5 Shows that got better after losing main characters

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Parks and Recreation

Since Amy Poehler’s Leslie Knope is so closely identified with NBC’s Parks and Recreation, it may surprise casual fans to learn that she was not its original protagonist. In the show’s dark and uneven first season, Leslie is one of the show’s two main characters alongside Paul Schneider’s Mark Brendanawicz. The pessimistic city planner for the oddball town of Pawnee, Indiana, Mark was plainly the show’s straight man. His character served as a pragmatic foil for Leslie, who depicted as being ditzy and hopeful in the show’s first year.

In the show’s second season, Mark’s only meaningful storyline was his burgeoning relationship with Ann Perkins (Rashida Jones). As Leslie had been redefined to be ultra-competent and optimistic, Mark became increasingly marginalized. Moreover, his dyspeptic outlook and lack of quirks really put him at odds with the rest of the show’s cast. At the end of the series’ second season, Mark left city government to pursue a job in the private sector and never looked back.

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And despite his being its version of The Office’s Jim, Parks and Rec only got better after Mark left. Leslie blossomed as the show’s sole lead and the series’ embrace of indefatigable optimism became its defining trait. Plus, Mark’s role as the program’s resident normal guy was later filled by Adam Scott’s Ben Wyatt, a character who was a much better fit for the Parks’ tone.

What TV shows do you think got better when they lost their main characters? Put your thoughts in the comments below.