Neither fans nor critics hail Kevin Can Wait as CBS’ sitcom peak, but the series still raised eyebrows killing Erinn Hayes’ Donna off-screen with minimal acknowledgment. Now, star Kevin James’ explanation isn’t much better, as he states “We were literally just running out of ideas.”

It was early in the Kevin Can Wait Season 2 premiere that Kevin and daughter Kendra (Taylor Spreitler) offhandedly referenced Erinn Hayes’ Donna having passed away a year earlier, leaving the title character a widower. Season 2 also elevated James’ former King of Queens co-star Leah Remini to series regular, largely trading one sitcom wife for another.

As James tells it to New York’s Daily News, the decision to kill off Donna was less about chemistry with Hayes or her character, but rather the series overall needing a more pointed hook:

I get that people are like ‘Whoa, why would you do this?’ But it really felt like a thing like this was needed for this show to drive forward … The plot of the show didn’t have enough drive. If we got through a second season, I wouldn’t see us getting through a third one. We were literally just running out of ideas.

James also noted that the series was originally pitched with his character as a single father, while Remini’s guest appearance in the first season bowled over cast, crew and audience alike. Remini herself also acknowledges a romantic future for their characters is likely, though “it’s just there’s so many episodes to do before that.”

Time will tell if Kevin Can Wait’s longevity grows in the wake of Hayes’ exit, but were there better options to shake up the series?

Check Out 100 TV Facts You May Not Know!

More From Y-105FM