Just like shows can’t last forever, sometimes a star doesn’t stay until a series finale. But as the saying goes, the show must go on. The question is, will the fans stick with it even without one of the leads?
That’s a question facing more than one drama in 2021 and 2022. The latest to join that lineup is Billions, with Damian Lewis leaving after the October 3 Season 5 finale, ahead of Season 6 (set to premiere January 23, 2022). His character, Bobby “Axe” Axelrod, has already been written out (detailed here, in the interest of keeping this spoiler-free), so fans don’t necessarily have to tune in to find out how his absence will be explained.
That exit from the Showtime drama comes just before The Resident appears to be writing out Emily VanCamp’s Nic Nevin in the October 5 episode. VanCamp’s exit was announced before the new season began, and promos suggest it’s going to be a heartbreaking goodbye.
Among the dramas also set to continue without major characters in the 2021-2022 season are The Blacklist, Chicago Med, and NCIS: Los Angeles. The Blacklist said goodbye to Megan Boone’s Liz Keen in the Season 8 finale. Chicago Med sort of wrote out two original characters, Yaya DaCosta’s April and Torrey DeVitto’s Natalie, in its Season 6 finale, with the latter briefly appearing in this fall’s premiere to say goodbye. And Ops is going to look different for good going forward, with NCIS: LA‘s Eric Beale (Barrett Foa) and Nell Jones (Renée Felice Smith) officially saying goodbye to the federal agency and moving to a new venture in Tokyo last spring.
For some, it might be easier to imagine what’s next. For example, we’ve already seen Ops on NCIS: LA without Eric after he left for his own business ventures and Nell as she filled in temporarily for Hetty (Linda Hunt) as operations manager. Med has already premiered and introduced new doctors to the ED. The Blacklist is using a time jump to move forward past Liz’s death.
But the truth of the matter is, when a lead leaves and a show is left without a major character, it’s just not the same as it once was. And even just the possibility of that could be enough to keep fans from continuing to tune in. So we’re asking you what you think: Which drama do you think will be the hardest to watch without a lead? Vote in the poll below.