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Why Did Rob Lowe Leave The West Wing?

Rob Lowe,Credit : getty image
Rob Lowe, Credit: getty image

The West Wing is an Emmy-winning American Political drama. It features a fictional American President, Josiah Bartlet, and his administration, tackling various issues regarding politics, governance, and peace. When the show first launched in 1999, Rob Lowe played the role of Sam Seaborn, The Deputy White House Communication Director.

He was a passionate speechwriter working with the President. He played the young, charismatic gentleman who had the potential to run for the future presidential election. He was a principal character and was a part of the show from season one to four before he made his unexpected exit from the show. In the fourth season, we saw him running for congress in his home district.

The seat was previously taken by a deceased Democratic candidate. Sam’s new role and his campaign reduced his screen space in the capital. This eventually paved the way for his disappearance from the show. The reason why he left the show is still a matter of debate, and he was an asset to the show. His character as Sam Seaborn was a fan favorite. He was written out of the show during the fourth season due to some disagreement with the pay and the size of his role.

Rob Lowe as Sam Seaborn

Rob Lowe as Sam Seaborn

The reason why Rob left the show

Interestingly Rob Lowe was supposed to be the main protagonist in the show West Wing, but his Character Sam Seaborn was written out of the show during the fourth season. The Series further went on to have seven seasons. Though he did disappear in the fourth one, he made some recurring appearances in the season finale. 

It was rumored that Lowe was the only actor in his team who did not receive a pay raise since the first season. In the beginning, Lowe’s earnings were about $70,000 per episode. It was the same in the fourth season, while his castmate Martin Sheen had four times higher earnings than Lowe. This pay rise issue was not an isolated case.

His other castmate Allison Janney, Bradley Whitford, John Spencer, and Richar Schiff, threatened to walk out of the show if they did not receive any pay raise. As a result of this strike, they got a pay rise, but when Lowe demanded the same, he was asked to wait. He waited for another year but did not get any response.

The West Wing cast members

The West Wing Cast Members

The timing of the demand was not right as the Warner bros were about to enter a discussion with NBC for receiving the series renewal fees, which were supposed to expire in the upcoming season. The show at that time cost around $2.7 million per episode. That was the reason why his request was denied. They added that if he had waited for this situation to change, he might have gotten his pay rise. 

But the money was not the only issue of concern for Rob Lowe to leave this show. Even though he started as the main character, as the show progressed, his role diminished. He was one of the main protagonists in the show, and as the show ran, it the fourth season, he had very less significance and screen time while his other cast mate had got more limelight and serious character progress. This is also another reason why he left the show.

Martin Sheen and Rob Lowe, Credit : Getty image

Martin Sheen and Rob Lowe, Credit: Getty image

Rob Lowe’s Statement Regarding his Exist

Despite this unexpected exit, he has nothing but good wishes for his co-stars. In a statement about his decision to leave the show, he expressed he was “grateful” to be a part of the show and was “happy to have been on it.” In the end, it was a decision he made for himself, and though this affected his castmates and his fans equally, it was inevitable.

He was seen in the final season, making an appearance as the beloved Seaborn. This implies that he really loved being on the show and did not have any major beef with his castmates or production team. “We were a part of television history, and I will never forget it,” Lowe said in regard to his exit from the show.

The West Wing Cast members

The West Wing Cast member

After his exit from the show, he went on to be a part of other tv shows, including the hit sitcom Parks and Recreation. At present, he is cast as Captain Owen Strands on the critically acclaimed Fox drama 9-1-1: Lone star. He was also nominated for The Golden Globes for the best actor- Television series musical or comedy category for his performance in The Grinder.

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