When Good Actors Leave Good TV Shows

It happens all the time.

my last michael scott blog post. i think.

my last michael scott blog post. i think.

An actor or actress gets too big for the small screen, or just doesn’t want to work on their TV show anymore. So they announce far in advance that they’re leaving, most times as a contract ploy. Usually, when you hear, “I’m probably leaving the show after this year,” you can pull out your Hollywood-to-reality translation guide and read, “Unless they fill a dump truck with money and back it into my front yard, see ya!”

Most characters get killed off so that they can’t ever come back. It’s surprising any actors were left in Hollywood to fill out a final season of 24 since Jack and Kim seemed like the only ones that lived through all of the show’s seasons. But then there are the people in the position that Steve Carell will be in Thursday, where he’ll be alive and well when he leaves Dunder Mifflin/Sabre. He just won’t be on the show anymore.

He’ll have some elite company and some special exits to live up to when he leaves alive, some of my most memorable intact character exits:

MICHAEL J. FOX, SPIN CITY

On the show: Mike Flaherty took the hit for the NYC mayor’s office staff and resigned to avoid corruption charges against the mayor.

In real life: Fox could no longer work the rigorous schedule because of his Parkinsons disease.

Farewell: My top character-exit episode. Fox is my favorite TV sitcom actor of all-time, and this hour-long episode is up there with A, My Name is Alex (that link is a review I disagree with in every way humaly possible, just wanted an opposing viewpoint) as his crowning achievement. It’s an emotional tour de force of riotous comedy, dramatic prowess, realistic acting in fantastical situations and a blurred line between what was real and what was for the cameras. He also drew out incredible performances from his castmates that knew the real-life hell Fox was going through. I always wonder how much of Alan Ruck’s final scene with Fox was improvised, because the more I’ve seen it, it really looks like Ruck was supposed to have more lines — he just couldn’t get them out. So on the fly, he professionally made something up and got the hell off the stage. Holding back tears told Flaherty, “I’ll see you around,” which easily could be construed as a message to Fox, “You’ll beat this thing, I know you will.” This is long, but if you were a Spin City fan, it’s eight minutes of awesome TV if you have the time to watch it.

And if you watch that, you’ll want to continue to the mayor’s good-bye. FF to the 2:05 mark to avoid the Heather Locklear crap.

DAVID BOREANAZ, BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER

poop or get off the pot you two

poop or get off the pot you two

On the show: Tired of three years of on-again, off-again love and high school drama and BS, Angel popped double birds to Buffy and left Sunnydale for LA where he could get any chick he wanted. I’m lying. Actually, Angel told Buffy he’d take off right after the season 3 Graduation climax and wouldn’t even say good-bye, knowing the two could never really be together. He then skipped town behind a fire truck after one last long glance. Then he came back like five or six times and the two had the same “Why can’t we be together?” discussion so many times my head almost exploded.

In real life: Boreanez took his game to an Angel spin-off, which was better than Buffy within a year.

Farewell: Let’s face it — there was never really a farewell. Angel kept showing up on Buffy, Buffy kept showing up on Angel. And if it wasn’t one of those two, it was Willow showing up to get rid of Angelus or Faith escaping two weeks of Buffy episodes and making her way to LA to torture her old watcher, Wesley. The final straw was Spike joining the Angel cast for its final season after he was disintegrated in the last Buffy episode. No, wait! The final straw was those two chasing after a never-seen Buffy in Europe in one of the final Angel episodes. Even worse, Andrew showed up as a guest star. Cut the cord, guys. Cut the cord!

ANTHONY EDWARDS, ER

On the show: Dr. Mark Greene got stuck with a brain tumor and moved to Hawaii to live out his final days.

In real life: After about 180 episodes, yeah, you’d probably be looking for a break too.

Farewell: Combined with watching the emotional Mike Flaherty exit, I almost started tearing up just thinking about the Dr. Greene thing. Especially now that I have one daughter and another one on the way. It speaks for itself.

SHELLEY LONG, CHEERS

have a nice life indeed

have a nice life indeed

On the show: Diane goes off the write a book.

In real life: She left for movie paychecks and proceeded to give the world Money Pit and about 20 movies that generously could be called stir-fried shat.

Farewell: Very understated. If you blinked, you may have missed it. In fact, she tells Sam she’s coming back in six months or a year or whatever it was. Sam tells her “Have a nice life.” She protests, and as she walks up the famous Cheers stairs, Sam repeats “Have a nice life.” What, there wasn’t a free elevator shaft hanging around Sam could have pushed her down?

FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS CAST DEPARTURES

On the show: Smash went to college. Street went to New York City to be a good dad. Saracen went to Chicago to become and artist.

In real life: Those DirecTV paychecks weren’t for everybody.

Farewell: The cast started jumping ship in season 3, but the people behind the show obviously understood. Three of the 10 best episodes FNL has ever produced were the final episodes of Smash Williams, Jason Street and Matt Saracen. Of those, Smash’s final show was my favorite. Smash, Riggins, Saracen and Landry(!) get drunk and drive out onto the Dillon field and start playing a 2-on-2 game. After we stop feeling sorry for whoever got stuck with Landry as a partner, Smash starts showing off the moves and we can appreciate his football skills. Actually, Saracen’s exit was probably my favorite. No, on third thought, Street’s was. Aw, forget it. All three of them are incredible.

Some quick links:

but i've seen this simpsons episode, does that count?

but i've seen this simpsons episode, does that count?

In the past, I’ve been guilty of claiming to have seen a movie when I really haven’t. Actually, one of them I think I’ve claimed to have seen is on this list — Blade Runner. It’s not that I claim to have seen it, it’s that people just assume that I have and talk about it with me like I have and I don’t deny it. Is that the same? It’s probably the same. On that list, I haven’t seen Blade Runner, about half of 2001 even though I’ve tried on multiple occasions, and Spinal Tap. I’m most surprised I haven’t seen Spinal Tap, I’m not sure how that’s happened other than to say I find British accents somewhat annoying, especially in comedic situations. Even more when they’re fake. That’s probably why of all the Monty Python movies, I’ve only seen Holy Grail. I’m trying to think of a movie I’ve claimed to have seen and really haven’t, and I’m blanking. But I know I have. Although I can say I’ve never lied about seeing a movie in this blog, so that’s something.

Good news if you like the CW. There’s someone out there that likes the CW, right? Anyway, it’s biggest shows are coming back next year, not that it’s surprising. Conspicuously absent from the renewals — Nikita, One Tree Hill and Hellcats. Oh, and Life Unexpected, but that’s as good as dead. I’d say Hellcats has the best chance of renewal of those three, with OTH next and Nikita last. I’ve professed my like for Nikita before, it just doesn’t fit the network. It might be a decent partner for Supernatural on Fridays with Smallville leaving, but it can’t stay on Thursdays paired with the network’s biggest (and best) show. One of the three is almost certainly coming back, as the CW rarely brings more than two new shows to the schedule.

TBS obviously wants to stay in the Tyler Perry business, and why wouldn’t it? He’s given them two hit shows and now he’ll be starting another even though TBS is giving House of Payne the heave-ho. House of Payne has someone produced like 225 episodes, so you’ll see it forever in syndication runs. The new series is going to be based on Perry’s Why Did I Get Married? movie, which I’ll cop to never seeing. In fact, I’ll admit I’ve never seen a Perry movie at all. But I don’t think those movies are made for me anyway. Ya think?

quick! what band is this? (foster the people)

quick! what band is this? (foster the people)

The lineup for the 20th anniversary edition of Lollapalooza is out. The lineup is so long my ADD kicked in about halfway through, so I’m not sure I really studied it as closely as I should have. Is Ke$sha on there? No? That’s a shame. I’m torn there isn’t more throwback stuff seeing as it’s the 20th anniversary and all. A lineup of Pearl Jam, Smashing Pumpkins, Ice Cube and Cypress Hill like back in the mid-90s would have been awesomeness. But I also admire Perry Farrell for sticking with what got him here and giving the up-and-comers a shot. Lately I’ve been digging bands like Foster the People, Cage the Elephant, Young the Giant, Fritz & the Tantrums and apparently any band with “the” in their name, so it’s good to see them on the list. Hopefully I didn’t miss “New Edition reunion” on the lineup, but I’m gonna go ahead and say I didn’t.

Awesome, just awesome. I can’t even put into words how awesome this is. I had to hold my hand over my mouth I was laughing so hard and didn’t want to disturb other people at work. For some reason it won’t embed, sorry.

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