After a hiatus, the series returned and continued without Ritter, with the producers deciding to kill off Paul and not replace him.
James Garner and David Spade later joined the main cast as Cate's father and nephew, Jim Egan and C. Barnes, in an attempt to fill the void left by Ritter.
Following Ritter's death, ABC announced that the show would continue after a hiatus, and would incorporate the death of Ritter's character.
The three new episodes that Ritter completed were aired with Sagal introducing them.
The first season focused on Paul being left in charge of the kids after Cate takes a full-time job as a nurse, with comedic emphasis on his often strict rules concerning his daughters and dating.
The series' name and premise were derived from the book 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter: And Other Tips from a Beleaguered Father (Not That Any of Them Work) by W. While 8 Simple Rules was renewed for a second season and production had begun, Ritter's sudden death in September 2003 left the series in an uncertain position.
Ritter was also nominated posthumously in 2004, losing to Kelsey Grammar for Frasier.
It debuted on ABC on September 17, 2002, and concluded on April 15, 2005.
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.
Sagal portrayed his wife, the family's voice of reason, Cuoco his eldest daughter, the stock ditzy blonde.
Ritter, an icon in the world of American television for his star turn on Three's Company, died in 2003 from a misdiagnosed thoracic aortic aneurysm.