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The first four post-Ritter episodes were shot without a live audience with James Garner and Suzanne Pleshette guest-starred as Cate's strict parents and David Spade guest-starred as Cate's wayward nephew, C. Garner and Spade later received starring roles as Ritter's replacement for the rest of the show's broadcast.
Before Ritter's death, the show ranked 42nd in the Nielsen ratings.
Following Ritter's death, ABC announced that the show would continue after a hiatus, and would incorporate the death of Ritter's character.
The three new episodes that Ritter completed were aired with Sagal introducing them.
As you may recall, Ritter died unexpectedly after completion of the third episode of season two. Rory is planning to take full advantage of Ditch Day while Kerry expects that her classes will continue as usual.
The show’s production was shut down to give the cast and crew time to grieve and also to give the network and producers time to decide if and how they should proceed. Cate is waiting for Ed to call her when Rory comes into her office, depressed.
Though the sitcom revolved around Ritter’s character, it was ultimately decided to keep the show going and Ritter’s character dies off-camera. When he calls, Ed’s ready to get sexy with her over the phone but she has to hang up.
After Ritter had experienced discomfort during his rehearsal of the show that afternoon, crew members took him to a nearby Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center, where he suddenly died that night following a misdiagnosis of a heart attack.
Ritter's character in the series was not replaced following his death on September 11, 2003.
After entering a hiatus, the series continued without Ritter, incorporating the death of his character.
Gamble was replaced by Judd Pillot and John Peaslee, who had performed the same role in the final season of Spade's sitcom, Just Shoot Me! The Friday night "death slot" ratings took their toll on 8 Simple Rules.
The third season finale was not aired for May sweeps.