The Most Shocking Cast Exits From The Young And The Restless

As the top daytime drama on TV for over three decades, "The Young and the Restless" is in a league of its own. From its many Emmys to its dedicated fans, the soap has become an iconic part of pop culture. After all, stars like Tom Selleck and Eva Longoria got their big break in Genoa City, and the beloved show has been affectionately referenced in prime-time hits like "Beverly Hills, 90210" and "Dawson's Creek." 

Some stars have been with the show for decades. Jeanne Cooper portrayed the beloved Mrs. Chancellor right up until her 2013 death at age 84, and Genoa City's ultimate power couple, Victor and Nikki Newman, have been portrayed by Eric Braeden and Melody Thomas Scott for over 40 years. 

However, not all of the popular soap opera's stars have been so lucky. Some of these cast changes over the years have shocked audiences and cast members alike!

Richard Burgi

When accomplished actor Richard Burgi joined the cast of "The Young and the Restless," fans assumed he would be there for a long time. He originated the role of ruthless business owner Ashland Locke, with his first appearance airing on March 11, 2021. However, Burgi didn't even last a full year on the show. He was abruptly fired in early 2022 for violating the show's COVID-19 policy.

In a January 2022 Instagram Live video, Burgi confirmed his firing and explained that he "naively and inadvertently" broke the rules. After testing positive for COVID-19 in December 2021, the actor waited five days — the time frame recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Protection at the time — to return to set. Although he tested negative upon returning, he broke the soap's 10-day quarantine guidelines, as Variety reported. He was subsequently fired.

Burgi expressed regret for his choice, saying, "I felt terrible about it. I still do. It bothers me mightily but it is what it is." Burgi never returned to "Y&R," and Robert Newman was cast to replace him. As for Burgi, he has moved on to other projects, like the film "Out for Vengeance," which is slated to premiere in 2023.

Camryn Grimes

It's safe to say that Cassie Newman is one of the most adored characters in the history of "The Young and the Restless." Camryn Grimes, an adorable and expressive child actor, grew up portraying her. She had a special talent and vulnerability that endeared her to millions of viewers who were invested in the character, and the writers created poignant storylines that showed Cassie's strength and kind heart. 

Cassie was adopted into the Newman family and doted on by everyone, including the tough Victor Newman who melted in the presence of his beloved granddaughter. Grimes received critical acclaim and praise from fans for her portrayal of Cassie. She even won a Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Younger Actress in a Drama Series in 2000. In a shocking twist, Cassie was killed off in a car accident in 2005, ending (albeit temporarily) Grimes' eight-year run on the series. Grimes, who was 14 at the time, was caught off guard by Cassie's death, too. "I remember thinking I was finally going to be a part of the teen storyline," Grimes told Soap Hub. "That was all cut short given Cassie's death, but it was exciting for me to start to get all the juicy stuff."

Thankfully, Grimes would return as Cassie in dream sequences in a few episodes over the subsequent few years. Then, in January 2014, Grimes returned to "The Young and the Restless" to portray Mariah Copeland, Cassie's then-unknown twin sister who has since become a big part of the show.

Michael Damian

Michael Damian took the fandom by storm when he first appeared as rock star Danny Romalotti on "The Young and the Restless" in 1981. Danny was cool and committed to his music, and he had a heart of gold. Later, Danny met a young model, Cricket Blair (played by Lauralee Bell), and sparks flew on screen. Cricket and Danny soon became a couple beloved by fans, and their sweet love story looked like it was going to be one of the rare ones to last in Genoa City.

In 1993, Damian was cast in the Broadway production of "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat." Thankfully for fans, though, writers used the play as part of Danny's storyline — that way, Damian could perform in the play and still come back for episodes of the show. By 1998, though, Cricket and Danny broke our hearts when they broke up, and Damian left the show.

Starting in 2002, Danny returned to Genoa City multiple times over the years with Damian returning to portray him. Some fans speculate and hope that Damian will return to the show full-time for a Cricket and Danny reunion later in 2023, but there's been no word from Damian or CBS on his next return.

Greg Rikaart

When Greg Rikaart joined the cast of "The Young and the Restless" in 2003, he was initially only supposed to be on the show for two weeks. However, his talent was apparent, and fans wanted to see more of his troubled character. Rikaart portrayed Kevin Fisher, the younger half-brother of villain-turned-good-guy Michael Baldwin. Kevin was an evil character at first, but Rikkart brought so much humanity and complexity to the character that he was given a chance to grow and transform during his time in Genoa City. Rikaart became a series regular on "The Young and the Restless"; however, he was unexpectedly and suddenly written out of the show in 2017.

After "Y&R" did not renew Rikaart's contract, the actor posted a sad but grateful farewell on Instagram. "Playing Kevin and watching him evolve over the years has mirrored my real life in so many ways," he wrote. "We both found love, both became dads, and we both have more gray hair now than we did in 2003."

Rikaart's exit was distressing. As one fan commented on Rikaart's Instagram post, "I've watched 'Y&R' for 48 years, and this news is very upsetting!" Thankfully, though, Rikaart returned to the show in a recurring role as Kevin in 2019. In fact, the official Instagram page for "The Young and the Restless" celebrated his 20th anniversary in 2023 in a post asking fans to share their favorite Kevin moments. Responses, of course, poured in.

Michael Muhney

In 2009, Michael Muhney replaced actor Chris Engen, who abruptly left the series, and assumed the role of Adam Newman. Previously, Adam was portrayed by child actors, but the character was aged up to adulthood to advance his storyline.

Muhney's performance earned critical acclaim. In 2013, he was even nominated for a Daytime Emmy Award. However, later that same year, he was fired. Rumors swirled around his firing, with TMZ reporting that he allegedly groped, harassed, and bullied his "Y&R" co-star, Hunter King. Muhney has denied the allegations against him (per The Daily Mail).

Another former co-star of Muhney's, Eric Braeden, spoke up about the actor's firing. Braeden told Radar Online that although he welcomed Muhney at first, they ended up not getting along. Braedan said that Muhney wanted him off the show because he "wanted to be head honcho." Muhney has never returned to "The Young and the Restless," although Adam Newman is still around and played by Mark Grossman, as of this writing. 

David Tom

David Tom played central character Billy Abbott on "The Young and the Restless" from 1999 to 2002 before eventually reprising the role in 2014. During his initial time on the show, he won praise from both critics and fans alike. He was nominated for two Daytime Emmy awards for Outstanding Younger Actor and won in 2000. Heather Tom, his sister, portrayed Victoria Newman on the show for many years, and she's since gone on to play Katie on "The Bold and the Beautiful."

When David returned to "The Young and the Restless" in 2014, many fans were delighted and assumed he'd stick around for a long time. However, he was fired only four months later, with Burgess Jenkins replacing him in the role. 

David revealed why he was let go in an interview with Soaps in Depth, saying part of it had to do with Cady McClain joining as Kelly: "One of the reasons they said they let me go is that I obviously looked too young when they placed me with Kelly. Well, she was hired after I was. I don't understand why they didn't think about that." Tom has not returned to the show since he was recast. 

Thad Luckinbill

Thad Luckinbill has left and returned to "The Young and the Restless" a few times over the years since his first appearance on the show in 1999. That's certainly not unusual in the soap world. However, his 2018 exit raised some eyebrows for how his character J.T. Hellstrom appeared to be killed off to viewers. J.T. took a dark turn, and the increasingly dark character became abusive to his on-screen wife Victoria Newman (played by his real-life wife, Amelia Heinle).

On the show, J.T. Hellstrom was presumed dead when Nikki struck him over the head to stop him from physically attacking her daughter Victoria. The horrifying situation and the seemingly deadly secret bonded Nikki, Phyllis, Sharon, and Victoria in a pact that shocked viewers. Luckenbill's character left so much damage in his wake that it was one of the more surprising and memorable character exits.

The situation became more shocking when Luckinbill returned to the show in 2019 with a whirlwind plot that revealed J.T. had never died in the first place. He once again left the show that same year but returned briefly in 2023. Luckinbill remains the only actor to portray J.T. on the show. 

Donny Boaz

Donny Boaz is an accomplished actor who began his career as a model. He was brought on to portray Phillip Chancellor IV, who is better known as Chance, in 2019. Chance is the son of beloved characters Nina and Phillip Chancellor III. It looked like Chance was brought on to be part of a new power couple when on-screen sparks flew instantly with Abby Newman (Melissa Ordway).

It turned out that Boaz's time on the soap was short-lived. In early 2021, he was suddenly let go, and he shared a post on Instagram in which he said it was not his choice. Many were surprised, since the show had just invested a year into developing a storyline that many feel he didn't get to see through. For part of the post, Boaz directly addressed Ordway, stating, "I know I said I wanted us to be the greatest daytime TV couple ever. I aimed high. I'm sorry we didn't get to see it through."

Although Boaz said he was told that the role of Chance wouldn't be recast, it was later that year. Conner Floyd stepped into the role in November 2021 and is still on the show.

Shemar Moore

Shemar Moore is a popular star whose beloved character had a big impact on "The Young and the Restless" when he left the show in his prime. He played Malcolm Winters, the free-spirited younger brother of Neil Winters (Kristoff St. John). During his time in Genoa City, Malcolm caused such mayhem as getting his brother's wife pregnant, and he broke some hearts along the way. His exit was shocking to fans who loved to see his mischievous character play off his brother and others on the show.

Moore had been on the show for over a decade when he decided to split with it. After his initial departure in 2001, he returned to the show in 2004 before leaving again in 2005. Even then, it wasn't goodbye forever. He returned to the show briefly a number of times over the years, including to pay tribute to star St. John when he died.

Shemar Moore made a very successful career for himself in prime-time TV. He has starred in the long-running shows "Criminal Minds" and "S.W.A.T.," and he also hosted "Soul Train" from 1999 to 2003.

Terry Lester

Terry Lester originated the character Jack Abbott in 1981, and he portrayed him for nearly a decade on "The Young and the Restless." The character was so popular that creator William J. Bell created the Abbott family around Jack. The Abbotts, including Jack's sisters Ashley and Traci, are now one of the central focuses of the show along with the Newman family.

Toward the end of the '80s, it was rumored Lester became frustrated with the direction Jack's storylines had taken. Some said Lester blamed the young actors, such as fan-favorite Lauralee Bell, the talented young actor who was the daughter of the show's creator and producer, for his diminishing storylines. However, Lauralee Bell refuted these claims, saying, "At a point when he and my dad were having contract difficulties, he took me aside and told me that I had nothing to do with the problems and if he ever took it out on me, he was sorry" (via Showbiz Cheatsheet). Either way, Lester quit the show in 1989.

Lester never returned to the show, but he went on to have success with roles on shows like "Santa Barbara" and "As The World Turns." The role of Jack was recast with Peter Bergman, who made the role his own and brought a lot of heart to the character.

Alyvia Alyn Lind

Alyvia Alyn Lind is a successful young star who got her start on "The Young and the Restless" in 2011 when she was a small child. She portrayed Faith Newman, the daughter of power couple Sharon and Nick Newman. Lind grew up on the show, taking breaks sometimes for other parts. She took on such roles as portraying a young Dolly Parton in two made-for-TV movies, "Dolly Parton's Coat of Many Colors" and "Dolly Parton's Christmas of Many Colors: Circle of Love."

During her time on the show, the young actor was nominated for three Daytime Emmy Awards for her portrayal of Faith. Lind surprised fans when she left the show seemingly for good in 2021. It was shocking because fans watched her grow up and weren't anticipating her departure.

Lind went on to star in the successful show "Chucky," which is an extension of the "Child's Play" horror film series. Its third season is scheduled to premiere in October 2023. With how daytime TV works, though, you never know. Lind may choose to grace Genoa City with her presence again in the future.

Kristoff St. John

Kristoff St. John was a great actor who got his start in show business as a child. Even before his star-turning role in "The Young and the Restless," St. John took on the role of a young Alex Haley in "Roots: The Next Generations" in 1979, and he starred on the shows "Charlie & Co." and "Generations."

In 1991, St. John originated the role of Neil Winters on "The Young and the Restless." He would go on to portray the iconic character up until he died. He won two Daytime Emmy awards and was nominated nine times for his role as Neil. He also won 10 NAACP Image Awards.

St. John took an unexpected leave of absence in 2017 to take care of his mental health. The actor struggled with depression after his son's heartbreaking death. His departure was temporary but a wake-up call to fans on the importance of prioritizing one's overall health, especially their mental health. Tragically, St. John died only two years later, and his character Neil was written off with a sad death and touching tribute. He is still very missed, and family members, friends, and fellow cast members still post tributes to him and share how loved he will always be.

If you or someone you know needs help with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.