursue other career opportunities and projects.

Today, we’re going to be taking a look at 18 Stars that walked away from their successful TV shows to move on to greener pastures. We’ll see why folks like Dave Chappelle, Jim Parsons, and Topher Grace left their respective series but up first we got the living legend behind the show about nothing.

Jerry Seinfeld – Seinfeld

After nine seasons of playing a highly-fictionalized version of himself on the eponymous sitcom, Jerry Seinfeld decided that it was finally time to make his exit from the NBC comedy.

Money didn’t seem to be a concern for Seinfeld, as the network was willing to pay him a jaw-dropping $5 million per episode to keep the show going. Jerry explained that he wanted to end the show on a high note. He didn’t want to series to go downhill, rather he wanted it to end from a point of strength, with grace and dignity.

America Ferrera left Superstore

Back in February, Ferrera, who was the lead star and executive producer of NBC’s workplace sitcom Superstore announced that she was leaving after the show’s fifth season.

Part of her announcement was a statement where she described the last five years of working on the series as being some of the most ‘rewarding, enriching, and enjoyable years’ of her career.

Following her departure, the show was renewed for a sixth season where she did throw fans a bone of srots by making a brief guest appearance but the COVID-19 pandemic proved to be problematic for the series filming schedule. As such the season was cut short.

In December, NBC announced that the series had been canceled.

Chelsea DeBoer – Teen Mom 2

After sticking it out on the series for 10 seasons, DeBoer is finally taking her exit from MTV’s Teen Mom 2.

The star announced her decision to leave the show in an Instagram post in November. She was pleased to report to her fans that her parting was on good terms. She also explained that she and her partner Coel DeBoer wanted to move on to focus on different business ventures. DeBoer is also pregnant with her fourth child.

She was a cast member of the show since 2011 and before that, she had appeared on an episode of MTV’s 16 and Pregnant.

Tamera Mowry left The Real

Mowry had been a co-host on the talk-show “The Real” for six seasons but in July she announced via social media that she was leaving the show for good. Another former co-host, Amanda Seales left The Real earlier this year.

Mowry indicated that her reasons for leaving the talk show had to do with the fact that she was in conflict with the producers. NBC News reported her as saying that she couldn’t speak to her audience in the way that she felt they needed to be spoken to – and that the people she worked for her were allegedly treating her in disparaging ways that were entirely inappropriate.

Kourtney Kardashian left Keeping Up With The Kardashians

After spending nearly 18 seasons on the E! series, Kourtney has decided to take a step back from the spotlight and focus on raising her three kids and pursuing her own interests. She described being on the show non-stop for 14 years as being progressively toxic and that her personal life was starting to feel unfulfilled. Over the years, she’s developed a stronger appreciation for her privacy, and obvioulsy being on a reality show completely strips that away from you.

Anna Faris left Mom

Faris announced back in September that she had decided to not return to the cast of the CBS sitcom Mom for the series eighth season.

Reportedly Faris’ character, Christy, will be written off the show with her departure being explained away in some kind of fashion. Allison Janney will continue to play the comedy’s lead role.

Faris cited her desire to ‘pursue new opportunists’ as being the reason for her exit. She expressed no ill will to the producers and writers of the show and noted that she will be watching the next season and rooting for her TV family.

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And make sure you keep watching to find out what inspired stars like Dave Chappelle, Jim Parsons, and Topher Grace to leave their massively popular shows.

Justin Chambers left Grey’s Anatomy

Chambers, who played Alex Karev in the procedural medical series, was one of the only cast members of the show that stayed with the program since its first season way back in 2005. In a statement obtained by The Wrap, Chambers explained that his decision to leave the series was definitely a difficult one, but he explained that he wanted to diversify his acting roles and career choices.

Skeet Ulrich – Riverdale

Skeet played F.P. Jones on the Archie-inspired teen drama Riverdale which airs on The CW. Ulrich explained via an Instagram live video that he had decided to move on from the series because he had become bored creatively.

Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, creator of Riverdale, told EW that he would still leave room for Skeet to return to the show in the future if he so desired, so it sounds like theirs no hard feelings.

Nicole ‘Snooki’ Polizzi left Jersey Shore: Family Vacation

Snooki starred in the original Jersey Shore series when it first aired in 2009 and went on to star in several of the spin-off series such as Snooki & Jwoww and Jersey Shore: Family Vacation.

In December 2019, she told her fans via her podcast ‘It’s Happening With Snooki & Joey’ that after three seasons of being on the show she had finally had enough. She definitely would not be returning to the show for a fourth season.

Snooki explained that she wanted to spend more time with her husband Jionni LaValle and their three kids.

Kal Pen left House

Pen played Dr. Lawrence Kutner on House for 2 seasons but he left Hollywood for a while when he was invited by the Obama administration to join their team as associate director for the office of public liaison. After Pen accepted the position, he was promptly killed off the show.

Jim Parsons – Big Bang Theory

After 12 seasons of playing Sheldon Cooper on NBC’s The Big Bang Theory, actor Jim Parson decided that he was finally ready to leave the show behind.

Money wasn’t an issue for Parsons, especially since he was already one of the highest-paid actors in television history. He wasn’t swayed by the network’s unprecedented offer of $50 million to stay with the series for another 2 seasons.

In a long and emotionally pulling Instagram post, Parsons thanked all of his fans for their years of support and he applauded all of his colleagues that helped make the show possible. He expressed that his decision was a difficult one to make and that he anticipated that he was going to miss being on the series in ways that he wasn’t even aware of yet at the time of writing his statement.

After announcing his departure, CBS decided to pull the plug on The Big Bang Theory after being on the air for 12 seasons.

Mischa Barton – The OC

Barton decided that she had enough of all the drama after playing Marissa Cooper on The OC for three seasons.

She told reporters back in 2016, that after a certain point she wasn’t enjoying being on the show anymore and that she felt like her character had already been through so much that there was little left for her to do.

After she told producers of The OC that she wanted out, her character was promptly killed off the show.

Christopher Meloni – Law And Order: SVU

After 12 years of playing Detective Eliott Stabler on the procedural cop drama, Meloni felt that it was time to hang up his badge for good and finally leave the show. The New York Times further revealed that failed contractual negotiations played a contributing role in his exit.

T. R. Knight – Grey’s Anatomy

After being a cast member of Grey’s Anatomy for 5 seasons portraying George O’Malley, Knight decided to leave the series right at the height of the show’s popularity. He told EW back in 2009 that he and show creator Shonda Rhimes had experienced some sort of breakdown in communication regarding his character’s screen time and that he was so upset that he upped and left.

Dave Chapelle – The Chappelle Show

After just three seasons of starring on his own widely successful sketch-comedy series, Dave Chapelle decided that he had enough of being in the spotlight.

He hadn’t expected stardom to leave him feeling as emotionally drained as it did. He was burned out. He also felt like he was losing his creative control and that his work environment was beginning to feel increasingly more toxic.

Additionally, Chapelle felt shafted by Comedy Central who initially promised he would receive 50% of the proceeds that the show generated. When they cut that number down to 10%, he was unwilling to stay on unless they reconsidered. When the network refused to concede to his terms, the series was effectively canceled.

Adam Brody – Gilmore Girls

Brody had a recurring role on Gilmore Girls as Dave Rygalski, Lane Kim’s boyfriend. He left the series when he was cast as Seth Cohen on The OC. His character’s departure was explained away on Gilmore Girls by Rygalski leaving to attend college in California.

David Caruso – NYPD Blue

Just four episodes into the series second season, Caruso walked away from the show after contractual negotiations hit a brick wall. Caruso wanted $100 thousand an episode but the production company was unwilling to pay him a penny more than the $40 thousand an episode he was paid to star in the series first season.

Topher Grace – That 70s Show

After playing Eric Forman on the popular sitcom for 7 seasons, Grace realized that he was financially stable enough to walk away from the show to pursue other opportunities.

He too wanted to diversify his acting career – setting his sights on the big screen. In 2007, he played Venom in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 3. The film was a financial success, but Grace is widely regarded as being miscast as the film’s villain.

That 70s Show decided to continue on for another season after Grace’s departure, but fans weren’t feeling it and the show was canceled after its eighth season.

It makes sense that TV stars wouldn’t want to be tied to their respective roles for their entire careers. When it’s time to say goodbye, it’s always best to listen to your inner voice and follow your dreams. Being contractually tied to something that you don’t want to be a part of has to feel like being in some kind of prison. The kind where someone keeps prodding you to clap your symbols like that proverbial wind-up monkey toy.

Anyways, who were you saddest to see go when they made their TV departures, Topher Grace on That 70s Show or Jim Parsons on The Big Bang Theory? Drop us a line in the comments section below – or let us know about someone that we might have left out of this video.

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