8 Shows We Can’t Imagine Continuing Without Their Leads

Law & Order SVU, Grey's Anatomy, NCIS Los Angeles
Michael Greenberg/NBC; ABC/Raymond Liu; Michael Yarish/CBS

If you’d asked us a year ago if we could imagine NCIS without Mark Harmon as its fearless leader, Leroy Jethro Gibbs, we would’ve thought that impossible. But here it is, 10 episodes after his exit and still going strong. (And it was shocking when Julian McMahon announced his exit from FBI: Most Wanted, now in its third season.) But for some shows, that just doesn’t seem possible.

Whether due to the title or just the longevity, it’s hard to imagine them continuing on if the lead exits. What would The Flash be without the star who plays the titular character? Can you imagine Law & Order: SVU without Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay), whom we’ve followed up the ranks over the years? Can Grey’s Anatomy exist without a Grey (or really, specifically, Ellen Pompeo‘s Meredith)?

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Scroll down as we take a look at the shows with at least seven seasons under their belts that it seems have to end when their stars depart. (This is nothing against the rest of the casts; it’s simply what we’ve seen from the shows over the years.)

James Spader as Raymond
Will Hart/NBC

The Blacklist

It was shocking when Megan Boone (who played Elizabeth Keen) announced her exit at the end of Season 8. But can you imagine the NBC drama continuing on without James Spader (Raymond “Red” Reddington) as well? (Considering he was the one to announce the Season 10 pickup, we don’t think we have to worry about him going anywhere.)

Tom Selleck as Frank Reagan in Blue Bloods
John Paul Filo/CBS

Blue Bloods

The CBS procedural may follow all the Reagans — and Len Cariou‘s Henry was commissioner before — but it just wouldn’t be the same without Tom Selleck as Frank and playing the current commissioner of the NYPD.

Caity Lotz as Sara Lance in Legends of Tomorrow
Bettina Strauss/The CW

DC's Legends of Tomorrow

Considering Caity Lotz is the last original cast member left (and Nick Zano, who joined in Season 2, just left), it seems to have gotten to the point where we can’t imagine the show without her playing Sara Lance. (Amy Pemberton hasn’t been onscreen the entire time.)

Grant Gustin as Barry Allen/The Flash in The Flash
Jack Rowand/The CW

The Flash

It’s in the title: The CW superhero show just can’t go on without someone in that suit, and since Grant Gustin‘s Barry Allen has done just that for eight seasons now, that pretty much says it all.

Ellen Pompeo as Meredith Grey in Grey's Anatomy
ABC/Raymond Liu

Grey's Anatomy

This is a no-brainer, and it’s even been said by ABC‘s bosses: The medical drama will continue as long as Pompeo is part of it. When the network announced its Season 19 renewal, it also revealed she’ll be back.

Mariska Hargitay as Captain Olivia Benson in Law & Order SVU
Michael Greenberg/NBC

Law & Order: SVU

We’ve watched Benson go from detective to captain, and she’s the only one left from Season 1 (Ice T joined the following year). So while cast members have left over the years (we have to note Christopher Meloni here, now on his own spinoff, Organized Crime), there just is no SVU without Benson.

Eric Christian Olsen, Chris O'Donnell, LL Cool J, Daniela Ruah in NCIS Los Angeles
Michael Yarish/CBS

NCIS: Los Angeles

It’s strange enough to not see Hetty Lange (Linda Hunt) that often anymore, and while we’ve loved the newer additions to the team, we’re just too used to seeing Sam (LL Cool J), Callen (Chris O’Donnell), Kensi (Daniela Ruah), and Deeks (Eric Christian Olsen, who joined the others at the end of Season 1) to have it be any different.

Erin Krakow as Elizabeth in When Calls the Heart
David Dolsen/Crown Media

When Calls the Heart

The Hallmark Channel drama may have done the unthinkable at the time when Daniel Lissing exited and his character, Jack, died, breaking our and Elizabeth’s (Erin Krakow) hearts, but it’s gone on. Elizabeth’s even finding new love. But watching her do that makes us wonder if the show could, as well, should Krakow decide to leave.