• Thu, Jan 23 - 10:54 am ET

10 TV Shows That Sucked After Their Stars Left

Dr. Who gotta go my fandom needs me GIF(via)

I don’t want to put too much pressure on Mariska Hargitay , but this is a really big time for her. Not only does she turn fifty years old on this very day, but she’s also leaving Law And Order: Special Victims Unita show that she’s been starring on since 1999. No big deal, right? It’s only fifteen years of her life playing the same character, Sergeant Olivia Benson.

And fifteen years of my life, too! That’s fifteen years in which anytime I was looking for something to watch on TV, I would put on an episode of SVU, if it was on. I wasn’t so into the original version, and had a very low tolerance for Criminal Intent, but something about the chemistry between Mariska and Christopher Meloni was always soothing in an odd way, no matter how disturbing the subject matter of the show or how many times I’d seen the episode. I liked knowing two things — that they always had the best interests of the victims at heart, and that they would never ever hook up.

But Chris left the show after the twelfth season, and Mariska leaves incredibly soon as well, so I think my life’s longest relationship is finally coming to an end. Maybe it’ll still be great, but I just can’t imagine the show without the two of them on it. And that got me to thinking about other shows that foolishly think they can soldier on after their lead stars leave; it’s a nice idea, but most of the time it falls flat. Never underestimate the power of lead actor chemistry in keeping your audience!

…at least that’s what I’d tell the following shows, if I had a time machine and could go back and give them advice.

1. Mariska Hargitay, Law and Order: Special Victims Unit

Mariska Hargitay as Sergeant Olivia Benson flashing badge GIF(via)

It’s possible that they’ll be able to make the transition seamlessly, but I can tell you right now that I already don’t watch any L&O franchises that doesn’t feature Benson and Stabler, so why should this one be any different?

2. Steve Carrell, The Office

Steve Carell as Michael Scott from The Office I am dead inside GIF(via)

Steve had starred as Michael Scott since the show’s creation in 2005, but he left to pursue a film career when his contract expired after the 2010 – 2011 season. It was really cute of NBC to think that they could keep the show on the air after that, but Steve was the most talented person on television at that point, and I think everybody knew it. They weren’t even comfortable doing the finale without him. Maybe if we’d given him that Emmy he so richly deserved? Yeah.

3. Paula Abdul, American Idol 

Paula Abdul judging on American Idol GIF(via)

Paula was my shining star on AI from the show’s inception in 2002 until 2009, when she was unceremoniously removed. And no disrespect to the talent that comes through there, but is anybody really watching anymore, now that Paula isn’t clapping for everyone like a trained seal, falling out of her chair onto Simon, and stealing surreptitious sips out of her mysterious Coke cup? Never forget.

4. Kristen Wiig, Saturday Night Live

Kristen Wiig as Cinderella spilling a martini down herself GIF(via)

This is an ensemble show, and I respect that, but c’mon. Kristen was the star, and when she left in 2012 after seven years on the show, my heart dried up a little. As did the Emmy nominations, which Kristen had snagged four years in a row, from 2009 to 2012. They’re coming back into their own, but I think we can all agree that it was a dark time for a while there.

5. David Duchovny, The X Files

David Duchovny kissing Gillian Anderson on the X Files Mulder and Scully GIF(via)

I never watched this show, but wasn’t the chemistry between Mulder and Scully like…the whole point of watching? I mean I know there was alien stuff as well, but let’s get real. David quit in 2001 due to a contract dispute that emerged after season seven had wrapped filming, and even though he came back for various cameos, the show was never quite the same. DUH.

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  • Lindsey Conklin

    two and a half men…the o.c…they were just never the same post charlie and mischa.

    • Alexis Rhiannon

      RIP.

  • Rachel

    The fourth season of the OC is actually the best, if you can accept it as more of a sequel than a fourth season.

    • Alexis Rhiannon

      I can think of at least one Mischa Barton who would probably disagree with you.

    • Amy

      Completely agree with you. It made Ryan Atwood likeable again thanks to some amazing interactions with one Miss Taylor Townsend, who they figured out how to use once Marissa was gone (Ben McKenzie actually has great comedic timing. I had forgotten that in the 3rd season). Marissa was the anchor that brought the show down in its third season with all of her plot lines . Plus, the 4th season had Chris Pratt playing bongos. So yeah.

  • Kay_Sue

    I agree with the vast majority of these. I have trouble watching SVU even with just Stabler missing, I don’t think I will make it past Benson being gone too.

    • Alexis Rhiannon

      I bailed out right after Stabler left. Couldn’t take it.

    • Kay_Sue

      I have really tried to give it a shot. After so many years, I kind of felt like I owed it to them. *sighs*

  • elle

    I….actually liked the last season of Scrubs. Idk, by the end of the original series I was so sick of JD, and I actually wished he wasn’t in as many episodes of the last season as he was. Maybe it’s my love if James Franco coming down onto Dave Franco but I liked it.

    • jenni268

      I, too, really enjoyed the last season. It was a completely different dynamic, but still a good one. I think if they would have taken a year off between the last two seasons and made the last season a separate entity it would have fared a lot better.

  • Kathy

    It’s great how some shows – a very few – know when it’s time to close. They get to go out with a bang, like Seinfeld, Friends, 30 Rock, and a few others. But most shows try to hang on too long, or some of the stars try to bail out too soon, and that’s what ruins it. That’s when we say “Enough already!” and stop watching.

  • BoredGirl

    I haven’t watched the show for a while, but i am pretty sure that lea michele stills have an important role on glee

  • sarahjp

    Lea Michelle is definitely still on Glee. The whole show is moving to New York to make her a bigger focus again. Besides that though, I agree with this list big time, especially The Office.

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  • MissA01

    Seeing that of all these shows I’ve only seen SVU and liked it cause there was no relationship or stupid sexual tensions between characters. NCIS sux for this very reason. I’ve not watched it in years cause denozo and that eddie munster lookalike woman’s relationship was sicken. If the LA version doesn’t stop with shaggy and the funny eyed woman, I’ll stop watching it too.

    • ღ ღ ღ

      Uh, surely you’re mistaken considering the SVU I watched (still begrudgingly watch) banked on viewership based on the sexual tension between the two leads Benson and Stabler to deflect from the harsh story lines for years. *scratches head*

  • Carla Sposito

    Disliked Stabler. Love Olivia. And while I’ll be seeing you Mariska. She does well in the eyes and heart.

  • Alyssa

    I think SVU got bad after Stabler left. Now it will just get worse. It’s had a pretty good run. They should just end things now.

  • Tracy

    Okay so maybe I’ve missed something, when did Mariska announce she wasn’t coming back? This would be pretty big news and yet I haven’t seen or heard anything about it. Until I hear it from her I’ll take it she’ll be back. I love SVU & have been a fan since the pilot. In my opinion its better now without Elliott. I felt the show was going downhill starting in season 10. 10-12 were very boring and it was also the Stabler family drama years. It amazes me that people get bent out of shape now because we see the characters having a life outside the precinct but it was perfectly fine to see Elliott’s home life. The show is more intense and exciting than its been in years.

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