Why did Richard Thomas leave The Waltons?

Richard Thomas chose to leave CBS’ The Waltons in season five of the series, in order to pursue other opportunities outside of his role as John Boy.

Richard Thomas gained fame as the lead character, John Boy, on CBS’ The Waltons. Airing in the 1970s, The Waltons was amongst the most popular family shows, making Richard one of the most recognisable child actors on television. After five seasons, the actor decided that he wanted to take a step back from The Waltons and pursue other opportunities.

The storyline which saw John Boy leaving for college allowed for him to subtly step out, with fellow actor, Robert Wightman, taking his place in subsequent seasons. According to Distractify, there was no conflict between the actor and the network, and his departure was simply because he wanted to move on from the character. Richard made an appearance at the fortieth anniversary of the show in 2016, proving that he has maintained a good relationship with the cast and crew.