The Night Shift Is Losing A Major Actor, Here's What's Happening

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In the network TV ratings game, steadiness can often be the key to victory, and NBC definitely has that in the medical drama The Night Shift, which is a big part of what earned the show its Season 4 renewal last month. Unfortunately, there won't be quite as much steadiness when it comes to the cast, as the show will be losing main cast member Ken Leung, whose surgeon Topher Zia will not be back next year. Cue the flat-line beep.

Okay, so Dr. Topher Zia won't be killed or anything so dramatic, at least not on screen. According to Deadline, the actor had an option in his show contract that allowed him to opt out of returning if he wanted to. And, needless to say, Leung is making use of that option to seek out other job opportunities. If there's anything more specific behind the reasoning for Ken Leung's absence in Season 4, it wasn't made available.

It's arguably a strange time for Ken Leung to take his medical leave, as it were, although it also makes some sense. Topher has been a part of the San Antonio Memorial Hospital crew since its premiere, and - spoiler alert - the Season 3 saw the surgeon getting fired after Paul's father bought the E.R. from the insurance company, which then led to others resigning in protest. This saves the writers from having to write him back onto the main staff, and they can give Topher whatever kind of goodbye story they see fit.

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For the past three seasons, The Night Shift has been going strong over on NBC, and I'm sure the network would love to keep it around as long as possible. Ratings for the drama have been in the 4-6 million range, with a decent-but-not-bragworthy demographic rating for 18-49 year olds. There wasn't much network competition, mind you, with only CBS' now-cancelled American Gothic offering up new episodes, but that works in NBC's favor anyway.

There isn't that much going on at NBC in the summer otherwise as far as scripted programming goes. Aquarius got cancelled last month, meaning David Duchovny is up for a new show in the near future. If The X-Files' next season doesn't end up happening. Perhaps Duchovny and Ken Leung will end up together on one of the network's new additions next year.

The Night Shift will likely return to its Wednesday night airings when the show returns for Season 4 next summer. In the meantime, head to our fall TV schedule and our midseason premiere schedule to see what'll be hitting NBC and other networks in the meantime.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.