We have previously talked about television’s most infamous jump the shark moments. A lot of them were created by bad decisions like introducing a new character for ratings. But others were created by decisions made behind the scenes. That includes firing or having the show’s creator leave.
Some show creators weren’t able to see their work through due to drama between them and their producers. Sometimes they were able to come back, but not all shows were so lucky. So which show creators jumped ship before their shows ended? Here are 10 that left their work in the hands of someone else.
1. Dan Harmon of Community
This comedy is about a community college study group and its adventures. The show’s creator is Dan Harmon, who reportedly showed up late for work, turned in scripts last-minute, and was the reason for table reads running late. Eventually he made headlines for his feud with one of the show’s stars, Chevy Chase. In particular, voice mails of Chase complaining about Harmon were released. The showrunner was fired on May 18, 2012, and David Guarascio and Moses Port from Happy Endings and Just Shoot Me replaced him.
In response to the shocking news, Joel McHale told E! News, “He created the show, so it would be very weird. I hope it gets settled soon. Dan is the voice of the show, so it would be like Ryan Seacrest not hosting American Idol.” He wasn’t the only one who thought so. Season 4 was without Harmon, and many fans thought the quality declined. Many went to social media to demand getting the creator back. They won.
Harmon was rehired for Season 5, and he no longer had to work with Chevy Chase who left the show. The show made it Season 6, which was on Yahoo rather than NBC before getting canceled.
2. Beau Willimon of House of Cards
The Netflix drama about a Congressman and his wife getting revenge on those who wronged him is a huge hit. The show was run by Beau Willimon who is a writer and director. He only worked in movies before and was nominated for an Academy Award for The Ides of March. But now its fifth season might be a huge test for the show because the creator has left. Unlike other creators who have been fired, this was all Willimon’s decision.
“I’m grateful to Netflix and MRC,” Willimon said according to Variety, “my fellow executive producers, our two incandescent stars Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright, our talented writers, as well as the incredible cast and crew with whom I’ve had the privilege to work. After five years and four seasons, it’s time for me to move on to new endeavors, but I’m supremely proud of what we’ve built together, wish the show much continued success, and leave it in the hands of a very capable team.”
3. Frank Darabont of The Walking Dead
The horror show follows Sheriff Rick Grimes leading a group of people to survive the zombie apocalypse. The creator is Frank Darabont who previously directed The Shawshank Redemption. However, he and the network, AMC, began butting heads over the budget that continually kept getting cut. This led to AMC firing Darabont after the first season aired and Season 2 was in production.
Darabont didn’t take too kindly to this and filed a complaint of wrongful termination. According to Deadline, the creator is seeking payment for the show’s spinoff Fear The Walking Dead along with the after show, Talking Dead.
4. Lorne Michaels of Saturday Night Live
This famous sketch show is responsible for many comedians’ careers, and that is all thanks to Lorne Michaels. The show has blasted through more than 40 seasons, but Michaels wasn’t there for all of them. He left the show after the fifth season along with cast members. This led to a crazy sixth season, which is largely deemed as the show’s worst. It was so bad that NBC got Dave Ebersol in to save the show, which led to the firing of Michaels’s replacement along with most of the cast. Lorne Michaels returned to the show in 1985, made his own cast, and saved the show from cancellation.
5. Aaron Sorkin of The West Wing
The classic show follows the lives of staffers in the White House. It has Aaron Sorkin’s fingerprints all over it from the sayings to the fast talking. However, the creator didn’t stick around. “I had the best job in show business for four years and I’ll never forget that,” read his statement according to The New York Times. Sorkin left the show along with his partner, Thomas Schlamme. Part of the reason for him leaving was reportedly the show’s dipping ratings along with Sorkin being pressured to write much of the show himself.
6. Alfred Gough and Miles Millar of Smallville
The show told the story of young Clark Kent figuring out how to live in Smallville with his super powers. It was created by Alfred Gough and Miles Millar, who both decided to leave after eight seasons. “As the creators of Smallville we look back at 7 amazing years,” read a letter according to Screen Rant. “We look back at 152 episodes. We look back knowing that the show will continue into Season 8 without us. After much heartache and debate we have decided it is time for us to move on.”
This, however, wasn’t a nail in the coffin for the show. It went on to 10 seasons, earning it a Guinness World Record for the longest consecutively running sci-fi television serial at the time.
7. Sam Simon of The Simpsons
The satirical cartoon shows a family living in a town called Springfield. It was created by James L. Brooks, Sam Simon, and Matt Groening, but not all of the creators stayed with the show. Simon hired the first writing staff for the show and was creative supervisor. He left his position after its fourth season due to a conflict he had with Groening, according to The Daily Mail. He has since died from colon cancer. The two other creators are still with the show, which is close to hitting 30 seasons.
8. Mike Kelley of Revenge
The thriller shows Emily Thorne trying to get revenge on those who wronged her father. Creator Mike Kelley, however, jumped ship pretty early in the show after Season 2. Kelley claims that it is was a “mutual decision” between him and ABC Studios.
“Helming this series has been the ride of a lifetime,” said Kelley according to Deadline, “and my producing partner, Melissa Loy, and I will look back on our Revenge time with deep gratitude and respect for Emily and Madeleine and the rest of the incredible cast, our heroic crew, the dedicated and imaginative producing and writing team, and the tireless post production department.” The show continued on until it was canceled after its fourth season.
9. Larry David of Seinfeld
The sitcom had Jerry Seinfeld play a version of himself living in New York with his friends. The comedian created the show with Larry David, who quit multiple times throughout the show due to conflicts with executives. According to The Hollywood Reporter, he quit after the second season, which scared the studio. “From that point on — clear sailing,” said David. “Hardly any notes at all.” Things, however, weren’t perfect, and he quit again after the seventh season, and it stuck. The show continued on until its ninth season.
10. Amy Sherman-Palladino of Gilmore Girls
This shows follows a young single mother and her daughter in Stars Hollow, Connecticut. The show was created by Amy Sherman-Palladino, and her husband helped write and direct. The show had a very specific style of references and fast talking. After Season 6, there was a huge change when its creator left. What led to this decision?
“We’ve been working for the last two years with one-year contracts,” explained Daniel Palladino to Entertainment Weekly. “Working seven days a week for the past six years, and we wanted not a two-year pick-up for the show, but a two-year contract for us, so we could relax a little bit and not just think 300 days at a time, always wondering whether we’d be here.” They also wanted more writers and personnel on the show, but Warner Bros. wasn’t willing to cave, so the two left after Season 6.
The last season of the show was run by someone else, which many fans believe was terrible due to the loss of the creator. It also meant that the intended ending Amy had in mind was left out. Thankfully she now has a second chance since Netflix will be releasing new episodes with Sherman-Palladino at the helm.
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