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Married... With Children Didn't Tell Ed O'Neill It Was Canceled Until 6 Weeks Later

Ed O'Neill played shoe-selling patriarch Al Bundy on "Married... with Children" for 11 seasons on FOX. The irreverent comedy followed the day-to-day minutiae of the minimum-wage earning Chicago salesman whose lazy wife Peggy (Katey Sagal) was more interested in bonbons and daytime television than being a homemaker. Al's perverted son Bud (David Faustino) and his dullard daughter Kelly (Christina Applegate) rounded out the Bundy's family foursome.

Ranked as one of the best sitcoms of all time, "Married... with Children" aired along with "The Tracey Ullman Show" and "21 Jump Street" on FOX during the broadcast company's infancy. The series continues to receive a nearly perfect audience score of 99% on Rotten Tomatoes, but in the summer of 1997, "Married... with Children" was suddenly canceled. And O'Neill didn't know he'd lost his job until six weeks after the fact. "They [the network] never called me," O'Neill revealed during a 2020 interview on "The Ellen Show."

O'Neill was on hiatus from the show and staying in his hometown of Youngstown, Ohio, when "Married... with Children" was axed by FOX. And there, he found out from two complete strangers that the series wasn't being renewed. "And when they called me, it was like — I swear to God — it was like six weeks later," O'Neill recalled his telephone conversation with host Ellen DeGeneres. "'Someone dropped the ball, Ed, on this.'" Just like his character Al Bundy, O'Neill was shown zero respect by his employers.

O'Neill discovered Married... with Children was canceled after the fact

Ed O'Neill discovered that "Married... with Children" had been canceled after 11 seasons, but not from his employers at FOX. O'Neill got the news when he bumped into a pair of lovebirds back in his hometown of Youngstown. According to "The Ellen Show," O'Neil ran into the newlyweds at a bed and breakfast, and they dropped the bomb on the actor after having heard the show wasn't being renewed over their radio.

"'Oh, we love your show,'" O'Neill told host Ellen DeGeneres, how the married couple broke the news to him outside the B&B. "'We're so sorry about it, though.'" O'Neill was caught off guard, and his reaction clearly gave him away. "'Well, he doesn't know,'" O'Neill recalled their conversation. "'It's all over the radio. It was canceled.'" They quickly apologized to the actor, but O'Neill took the whole thing in stride. "I'd rather hear it from you," O'Neill said.

Afterward, ever the good sport, O'Neill strolled into the establishment with his new acquaintances, and he bought them a bottle of champagne to celebrate their nuptials. Series co-creator Michael G. Moye told a similar story years earlier when he participated in a behind-the-scenes documentary produced by "Biography" about the sitcom. "When the show was canceled, apparently, they didn't tell the cast," Moye said during the documentary. On June 9, 1997, without a proper finale, "Chicago Shoe Exchange" marked the last episode of "Married... with Children."