I had tried really hard up to that point to hold it back, honestly. I think part of me recognized that she was much smarter and more modest than me. This fire was burning in me, a fire that burned just like that second date: I was in love. Marriage, quicker than I was ready for, did this thing: it started sucking away that emotion. In other words, it was in the practicality that I found the love I was looking for. That fire I felt, it was simply that: emotional fire. I think that might be a big part of the reason the divorce rate is so high in this country. It’s time that we changed the conversation about love. Because until we do, adultery will continue to be common. I wanted to tell her on the first date, but I knew that would probably be weird. She kind of gave me this half-shy, half-amused smile. But as time has gone on, I also realized that she knew something that I didn’t. I tried so hard to keep that fire going, to keep that emotion alight, but it got harder and harder. And what was even more interesting was that once I realized this on a conscious level, and started trying to find more opportunities to give, the more we both, almost intuitively, became lovey-dovey. From the excitement of dating a woman I felt like I could marry. Imagine a whole nation of people constantly chasing the emotions they had when they were dating. That’s a recipe for disastrous marriages; for a country with a 50% divorce rate; for adultery (the classic attempt to turn the fire back on); for people who do stay together to simply live functional, loveless marriages. How many people are in pain simply because they’ve been lied to. After Ritter had experienced discomfort during his rehearsal of the show that afternoon, crew members took him to a nearby Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center, where he suddenly died that night following a misdiagnosis of a heart attack.
There was no way I could keep that dating fire burning as practicality invaded our lives. Something I haven’t wanted to admit for a long time, but is undeniable.
After entering a hiatus, the series continued without Ritter, incorporating the death of his character.
James Garner and David Spade joined the cast afterward.
After the novelty of newly added ensemble characters wore off, the series returned to its original format.
The first three episodes of the show's second season had been completed when Ritter reportedly suffered an undiagnosed aortic dissection.