Actors Who Left Successful Series

Some of them, like Clint Eastwood, managed to hit on an even bigger career arc. Others, like Maclean Stevenson, saw their careers go right in the dumper.

And there are a bunch, like Shelley Long, who bounce along but never with the same success they once enjoyed.

Who are your favorite sucesses and failures?

What successful series did Clint Eastwood leave? I can’t find any TV work in his filmography that wasn’t a one-shot guest appearance.

ETA: Oops, missed Rawhide. I was fooled because he started it after his first movie. I assume his movie work up to that point hadn’t made much of a mark?

I guess George Clooney did all right for himself after leaving ER. And ER did all right for itself without Clooney.

David Caruso leaving* NYPD Blue to do… well, not much of anything, really, until he ended up back on TV in CSI*.

What about Caruso? He left one successful series for an unsuccessful movie career and then went back to another successful series.
Dammit, beat by seconds.

The first female investigator on NCIS, Sasha Alexander, she left and I can’t recall seeing her in anything.

Suzanne Somers famously left Three’s Company after a salary dispute. It took a long time before her career recovered.

Andy Richter left Late Night With Conan O’Brien and made a sitcom that went nowhere (albeit a decent sitcom). Lucky for all of us, he came back when Conan took over the Tonight Show.

Make that three sitcoms.

The actress who played Sharona on Monk…what was her name?

Molly Ringwald was on “Facts Of Life” for the first two(?) seasons, and after leaving was the only member of the show to have any significant career…

Rob Morrow - left “Northern Exposure” to become a big Hollywood movie star, but didn’t. He’s back on another quirky, culty TV series “Numb3rs.”

David Duchovny also ditched “the X-Files” for a movie career that never happened, and he, also, is back in a quirky, culty TV series “Californication.”

Going back a long way, Jeff Conaway left “Taxi” to become a movie star…and his career pretty much amounted to an embarrassing role in the movie “Grease” (in which he looked at least a decade too old to be playing a teenager, but at least he wasn’t the only one.)

And then there was Farrah. You remember her story? This little show called “Charlie’s Angels”, she leaving after only being on it for a year, a BAD movie called ‘Saturn 3’…long slump. But eventually, her career did turn around and she got accolades & respect as an actress, so her story DID have a happy ending.

Oh wait…

No shit! Looked it up, you’re right. It sucks, too because I think he’s really funny.

Bitty Schram. She’s the “there’s no crying in baseball!” lady.

Pernell Roberts left Bonanza to pursue serious acting roles.

Like Trapper John, M.D…

Wayne Rogers left MASH and now he’s big in giving advice on stocks.

That’s cuz Wayne Rogers quit MASH because it was taking time away from making loads of money in business. (remembering an article from 5th grade (1964-65) so I’ve no idea if it’s true) It’s like the guy who, in his spare time, invented the artificial ruby. After a while he gave notice at his day job, saying it was no longer covering his income tax.

Checking Wikipedia I see that the first artificial rubies were created by French guys in the mid-19th century, not an American after the establishment of the IRS. Yet another reason for parents to question if their kids really will receive a better education in a Catholic school.

Larry Linville (Frank Burns) also left MASH* early on. While he continued to work consistently (almost entirely in TV), he never really had another success.

John Travolta left Welcome Back, Kotter and seemed to do pretty well afterward.

Caruso’s replacement, Jimmy Smits, left NYPD Blue early in Season 6, when the show was still doing extremely well. The show carried on for another 6+ seasons. Smits then had more than a season on the highly successful West Wing, the lead in a rather dud series called Cane, and an excellent guest star role in Season 3 of Dexter.

Same for Gary Burghoff.