‘The Waltons’: How John Ritter’s Character Was Written Off the Show

by Joe Rutland

There was a time when actor John Ritter was on the CBS family drama “The Waltons.” His character, though, was written off the show.

Here’s how it all went down, according to IMDB. Ritter, who played Reverend Fordwick, left the show after the 1975-76 season.

“The Waltons” had it put in the script that he joined the Army during World War II. He did right after Japanese airplanes attacked Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.

Ritter Leaves ‘The Waltons’ And Gets ‘Three’s Company’

Now Ritter would find himself playing a much different type of character not long after leaving the CBS show.

Ritter joined the cast of ABC’s “Three’s Company” in the lead male role of Jack Tripper. Suzanne Somers and Joyce DeWitt are also part of the show’s initial cast.

Needless to say, Jack was nothing like Reverend Fordwick. John Ritter found himself in a better place as an actor on what became a popular situation comedy.

“The Waltons,” starring Ralph Waite, Michael Learned, and Richard Thomas, continues telling family-related stories for its loyal following in syndication.

‘The Waltons’ Took ‘Goodnight’ Routine From Creator

If you have ever seen the ending of an episode of “The Waltons,” then you are aware of the medley of “goodnights.”

For instance, one character says “Goodnight, John-Boy.” He responds with “Goodnight, Elizabeth.” It goes on and on for a few more names before the closing music hits.

Where did this all come from for the show? It happens to be a childhood memory of show creator Earl Hamner. He said that the goodnight routine depicted on the show is identical to his own family’s tradition.

“That was something that we actually did when I was growing up,” Hamner said. “Sometimes we’d get carried away saying so many good nights that my father, who had to get up in the morning, would say, alright, that’s enough.”

Hamner also joked that Thomas could never understand how the routine worked until he saw the size of Hamner’s childhood home.

“And Richard Thomas, after his first trip to Virginia, he said, ‘You know, I always wondered how you people could say goodnight and be heard,'” Hamner said.

“‘But then I saw the house and it was such a little cracker box that now I understand,'” said Hamner laughing.