Anna Faris Isn't the First: When Stars Leave Hit TV Shows

Anna Faris Isn't the First: When Stars Leave Hit TV Shows

Mom is officially down a mom.

Anna Faris Isn't the First: When Stars Leave Hit TV Shows
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When the CBS sitcom returned for season eight on Thursday, Nov. 5, it did so with an Anna Faris-sized hole in its cast. After starring as struggling alcoholic Christy Plunkett since the series' premiere in 2013, the actress shocked fans by announcing that she was leaving the role behind to pursue other opportunities. All this just days before production on the delayed new season was set to commence.

"The past seven years on Mom have been some of the most fulfilling and rewarding of my career," she said in an early September statement. "I'm so thankful to [Chuck Lorre], the writers, and my amazing castmates for creating a truly wonderful work experience. While my journey as Christy has come to an end, allowing me to pursue new opportunities, I'll be watching next season and rooting for my TV family."

Faris' departure leaves Allison Janney, who stars as Christy's own mom and fellow AA attendee Bonnie, as the show's sole lead—though she remains supported by series regulars Mimi Kennedy, Jaime Pressly, Beth Hall, Kristen Johnston and William Fichtner.

Anna Faris' Best Roles

Speaking with Entertainment Tonight about the path forward, Janney said, "It's a huge loss for the show to not have Anna because she was part of creating a character, Christy, that everyone fell in love with. I think I'll miss the most, for me, the relationship between Bonnie and Christy, even though that will still continue [off screen]."

And the season premiere made clear that, though Christy was gone, she wouldn't be forgotten. After pursuing a future as a lawyer over the last few seasons, she left Napa and her support group behind to study law across the country at Georgetown University. While Bonnie struggled to process her empty nest, she received a call from Christy. So fans can count on regular updates as she works towards her off-screen happy ending.

As co-creator Gemma Baker told TVLine prior to the premiere, "One of the beautiful things about recovery is that quite often people's lives get bigger and better than they could have imagined. And that will be Christy's experience. We are pretty sure that our audience, many of whom have been rooting for Christy since the pilot, will be happy for her and satisfied by her new path."

Mom is hardly the first series in TV history to lose a lead actor. Take a look at all those stars who've similarly left the party early.

CBS; CW; Showtime; AMC; Melissa Herwitt/E! Illustration © Provided by E! CBS; CW; Showtime; AMC; Melissa Herwitt/E! Illustration Ruby Rose riding a motorcycle on a city street: Rose played the titular role of Batwoman, aka Kate Kane, in the CW drama. She made her debut in 2018's Arrowverse crossover and then starred in one season of the series—making history as the first lesbian superhero to headline their own show, as Batwoman came out of the closet in a major TV moment—before announcing her exit just two days after the season one finale aired. The role was eventually replaced with Javicia Leslie cast as Ryan Wilder, a new character set to take control of the Batcave in season two. © Provided by E! Rose played the titular role of Batwoman, aka Kate Kane, in the CW drama. She made her debut in 2018's Arrowverse crossover and then starred in one season of the series—making history as the first lesbian superhero to headline their own show, as Batwoman came out of the closet in a major TV moment—before announcing her exit just two days after the season one finale aired. The role was eventually replaced with Javicia Leslie cast as Ryan Wilder, a new character set to take control of the Batcave in season two. Jason Ralph standing in front of a brick wall: In the season four finale of the Syfy series, Ralph's character Quentin completed his quest to save Eliot ( Hale Appleman ), but sacrificed himself in the process. While the show does feature dead characters—it's called The Magicians after all—Ralph did not return for the fifth and final season. © Syfy In the season four finale of the Syfy series, Ralph's character Quentin completed his quest to save Eliot ( Hale Appleman ), but sacrificed himself in the process. While the show does feature dead characters—it's called The Magicians after all—Ralph did not return for the fifth and final season. Emily Bett Rickards wearing glasses: Ahead of the final season, Arrow 's Rickards announced her exit in a poem of sorts. "Felicity and I are a very tight two But after one through seven we will be saying goodbye to you," she wrote. She did, however, return for a guest appearance in the show's series finale. © CW Ahead of the final season, Arrow 's Rickards announced her exit in a poem of sorts. "Felicity and I are a very tight two But after one through seven we will be saying goodbye to you," she wrote. She did, however, return for a guest appearance in the show's series finale. a person standing in front of a door: Cohan said see you later to The Walking Dead following prolonged contract negotiations. She appeared in a handful of season nine episodes, but after a six-year time jump her character Maggie Greene was nowhere to be seen. Producers were hopeful she'd return in some capacity for season 10, and after her short-lived ABC series Whiskey Cavalier was canceled, they got their wish. Cohan made her grand return in this season's 16th episode, which aired in October 2020. © AMC Cohan said see you later to The Walking Dead following prolonged contract negotiations. She appeared in a handful of season nine episodes, but after a six-year time jump her character Maggie Greene was nowhere to be seen. Producers were hopeful she'd return in some capacity for season 10, and after her short-lived ABC series Whiskey Cavalier was canceled, they got their wish. Cohan made her grand return in this season's 16th episode, which aired in October 2020. a person standing on top of a grass covered field: Hot on the heels of Lauren Cohan and Andrew Lincoln bidding farewell to the zombie drama came Gurira's exit. After joining the AMC series in season three as the katana-wielding Michonne, she made her last appearance in a season 10 episode which aired in March 2020. © AMC Hot on the heels of Lauren Cohan and Andrew Lincoln bidding farewell to the zombie drama came Gurira's exit. After joining the AMC series in season three as the katana-wielding Michonne, she made her last appearance in a season 10 episode which aired in March 2020. Nicollette Sheridan sitting in a chair: A recurring player in season one and series regular in season two, Sheridan starred as the iconic character Alexis Carrington. She announced plans to exit the CW reboot ahead of season three to spend time with her ailing mother. © CW A recurring player in season one and series regular in season two, Sheridan starred as the iconic character Alexis Carrington. She announced plans to exit the CW reboot ahead of season three to spend time with her ailing mother. George Eads standing in front of a plane: Eads exited the CBS remake in 2019, midway through season three. At the time, he expressed his desire to leave and spend more time with his family. © CBS Eads exited the CBS remake in 2019, midway through season three. At the time, he expressed his desire to leave and spend more time with his family. Damon Wayans driving a car: Fox's Lethal Weapon is no stranger to cast exit drama. Clayne Crawford was fired from the series after the second season and his former TV partner Wayans announced his plans to exit the hit drama after the 13-episode third season. "I'm going to be quitting the show in December after we finish the initial 13, so I really don't know what they're planning, but that's what I'm planning," he said . "I'm a 58-year-old diabetic and I'm working 16-hour days… Murtaugh said, ‘too old for this.'" Producers didn't need to work on a replacement plan, though. The show was canceled at the end of season three. © Fox Fox's Lethal Weapon is no stranger to cast exit drama. Clayne Crawford was fired from the series after the second season and his former TV partner Wayans announced his plans to exit the hit drama after the 13-episode third season. "I'm going to be quitting the show in December after we finish the initial 13, so I really don't know what they're planning, but that's what I'm planning," he said . "I'm a 58-year-old diabetic and I'm working 16-hour days… Murtaugh said, ‘too old for this.'" Producers didn't need to work on a replacement plan, though. The show was canceled at the end of season three. Cameron Monaghan et al. sitting at a table: Ian Gallagher went to the slammer. When Monaghan left Shameless during its ninth season, his character was locked up. In reality, Monaghan was ready to explore new projects after nine years on the show. But, in a true TV twist, he went ahead and signed on to return for season 10 anyway. He'll be present and accounted for when the show returns for its 11th and final season in December 2020. © Showtime Ian Gallagher went to the slammer. When Monaghan left Shameless during its ninth season, his character was locked up. In reality, Monaghan was ready to explore new projects after nine years on the show. But, in a true TV twist, he went ahead and signed on to return for season 10 anyway. He'll be present and accounted for when the show returns for its 11th and final season in December 2020. Emmy Rossum smiling for the camera: After nine seasons as Fiona Gallagher, Rossum announced plans to leave Shameless . "Emmy Rossum will forever be part of the Shameless family," executive producer John Wells said in a statement. "She has been integral to the show's success, from her wonderful portrayal of Fiona to her leadership role on set, as well as directing multiple episodes of the series. We are hard at work now creating a season nine finale for Shameless which we hope will provide a Gallagher-worthy sendoff for Fiona that honors the great work Emmy has done. It is always bittersweet when an ensemble member decides to move out of the proverbial house, but our door will always remain open for Fiona to return home for a visit, or to move back in. I look forward to continuing the stories of this wildly unpredictable family and all of us on Shameless will miss Emmy and her wonderful Fiona." © Showtime After nine seasons as Fiona Gallagher, Rossum announced plans to leave Shameless . "Emmy Rossum will forever be part of the Shameless family," executive producer John Wells said in a statement. "She has been integral to the show's success, from her wonderful portrayal of Fiona to her leadership role on set, as well as directing multiple episodes of the series. We are hard at work now creating a season nine finale for Shameless which we hope will provide a Gallagher-worthy sendoff for Fiona that honors the great work Emmy has done. It is always bittersweet when an ensemble member decides to move out of the proverbial house, but our door will always remain open for Fiona to return home for a visit, or to move back in. I look forward to continuing the stories of this wildly unpredictable family and all of us on Shameless will miss Emmy and her wonderful Fiona." Chelsea Peretti standing in front of a window: Peretti appeared in Brooklyn Nine-Nine when it made its NBC debut, but she didn't stick around for the whole run. In a series of tweets in 2018, the actress announced her plans to leave the comedy , but maintained she would be back. She even used Emmy Rossum 's farewell letter to Shameless as the basis of her own. Peretti welcomed a son with husband Jordan Peele in 2017. Her character was on maternity leave and sat out several episodes in season five. © NBC Peretti appeared in Brooklyn Nine-Nine when it made its NBC debut, but she didn't stick around for the whole run. In a series of tweets in 2018, the actress announced her plans to leave the comedy , but maintained she would be back. She even used Emmy Rossum 's farewell letter to Shameless as the basis of her own. Peretti welcomed a son with husband Jordan Peele in 2017. Her character was on maternity leave and sat out several episodes in season five. Andrew Lincoln standing on top of a wooden fence: Andrew Lincoln said goodbye to the blood, sweat and dirt of the zombie apocalypse and left The Walking Dead during season nine. "These guys have been the best surrogate family I could have hoped for. But I do have a real family and it is time for me to go home," Lincoln said at San Diego Comic-Con. He is, however, due to reprise the role in a film trilogy sometime in the future. © AMC Andrew Lincoln said goodbye to the blood, sweat and dirt of the zombie apocalypse and left The Walking Dead during season nine. "These guys have been the best surrogate family I could have hoped for. But I do have a real family and it is time for me to go home," Lincoln said at San Diego Comic-Con. He is, however, due to reprise the role in a film trilogy sometime in the future. Mark Harmon, Pauley Perrette are posing for a picture: After 15 years, Pauley Perrette hung up her lab coat and left NCIS in 2018 . "I believe in God and the universe so firmly, and it just suddenly became blindingly apparent that now was the time," she said . "After a lot of thought, I decided to announce it myself on Twitter because I didn't want it to be turned into anything 'shocking. Abby leaving is more than a cheap TV ploy." © Sonja Flemming/CBS After 15 years, Pauley Perrette hung up her lab coat and left NCIS in 2018 . "I believe in God and the universe so firmly, and it just suddenly became blindingly apparent that now was the time," she said . "After a lot of thought, I decided to announce it myself on Twitter because I didn't want it to be turned into anything 'shocking. Abby leaving is more than a cheap TV ploy." a woman wearing a red hat: Original cast member Holland's exit from The CW's Arrow had been in the works for a while, boss Marc Guggenheim told TVLine . She asked to have her episode count reduced and then to be written out in season six. Her departure just happened to coincide with the return of Thea's boyfriend, Roy ( Colton Haynes ), and so they headed off into the sunset together to destroy the dangerous Lazarus Pits that her late father had discovered. © CW Original cast member Holland's exit from The CW's Arrow had been in the works for a while, boss Marc Guggenheim told TVLine . She asked to have her episode count reduced and then to be written out in season six. Her departure just happened to coincide with the return of Thea's boyfriend, Roy ( Colton Haynes ), and so they headed off into the sunset together to destroy the dangerous Lazarus Pits that her late father had discovered. Grace Park standing in front of a car: Park, who shot to fame on Battlestar Galactica , left Hawaii Five-0 ahead of its eighth season. She and costar Daniel Dae Kim left after negotiations to reach pay parity with their co-stars failed. © CBS Park, who shot to fame on Battlestar Galactica , left Hawaii Five-0 ahead of its eighth season. She and costar Daniel Dae Kim left after negotiations to reach pay parity with their co-stars failed. Daniel Dae Kim standing in front of a forest: Kim and his costar Grace Park left the CBS drama in between seasons seven and eight. In a Facebook post, Kim said the choice to leave was difficult , and that he made himself available to come back, but "CBS and I weren't able to agree to terms on a new contract." © CBS Kim and his costar Grace Park left the CBS drama in between seasons seven and eight. In a Facebook post, Kim said the choice to leave was difficult , and that he made himself available to come back, but "CBS and I weren't able to agree to terms on a new contract." Sophia Bush talking on a cell phone: Season four of the NBC drama ended with Bush's character entertaining a job offer in New York with the FBI, taking her out of the titular Windy City. In December 2018, the actress explained that she quit the series after "a consistent onslaught barrage of abusive behavior." © NBC Season four of the NBC drama ended with Bush's character entertaining a job offer in New York with the FBI, taking her out of the titular Windy City. In December 2018, the actress explained that she quit the series after "a consistent onslaught barrage of abusive behavior." T.J. Miller et al. eating a donut: After four seasons on the HBO comedy, Miller departed, calling it an "organic ending." He told Entertainment Weekly , "Also, in a weird way, it's interesting to me to leave a show at its height. It's interesting to me to see how the show will grow and change with the exit of this character." © HBO After four seasons on the HBO comedy, Miller departed, calling it an "organic ending." He told Entertainment Weekly , "Also, in a weird way, it's interesting to me to leave a show at its height. It's interesting to me to see how the show will grow and change with the exit of this character." a person standing in front of a store: After just one season on the CBS comedy, there was quite a shakeup afoot. Hayes, who played wife to Kevin James , left as part of a creative shakeup. However, from the sounds of her tweet, it wasn't a mutual decision. "True, I've been let go from the show. Very sad, I had a great experience season 1," Hayes said on Twitter. "Thank you for all the support from our wonderful fans." Kevin then moved on, in a way, with former King of Queens costar Leah Remini . CBS then moved on and canceled the show altogether. © CBS After just one season on the CBS comedy, there was quite a shakeup afoot. Hayes, who played wife to Kevin James , left as part of a creative shakeup. However, from the sounds of her tweet, it wasn't a mutual decision. "True, I've been let go from the show. Very sad, I had a great experience season 1," Hayes said on Twitter. "Thank you for all the support from our wonderful fans." Kevin then moved on, in a way, with former King of Queens costar Leah Remini . CBS then moved on and canceled the show altogether. Jennifer Morrison wearing a costume: Emma Swan left Storybrooke early. Jennifer Morrison announced her departure from Once Upon a Time , but then appeared in an episode of the rebooted series in season seven to help say goodbye to her character, who simply went off to have a happy ending in a different universe. She later returned for the series finale to help say goodbye to her show. © ABC Emma Swan left Storybrooke early. Jennifer Morrison announced her departure from Once Upon a Time , but then appeared in an episode of the rebooted series in season seven to help say goodbye to her character, who simply went off to have a happy ending in a different universe. She later returned for the series finale to help say goodbye to her show. Connie Britton wearing a dress: Y'all heard the rumors about Britton's potential exit from the series once it was revived by CMT, but Britton herself downplayed them...for a time. Britton's character Rayna died from injuries sustained in a car accident. She took to Instagram to pay tribute to the character and the show after the episode aired. "It has been an honor to be a part of that creation. And as I know she would want it, the show must, and will go on. Long live Rayna Jaymes," she wrote . © ABC Y'all heard the rumors about Britton's potential exit from the series once it was revived by CMT, but Britton herself downplayed them...for a time. Britton's character Rayna died from injuries sustained in a car accident. She took to Instagram to pay tribute to the character and the show after the episode aired. "It has been an honor to be a part of that creation. And as I know she would want it, the show must, and will go on. Long live Rayna Jaymes," she wrote . Stana Katic in a black shirt: Castle without Beckett? You better believe it. After eight seasons of solving crimes and falling in love, Katic was let go from the long-running series by ABC (along with her co-star Tamala Jones ) prior to a potential season nine renewal, leaving Nathan Fillion 's titular character to handle things on his own, should the series return. Following the surprising announcement, Katic released a statement to E! News, saying, "Rather than distract from what was an amazing experience I would just like to say that I'm very grateful to ABC for giving me the opportunity to be a part of a much beloved show. Thank you to the fans." The series did not end up returning. © ABC Castle without Beckett? You better believe it. After eight seasons of solving crimes and falling in love, Katic was let go from the long-running series by ABC (along with her co-star Tamala Jones ) prior to a potential season nine renewal, leaving Nathan Fillion 's titular character to handle things on his own, should the series return. Following the surprising announcement, Katic released a statement to E! News, saying, "Rather than distract from what was an amazing experience I would just like to say that I'm very grateful to ABC for giving me the opportunity to be a part of a much beloved show. Thank you to the fans." The series did not end up returning. Nicole Beharie, Tom Mison are posing for a picture: Beharie confirmed following the show's season three finale that her character, Abbie Mills, was really dead. As in not supernaturally coming back somehow should the show be renewed for a fourth season. It lasted one more season without her before being canceled. © Tina Rowden/FOX Beharie confirmed following the show's season three finale that her character, Abbie Mills, was really dead. As in not supernaturally coming back somehow should the show be renewed for a fourth season. It lasted one more season without her before being canceled. a person standing in front of Pauley Perrette, Michael Weatherly posing for the camera: After 13 years with the show, Weatherly, who was with the series from the start, announced he would be leaving NCIS . "He is a valued part of the CBS family, and the immense charm and talent he brings to the screen as 'Very' Special Agent Tony DiNozzo has helped make NCIS what it is today—the No. 1 drama in the world," CBS said in a statement. "We thank Michael for all of his contributions to this successful franchise and look forward to continuing to develop projects with him as part of our ongoing development deal." © CBS After 13 years with the show, Weatherly, who was with the series from the start, announced he would be leaving NCIS . "He is a valued part of the CBS family, and the immense charm and talent he brings to the screen as 'Very' Special Agent Tony DiNozzo has helped make NCIS what it is today—the No. 1 drama in the world," CBS said in a statement. "We thank Michael for all of his contributions to this successful franchise and look forward to continuing to develop projects with him as part of our ongoing development deal."

Mom airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. on CBS.

(Originally published on November 5, 2020, at 4 p.m. PST.)

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