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The first three episodes of the series' second season had been completed when Ritter experienced discomfort during a rehearsal on the afternoon of September 11, 2003.
Crew members took him to a nearby hospital, Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center, where he was misdiagnosed as having a heart attack and as a result, his condition had worsened when physicians later diagnosed him with an aortic dissection, and he died that evening at the age of 54.
The series ran on ABC from September 17, 2002 to April 15, 2005.
The first season focused on Paul being left in charge of the kids after Cate takes a full-time job as a nurse, with comedic emphasis on his often strict rules concerning his daughters and dating.
After a few months of being absent on the channel, 8 Simple Rules resumed airings on ABC Family at 7/6 c on select weekend mornings, beginning July 18, 2010.
Subsequent episodes dealt with the family's reaction to his death and how they moved on from it. Garner and Spade later received starring roles in order to fill the void left by Ritter for the remainder of the series' run.
In 2003, the show began airing in the UK on the Disney Channel, which was edited for children's viewing.
It was picked up by ABC1 which aired the show until the channel's closure in 2007.
Following Ritter's death, ABC announced that 8 Simple Rules would continue after a hiatus, and would incorporate the death of his character.
The three new episodes that Ritter completed were aired with Sagal introducing them.