Can 'Cuckoo' survive with a new star? These six sitcoms also suffered cast re-shuffles.
BBC3 comedy ‘Cuckoo’ has announced it is to replace star Andy Samberg with Twlight actor Taylor Lautner, giving the show a new main character. Replacing one of a show’s main cast members is always a tricky move and there’s no telling how viewer’s will react. We don’t want to burst ‘Cuckoo’s’ bubble but these six series show that replacing main stars is quite often a recipe for cancellation.
Back in the mid 90s Michael J Fox’s career was enjoying a resurgence with his starring role as New York Deputy Mayor Mike Flaherty. However Fox was suffering from Parkinson’s disease and by 2000 his worsening symptoms forced him to leave the show after four seasons. Despite the loss of Fox and the show’s main producer and co-creator Bill Lawerence, the remaining producers decided to carry on and replace Fox’s character. Flaherty was written out, after taking the blame for the mayor’s mafia scandal, and new deputy Charlie Crawford took his place. Crawford was played by Charlie Sheen who, after a few scandals of his own, was rebuilding his career through television (we’ll see how that turned out later.) The show did have some success with Sheen but it eventually lost momentum and was cancelled after two seasons. Still the show is notable for being the first time tv viewers learnt that Sheen was incapable of playing a character not called Charlie.
That 70’s Show.
The retro comedy that launched the careers of Ashton Kutcher, Wilmer Valderrama and Mila Kunis, went through a major shake-up in its final season. Grace and Kutcher left, leaving a void that writers filled with new character Randy, played by Madtv’s Josh Meyers. Randy didn't prove a hit with audiences and the show’s eighth season would be its last. The show’s final episode was set on December 31st 1979, thus waving goodbye to the season and the decade. Grace and Kutcher would both make appearances in the finale as the cast leave the Foreman’s basement for the final time.
Eight Simple Rules
Tragedy struck Eight Simple Rules when star John Ritter unexpectedly died of a heart attack during the filming of the show’s second season. Producers made the unusual decision of deciding to carry on and incorporating Ritter’s death into the storyline. David Spade and James Garner were brought in to play Katy Seigal’s character’s nephew and father respectively. The new cast saw the sitcom’s popularity wain and it was cancelled after its third season. Unfortunately the popular show was a victim of a unforeseeable tragedy that it could never fully recover from.
Two and a Half Men
It’s entry number two for Charlie Sheen who got to see it from the other side this time, when he was replaced on ‘Two and a Half Men’. The story of what happened between Sheen and Warner Brothers executives is now infamous, and Sheen spent most of early 2011 making front page headlines because of it. In a nutshell, Sheen was fired from his role as Charlie (again, yes) Harper after he made derogatory comments about the show’s creator Chuck Lorre. The ensuing drama involved many viral videos, a machete and the coining of a new catchphrase, ‘winning’. Sheen was then replaced by Ashton Kutcher, which sadly didn't lead to an amazing That 70s Show-Spin City-Two and a Half Men crossover, instead Kutcher’s version is doing not too bad in the ratings as the show continues into its 11th season.
Zach Braff played J.D. on Scrubs who served as not only the show’s main character, but also its narrator, but after 8 seasons the actor handed over narrating duties to a new character, but stuck around for the transition. After six episode’s Braff left the new cast to fend for themselves and well, they didn't quite make it. Scrubs was unsurprisingly cancelled after the 9th season leaving it better left remembered with J.D.’s narration.
The American Office, or just The Office lost main actor Steve Carrell after its seventh season. He was replaced by former guest star James Spader. However after one season with Spader at the helm he departed, meaning even more cast changes for season 9. The show ended up playing out it’s final season focusing on established characters Pam, Jim and Dwight. Ratings fell after Carrell’s departure and although the show soldiered on for another two seasons, cancellation was inevitable. The show ended with an all star finale episode that saw Steve Carrell return to play Michael Scott one last time.