Another star is coming to the Fox sitcom “New Girl” when star Zooey Deschanel takes her maternity leave.
“Girl” returns for a new season in January and Deschanel gave birth this summer. While she’s on her break from the show, actress Megan Fox of “TMNT” will appear on the show as a pharmaceutical representative who lives in Deschanel’s character Jess’s room temporarily. On the show, Jess will be absent because she has jury duty.
The show also stars Max Greenfield, Jake Johnson, and Lamorne Morris as Jess’s roommates and Hannah Simone as Jess’s best friend.
“Girl” is returning for its fifth season next year. It’s having a midseason debut rather than returning in the fall like some other Fox shows, but the network said in a statement that having the show come back in January will allow it to have an “uninterrupted run.”
Deschanel and Greenfield have previously been nominated for Emmy Awards and Golden Globes for their work on the sitcom.
Fox is obviously a temporary player on the show – she’ll reportedly appear in five episodes – though she could come back for future installments. The show is no stranger to welcoming back former cast members. Damon Wayans Jr. appeared in the show’s pilot but then departed when his ABC sitcom “Happy Endings” was renewed. He returned for the show’s fourth season as the same character.
Simply replacing an actor on a TV show is more common than someone stepping in to take the lead for a few episodes. When their stars depart, some programs bring in new characters that are somewhat similar, as when actor Topher Grace departed the Fox sitcom “That ‘70s Show” and a new character named Randy (Josh Meyers) was introduced who was both friends with “’70s” character Hyde (Danny Masterson) and dated Donna (Laura Prepon) like Grace’s character Eric.
When actor Charlie Sheen left the CBS sitcom “Two and a Half Men,” the show added another roommate, Walden Schmidt (Ashton Kutcher), to live with the other characters as Sheen’s character Charlie had done. Procedural shows like “NYPD Blue” or “Law & Order: SVU” lend themselves naturally to replacing actors because a new one can be brought on as a new partner for another character. “NYPD” actor Dennis Franz’s character had multiple partners on the show, including characters played by David Caruso and Jimmy Smits.
Other shows wait some time before bringing in a new character that fills the void left by one that departed. On “Downton Abbey,” main characters Matthew (Dan Stevens) and Sybil (Jessica Brown Findlay) both died during the same season. The program showed all of the other characters mourning their deaths and neither Matthew’s widow Mary (Michelle Dockery) nor Isabel’s widower Tom (Allen Leech) have married again yet, though there have been romances for Mary particularly.
[Editor's note: The original version of this article misidentified a "Downton Abbey" character.]
As for “Girl,” the first several episodes of the season will reportedly include Deschanel before she temporarily departs. Fox will first appear in the sixth episode of the season.