Why Ashton Kutcher’s Kelso Left After Season 7

Ashton Kutcher only served as a guest-star in That ’70s Show’s eighth and final season. Here’s why he left the sitcom and what happened to Kelso.

Ashton Kutcher played Michael Kelso for most of That ’70s Show’s eight-season run, but the actor stepped back from the sitcom after season 7. The actor served as a member of the core cast since the show’s debut in 1998. In fact, the role of Kelso marked Kutcher’s first professional acting gig. Following his departure alongside fellow regular co-star Topher Grace, the series was never the same.

Kelso was the dim-witted member of the core friend group at the focus of That ‘70s Show. As a close friend of Eric Forman, Kelso was often hanging around the Forman house with the rest of the ragtag group, including Donna Pinciotti, Steven Hyde, Jackie Burkhart, and Fez. Throughout his arc, Kelso had an on-again-off-again romantic relationship with Jackie, but the pair didn’t end up together. Kutcher’s character was also known for his lack of intelligence, leading to multiple falls from the town’s water tower and consistent need in wearing the “stupid helmet.”

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Related: That ’70s Show: What Happened To Casey Kelso

Despite his immaturity, Kelso was forced to grow up quickly after the birth of his daughter. To get his life on track, Kelso decided to become a police officer. Though he was broken up with the mother of his daughter, his relationship with Jackie remained platonic, especially because she was dating Hyde. By the end of season 7, Kelso drove Jackie to Chicago for her new job before Hyde misinterpreted his friend’s act of kindness. Around this time, Kutcher decided not to renew his That ‘70s Show contract for the eighth season. Thankfully, he agreed to return for a few episodes in season 8 to conclude Kelso’s arc effectively.

Ashton Kutcher Left That ’70s Show To Focus On His Movie Career

During Kutcher’s time on That ‘70s Show, the actor split his time growing his film career. After appearing in comedy movies like Dude, Where’s My Car?, Just Married, and My Boss’s Daughter, Kutcher turned heads with his dramatic performance in 2004 The Butterfly Effect. Shortly after, he was cast as Jake Fischer in The Guardian, but it was set to be filmed around the same time as season 8. Because of the scheduling conflicts, Kutcher decided to take a step back from his TV presence to focus on movies.

Before fully departing the beloved period sitcom, Kutcher reprised his role as Kelso for four guest-star appearances to kick off That ‘70s Show season 8. Kelso was fired from the police force for exhibiting unprofessional behavior during a bachelorette party. Feeling lost, Kelso considered going back to Jackie until realizing he had more growing up to do. In the end, the character left his hometown upon accepting a job offer to work as a security guard at Chicago’s Playboy Club. Kutcher and Grace later returned for the show’s series finale as the setting jumped into the new decade.

By the time Kelso and Eric were no longer core characters, the ratings for That ‘70s Show were already trending downward. Losing two main cast members left a void that couldn’t be filled with the sitcom. When the series officially ended in 2006, Kutcher remained focused on movies. In 2011, the actor officially returned to TV, joining Two and a Half Men as Walden Schmidt for four seasons. Kutcher then jumped in The Ranch, playing central character Colt Bennett. The series ended in 2020, but it was made clear that his time as Kelso paved the way for a long-term sitcom career.

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