By Season 3 of “The King of Queens,” Doug Heffernan’s inner circle was a little smaller with the absence of Richie. The character’s departure was never addressed on the show, but fans definitely noticed. A Reddit thread questioned why “they never mentioned why Richie left the show,” and some commenters put the character in the same category as Chuck Cunningham, the missing older brother from “Happy Days.” “Just disappeared, kinda like Carrie’s sister,” one Redditor wrote, in reference to Sarah Spooner, another “King of Queens” character who disappeared without mention.
According to Larry Romano’s IMDb page, his final “King of Queens” episode was “Paint Misbehavin’” in 2001, one of the most famous episodes of the series’ run that saw the gang paintballing and Richie facing the consequences of ghosting Doug’s sister Stephanie (Ricki Lake) after a one night stand back in the day. That same year, he filmed 13 episodes of the comedy series “Kristin,” playing Aldo Bonnadonna.
Allegedly, Romano asked “King of Queens” producers to let him out of his contract so he could join the cast of the NBC sitcom that starred Broadway star Kristin Chenoweth (via Showbiz CheatSheet). But “Kristin” was a colossal flop and was canceled after just six episodes in 2001, while “The King of Queens” went on for six more seasons and ended its run still on a high in 2007. The show still airs today in an endless loop on syndication.
More than 20 years after quitting the show, Romano sometimes shares throwbacks from his “King of Queens” days on Instagram. “That show is still one of the best experiences I have ever been a part of!” he once posted.