Erin Hayes‘ character as Kevin James‘ wife Donna on Kevin Can Wait was killed off last night to make way for Leah Remini.


Between the first and second seasons of the show, the creative team decided that Kevin Can Wait would become a reboot of sorts for King of Queens. Remini guest starred on the sitcom for a few episodes, and the chemistry was so good that they decided to bring her on full time.

During the break, showrunners Rock Reuben and Rob Long shared that the show would pick up about a year after Donna’s death, almost acting like it never happened. Season 2 picked up with Kevin making his kids lunch, something that Donna would have done. Then eldest daughter Kendra made sure the kids made it to school. Then we see Kevin pick up mail addressed to Donna from her gym that reads, “we haven’t seen you, we miss you.” Kevin agrees with the sentiment, but doesn’t throw out the mail – he may want to sign up for kung fu classes.

Then the rest of the show’s events happened, which included Kendra marrying Chale so that he would avoid deportation. Remini as Vanessa Celucci helped Kendra do her hair and get ready for the big day. “We’re just missing one thing,” Kevin said, to which Kendra replies, “I know, I wish Mom was here too.” And that was the most mention that Hayes’ character got all night. There was no mention even of how Donna died.

In August, CBS president Kelly Kahl explained that the death would be treated “with dignity and respect,” but most fans were unhappy with how the show handled it. “#KevinCanWait killed off Kevin’s wife tonight & spent less than one minute talking about her death in the whole ep,” wrote one Twitter user. “Wow. Really. #KevinCanWait just casually mentions his wife “died over a year ago”. Just to bring Leah Remini back. Sad and distasteful,” wrote another.

It seems like that will be the only acknowledgement of Hayes’ Donna for the season, as Kevin and Vanessa begin a will they/won’t they type relationship for the audience to eat up – if viewers can get over the quick and unexplained death of Donna.

Kevin Can Wait airs Mondays at 9 pm on CBS.

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