“Blue Bloods”: Here’s Why Actor Tom Selleck Quit ‘Magnum P.I.’ at the Height of His Success

by Katie Maloney

What convinced Tom Selleck to quit acting right as he was reaching the height of his fame?

It’s crazy to think about spending your whole life dreaming of becoming a famous actor only to quit right after achieving that dream. But that’s what Tom Selleck did. Spoiler alert: it didn’t ruin his career.

Selleck found worldwide fame with his starring role on the television show, “Magnum P.I.” The show aired from 1980-88. However, at the height of his fame, Tom Selleck quit the show. Decades later, he opened up about why. During an interview in 2020, Selleck talked about how fame wasn’t what he expected.

“I quit ‘Magnum,’ not because I didn’t like it or I was tired of it,” said Selleck. “I was tired from it. And I wanted a three-dimensional life because I didn’t have one.”

Selleck added that “intellectually” he knew what fame would entail. But, once he started experiencing it first-hand he wasn’t a fan.

“I knew intellectually what it would mean in terms of being a public person, but until you’ve lived it, there’s no way to understand it,” said Selleck. “I had a feeling of, ‘I don’t think I’m cut out for this.'”

So, he quit the show to spend more time with his family on his ranch in Ventura, California.

Tom Selleck in “Magnum P.I.”

Tom Selleck Completely Changed His Original Character on ‘Magnum P.I.’

Certainly, Tom Selleck in “Magnum P.I.” was both charming and good-looking. But he was also a blue-collar, down-to-earth guy who just happened to be a private investigator in the gorgeous state of Hawai’i. But Magnum wasn’t always as cool as he was on the show. In fact, Thomas Sullivan Magnum IV was originally written as the “James Bond of television, visiting stewardess on each arm, flawlessly perfect,” according to IMDB. But Selleck hated the overused trope. He told the producers, “I’m tired of playing what I look like.”

Tom Selleck said that he wanted Magnum to be a more laid back, blue-collar kind of guy. But producers weren’t convinced. He tried to persuade them by pitching that if men who watched the show were able to identify with Magnum, then the show would have more male viewers. When that didn’t work, Tom Selleck threatened to do “Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark” (1982) instead. So, the writers relented and Magnum became the man we all know and love today.

Thanks, Tom Selleck, for doing what you had to do to make “Magnum P.I.” the iconic TV show it is today.