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The Unexpected Way Neil Patrick Harris Found Out Doogie Howser, M.D. Was Canceled

Although you might most easily recognize Neil Patrick Harris from his Emmy-nominated performance as Barney Stinson on CBS' "How I Met Your Mother," Harris' original breakout role on television came with his portrayal of the titular child prodigy on ABC's "Doogie Howser, M.D." The show was a medical sitcom that ran for four seasons during the late '80s and early '90s (via IMDb), and followed the eponymous Doogie Howser as he attempted to balance his life as a teenager with his work as the youngest doctor in the country.

Although the show didn't last all that long, there's no question that "Doogie Howser, M.D." was exceptionally popular, to the point where people still refer to Harris as "Doogie" three decades later — a trend which Harris doesn't seem to particularly mind, as he's still extremely proud of that role, and has an innate fondness for the series itself (via The Guardian). Unfortunately, it appears that ABC did not share the actor's appreciation for the series, as it was abruptly canceled following Season 4 — so abruptly in fact that Harris only learned about the show's cancellation by coincidence.

Harris learned about the cancellation from a newspaper

During an interview with GQ in which Neil Patrick Harris broke down some of his most iconic characters, the Tony Award-winning actor revealed that he only learned about the cancellation of "Doogie Howser, M.D." after reading about it in a newspaper. "I was actually in Vancouver filming a television movie," the actor recalled. "And I read in a newspaper that the show had been canceled. I didn't feel disrespected by it. All of this is one big business."

Harris went on to say that he hadn't even received a phone call about the show ending, but he reiterated just how grateful he is for all the wonderful experiences he had while filming the series. All told, it's clear that Harris harbors no ill will against ABC for their sudden axing of "Doogie Howser, M.D." — though it is quite surprising that they didn't feel the need to tell their lead actor about the show's abrupt cancellation.