HOUSE Loses Cuddy: Lisa Edelstein Not Returning for Season 8

This I did not expect, and while I know some HOUSE fans will welcome this news, I absolutely don’t. TV Line is reporting that Lisa Edelstein will not return to the FOX medical drama for its eighth and probably final season.

Edelstein has played hospital administrator/dean of medicine Lisa Cuddy for all seven seasons of House’s run, but her long-term contract is up this month and she has walked away from the bargaining table and the show. She said in a statement,

“After much consideration, I am moving onward with a combination of disappointment at leaving behind a character I have loved playing for seven years and excitement of the new opportunities in acting and producing that lie ahead.”

Robert Sean Leonard and Omar Epps, who play Drs. James Wilson and Eric Foreman, also had deals expiring at the end of the current seventh season, but both signed new contracts earlier this month and all indications were that Edelstein would follow suit. In making his deal, Epps had to take a pay cut, something that was also requested of Edelstein. We don’t know whether or not that was a deal-breaker, but I would imagine it didn’t make her happy.

What Edelstein’s departure will mean for future plotlines is anyone’s guess. The House/Cuddy relationship factored heavily this season and remains unresolved. We don’t know if next Monday’s season finale sets up Cuddy’s departure, but given that Edelstein and show producers were trying to reach a new deal, that seems very unlikely. I think we can only hope Edelstein will return for an episode or two to wrap up Cuddy’s story.

It’s also unclear how producers will fill the hole left by Edelstein’s departure, though a new cast member seems inevitable. Olivia Wilde is now the only female series regular on House, and she missed a huge chunk of this season to make films, so who knows if she will really be around full-time next season.

What say you, House fans? What would an eighth and likely final season be like without Cuddy?