Every TV Show That Shockingly Lost Its Romantic Lead

Most TV shows, no matter their genre, have a love story at the center of it. Often times, these love stories are slowly built over time in the background of other stories being told. But not all love stories get a happy ending. Some end in death or nasty breakups losing its romantic lead.

Conflicts behind the scenes have also led to this. Other times, it’s the actors who quit. Then there are the rare times where writing out the lead was planned all along. Here are 15 TV shows that shockingly lost their romantic lead.

1. Grey’s Anatomy

Derek holding Meredith on his death bed in Grey's Anatomy

Their relationship ended tragically, as most on Grey’s Anatomy do. | ABC

The medical show has lasted more than 15 seasons, so it has lost many of the members of the original cast over the years. But one of the biggest losses was Derek Shepherd, played by Patrick Dempsey. His character was an important one, given the show starts off with the lead character, Meredith Grey, waking up from a one-night stand with Derek.

They had many ups and downs over the years, but finally got married and had children while keeping up with their medical careers. Then Derek shockingly died, leaving Meredith to pick up the pieces. The reason for the loss: Dempsey reportedly wanted to move on from the show.

“I think after a certain period of time, no matter how much money you make, you want control out of your own schedule,” he told People. “It had been long enough. It was time for me to move on with other things and other interests. I probably should have moved on a couple of years earlier. I stayed a bit longer than I should have.”

Despite Dempsey’s exit, the show is still going strong.

Next: This actor quit playing this leading man in this miniseries.

2. Downton Abbey

Downton Abbey

This actor wanted to move on with his career. | ITV

The British miniseries showed the Crawley family and the life of their servants. The show started off with all the daughters single, but the main love story was between Mary, played by Michelle Dockery, and Matthew, played by Dan Stevens.

All was fine until Stevens decided to leave the show, and his character had to be killed.

Next: This actress was fired for reportedly wanting to breastfeed.

3. House Calls

House Calls

She should not have been fired for this. | CBS

On the medical drama, Lynn Redgrave played Ann Anderson, who was a hospital administrative assistant romantically tied to Dr. Charley Michaels. That storyline was ended after Redgrave left the show.

She claimed she was let go because she wanted to breastfeed her daughter while working.

Next: This TV husband was killed because he didn’t like how the show was being written.

4. Good Times

Good Times

The writers clearly weren’t receptive to his criticism, so they killed him off. | CBS

The sitcom wasn’t exactly focused on romance, but the main couple was married characters, James and Florida Evans. James was shockingly killed off the show because actor John Amos was fired.

Amos later claimed on Sway in the Morning it was because he clashed with the writers — mostly because there were no black writers on the show writing about the black family.

Next: This actress was reportedly fired because she spoke up against the show’s leading man.

5. Anger Management

Selma Blair is looking at Charlie Sheen with her arms folded.

He had the creative control, so she was the one who was let go when they fought. | FX

Selma Blair played Kate, a therapist to Charlie Sheen’s character, Charlie. The two also became romantically involved. But Blair was shockingly fired after she reportedly complained about Sheen being late for work.

When Sheen found out, he reportedly pushed for her to get fired. The show only lasted one more season after her exit.

Next: This iconic TV show replaced this love interest and survived.

6. Cheers

Sam and Diane on Cheers

The show managed to survive losing this pivotal couple. | NBC

Shelley Long played Diane Chambers, who worked as a waitress at the bar and was romantically involved with lead Sam Malone, played by Ted Danson. Long left the show after five seasons, so the show brought on Kirstie Alley to play a new love interest.

It worked and the show made it to 11 seasons.

Next: This drama killed off one of its leading ladies for multiple reasons.

7. The O.C.

Ryan lifting Marissa off the ground while a car burns in the background

She met a very violent end. | Fox

Mischa Barton played Marissa Cooper in the high school drama and was romantically involved with Ryan Atwood, played by Benjamin McKenzie. Eventually, Marissa was killed in a car accident, and the show continued for one more season.

Writer Josh Schwartz later revealed this was due to creative reasons, along with other various factors happening with the show in real life.

Next: This vampire show managed to last two seasons without its leading lady.

8. The Vampire Diaries

The Vampire Diaries

The show was able to move beyond the central love triangle. | The CW

Vampire Diaries began on the premise of Elena Gilbert, played by Nina Dobrev, falling in love with a vampire and then his brother. It’s a twisted love triangle that later becomes irrelevant because Dobrev left the show after six seasons.

The show put her character in a deep sleep, but it continued for two more seasons.

Next: This drama had a main couple walk away from the show.

9. One Tree Hill

Lucas and Peyton on One Tree Hill

They got their happily ever after and then left the show together. | The CW

The show started by focusing on the rivalry between two half-brother. One was Lucas, played by Chad Michael Murray, who had a love story with Peyton, played by Hilarie Burton.

Both actors shockingly left the show after six years at the same time, so the show was down one of its core couples.  The drama still thrived and made it to nine seasons.

Next: This iconic show went on without its leading man for some time.

10. The X-Files

Mulder and Scully sitting in a medical room together, posing for the camera in suits

They were finally together — until he left (and then came back). | FOX

The show focused on partners Fox Mulder and Dana Scully who investigated strange cases together. Their relationship also became romantic. But David Duchovny left after seven seasons of the show’s original run.

It was eventually revived and Duchovny returned.

Next: This show killed its seemingly main love interest shortly after she was introduced.

11. How I Met Your Mother

Josh Radner and Cristin Milioti standing under a yellow umbrella in the rain in How I Met Your Mother

Her whole purpose on the show was to die. | CBS

The sitcom showed Ted Mosby looking for love in the city with his friends. Given the title, you would think the mother would become the the main love interest — but it was all a red herring.

Shortly after the mother was finally introduced, she was taken out.

Next: This show killed off what seemed to be the lead character.

12. How to Get Away with Murder

Wes and Laurel on How to Get Away with Murder

HIs death was important for the plot. | ABC

The crime drama focuses on a group of law students working under a criminal defense lawyer but often get caught up in murders in their spare time. The drama largely centered around Wes Gibbins, played by Alfred Enoch, who ended up falling in love with a fellow student, Laurel.

He wound up dead, basically for the purpose of leaving Laurel to solve his murder.

Next: This show lost its leading man because he got a spinoff show.

13. Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Buffy and Angel posing together

This couple faced more deaths between them than any other on TV. | The WB

The show starts off with Buffy falling for a vampire named Angel, but the two can’t quite be together for obvious reasons. Eventually, that relationship became even harder to work out because Angel got his own spinoff show.

Next: This sitcom tried to replace the wife but it didn’t work.

14. Kevin Can Wait

Kevin James sits at a table with a beer

She was killed just so they could bring in a different love interest. | CBS

The first season of the show had retired police officer, Kevin, take on odd jobs and living his life with his wife, Donna, and kids. For Season 2, it was announced that Donna would be killed off, and Leah Remini would be brought on as the new love interest.

The move was obviously a ploy to recreate the success of King of Queens. It didn’t work and the show was canceled after Season 2.

Next: This young actor left early in this show.

15. Gilmore Girls

Rory and Tristan on Gilmore Girls

They barely even got to start a relationship before he left. | The WB

At the beginning of the show, Rory had a hard time partially because of a boy named Tristan, who would tease her at schooll. It was pretty obvious that they were building the character to be a love interest and the two even kissed at one point.

But Chad Michael Murray ended up leaving the show and moved on to Dawson’s Creek.

Follow Nicole Weaver on Twitter @nikkibernice.

Read More: 12 TV Shows That Survived After Losing a Lead Star

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