Some TV shows are lucky to have a cast full of big-name actors from the beginning. Others have actors whose stars rise during their time on their respective series. But that doesn't mean there is a playbook for production teams to follow when their star goes from your average television actor to a household name seemingly overnight.
Sometimes things have gone well, with actor and show parting ways amicably after years of success, as was the case with George Clooney and ER. Others, like David Caruso's fiasco culminating in his exit from NYPD Blue after only a few episodes into the second season, didn't go well at all.
- Photo: NBC
It may be hard to believe now, but at one time George Clooney wasn't one of the most famous faces in Hollywood. Way before the Oscars and tabloid fodder, Clooney was just that guy who was on The Facts of Life and Roseanne for a little bit. Then ER became the hottest show around and took Clooney to the top with it.
From 1994 to 1999, Clooney's Dr. Doug Ross was television's biggest heartthrob. Not content to remain contained to the small screen, Clooney used his newfound stardom to book roles in From Dusk till Dawn, Batman & Robin, and The Peacemaker. But for his career to truly take off, he needed to leave the constraining shooting schedule of ER behind. Clooney eventually left on good terms with the production team, with ER showrunner John Wells admitting the star "lost literally millions of dollars staying in the show." Clooney went on to star in The Perfect Storm; O Brother, Where Art Thou?; and Ocean's Eleven - leading to one of Hollywood's most interesting careers of the 2000s.
- Photo: ABC
NYPD Blue, which hit the airwaves in 1993, ran for 12 seasons and became one of ABC's most successful shows of all time. It garnered many award nominations and won the hearts of millions of viewers, but initial star David Caruso wouldn't be along for the ride.
After the success of NYPD Blue's first season, Caruso felt he had grown too big for the show. According to series co-creator Steven Bochco, Caruso was quite the malcontent before he left four episodes into the second season. "Caruso's behavior was, simply put, cancerous," Bochco wrote in his memoir. After Caruso demanded a doubling in salary, three-day weekends, and a 38-foot trailer (among other things), the production team eventually let him out of his contract. The actor would have to wait until CSI: Miami for another major success in his career.
- Photo: NBC
When Chris Pratt was cast as the exceedingly dumb-but-lovable Andy Dwyer on Parks and Recreation, he was a no-name actor best known for supporting roles in Everwood and Wanted. By the time production was gearing up on the sixth season of the show, Pratt had starred in Moneyball and Zero Dark Thirty and had just been cast in the first Guardians of the Galaxy film.
To accommodate Pratt's new gig, the show's production team wrote a storyline that involved Pratt's Dwyer staying in London for a while to explain the actor's absence from the show at the beginning of the season. When asked later if he ever considered leaving the sitcom, Pratt was adamant in his response: "Oh, man, it’s funny that you would ask that because it never once occurred to me... I’ve never even asked myself the question. That was never... That would never happen. I would never f*cking ever leave this show!"
- Photo: Nickelodeon
Before Yours Truly - Ariana Grande's debut album - was released in 2013, the actor-singer had been starring on the hit Nickelodeon show Victorious and working on tracks for years. That show ended after four years, meaning the network couldn't capitalize on Grande's rising star power. A spinoff show, however, soon came to fruition.
A spinoff of both Victorious and iCarly, Sam & Cat lasted only one season on the children's network before getting the ax. Having the show end helped Grande because she was no longer tied to a television commitment, and her career has only risen to greater heights in the years since.