With recent rumblings that Laura Prepon is leaving Orange is the New Black after a wildly successful first season, it’s as good a time as any to look back at other notable exits from hit shows and why they went down:
Michael J. Fox, Spin City
During the fourth season of Spin City, a sitcom focused on Fox’s Michael Flaherty as he balanced the duties of New York City mayor with the personal life of a womanizer, the actor announced he had Parkinson’s Disease. Understandably, he would thus be leaving the show to spend more time with his family. He returned in a few episodes of the final season to close up his character arc, but hasn’t made many appearances since—the most notable being simultaneously the most hilarious and offensive subject of Larry David’s neurosis.
Rob Lowe, The West Wing
When The West Wing got its start, the show was marketed around Rob Lowe as the main character. As it progressed, his co-stars established themselves just a little more than dear Rob. They banded together, demanded a pay raise, and after they got it, Rob asked for a raise and was refused. Famously remarking, “This is not right. It’s just not right,” he left after three seasons, and the NBC drama went on for another three without him. At least he’s found plenty of work since and, perhaps more importantly, manages to retain his devilish good looks despite pushing 50.
Topher Grace, That 70’s Show
The world’s most famous Topher left That 70’s Show, the classic sitcom with a brutal laugh track, prior to its eighth and final season. Allegedly, he left to make it big as a movie star, much like his co-star Ashton “Jobs” Kutcher, but it hasn’t worked out quite as well for him. He did make one right decision though: he’s definitely not a Chris.
Steve Carell, The Office
With all due respect to Rob Lowe, this was the saddest departure from a beloved show. Carell made his exit during season seven of The Office to pursue other projects, and the show waded through two years of awkward bosses and annoying storylines before finally calling it quits this spring. Fittingly, Carell agreed to a cameo in the finale, delivering the ultimate “that’s what she said” all Office fans desperately wanted. It’s a crime the man never won an emmy for Michael Scott.
Charlie Sheen, Two and a Half Men
Christopher Abbott, Girls
Earlier this year, the news broke that Christopher Abbott, better known as Charlie on Girls, would not be returning for the show’s third season — citing “creative differences” with Lena Dunham. What this actually means is that she wanted him to pull an Adam and angrily masturbate in front of his Forbid investors, but he refused. Where’s your dedication, Christopher?
So who’s taking bets on the next public exit from a hit TV show? My money’s on Khaleesi—she’s not meant for this, I mean that, world.