It’s strange to describe to others, but we often have a weird ache in our hearts when beloved cast members leave our favorite television shows. When you tune into a show week after week, these people stop seeming like characters and they start seeming more like friends. Once they’re gone, we can’t help but ask that sad question: where have our friends gone, and why did they leave us?
That’s certainly a feeling that fans of Blue Bloods understand all too well. The show has lot several key cast members over the years, and unless you follow their careers very closely, you may never know where they landed. Fortunately, you don’t need to call everyone’s favorite mustachioed police chief to solve this one: we’ve got the scoop on why your favorite stars left the show and, most importantly, what they’ve been up to since they left!
When it comes to why your favorite stars left Blue Bloods, there are sometimes two stories: the one the network shares and the one the actor shares. For example, when Jennifer Esposito stopped playing Detective Jackie Curatola after season 3, CBS claimed they simply put the actor on a leave of absence because she had a limited schedule and could no longer play the character because she didn’t have enough free time to meet the demands of a busy shooting schedule.
That sounds innocuous, but Esposito went on to make a now-deleted X/Twitter post where she claims she told CBS that her doctor wanted to limit her schedule due to celiac disease; she claims CBS didn’t listen, causing her to collapse on set. Making matters worse, she claimed the network thought she was lying about her condition in order to get a raise.
After leaving Blue Bloods, Esposito went on to star in shows like NCIS and Fresh Kills. In a truly surprising twist, she also made a surprise appearance in the finale of Blue Bloods’ 13th season.
On Blue Bloods, Nick Turturro was one of the most consistently popular actors. His Sergeant Anthony Renzulli kept popping up in the first six seasons of the show, and he seemed like a major fan himself. On one occasion, he even went to X/Twitter and told fans to ask CBS for more appearances from his character and that a Renzulli spinoff would be a great idea.
When season six rolled around, though, the character simply stopped appearing. While there are rumors that Turturro was hard to work with, there has never been any confirmation for why he left Blue Bloods. However, since leaving the show, he has appeared in many other roles, including the rival police procedural Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. On the big screen, he has also impressed us with roles in films like BlacKkKlansman.
It doesn’t happen very often, but every now and then, a beloved actor’s real reasons for leaving a show match the ones that are given onscreen for their character. That is certainly the case with Sami Gayle, who took over playing Nicky Reagan-Boyle from Marlene Lawston. Gayle was a mainstay on the show for nearly a decade, but she stopped regularly appearing on Blue Bloods after season 10.
Onscreen, the reason given for the character’s departure is that she was heading to Columbia University. Offscreen, Gayle herself was headed to Columbia, but she still found time to occasionally pop up on Blue Bloods. When she wasn’t making cameos or focusing on her studies, Gayle found the time to act in productions like Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Bad Cinderella.
Of all the names on this list, Marlene Lawston is the one most likely to have you asking “wait, who’s that?” The reason for that is quite simple: she only appeared in the very first episode of Blue Bloods, and she played the character of Nicky Reagan-Boyle before Sami Gayle took over.
Even though Lawston had an impressive acting resume going into the show, she hasn’t actually appeared in any shows or movies since she left Blue Bloods. Instead, she has fully thrown herself into her studies. First, she attended Colgate University and earned a degree in Molecular Biology in 2020. Now, she’s attending the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, and she’ll graduate from her medical science training in 2028. If that’s not brainy enough, she also sometimes furthers her education at the University of Oxford!
The departure of Amy Carlson’s character from Blue Bloods ended up being just as surprising to her as it was to fans. As Danny Reagan’s wife Linda, she was a series mainstay and appeared in almost every episode until season 8. That was the season where fans were shocked to discover her character had been killed offscreen in a helicopter crash.
It was a disappointing plot development for the fans and for the actor. Even though she hadn’t renewed her contract after season seven, Carlson has been vocal that she didn’t think the series would just kill her character like that. But killing one character certainly didn’t kill her career: she has since appeared in shows like The Society and films like Know Fear, though she has mostly been spending time with her family in recent years.