Initially, it seemed surprising when word got out Wednesday that series regulars Rob Lowe and Rashida Jones will be leaving “Parks and Recreation” this season; Jones has been with the show since the pilot, and Lowe joined in 2010. But after a minute to digest the news, the turn of events really wasn’t that shocking.
The move makes sense, business-wise: While the critically-beloved “Parks and Rec” is NBC’s longest-running comedy at the moment, that makes it expensive — and the ratings aren’t exactly stellar. Trimming the salaries of lead actors no doubt helps the budget. Plus, the departure even works from a creative standpoint: At the end of last season, the characters decided to try to have a baby together. Buzzfeed, which first reported the news, noted the characters will exit in episode 13, which leaves plenty of time, on an accelerated TV timeline, for their story to wrap up nicely.
But what makes it even less of a shocker is this isn’t the first time Rob Lowe has departed early from a show. Going back in time:
July 2004: Amid the success of NBC’s “The West Wing,” Lowe (who played deputy White House communications director Sam Seaborn) left the show in the middle of the fourth season, releasing a candid statement: “As much as it hurts to admit it, it has been increasingly clear, for quite a while, that there was no longer a place for Sam Seaborn on ‘The West Wing.'” However, other outlets reported that there were salary disputes, and Lowe wasn’t a fan of being part of an ensemble.
January 2010: After a few false starts with other series, Lowe was back in ensemble land as a senator on ABC’s family drama “Brothers & Sisters.” However, a few years in, he made an abrupt departure, as some reported he felt was “under-utilized” on the show.
Now, “Parks and Recreation” makes three.