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Kevin James Explains Why He Killed Off TV Wife on ‘Kevin Can Wait’: We Were ‘Just Running Out of Ideas’

It’s a question every Kevin Can Wait fan has been asking: Why did they kill off Donna? When season 2 of the CBS comedy began, Erinn Hayes’ character was replaced by Kevin James’ former King of Queens costar Leah Remini. Donna had mysteriously died — and not even James is sure how it happened. But he does know why.

Erinn Hayes Kevin James Kevin Can Wait
Erinn Hayes and Kevin James on ‘Kevin Can Wait’ CBS

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“I get that people are like, ‘Whoa, why would you do this?’ But it really felt like a thing like this was needed for this show to drive forward,” the actor, 52, told the New York Daily News in a new interview published on Oct. 14. He noted that his character was originally supposed to be a single father on the show, but after much discussion, the producers decided to write in a wife. However, following season 1, they all knew they needed a change.

“The plot of the show didn’t have enough drive. If we got through a second season, I wouldn’t see us getting through a third one,” James added. “We were literally just running out of ideas.”

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Following Remini’s guest-appearance on the season 1 finale, James explained they knew they wanted her full time. When CBS announced that she’d be bumped to a series regular, executive producer Rob Long revealed that the tone would be changing for season 2.

“The goal was to give Kevin’s character a real drive and a real predicament [involving] how a family comes back together [after tragedy],” Long told TVLine. “Also, out of respect for the character of Donna — and certainly the way that Erinn Hayes portrayed her — it seemed like the only right and fair way to treat her character.”

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Hayes tweeted as the news spread of her character’s demise, “True, I’ve been let go from the show. Very sad, I had a great experience season 1. Thank you for all the support from our wonderful fans.”

Kevin Can Wait airs on CBS on Mondays at 9 p.m. ET.

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