5 actors who left their shows after five seasons

Some left a hole that was hard to fill, others were quickly replaced.

Any classic show that ran for more than three seasons likely faced some cast turnover. In fact, it was rare for a long-running series to not make at least one change, let alone a few. The important part was how the show dealt with the departure.

Losing a vital and beloved member of the cast didn’t mean the end of a popular program. Some shows just brought in a different but similar character and went on to many more years of ratings success! Others struggled to fill the large shoes left behind by a star.

Here are five different actors who left their shows after five seasons.

1. Don Knotts – The Andy Griffith Show

Don Knotts is still considered by many to be one of the best comedic actors of all time. He embodied Barney Fife on The Andy Griffith Show so well that his departure at the end of season five left an unfillable hole in the show. Luckily, Barney’s last episode as a regular character wasn’t his final appearance on the iconic sitcom. Don Knotts came back as a guest star for five more episodes in seasons six through eight.

2. Richard Thomas – The Waltons

John-Boy Walton was the central character for the first five seasons of The Waltons. After all, each episode was narrated by Earl Hamner Jr. playing an older version of Richard Thomas’ character. There were episodes focused on different family members, but the oldest son was undoubtedly the lead. Nevertheless, after Thomas left, there were still plenty of Waltons stories to tell. The beloved series ran for another four seasons, giving the other six children their times to shine. John-Boy did return in the end, but played by Robert Wightman in the final two seasons.

3. Larry Linville – M*A*S*H

The exit of prickly Major Frank Burns wasn’t nearly as heartbreaking or meaningful as the departure of other M*A*S*H characters, but it was a loss nonetheless. Larry Linville played Burns as the perfect foil for Alan Alda’s Hawkeye and fans loved to hate the stubborn know-it-all. Linville left after season five, which means he got to spar with both Trapper John and B.J. as well as Col. Blake and Col. Potter.

4. Ivan Dixon – Hogan’s Heroes

Ivan Dixon, who began his career blazing a trail as a popular guest star in shows like Have Gun – Will Travel and Perry Mason, starred in five out of six seasons of Hogan’s Heroes. He played Sergeant Kinchloe, a radio technician whose skills often came in handy when carrying out Hogan’s schemes. Dixon also had one of the best mustaches on Sixties TV.

5. Robert Horton – Wagon Train

Flint McCollough helped settle disputes, protect passengers and scout ahead in Wagon Train from the show’s very first episode. Actor Robert Horton was a fan favorite on the series, the young, square-jawed hero next to grizzled wagon masters Seth Adams (Ward Bond) and Christopher Hale (John McIntire) and goofy cook Charlie Wooster (Frank McGrath). After Horton’s departure, the show experimented with different cast members and formats, including adding a kid named Barnaby West to the crew and trying 90-minute episodes in color.

Honorable Mention: Tim Considine – My Three Sons

There were technically four sons on My Three Sons because oldest son, Mike, played by Tim Considine, grew up and left halfway through. He was replaced by adopted son Ernie, who was played by Barry Livingston, the real-life brother of Stanley Livingston, who played youngest Douglas son, Chip. Got all that? Considine is only an honorable mention on this list because his departure episode was actually the season six premiere, not the season five finale. But he essentially only stayed on the show for five seasons.

 
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CreatureFeatureFan 6 days ago
Although a "seldom speaking" actor stepped-in as Kinchloe, Ivan Dixon of Hogan's Heroes could NEVER be replaced.
KawiVulc 7 days ago
Larry Linville was the best actor on Mash start to finish.
rlb2k1jr 11 days ago
Would’ja believe Pernell Roberts had planned to leave Bonanza after five seasons only to change his mind and decided to stay for his sixth and final season with the show?
CoreyC 12 days ago
Larry Linville left M*A*S*H cause he got tired of the Frank Burns character cause he became a buffoon and they never evolved him.
Snickers 12 days ago
I remember Ivan Dixon on "Hogan's Hero's and never understood why the show never explained where he went and where Baker came from. Guess the shows producers thought the fans would assume Kinchloe escaped and Baker replaced him.
Moverfan Snickers 12 days ago
I've got an idea...remember the episode The Berlin Express? Hogan was being rotated home and got himself transferred to another camp (he'd escape from there), but instead of a truck, the other camp was going to take him on a train, The Berlin Express--all well and good, except the guys had set explosives on the tracks. They probably figured viewers would assume Kinch had left the same way...minus the exploding train, of course.
Snickers Moverfan 11 days ago
Yes I remember that episode and that might be the answer.
AaronBlack 12 days ago
Dick York as Darrin Stephens. Left “Bewitched” after the 5th season, and was replaced by Dick Sargent.
CoreyC AaronBlack 12 days ago
Dick York left cause of severe back injuries.
bagandwallyfan52 13 days ago
https://youtu.be/y3KEhWTnWvE
Song:Those Were The Days by
Mary Hopkins.
bagandwallyfan52 13 days ago
https://youtu.be/0d8FTPv955I
Those Were The Days by Archie Bunker and Edith Bunker
(Carroll O 'Connor &
Jean Stapleton).
2 different songs with the same title! Bonus Question: What was the name of the closing theme of AITF and which cast member wrote the unsung lyrics?
Was it Rob Reiner (Mike Stivic)?
LoveMETV22 cperrynaples 12 days ago

Carroll O’Connor, took to the stage of the Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour in 1971 to sing the lesser-known lyrics from the show’s closing theme “Remembering You”. Before his performance, O’Connor shared that when he first heard the instrumental vision of the song, he was inspired to write the lyrics.
cperrynaples LoveMETV22 10 days ago
Yep, my mother had the album where he sang songs from the '30's! Fun Fact: Today is his 98th birthday!
LadyAgnes 13 days ago
They needed a JohnBoy on The Waltons.
He was the main character . The narration was through him.

What ever happened to Robert Wrightman...JohnBoy #2?
Pacificsun LadyAgnes 12 days ago
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Wightman
Snickers LadyAgnes 12 days ago
Yea we also needed atta boy, oh boy and big boy to
Michael LadyAgnes 10 days ago
And the narration never ended. Maybe an advantage of Earl Hamner doing it.

The episode I saw today, he moves to town to earn money, and introduces himself as "J B Walton". I doubt his legal name was John Boy. Later, he'd beJohn Walton jr
top_cat_james_1 14 days ago
Shelley Long left "Cheers" after five years (1982-87) amid much hoopla. I figured she'd be listed right after Knotts.
Jeffrey top_cat_james_1 13 days ago
Yeah, They, didn't have any women on their list, just men.
MichaelSkaggs 14 days ago
Hogan's Heroes and Wagon Train had no explanations why the characters left. Dixon also directed Magnum, PI, and also owned a radio station in Hawaii.
Ward Bond who was on Wagon
Train passed away while Wagon
Train was still on the air but their was no explanation about
what happened to his character Seth Adams.
He fell off the wagon one night, and when they noticed, they didn't want to go back.
Runeshaper 14 days ago
Very interesting acknowledgement.
JHP 14 days ago
#1 I beg to differ
zman47240 JHP 13 days ago
What are you begging to differ? That Don Knotts WASN’T one of the greatest comedic actors of all time? If so, you’re pretty much alone on that thought.
CouchPotato987 15 days ago
How many seasons was Suzanne Somers on Three’s Company? I thought she might’ve been on this list.
Yes, she did do 5 seasons, the same number of seasons Don Knotts did at the end! Bonus Question: who were her replacements and what was the first one's relationship to Chrissy?
Jayme cperrynaples 14 days ago
Cindy Snow, Cousin and Terri Alden.
Thanks 😊
I guess the reason why there wasn’t any females on the list, might’ve been because the heading only mentioned actors and not actresses. 🤷🏼‍♂️
Jeffrey CouchPotato987 13 days ago
Well, now they refer to women as actors, not actresses. Which I don't think is right. I guess equality thing you know.
Pacificsun 15 days ago
Ivan Dixon: impressive list of achievements!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ivan_Dixon
cperrynaples 15 days ago
Another star who qualifies is Kathy Nolan, who was killed off when The Real McCoys went to CBS! Fun fact: Several years later she did a Gunsmoke where she fell in love with Burt Reynolds' Quint! Over a half century later, she worked with him again in The Last Movie Star where she played the girl who got away from Reynolds!
How about Bea Benadaret who played Kate Bradley on
Petticoat Junction for 5 Years.
Bea Benadaret passed away in
1968 but there was No Explanation for the Disappearance of Kate Bradley or Cannonball Engineer Charlie Pratt (Smiley Burnett).
Technically, Bea doesn't quite make the 5-season club since her final appearances were in season 6, but yes she died while shooting the birth of Kathy Jo!
cperrynaples 15 days ago
Robert Horton's departure actually led to NBC cancelling the show, the only time a network canceled a #1 show! ABC picked up the show and ran it against The Virginian, NBC's replacement! Wagon Train won in a dead rating heat, 22.0 vs. 21.7! Footnote: TAGS was #1 in its final season, but it was understood that Andy would make guest appearances on Mayberry RFD!
KendallMarine 15 days ago
The black and white episodes of My Three Sons is my favorite show of all time. Like Andy Griffith the color episodes where not as good. Tina Cole as Katie helped make the newer episodes worth watching. She was and still is a very cute lady.
I love the b&w MTS. Frankly after Bub left and then Mike, it started it’s decline.
Totally agree! Like MrsPhilHarris said, a massive decline without Mike and Bub. And like you said, Tina Cole made the "in color" episodes worth a look.
CoreyC MrsPhilHarris 12 days ago
William Frawley became too sick to continue and Tim Considine had a major falling out with Don Fedderson cause he wanted to direct. The Mike Douglas character was mentioned once then he was retconned out of the series.
MrsPhilHarris CoreyC 12 days ago
I believe it was impossible for the studio to insure Wm. Frawley. I recall Steve either calling Mike or was going to call Mike when Chip and Ernie were going to go live with Mike when they thought Steve was going to marry someone. But I’m sure I recall Steve mentioning his oldest son Mike.
CoreyC MrsPhilHarris 10 days ago
They couldn't insure Frawley cause he was too sick and in one episode later in season six Steve did mentioned Mike but that's all.
MrsPhilHarris CoreyC 10 days ago
Wikipedia says: After this episode, Mike is mentioned briefly in only four succeeding episodes (including the one in which the family adopts Ernie) and is never seen again, even at Robbie's and Steve's weddings. (Steve explains briefly in one of these episodes that he has another son who "lives away from home".) In the episode "Steve and the Huntress" (first aired January 27, 1966), Mike is specifically mentioned as teaching at a college.
daDoctah 15 days ago
Ivan Dixon didn't exactly drop off the face of the earth after Hogan's Heroes. I recently binge-watched the entire run of The Rockford Files and his name kept popping up in the opening credits as the director of a *lot* of episodes.
KJExpress daDoctah 15 days ago
I've seen his name a lot as director of many episodes of The Waltons. Apparently, he did a lot of TV directing.
Michael daDoctah 15 days ago
I've noticed his name in credits, but missed the Rockford connection. It's good that he transitioned to a prolific director. And withiut Hogan's Heros, we likely wouldn't recognize his name
cperrynaples daDoctah 15 days ago
Yes, Dixon quit and was replaced by Kenneth Washington, who was really playing a similar role!
Pacificsun daDoctah 15 days ago
Filmography:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ivan_Dixon
daDoctah Pacificsun 15 days ago
Before I started noticing all his directing credits, I noticed him as a major player in the ensemble cast of the movie CAR WASH, which also had appearances by Richard Pryor, George Carlin, Professor Irwin Corey, Franklin Ajaye, and Antonio Fargas. Dixon's storyline in that was a lot more serious than most of the shenanigans going on.
Snickers KJExpress 12 days ago
His name also appears in a episode of Wonder Women as director.
AnnaRentzVandenhazel 15 days ago
I have yet to meet anyone who "liked" Frank Burns, but I understand Larry Linville was actually a nice guy in real life. He liked playing Frank because he felt it was important for the audience to know there were people like that in the world. Most people I know seem to like Major Winchester better, he was pompous but not a schemer like Frank.
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JHP MrsPhilHarris 14 days ago
"hooey-balooey: :)

"you guys!!" :)
After Frank Burns left Hot Lips character changed, she seemed to be more intelligent and less funny.
CoreyC LoveMETV22 12 days ago
In a reunion Larry was interviewed and he said if you ever met a person like Frank Burns run away. Sadly Larry became extremely typecast all of the actors loved Larry.
Here’s a real surprise! 🎉 IBM Commercials starring the cast of M*A*S*H!😀
https://youtu.be/rbH50T9jxVI
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