15 stars who walked away from their successful TV shows

MTV,CBS,ABCSometimes shows go on without their main characters.

Sometimes big-name celebrities walk away from the shows that help them become famous.

Whether they wanted more money or simply wished to move on to new projects, here are 15 actors who left a successful TV series.


In February, America Ferrera announced she’d be leaving “Superstore.”

Screengrab via Superstore/NBCAmerica Ferrera on ‘Superstore.’

In February, America Ferrera, who is the lead on and executive producer of NBC’s “Superstore,” announced she’d be leaving the show after its fifth season.

“The last five years on ‘Superstore’ have been some of the most rewarding, enriching and enjoyable years of my career,” the actress said in a statement obtained by CNN. “Producing, directing and acting with this wonderful cast and crew has given me opportunities to grow as a person and storyteller. I’m so grateful to my partners at NBC and Universal Television for the support and belief they have always placed in the show, and I’m most thankful to the brilliant Justin Spitzer for creating the funny, smart and relevant world of ‘Superstore’ and inviting me to be a part of it.”

The actress played Amy on the show – and “Superstore” has already been renewed for a sixth season.


After 15 years of playing Alex Karev, Justin Chambers left ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy.”

ABCHis character was written off in a way that made many fans angry.

Justin Chambers first began playing Alex Karev on the medical drama in 2005, and he’s one of few cast members who’s remained on the show since its first season.

“There’s no good time to say goodbye to a show and character that’s defined so much of my life for the past 15 years,”Chambers said in a statement obtained by The Wrap. “For some time now, however, I have hoped to diversify my acting roles and career choices. And, as I turn 50 and am blessed with my remarkable, supportive wife and five wonderful children, now is that time.”

According to TV Line, his last episode aired in November, though fans did not know at the time that would be the final time they’d see Karev.

That said, Chambers did a voiceover a few episodes later in what was his character’s official farewell – and many fans called it the worst goodbye a character on “Grey’s” has ever had.


In 2019, Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi announced she’s “retiring” from “Jersey Shore: Family Vacation.”

MTVThe original ‘Jersey Shore’ made her a household name.

In December 2019, long-time “Jersey Shore” star Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi announced she was “retiring” from the MTV reality show, reported Us Weekly.

“OK, you guys, I love you so much, and don’t hate me for my decision, but I have to do what’s best for me at the moment, and I am retiring from ‘Jersey Shore,'” she said on her podcast,“It’s Happening With Snooki & Joey,” which she hosts with her friend Joey Camasta.

“I am not coming back to [the show] for a season four, if there is one. And there’s a lot of reasons why, but the main reason is really … I’m just like, I just can’t do it anymore,” she added.

The reality star went on to say that she has tried to quit the show many times and that she really wants to spend more time with her three kids and husband, Jionni LaValle.

“Jersey Shore” first aired in 2009 and Polizzi has starred on a number of the series’ spinoffs including “Jersey Shore: Family Vacation” and “Snooki & JWoww.”


Kal Penn left “House” to join the Obama administration.

Heal & Toe FilmsHe was on the show for two seasons.

After playing Dr. Lawrence Kutner on “House” for two seasons, actor Kal Penn temporarily left Hollywood for the White House.

When Penn became an associate director for the Obama administration’s Office of Public Liaison, his character on “House” was killed off.


Jim Parsons’ departure from “The Big Bang Theory” led the series to its final season.

Michael Yarish/Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.Of course, Jim Parsons isn’t the only actor to make the difficult decision to leave a hit show.

“The Big Bang Theory” star Jim Parsons decided that after 12 seasons it was time for him to say goodbye to Sheldon Cooper and the CBS sitcom.

Even a deal that would have reportedly nabbed the actor more than $US50 million over two years couldn’t convince the actor to stay.

In a lengthy and heartfelt post on Instagram, Parsons thanked everyone involved with the show, as well as the fans. “I will miss all of you and all of this more than I can say and more than I can know at this time,” he wrote.

After his departure was announced, CBS decided it would end “The Big Bang Theory” after 12 seasons, too.


Mischa Barton had enough of playing Marissa Cooper on “The O.C.”

CWShe didn’t believe there was anything left for her character to do.

After three seasons of drama, Mischa Barton was tired of playing Marissa Cooper.

After her character’s death, the actress told “Access Hollywood,” “My character has been through so, so much and there’s really nothing more left for her to do.”

Later, Barton admitted that she wasn’t having a very good time on the show.

“I think I just got to the point where I was like, ‘I’m not sure I’m enjoying this anymore,'” she said in a segment taped for “Dancing With the Stars” in 2016.


Christopher Meloni walked away from “Law and Order: SVU” after 12 years.

Wolf FilmsHe ended his role as Detective Elliot Stabler.

Christopher Meloni decided it was time to turn in his badge and leave Detective Elliot Stabler behind after salary negotiations hit a wall, according to The New York Times.


T.R. Knight made the decision to leave “Grey’s Anatomy” after his screen time was drastically reduced.

ABCHis character was missed by many fans.

After five seasons of playing Dr. George O’Malley on “Grey’s Anatomy,” T.R. Knight made the decision to leave medical drama at the peak of the show’s popularity.

In 2009, the actor told Entertainment Weekly that he experienced a “breakdown in communication” with show creator Shonda Rhimes and was upset to see his character receive less screen time.


Dave Chappelle walked away from “The Chapelle Show” and a $US50 million deal with Comedy Central because “it didn’t feel right.”

Comedy CentralHe said it just didn’t feel right to continue.

Dave Chappelle left his own successful sketch-comedy show after three seasons.

“And I think that that was a irreconcilable moment for me,” he said in a 2017 interview with “CBS This Morning.”“That I was in this very successful place, but the emotional content of it didn’t feel anything like what I imagined success should feel like. It just didn’t feel right.”


Adam Brody left a recurring role on “Gilmore Girls” to star on “The O.C.”

The CWHe wasn’t on the show for very long.

When Adam Brody was cast as Seth Cohen on “The O.C” it meant leaving behind a recurring role on “Gilmore Girls” as Lane Kim’s boyfriend Dave Rygalski.

When Brody left, his character’s departure was explained by having Dave leave for college in California.


David Caruso left “NYPD Blue” four episodes into the show’s second season.

Steven Bochco ProductionsCaruso (right) wanted higher pay.

David Caruso famously walked away from cop drama “NYPD Blue” after salary negotiations went sour.

According to Entertainment Weekly, Caruso was reportedly asking for $US100,000 per episode, which was more than double the $US40,000 per episode salary he received for season one.


Topher Grace left “That ‘70s Show” after seven seasons because he didn’t need the money.

FOXTopher Grace played Eric Forman on ‘That ’70s Show.’

In 2018, Topher Grace told Indiewire that after portraying Eric Forman for seven seasons he was financially stable enough to leave the show.

“For me, five or six years ago, I looked around at my life and I had just met the woman who is now my wife. I was feeling really confident and good, and it occurred to me that I was really lucky to have been on a sitcom for a lot of years. I realised then that I didn’t really need a lot more money,” he told the publication in 2018.


Jared Padalecki left “Gilmore Girls” for a lead role on “Supernatural.”

NetflixHe played Rory’s love interest, Dean.

“Gilmore Girls” proved to be a great stepping stone for Jared Padalecki, who left the series after five seasons when he landed a lead role on “Supernatural.”

The actor’s exit from “Gilmore Girls” was quick and he was happy to get some “closure” when he made a cameo on the series reboot.


Jerry Seinfeld famously walked away from a $US5 million-per-episode deal to continue starring on “Seinfeld.”

NBCHe wanted to end the show while it was still going strong.

After nine seasons of playing a fictionalized version of himself, Jerry Seinfeld walked away from his NBC sitcom.

“I wanted to end the show on the same kind of peak we’ve been doing it on for years,” he told The New York Times in 1997. “I wanted the end to be from a point of strength. I wanted the end to be graceful.”


Sandra Oh left “Grey’s Anatomy” when she felt like she had accomplished everything she wanted to.

Matt Sayles/APHer character was a main one for 10 seasons.

After playing Dr. Cristina Yang for 10 seasons, Sandra Oh said goodbye to “Grey’s Anatomy.”

In a later interview with Vulture she explained that she “felt like I did all I wanted to do.”

“I didn’t feel like, ‘Ugh, that’s all I can do, I’ve done everything.’ It was more than that. It was actually, dare I say it, a sense of satisfaction,” she added.

Read More:

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.