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After the novelty of newly added ensemble characters wore off, the series returned to its original format.
The first three episodes of the show's second season had been completed when Ritter reportedly suffered an undiagnosed aortic dissection.
The show’s production was shut down to give the cast and crew time to grieve and also to give the network and producers time to decide if and how they should proceed. Cate is waiting for Ed to call her when Rory comes into her office, depressed.
Though the sitcom revolved around Ritter’s character, it was ultimately decided to keep the show going and Ritter’s character dies off-camera. When he calls, Ed’s ready to get sexy with her over the phone but she has to hang up.
Gamble was replaced by Judd Pillot and John Peaslee, who had performed the same role in the final season of Spade's sitcom, Just Shoot Me! The Friday night "death slot" ratings took their toll on 8 Simple Rules.
Subsequent episodes dealt with the family's reaction to his death and them moving on from it.
The first four post-Ritter episodes were shot without a live audience with James Garner and Suzanne Pleshette guest-starred as Cate's strict parents and David Spade guest-starred as Cate's wayward nephew, C. Garner and Spade later received starring roles as Ritter's replacement for the rest of the show's broadcast.
The 54-year-old had been rushed to hospital straight from a rehearsal for 8 Simple Rules For Dating My Teenage Daughter.
The final series, its title trimmed down to 8 Simple Rules, ended in 2005, having won a cinematography Emmy in 2004.