‘Kevin Can Wait’ Will Kill Off Erinn Hayes’ Character, Make Way for Leah Remini

TCA 2017: “The character will have passed away, and we will be moving forward in time, catching up at a later date,” says CBS exec

Last Updated: August 1, 2017 @ 12:46 PM

Kevin will see a personal tragedy in between seasons of “Kevin Can Wait”: The show will kill off his wife, played by Erinn Hayes.

Hayes starred opposite Kevin James in the show’s first season as his wife, but it was announced in June that she was leaving the show because executives wanted to go in a different direction.

“The character will have passed away, and we will be moving forward in time, catching up at a later date,” Thom Sherman, CBS’s senior vice president of programming, told reporters at a Television Critics Association panel.

“Kevin Can Wait” stars James as an ex-cop who has to deal with the realities of retirement.¬†Hayes played Donna, Kevin’s wife of 20 years, who held the family together before her husband’s retirement.

The move came around the same time that the show announced that Leah Remini, who starred with James on the long-running sitcom “King of Queens,” would be joining the cast as a series regular.

Can “Kevin Can Wait” separate itself from “King of Queens,” especially now with Remini on board? CBS execs think the show speaks for itself.

“Obviously, the chemistry [between James and Remini] was amazing in the stunt episodes,” Sherman continued, talking about how the two reunited in the two-part season finale.

Over the two half hours, Kevin (James) agreed to come out of retirement briefly to reprise his undercover assignment in an investigation in which he and fellow cop Vanessa Cellucci (Remini) must pose as husband and wife.

“The discussions went on. We talked about other things. Ultimately, this was what was decided. This was the best way to move forward,” said¬†Kelly Kahl, president of CBS Entertainment.