Carla Gugino played a major role in the first half of Spin City season 1 before departing - here's why she left the show. Spin City is a sitcom that debuted in 1996 and revolved around Mike Flaherty (Michael J. Fox, Back To The Future), the deputy mayor of New York. Its Mike's job to spin and manage the mayor's many gaffes and the conflicting personalities of the people he works with. He also has to balance his personal life with work, which isn't always the easiest task.
Spin City was a great star vehicle for Fox but it also featured a talented supporting cast, including Barry Bostwick, Michael Boatman, Richard Kind, and Connie Britton (American Horror Story). Sadly, Fox was forced to step down from the show following season 4 due to his Parkinson's disease symptoms becoming more severe. This led to the introduction of Charlie Sheen (Two And A Half Men) in season 5 as new deputy mayor Charlie Crawford, with Mike having stepped down to take the fall for a Mafia-related scandal. The show would run for two more seasons and came to an end with season 6 in 2002.
The first season of any sitcom usually involves the showrunners finding the tone of the series, which is why certain shows like The Office or Parks And Recreation took a little while to find their feet. This was also true of Spin City, with the first half of season 1 focusing on Mike's romantic relationship with journalist Ashley, played by Carla Gugino (San Andreas). Their romance was a big part of early episodes, only for Gugino to leave halfway through the season.
DreamWorks stated at the time Gugino exiting Spin City was a mutual decision, which was apparently due to the writer's wanting to focus more on the mayor's office side of the show. Ashley's exit also meant they could create future love interests for Mike. Gugino is said to have been focused on building a film career too, and she would soon go on to leading roles in movies like Snake Eyes with Nicolas Cage (Mandy). It appears the split truly was amicable, with Gugino later returning as Ashley for a cameo in season 3 episode "It Happened One Night."
Carla Gugino has since gone on to several acclaimed performances in movies and shows like Gerald's Game and Netflix's The Haunting Of Hill House. While its a pity she left Spin City so early, the series didn't give her much of a chance to shine either, and she later found parts better suited to her talents.