Why these Real Housewives quit

There have been many unforgettable ladies to pass through the shiny gates of Bravo’s Real Housewives franchise over the years. This reality TV formula has been a mega-hit ever since The Real Housewives of Orange County premiered in 2006. As the well-kept, affluent ladies of the OC sold viewers on the series’ concept, fans loved indulging in their million-dollar mansions, designer duds, and luxurious lifestyles. Soon enough, spin-offs were popping up in the likes of Beverly Hills, Atlanta, New York City, and New Jersey.

To keep things fresh, Bravo has become known to do cast shake-ups from time to time, with veteran housewives being replaced with fresh blood. But the network — or executive producer Andy Cohen, for that matter — isn’t always behind these decisions. While we may never know the real behind-the-scenes reasons that resulted in some of these stars saying goodbye, many have publicly spoken out about their exits. 

From family and business endeavors to just too much drama with castmates, several issues have factored into what led some of these ladies to become housewives no more. Let’s dig deeper into why these Real Housewives quit.

Lisa Vanderpump found her way out of the doghouse

The infamous Lisa Vanderpump (also known as “LVP”) was a fixture on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills since its inception. The Vanderpump matriarch and successful restaurateur decided to leave RHOBH behind after a drama-filled Season 9, with her exit stemming from an argument over a puppy named Lucy Lucy Apple Juice.

In a nutshell, co-star Dorit Kemsley adopted a pup from LVP’s business, Vanderpump Dogs, but gave the dog away after it allegedly bit one of her kids. While Kemsley didn’t realize the person she gave Lucy to was going to take her to a shelter, Vanderpump felt she should have been returned to Vanderpump Dogs. The dramafied “puppygate” ordeal wound up in an article published by Radar Online, leading several of Vanderpump’s castmates to accuse her of leaking the story. LVP went to the extent of taking a polygraph test to prove her innocence, but the RHOBH ladies weren’t having it. 

In true housewives fashion, the fight snowballed into enough drama to fill the season. Clearly fed up with the situation, LVP skipped out on the show’s reunion and later announced she was quitting during an interview with Daily Mail TV in June 2019. When a reporter asked if she would return to RHOBH, Vanderpump replied, “I think they’ve made it pretty impossible for me to go back frankly. So … no.”

Heather Dubrow's plastic surgeon husband wound up being the star

The Real Housewives of Orange County star Heather Dubrow quickly became a solid cast member when she joined the show in Season 7. The buttoned-up wife of plastic surgeon Dr. Terry Dubrow left the show after just five seasons in 2017, telling The Daily Dish, “I have decided to go in another direction and do what’s best for my family and career.” Apparently, Andy Cohen told Heather “the door is always open” if she ever decides to come back.

While housewives fans may miss seeing the Dubrows, it doesn’t seem like Heather’s had to miss her old housewives friends too much. In 2018, she revealed on Watch What Happens Live that she’d been texting with Tamra Barney and Meghan King Edmonds, and also ran into Vicki Gunvalson, all in the same week of her appearance. Sure, Heather didn’t mention any getaways or dinner parties, but it sounds like these ladies have kept pretty close off camera.

Plus, it doesn’t seem like Heather really needed the Real Housewives series in her life anyway. Hubby Terry has picked up a few extra side gigs since his family got into the Bravo spotlight. In addition to launching Oxygen’s License to Kill, which investigates murderous medical cases, in 2019, he also landed the reality show Botched. The long-running E! series sees Terry and The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills alum Adrienne Maloof’s ex-husband, Dr. Paul Nassif, fix complicated plastic surgery mishaps.

Real Housewives star NeNe Leakes was tired of being a target

There’s no question The Real Housewives of Atlanta star NeNe Leakes left her mark on the Bravo show. The unapologetic, original Georgia peach said goodbye after an eight-year run in 2015. “This is my opportunity to spread my wings and do different things,” Leakes told People. Referencing her previous quarrels with her housewife co-stars, she added, “There were times when I was a target. I won’t miss the negativity … I feel a weight has been lifted off of my shoulders.”

After Leakes quit, Andy Cohen tweeted that the door would always be open: “We love @NeNeLeakes & she is always welcome back to the house she helped build! She’s a Real Housewife forever!!” For her part, Leakes clearly didn’t forget that offer. In September 2019, Bravo shocked fans when the RHOA alum was shown in the Season 12 promo trailer. According to Entertainment Tonight, Leakes previously announced her return in a since-deleted Instagram post, in which she wrote, “Season 12 SIGNED! Nay Nay will see you in NYC Sunday! Let’s go #RHOA.”

While she was left out of the first two episodes of that season, which premiered in early November 2019, Leakes told People that this was because she’d kept “one foot in and one foot out” during contract negotiations. However, everything apparently worked out to her liking, as Leakes added that she was “excited” for the third episode to air.

Kim Zolciak-Biermann quit Real Housewives while pregnant

Kim Zolciak-Biermann shocked fans of The Real Housewives of Atlanta when she left the show in 2012. The lady who loves her wigs had a much more shocking departure than former co-star NeNe Leakes though. After being an Atlanta housewife staple for five solid years, Zolciak-Biermann left straight in the middle of filming Season 5. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. In all fairness, she was eight months pregnant at the time — and clearly, mama don’t play. 

“The fighting. The stress. The gossip. The drama. I reached my boiling point,” Zolciak-Biermann wrote on her Bravo blog. “Bravo and RHOA have been beyond good to me, and I will be forever grateful for some of the moments that occurred on the show, but I couldn’t deal anymore. I handled my s**t for five seasons, from fights, to arguments to the tears, but being pregnant puts a whole new spin on everything, and what happens on the outside affects what happens with the baby on the inside, and that was my priority!”

Zolciak-Biermann had already been hired by Bravo to star in the spin-off show, Don’t Be Tardy, featuring her kids and NFL star husband Kroy Biermann. Obviously, filming with family was way less stressful than fighting with a bunch of grown women every week: Zolciak-Biermann left the ladies of Atlanta behind on a whim and never looked back!

Caroline Manzo hopes her grandchildren never see the Real Housewives

The Real Housewives of New Jersey alum Caroline Manzo decided to hang up her housewives fedora after five seasons. Manzo was the resident matriarch of the Jersey clan and didn’t appear one bit intimidated by the strong personalities of co-stars Teresa Giudice or Danielle Staub. Indeed, this reality star stood strong in her convictions, so it was surprising that she decided to leave in 2013. What was Manzo’s reasoning?

For one, she was in the process of starring in another Bravo reality spin-off, Manzo’d with Children, about her family. Manzo also felt her “role [had] run its course” and she had “nothing more to give,” according to a Bravo blog post. “Over the past few years my outlook on the show has changed from something I couldn’t wait to show my future grandchildren to something I hope my future grandchildren never see,” she went on to write. “I’ve always prided myself on being a good example for my children and my decision to leave is based on advice I’ve always given them: ‘Be true to yourself and be proud of who you are, you are born with a name and you die with a name, don’t dirty it up.” Manzo added that “peace and integrity cannot be bought with money or fame.”

How do you argue with that closing tagline?

Lydia McLaughlin temporarily returned for her magazine launch

Lydia McLaughlin of The Real Housewives of Orange County didn’t last long in the OC. The reality TV starlet announced her decision to leave after just one season, telling Us Weekly in 2013 that it was “bittersweet.” She explained, “I want to build my brand outside of the Housewives — I’ve always been really honest with the producers about that. I knew that while I was filming it that I probably wasn’t going to be doing it again.”

That said, McLaughlin is one of many former housewives who made sure the media knew she’d be “flattered” to be invited back to the show. These housewives seem adamant about making sure the public knows they quit — and weren’t let go — and also appear to take Bravo’s offer to come back quite seriously. With several having come and gone more than once, McLaughlin also found herself on that repeat list. She later re-joined RHOC, just in time for a magazine launch … but her second go around also lasted just one season.

“[God’s] plan is always good and it was the perfect timing for me with the launch of NOBLEMAN Magazine to return for season 12,” she wrote to fans on her OC Lydia blog. “I feel it is now, the perfect twist to once again hang up my orange.”

It doesn't look like we'll see Dina Manzo's hairless cat again

The Real Housewives of New Jersey star Dina Manzo gave the reality television series two chances. She first quit the show back in Season 2, after a falling out with co-star Danielle Staub. “The only way I can truly get Danielle out my life is to not be in contact filming with her,” Manzo told E! News in 2010. “That way I don’t have to talk about her, and I don’t have to be around her.”

However, Manzo announced on Twitter that she was returning to the series just three years later: “Well I guess the (hairless) cats out of the bag. Yes I’m back, Unlike the past this time it felt ‘right’ ~ See you on Bravo my friends xo.” It was an interesting time for the TV personality to re-join RHONJ, considering her sister (and co-star), Caroline Manzo, had just announced that she was leaving the series.

Dina Manzo’s second stint on RHONJ didn’t last much longer than her first. In 2016, she quit for a second time. “I don’t live in New Jersey anymore,” she explained to People. “I went through my divorce this year [and] I moved out to California, so it didn’t make sense.”

Amber Marchese's husband said the Real Housewives is 'not real'

Amber Marchese of The Real Housewives of New Jersey fame hung up her apple after just one season. In 2015, she told People that the show didn’t allow fans “to get to know the real her.” Marchese added that she and husband Jim gave their involvement on the series “a lot of thought,” adding, “And given the current state of affairs regarding our personal lives and the direction of the show, we officially decided to move on. The show was not what we expected it to be, and I want to pursue more suitable endeavors.”

Speaking of Jim Marchese, he hinted in the press that the RHONJ might be scripted, which was another reason he and his wife chose to bow out. “The viewers don’t understand it’s not real. I was told to go to a place. I was told to hit beats, so I did it,” Jim claimed to Radar Online at the time. “What they [the viewers] saw of Amber and I, was what the storyline called for. The constant beating of the drum of ‘She has cancer’ or ‘I’m being rude,’ that was what was required of us. That is not how we conduct ourselves.” 

We’re guessing Amber Marchese won’t be getting an invite back from Bravo after those bold public statements.

Bethenny Frankel's Skinnygirl empire was born

To say The Real Housewives of New York City star Bethenny Frankel got notoriety from her time on reality television would be an understatement. The cute brunette — who’s technically been unmarried for most of her time as a housewife — has parlayed her TV exposure into many side gigs. We’re talking a multi-million-dollar Skinnygirl empire, a spin-off show (Bethenny Ever After) with her now ex-husband, Jason Hoppy, and even her own daytime television show (Bethenny).

Frankel was one the original RHONY ladies, and after exiting the show following the filming of Season 3, she came back four seasons later. However, Frankel announced she was leaving the show for a second time in August 2019. “I am so grateful to you for sticking with me through everything,” she wrote in part to her fans on Instagram around that time. “You started this journey with me in my tiny apartment in my late 30’s, wondering what would happen to me. I was broke, single, had no family and no idea what the future held.”

She later expanded upon her reasons for leaving, stating to Variety that she was ready for new things: “It’s time to move on and focus on my daughter, my philanthropy and my production partnership with Mark Burnett, producing and starring in shows which represent a shift in the conversation for women.” It’s highly doubtful we’ve seen the last of this smart, business-savvy New Yorker.

Real Housewives star Jules Wainstein's divorce put her over the edge

The Real Housewives of New York City star Jules Wainstein left the reality television limelight when her personal life got too much to bare on camera. After announcing her split with husband Michael Wainstein, Jules decided she was done with the show after just one season, with her rep telling E! News in 2016, “Jules is going good through a divorce and is putting her family first.”

Jules Wainstein’s decision to quit was somewhat surprising since she was very public about some of her personal struggles on RHONY, including her battle with bulimia. However, the divorce seemed to put the reality star over the edge, and like any mama bear, Wainstein’s new focus was understandably keeping her family out of the spotlight. “Now with everything going on in my personal life, I want to focus on my family, my children, and make sure they are happy and healthy,” she told The Daily Dish. “My children are young and with everything going on, the last thing I want is my divorce to be public and I have to protect them.” 

Health and family come first for the Real Housewives' Yolanda Hadid

After sharing her struggles with Lyme disease and announcing that she and musician husband David Foster were splitting, The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Yolanda Hadid quit the show in 2016 to focus on her health and personal life. The Dutch-American mother to supermodels Gigi and Bella Hadid confirmed her exit after Season 6, telling her Instagram followers, “I believe that every exit is a new entry and with that in mind I say goodbye to my @Bravotv Family as I continue to focus on my recovery, my children and bring back the privacy within our home.”

Fans watched Hadid struggle with her illness on air, with Foster appearing to play the role of a supportive husband, traveling to places like Switzerland for every kind of experimental treatment under the sun in an attempt to beat Hadid’s debilitating disease. However, according to her 2017 memoir, Believe Me: My Battle with the Invisible Disability of Lyme Disease, the music producer allegedly told his ex-wife, “Your sick card is up” (via E! News). Understandably, that didn’t go over well and the two soon headed toward Splitsville.

However, it’s possible we haven’t seen the last of Mama Hadid. Bravo spoke highly of the former model in a statement to People after she quit, saying, “We wish her a full recovery and hope to see her again sometime on the show.” Will Hadid give RHOBH a second go around? Stay tuned.

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