• Richard Thomas starred on The Waltons as "John-Boy"
  • The popular actor left The Waltons after season 5
  • THIS is why he quit and was replaced by a new actor

The Waltons was never quite the same after star Richard Thomas left the show. The actor played the popular son "John-Boy Walton," but he left the series after season 5. After that, Thomas guest starred in just two more episodes.

Then in season 8, "John-Boy" was re-cast altogether. Actor Robert Wightman took over the role and stayed with The Waltons until the series ended. So why did Richard Thomas leave The Waltons?

Richard Thomas wanted more than The Waltons

It seems the actor, who was in his mid-20s at the time, simply chose to move on. After playing "John-Boy" for seven years, Richard Thomas wanted to "pursue other interests," according to series resource The-Waltons.com.

Around the same time, he actually played a biker modelled on bad boy James Dean. So from "John-Boy" to "James Dean" – the actor really changed his image!

Also interesting:

Thomas made two final appearances as "John-Boy" in season 6 of The Waltons, before moving on to a range of TV and film roles in the 1980s. Some notable Richard Thomas projects after The Waltons include the TV miniseries Roots and It.

But the star wasn't done playing "John-Boy Walton" for good. He later returned to his trademark role for the show's reunion movies in the 1990s.

Richard Thomas also narrated The Waltons revival movie in 2021. The original series is still his biggest success today. He even won an Emmy for the role in 1973.