11 stars who walked away from their successful TV shows

Michael Yarish/Warner Bros. Entertainment/ABCAfter 12 seasons, Jim Parsons is saying farewell to ‘The Big Bang Theory.’

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

Even in its 11th season, “The Big Bang Theory” was still the most-watched show on television with an average of 18.6 million viewers, according to Deadline. Despite the strong ratings, CBS decided that with Parson’s exit it was time to end the show.

Parsons’ choice to leave clearly wasn’t an easy one. In a lengthy and heartfelt post on Instagram, he 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.

Of course, Parsons isn’t the only actor to make the difficult decision to leave a hit show.

Take a look at 11 other stars who walked away from successful TV series below:


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.


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, 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 IndieWire 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.

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

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