Sherry Stringfield (“E.R.”)
Fame: On a show known for its actors leaving, Stringfield is probably the most infamous example, unlike the famous George Clooney departure. She played Dr. Susan Lewis, who was with the show from the beginning, but after three seasons, she wanted to live a normal, non-acting life and break her contract, which called for a five-season commitment. This pissed off the show’s producers because it was around then that they were giving Lewis juicier storylines, including a romantic plot with Dr. Greene (see below), but she exited nonetheless, losing millions in the process, due to a soon-to-be signed cast member syndication deal. She returned in season eight, presumably because of a lack of money, and stayed with the show for four more years.
Since Then: Stringfield appeared on a few episodes of the least sexy “sexy” show of all-time, “Tell Me You Love Me,” and now mostly appears in TV movies, like “Who is Clark Rockefeller?” and “The Shunning,” about the Amish. Hmmm, an Amish made-for-TV movie? I guess she really didn’t need that syndication money, anyways.
Anthony Edwards (“E.R.”)
Fame: Oh God, I still remember Edwards’ final episode of “E.R.,” where he had portrayed Dr. Greene for eight seasons. Edwards told producers that he wanted to depart from the still-popular medical drama in order to concentrate on his directing career, and they came up with a doozy of a solution: diagnose Greene with brain cancer and kill him off! (Side note: I always thought Greene’s death episode, “On the Beach,” was the first pop culture use of Israel Kamakawiwo’ole’s hideously overplayed cover of “Over the Rainbow”—turns out, it was third, after Finding Forrester and Meet Joe Black. Sadly, Ukulele Ray‘s version has been underutilized.)
Since Then: And just like his character, Edwards’s career is dead, too. He hasn’t directed anything since a 2001 episode of “E.R.,” and his most famous role outside the confines of County General was as an inspector in David Fincher’s Zodiac. Last year, he appeared in Motherhood, the Uma Thurman-starring movie that only 11 people purchased tickets to see at its premiere in London and is now considered the second-biggest bomb in U.K. film history. He also isn’t George Clooney.
Shannen Doherty (“Beverly Hills, 90210”/”Charmed”)
Fame: The most common answer of why Doherty left “90210”: she was a total bitch, which isn’t all that surprising considering her character, Brenda Walsh, was a total bitch, too (it’s like being shocked Christian Bale is an intense man). After the show’s fourth season, Doherty was written off, replaced by another bad girl: Tiffani Amber-Thiessen. Years later, after doing nothing but starring in Mallrats, Doherty joined the cast of “Charmed”—but after three seasons, her character was killed, and replaced by Rose McGowan, supposedly due to tensions between Doherty and co-star Alyssa Milano.
Since Then: Outside of reprising her role as Brenda in the 2008 remake of “90210″, Doherty barely acts anymore, and couldn’t even beat 80-year-old Buzz Aldrin on “Dancing with the Stars” (or get past the first round). She also spells her first name stupidly.
Michael Moriarty (“Law & Order”)
Fame: Before joining the cast of “Law & Order” in 1990, Moriarty, no relation to Sherlock Holmes’ archenemy, won two Emmys—one for the TV movie “The Glass Menagerie” and the other for television miniseries “Holocaust”—and a Tony, too. But he’s best known as Executive Assistant to the District Attorney Ben Stone, appearing on 88 episodes of the show. In 1993, then-Attorney General Janet Reno launched a crusade against supposedly violent shows like “Law & Order”, and the outspoken Moriarty took offense. According to the actor, because of his public criticisms against Reno, including a full-page advertisement in a trade magazine, he was asked to leave the show.
Since Then: After departing “Law & Order,” he exiled himself in Canada, and has since gone crazy. In 2009, he went off on Dick Wolf, the creator of “Law & Order” who Moriarty still believes blackballed him, writing on Big Hollywood that Wolf made the show a “clown act that leads the American viewing audience into an increasingly predictable pile of hard left propaganda.” And here are his thoughts on Islam: “In and of itself, [Islam] is an Allah-worshiping, Kamikaze Nation, exactly like pre-World War II Imperial Japan. Its Bible, the Koran, can be read like Hitler’s Mein Kampf. It demands to rule the entire human race.” As for his acting career, he mostly appears in TV movies that no one’s ever heard of, and he also wrote and starred in “Hitler Meets Christ,” as seen above.