The real reason Vicki and Tamra are leaving RHOC

The next season of Real Housewives of Orange County is going to look a lot different now that not just one, but two of its biggest stars are stepping away from the franchise. Vicki Gunvalson and Tamra Judge announced their departure within a day of each other. Why have two of the most well-known stars of RHOC decided to part ways with the show?

Gunvalson's departure wasn't too surprising. She's been on the show for 14 years, after all, and her demotion to a "friend" of the cast in season 14 no doubt came as a blow. In an RHOC reunion special last year (via E! News), Gunvalson revealed how she really feels about her demotion, saying she feels like a "has-been."

Vicki Gunvalson said goodbye to RHOC in an Instagram statement

In a heartfelt statement posted on Instagram, Gunvalson revealed that she felt it was time to part ways with the Real Housewives franchise. "I will always be the OG of the OC, but it's time to say goodbye to The Real Housewives of Orange County," she wrote. "It's been an incredible ride for 14 years and I want thank all of you for your support, for your love and for 'whooping it up' with me along the way."

Gunvalson also revealed some of her plans for the future. "I've been working on new projects that will be exciting, empowering and inspirational," she said. "My podcast with Westwood One will be launching soon and I will have much more to say about this on 'Whoop it up with Vicki.' I hope you will join me with my new journey so please stay tuned. I love all my fans, and I want to thank Bravo and Evolution for this incredible experience which my family and I have will never forget."

Tamra Judge also announced her RHOC exit on Instagram

While Tamra Judge hasn't been on RHOC as long as Gunvalson, having joined the show in season 3, she's still spent more than a decade of her life on the show. "It's been a wild 12 years," she wrote on Instagram. "But it's time for me to move on. I'm sad to go but very excited about my future. Love you guys."

Gunvalson offered up her own tribute to her time with Judge on RHOC in the comments. "We have shared so many great and not so great times together and it has been the ride of our lives," she wrote. "Thelma and Louise .... now where do you want to go?!"

Tamra Judge was allegedly being demoted on RHOC

According to Radar Online, Judge quit because she was about to be demoted, just like Gunvalson was in season 14. "Bravo bosses wanted Tamra to be bridge from the old cast to the new in season 15 and she refused," said an anonymous source. "Tamra got her pick up contract letter last, after the other ladies, and it had major conditions in it. She was even more than demoted to a friend role. She'd have very little camera time. And it meant she would earn next to nothing in reality TV terms."

Judge would have apparently gone from earning $900,000 for the entire season to just $60,000 for three show appearances. "It was humiliating," said the source. "So Tamra walked away."

Tamra Judge unfollowed all the Real Housewives on Instagram

Judge didn't just leave the show, she severed ties with it completely — at least on social media. Following her announcement that she would not be returning for the next season of RHOC, Andy Cohen (who confirmed on Radio Andy that Judge was only offered three episodes to wrap up her story) called her on Instagram Live.

Judge explained that she unfollowed everyone after getting the unexpected news that she was being demoted on RHOC. "I got a text message from production saying 'call me,' and I was a little bit in shock," she said (via Hollywood Life). "And because I knew it was going to be a s***storm. I didn't want to read about it, I didn't want to see it. I didn't want to be hurt any more than I already was. So I just unfollowed everybody. It was just like my instinct. Out of sight, out of mind. I don't have to see it. Now I'm good. I've accepted it."

Tamra Judge revealed a secret about the RHOC cast

On the call, Tamra Judge revealed that, now that she and Vicki Gunvalson have both left the cast after being demoted, the rest of the RHOC cast is scared of something similar happening to them.

"Well of course I have [heard from other Housewives]," she said (via Hollywood Life). "All the other OGs are shaking in their boots thinking that they'll get fired, too!"

Judge told People that she's looking forward to her newfound free time, and has no reservations about leaving the show without a final farewell. "It's been a wild ride, and after all these years, I'm looking forward to life away from the cameras," she told the outlet. "I was offered a chance to come back to the show in a limited role, but would prefer to walk away on my own terms."