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Kevin James reveals why 'Kevin Can Wait' killed off Erinn Hayes' character

Donna Gable, played by Erinn Hayes, and Kevin

Donna Gable, played by Erinn Hayes, and Kevin Gable, played by Kevin James, in the season one "Kevin Can Wait" episode that aired on CBS on March 20, 2017. Credit: CBS / Jeff Neumann

Finally, Kevin James is offering "Kevin Can Wait" fans a reason behind the show's shocking decision to kill off his onscreen wife Donna Gable, played by Erinn Hayes.

The CBS sitcom, both set and filmed on Long Island, revealed in August that Donna would have passed away by the season-two premiere, following a bombshell report in June that Hayes' character would not return for season 2, confirmed by the actress herself on Twitter. (At practically the same time in June, the network revealed that a guest character played by James' former "King of Queens" TV wife, Leah Remini, in season 1 would be back as a series regular, adding to the controversy.)

For those who've been questioning Hayes' abrupt exit ever since, James says he understands the shock.

"I get that people are like 'Whoa, why would you do this?' But it really felt like a thing like this was needed for this show to drive forward," James says in an interview with the New York Daily News published online Saturday.

The star, who hails from Mineola, said it essentially came down to either a major plot shake-up, like the death of a character — or the death of the series entirely.

"The plot of the show didn't have enough drive," James says. "If we got through a second season, I wouldn't see us getting through a third one. We were literally just running out of ideas." 

James says in fact, Kevin Gable was initially going to be a single dad from the get-go, until producers later decided to make him married.

What remains unclear is whether Hayes was aware of this all along, or if her exit was just as much of a surprise to her as it was to the rest of us.

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