For 15 Seasons, America’s Got Talent judges have provided unending entertainment to viewers, but not all of them have stayed around for the long haul. Some judges, including Brandy Norwood, Julianne Hough, and Gabrielle Union, have only lasted one season on the popular reality competition show. Others, like Mel B, Piers Morgan, and Howard Stern hung around for a few seasons before inevitably calling it quits. Here’s why each of the AGT judges left the show.
Piers Morgan is currently a co-presenter on the British morning show Good Morning Britain, but he was once one of the original judges on AGT. From 2006 to 2011, the controversial Brit was a mainstay on the program but left the show just before Season 7 in order to pursue other projects. Namely, Morgan, who had taken over for Larry King after the elder newsman retired from CNN, wanted to have more time to devote to the 2012 election.
Unlike a few of the other names on this list, there were no hard feelings when Morgan left the show, he just had too much on his plate. Morgan announced his departure on his CNN program, Piers Morgan Tonight, [via Reuters](https://www.reuters.com/article/us-piersmorgan-f/piers-morgan-leaving-americas-got-talent-idUSTRE7AA2OO20111111#:~:text=(Reuters) “I can exclusively reveal that I’m leaving America’s Got Talent.” He added, “I’ve loved every single second, but discovered that juggling, to my surprise really is a bit more difficult than I thought.” Morgan had a long run on the show and hopefully he still looks back on his time there with pleasure.
Former Baywatch star David Hasselhoff was another original judge on AGT that decided to call it quits early on. After Season 4 of the show, the Hoff decided to leave in order to pursue his own TV show. Hasselhoff announced his plans in a statement to People, which read in part, “I am proud that I was part of making America’s Got Talent the No. 1 rated show for the past four summers. It’s been a rewarding experience and now I’m thrilled to be able to follow my dream to do my own TV show, which will be announced very shortly.” Even after leaving the talent competition show, Hasselhoff apparently couldn’t leave it behind forever, since he joined the judge's panel for Britain’s Got Talent in 2011, a few years after leaving the American version.
Of all the original America’s Got Talent judges, Brandy Norwood had the shortest run. Her reason for leaving the show was tainted by tragedy. On December 30, 2006, Norwood was involved in a car accident where her vehicle struck the back end of another on the freeway, killing the other driver. Though an investigation of the accident recommended no criminal charges for Norwood, the family of the driver entered a wrongful death suit against the singer. In 2009, Norwood settled out of court with the family for an undisclosed amount.
Sharon Osbourne was brought in during Season 2 of America’s Got Talent to replace Brandy Norwood and starred for five seasons of the show. After Season 7, however, Osbourne made the decision to quit the show over NBC’s treatment of her son, Jack. He had been in talks with NBC to join the reality show Stars Earn Stripes, but the talks halted after it was revealed that Jack had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Osbourne told the New York Post in 2012, “I just can’t be fake. It’s discrimination, and it was badly handled.”
Though she was under contract with NBC to continue appearing on the show, Osbourne refused to appear for another season. “They can’t make me do something I don’t want to do,” she said. “All they can do is stop me from being a judge on another network for five years.” Though Osbourne’s longtime friend and fellow Brit Simon Cowell tried to smooth things over between her and NBC, it was too little too late and Osbourne went her own way.
Shock jock Howard Stern joined the judges panel for Seasons 7 through 10 to replace Piers Morgan. Stern explained on his SiriusXM show, via Variety, that his decision to leave the show for pretty much the same reason as his predecessor. “I told them, this is my last season. I am going though my own career evaluation right now. I’m just too [expletive] busy.” Stern went on to say that he’d struggled with the decision to rejoin the judges for Season 10 and suggested that Simon Cowell come on the show to replace him, since Cowell has plenty of experience judging talent. That’s exactly what happened, so it was a spot on recommendation from the controversial radio show host.
Spice Girls’ Scary Spice burst onto the AGT scene in 2013 for Season 8 of the show, replacing Sharon Osbourne. Mel B spent several years on the talent show before departing after Season 13 of the show. Like many of the other departed judges, Mel B left the series to work on other projects. She had her reunion tour with the Spice Girls, which likely took up a lot of her time and effort.
German-born supermodel Heidi Klum was added as a fourth judge during Season 8 and, like Mel B, was around until Season 13. Klum took a break from the show during Season 14 to work on other projects, including partnering on a new fashion show with Tim Gunn for Amazon Prime Video. She has returned for Season 15 of the show after the two judges who replaced her and Mel B made the decision to leave the show.
Bring It On actress Gabrielle Union was only a judge on America’s Got Talent for one season before NBC decided to not renew her contract. Union insisted the decision was in retaliation for the actress making complaints about a toxic work environment. Sources speaking with Variety, and later confirmed by Union, claimed she received an excessive amount of notes concerning her rotating hairstyles, which were called “too black” for audiences.
Similarly to Gabrielle Union, Dancing With The Stars professional dancer Julianne Hough was cut after judging one season of America’s Got Talent. Sources told Variety that Hough also received excessive notes about her appearance, including hair and makeup, which added to the claims of a toxic workplace. Unlike Union, however, Hough pushed back on those claims, “I had a wonderful time on America’s Got Talent, I loved working with the cast, crew and producers. I am happy to continue my working relationship with NBC.” Hough went on to star in two other NBC productions, Holidays With the Houghs co-starring her brother Derek, and Christmas in Rockefeller Center.
Though not all the judges left on good terms, their time on the show will never be forgotten. They all added something new and their dynamics with each other were often the reason why viewers tuned in night after night. Hopefully, new judge Sofia Vergara feels right at home during her turn at the wheel this season. She joins veteran judges Simon Cowell, who has been replaced temporarily by Kelly Clarkson, Howie Mandel, and returning judge Heidi Klum, so there’s definitely going to be some interesting moments on the panel this year.