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After Ritter's death, it had slipped to 50th, but was renewed for a third season, in which ABC moved the show to Friday night at pm as part of its TGIF comedy line-up.The series' creator and show-runner, Tracy Gamble, left the series for a time over creative differences prior to the third season, but he later returned as a consulting producer midway through the third season. Even before the third season finale's airing, rumors began circulating that 8 Simple Rules was facing cancellation due to Ritter's death and poor ratings.The first four post-Ritter episodes were shot without a live audience with James Garner and Suzanne Pleshette guest-starred as Cate's strict parents and David Spade guest-starred as Cate's wayward nephew, C. Garner and Spade later received starring roles as Ritter's replacement for the rest of the show's broadcast.
ABC canceled the series on May 17, 2005 after three seasons due to low ratings.
The first three episodes of the show's second season had been completed when Ritter reportedly suffered an undiagnosed aortic dissection.
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.
The finale received a 3.9/8 rating share which gave ABC a third place finish behind NBC's Dateline (5.8/11) and CBS' Joan of Arcadia (4.9/10), which starred Ritter's son, Jason Ritter.
Shortly afterwards, ABC officially cancelled 8 Simple Rules in 2005.