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Eric’s That ‘70s Show Exit Should Have Happened Sooner


Although Topher Grace did eventually leave That ‘70s Show at the end of season 7, his Eric Forman character should have been written out of the sitcom a year earlier. It is never easy for a sitcom to say goodbye to its former main character. Audiences grow attached to the lead actor of any show, but since sitcoms tend to provide a comfort watch for many, changes to cast chemistry can be particularly impactful because the sub-genre relies on the interplay between actors.


Like any other TV show, however, sitcoms do occasionally need a major shake-up to ensure their format avoids becoming too repetitive. This is why That ‘70s Show used Charlie – and later the slightly more successful Randy – to replace Topher Grace’s lovable Eric Forman in season 8. While many were upset when Grace left That ‘70s Show, that decision allowed the star to pursue his movie career, while also creating room to introduce a new character to the central gang. Unfortunately, Eric’s perfect ending would have actually seen the character leave That ‘70s Show an entire season earlier.

Related: That ’90s Show Retconned A Great ’70s Show Sitcom Twist

Where Eric’s That ‘70s Show Story Should Have Ended

Laura Prepon as Donna and Topher Grace as Eric in That 70s Show

While Eric and Donna got engaged while the pair were still very young, their wedding never materialized. First, Red’s heart attack in That ‘70s Show season 5 led Eric to stay in Point Place instead of moving to Madison with Donna. While this sitcom cliche allowed That ‘70s Show to extend Eric’s role in the series, it was not necessarily a bad decision. However, Eric getting cold feet on his wedding day and leaving Donna alone on the altar was the key mistake. Instead, That ‘70s Show season 6, episode 24, “Going Mobile,” should have ended Eric’s role in the series by having him go through with marrying Donna.

Eric getting cold feet was not entirely out of character for the perpetually anxious antihero, but his failure to reconcile with Donna after their disastrous wedding day did feel jarringly bleak and out of place for the warm sitcom. While it is obvious that the creators of That ‘70s Show wanted Eric around for another season, the impact of his father’s heart attack had already changed the character’s demeanor. In earlier seasons, Eric was almost as sweet and naive as his daughter, Leia in That ‘90s Show, but by season 6 he was unhappy, burnt out, and resentful of his family and hometown for keeping him stuck.

Extending Eric’s That ‘70s Show Story Failed

That '70s Show Cast on the water tower

Eric originally stuck around thanks to Red’s heart attack in That ’70s Show season 5, but became lazier, more bitter, more directionless, and more sarcastic as a result. This was exacerbated when Eric and Donna did not go through with their wedding. As the sardonic intellectuals of their tight-knit friend group, Eric and Donna were always destined to end up with each other. Indeed, That ‘90s Show confirmed that the pair had a child, implying that their eventual reunion in the series finale was permanent. However, viewers could have been spared Donna’s relationship with Eric replacement character Randy if Eric’s story ended at their wedding day.

That ’70s Show dragged out Eric’s role in the series for another season by ruining Eric and Donna’s wedding. In the process, That ‘70s Show doomed Eric to a miserable season 7. The character was still living in his hometown, pulled out of marrying his longtime love interest at the last second, and lacked any purpose beyond a vague, thinly-sketched dream of moving to Africa. As such, Eric inevitably came across as bitter in That ‘70s Show season 7 and, ironically, proved that the series would have been better off just letting his character go the previous season.

Related: That ’90s Show’s Season 2 Renewal Fixed Its S1 Sitcom Mistake

That ‘90s Show Justified Eric’s That ’70s Show Exit (Sort Of)

red kitty eric and leia forman in that 90s show

That ‘90s Show shows Eric as a good father and proves that he did end up happy with Donna. However, this does not erase how despondent he seemed in That ‘70s Show season 7. If anything, Eric and Donna’s future happiness proves that the pair should have gotten married and left their hometown behind at the end of season 6, since they were seemingly ready for that commitment only a few years later anyway. In an attempt to undo the damage caused by keeping Eric’s character around a season too long, That ‘70s Show’s revival instead proved just how much the original series mishandled his arc.

More: That ‘90s Show Breaks That ‘70s Show’s Water Tower Curse


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