'Desperate Housewives': Drama Behind Nicollette Sheridan's Departure

Nicollette Sheridan's run on "Desperate Housewives" ends, but why?

April 20, 2009, 7:26 AM

April 20, 2009 — -- Edie's days of causing trouble on Wisteria Lane are over and so, it also seems, are her real-life counterpart Nicollette Sheridan's on the set of ABC's "Desperate Housewives."

Sheridan, one of the original castmates of the five-year-long series, was killed off as expected Sunday night in the episode's opening minute, following last week's cliffhanger in which her character Edie crashes her car into a telephone pole while beating a hasty retreat from her new husband. When Edie stepped out of the car onto the wet road, the pole's live wire instantly electrocuted her, although it was not clear last week whether she would survive.

From the start of Sunday's episode it was clear, with Edie's voice narrating the show, that she would now be an omniscient presence in her friends' lives. As the ladies on the lane gathered around her, Edie took her last breath and proclaimed, "I died how I lived, as the pleasure center of the town."

While Edie's death was as dramatic as her life on the show, there also appeared to be drama behind Sheridan's departure from the show.

The 45-year-old actress' relationship with "Housewives" creator Marc Cherry was rumored to be difficult. Sheridan and Cherry did little to put those rumors to rest in their interview with this week's TV Guide, which only seemed to highlight their feud.

Sheridan offered the magazine this explanation for why her character had been offed: "Somebody up there really wanted her dead. I think whoever Edie represented in ["Housewives" creator] Marc's life was somebody he didn't like. And he had a very difficult time distinguishing between fact and fiction."

Cherry cited a different reason. "Edie's already slept with most of the guys on the street and has caused about as many problems as she could."

He also seemed to place blame on what he described as heavy-handedness by the network to bring down costs.

"There has been tremendous pressure put on me to cut costs. ... The network is saying to all the shows, 'The company is really hurting financially. You must find a way to produce these shows more cheaply,'" he told TV Guide.

A Walk Down Wisteria Lane

Whatever the actual reason, Sheridan is apparently ready for some new challenges. "When the show started [in October 2004], it was such a different beast," she told the magazine. "It was exciting and dangerous and funny and edgy and bizarre. It started feeling a little complacent, and that was very frustrating."

Sunday night's show was a walk down memory lane of some of Edie's finest moments when her fellow housewives take a road trip to deliver her ashes to her son at boarding school.

Susan (Teri Hatcher) recalled how Edie delivered the news that her husband was having an affair; Lynette (Felicity Huffman) remembered how Edie jolted her out of feeling sorry for herself when she was battling cancer; Brie (Marcia Cross) told the story of how Edie cajoled her into visiting her husband in prison; and Gaby (Eva Longoria) recalled the contest between her and Edie to see who was hottest.

Sheridan's exit from the set was reportedly graceful. According to People magazine, she told the show's writers and fellow actors, "I'm here to say thank you for everything. You guys are great. You guys are awesome."

James Denton, who played plumber Mike, the object of Edie's lust, recalled Sheridan's last days on set. "Her attitude made them completely bearable," he told the magazine. "It could have been tough and sad, but she was so great."

"She will be missed," Hatcher told People earlier this month. "I feel really grateful to have had the opportunity to work with her."