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The Cast Of 8 Simple Rules: What They Looked Like In Their First Episode And Now

Who remembers 8 Simple Rules? Anybody? It was a moderately successful sitcome (at least in its first season) that followed a middle class family of five after the mother went back to work full-time and the dad became responsible for the daily needs of his teenage children. Today, the show is remembered for providing Kaley Cuoco of Big Bang Theory fame her breakthrough role. Watching a teenage Penny argue with her strict father about whether she got to wear a thong to school is the main draw of dredging up old episodes. Then, of course, there's the chance to watch crazy guest appearances by early 00s celebs like Nick Carter, and to see James Garner bring his cowboy persona to his crotchety grandpa character... okay, the show's a total nostalgia gold mine.

We looked up the main cast today and found out that they're doing everything from writing mommy blogs to directing awful SyFy channel original movies. Plus, two of the main cast of this sweet, inoffensive show ended up on the brutal Sons of Anarchy - how did that happen? Read on to learn about what your favorite sitcom actors are up to today - their career paths may surprise you.

15 Katey Sagal Went From Playing A Housewife To Being A Tattooed Biker Chick In Sons Of Anarchy

We bet that after Married...With Children and 8 Simple Rules, Katey Sagal got pretty tired of playing the mom in a sitcom family. Does voicing Leela in Futurama count? We'll say yes because she's the only voice of reason on that show. Anyway, there's only so many times that you can play second fiddle to a bumbling TV husband. After the cancellation of 8 Simple Rules, she went on to play the matriarch of a narcotic-dealing biker gang on Sons of Anarchy. We don't blame her for trying a grittier role. Plus, have you seen how Sagal looks these days? This woman is sixty-four years old but doesn't look a day over forty. She claimed in an ABC interview that it's just a matter of staying positive and getting enough sleep, so we'll be using that as an excuse to sleep in from now on.

14 Kaley Cuoco Was Bridget Hennessy Before Her Big Bang Theory Stardom

Teen Kaley Cuoco had her first real gig as an actress on this show, playing a ditzy, boy-crazy blonde who constantly clashed with her strict father figure. After the cancellation of 8 Simple Rules, she went on to her largely forgettable appearance on Charmed before signing on to the breakaway hit The Big Bang Theory. She's played Penny for a full decade now and shows no sign of leaving the show anytime soon. If she hadn't found her niche on Big Bang Theory, would she have been typecast as the typical bubbly blonde for a few years before fading away? Or would she have gone in a different direction and pursued more serious roles like the one she played in Charmed? We'll never know what could have been, but we can't imagine Penny played by anyone else.

13 David Spade Can't Tell The Difference Between Ellen Degeneres And Justin Bieber Nowadays

David Spade played C.J. Barnes, Cate Hennessy's basement-dwelling nephew and down-to-earth high school teacher, in the last two seasons of 8 Simple Rules. His goofy persona on the show reflected his real-life wackiness, which has carried him through a two-decade career on Saturday Night Live and more recently, Funny or Die. A few days ago he described his experience at Ellen Degeneres's 60th birthday party to E!Online. He showed up a little... under the influence. He got even more soused as the night wore on, and by the time he found Ellen, he couldn't even recognize her - he said that her haircut made him think she was Justin Bieber! Way to stay devoted to your comedy on- and off-screen, David. If he put half as much energy into his current show, The Mayor, as he did his Hollywood party antics, maybe it would have better ratings.

12 Martin Spanjers Is A Film Producer Now

Martin Spanjers was just eighteen when 8 Simple Rules was canceled, so we're not surprised that it took him a while to find his place in Hollywood. He landed a couple episodes of True Blood and one episode of family guy, but his acting career has been a bit of a disappointment for the past ten years. Recently it looks like he's getting into film production with 2017's The Accomplice, a critically acclaimed comedy-horror short starring American Horror Story's Evan Peters. Does this mean he's dropping acting and taking a shot at becoming a producer or director? Are we going to see his name in the production credits for American Horror Story any time soon? We know it's a long shot, but it would be hilarious to see Rory Hennessy directing a horror anthology.

11 Amy Davidson Is A Mommy Blogger

Amy Davidson played nerdy younger sister Kerry on the show - despite actually being in her twenties at the time! After 8 Simple Rules was canceled, she went on to a few minor roles in TV dramas, but it looks like her family takes up a lot of her time. She has an adorable mommy blog where she talks about raising her little boy alongside her two beloved dogs, while balancing an acting career and being an Instagram influencer at the same time. You go, Amy! Her most recent acting venture was in the indie film Battle Scars, released in July 2017, where she played the wife of a soldier struggling with PTSD. Are we going to start seeing her in more serious indie flicks? We hope she keeps posting cute baby pictures!

10 Adam Arkin Remains A Silver Fox

Adam Arkin played Ed Gibbs, the principal of the school the Hennessy children attend and, later, where their cousin C.J. Barnes works as a teacher. He started dating Cate Hennessy in season 3, with the couple initially trying to keep the relationship a secret but being exposed when C.J. dug matching cinnamon bun containers out of the trash can. Adam Arkin and Katey Segal both got cast in Sons of Anarchy, but had a much darker and more adversarial relationship on the show. He seems to be done with playing sitcom principals, with most of his roles in the past few years being gang leaders and major villains on drama series. We have to say, he's still looking pretty good for a man in his sixties. This silver fox still has a long acting career ahead of him.

9 Nick Carter Used The Last Of His Backstreet Boys Cred To Get A Spot On The Show

If you were alive in the 90s, you remember Nick Carter. The Backstreet Boys were the original boy band, competing with NSYNC for fans and paving the way for One Direction. Nick Carter didn't have quite as much success as Justin Timberlake with his solo career. He recorded Now or Never in 2002, at around the same time as he appeared on 8 Simple Rules as Bridget Hennessy's college boyfriend. After filming two episodes he never returned to the show. He also never had another successful album. After spending the past fourteen years dealing with substance abuse, filming a few reality TV shows and directing one bizarre SyFy channel original movie where he and a group of other 90s boy band icons fought zombies in the wild west, he got Weinsteined by former girl group member Melissa Schuman. Paul Hennessy definitely would not let him date his daughter now.

8 Thad Luckinbill Is Doing War Movies Now

Thad Luckinbill made a few appearances on 8 Simple Rules as Donny Doyle, the religious boy-next-door whom Bridget Hennessy dated at the end of Season 1 and beginning of Season 2. Before John Ritter's death, the main conflict of Season 2 centered around Bridget deciding whether or not she should break up with Donny when he went away to the Annapolis naval academy. This theme got dropped after the show went on hiatus. He's had a successful career as a soap opera actor on The Young and the Restless, as well as taking bit parts in crime dramas, but we think that 8 Simple Rules gave Thad Luckinbill a taste for acting in uniform. This year he played a difficult role in 12 Strong as a member of the first special forces team to be deployed to Afghanistan. Are more war movies in his future, or will he stick to soaps?

7 Billy Aaron Brown Didn't Do Much After He Broke Up With Bridget Hennessy

Billy Aaron Brown played Bridget Hennessy's first season boyfriend, Kyle, a popular athlete at her school. After she breaks up with him he begins dating Kerry Hennessy, which acts as a major source of tension between the sisters. And Brown's career after 8 Simple Rules? His major film credit appears to be Jeepers Creepers II, which follows a championship basketball team being stalked by a giant winged monster and is just as terrible as it sounds. Like every struggling actor in Hollywood, he also made appearances on NCIS and CSI, but he doesn't seem to be breaking through in any particular role. His agent seems to enjoy placing him in obviously terrible movies and TV shows on the verge of cancellation, the poor guy. At least he's better off than Nick Carter.

6 Nicole Hayden Takes Some Great Photos But Does She Still Act?

Nicole Hayden faded into obscurity did after her role as Jenna Sharpe on 8 Simple Rules. She got a few credits in indie films and some scattered guest roles on shows like Gray's Anatomy and How I Met Your Mother, but doesn't seem to be pursuing her acting career very aggressively. It might have something to do with her refusal to promote herself. She had current photos of herself up on her Imdb page, but her social media presence is nonexistent - we spent a very confused fifteen minutes clicking through the Instagram account of a German teenager with the same name. Her choice of roles probably couldn't be redeemed by a killer Instagram, though. We tried watching one of her films and fell asleep halfway through. Jenna Sharpe will probably be Hayden's last major acting gig.

5 Did You Even Realize Pamela Anderson Was On This Show?

We couldn't believe that Pamela Anderson was making regular appearances on 8 Simple Rules during its last season. It just seems like the last place you would expect to find her. But starting in Season 3 there she is, playing C.J. Barnes's on-again, off-again girlfriend Cheryl. Given the show's declining ratings, it's no wonder they gave the show a Baywatch injection to spice things up. Pamela Anderson's acting on the show was pretty wooden (though we doubt male viewers complained.) She seems to have begun and ended her sitcom career on 8 Simple Rules, devoting the remainder of her 21st century career to reality TV appearances and animal rights activism. That's right - Pamela Anderson is now a hardcore vegan and active PETA member. After years of making money off her sweater puppies, she's giving back to the animal world.

4 Rory's First Girlfriend Is All Grown Up

Lily Nicksay played little Morgan Matthews on Boy Meets World and is about to reprise her role as an adult on Girl Meets World. But did you know that she was Rory's movie date in one episode of 8 Simple Rules? The show spent so much time focusing on Bridget and Kerry's dating escapade that Rory was often left out, but in this episode we got to see that he struggled with puppy love as well. Nicksay performed well during her brief stint on the show. We're looking forward to see if she gets a bigger role on Girl Meets World than she did in Boy, where she mainly just annoyed her on-screen older brothers. She hasn't been in many productions as an adult. Will this child actress be able to vault into stardom on her new show?

3 What Was Nicole Richie Doing On This Show?

Before she was known as Paris Hilton's best friend on The Simple Life, Nicole Richie made an appearance on 8 Simple Rules. Lionel Richie's adopted daughter played the role of Ashley, a fellow student in detention with Bridget, in the very last episode of the show. Would Nicole Richie have gotten a bigger role if 8 Simple Rules hadn't been cancelled? She might have had to turn it down anyway, as The Simple Life began filming the year after she made her appearance. Nowadays Nicole Richie plays a working mom on Great News and has four million followers of her fashion-and-makeup Instagram profile. She's doing pretty well for herself after ending her friendship with Paris Hilton, so we think she would have been successful even if she'd gone with Simple Rules over Simple Life. 

2 John Ritter's Passing Changed The Entire Tone Of The Show

8 Simple Rules was forced to deal with tougher issues than teenage growing pains when John Ritter, who played Paul Hennessy, suddenly died midway through the filming of the fourth episode of season 2. The tragedy changed the nature of the show completely. While before, each episode centered around Paul dealing with his daughters' dating lives - and imposing his strict set of rules on their boyfriends - the show shifted with his death to focusing on the emotional fallout from losing a family member. It also introduced Jim Egan and C.J. Barnes as the grandfather and cousin who moved into their home to help them cope with the loss. Ratings declined after Ritter's death, and the show was eventually canceled. Maybe if the show had gone in a more dramatic direction rather than trying to shoehorn a dark theme into situation comedy, it would have stayed on the air.

1 This Was James Garner's Last Major Role

Back in the 50s, James Garner was known as the con man Bret Maverick in the hit western Maverick. The role catapulted him into a successful film career that spanned the 60s and early 70s. By the time he was cast as the grandfather in 8 Simple Rules, he was halfway into retirement. He show that he still had serious acting chops by portraying a character that was surprisingly complex for a sitcom, a war veteran who raised both his own children and one of his grandsons. He brought a third dimension to the character of grumpy old granddad, imbuing Jim Egan with some of Bret Maverick's mischievous persona and echoes of wartime trauma. After acting in several movies and taking a few voice acting gigs, he retired in 2010. He passed from this world in 2014.

Sources: imdb.com, amydavidson.com, eonline.com, the8rules.co.uk, abcnews.go.com, usmagazine.com, dreadcentral.com

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