Forman’s Basement Was Filled with a Lingering Haze of Drama

Straight out of Forman’s dingy basement, That ‘70s Show provided us with a whiff of sweet nostalgia. We got to follow the gang for eight funny and colorful seasons as they navigated through the ups and downs of teenhood. We witnessed embarrassing moments, witty dialogue, and a lot of smoky, giggly sessions. No wonder this show did so well.

Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher / Topher Grace / The cast of That 70's Show / Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher
Source: Getty Images

But all good things must come to an end, and after a few of its leading stars threw in the towel, That ‘70s Show was no longer funny and was taken off the air.

Several of the show’s stars went on to do great things, while others spiraled into bad habits. Some were sued, some were intoxicated to the point of no return, and others were so bitter that they didn’t even say a proper goodbye after the final episode.

Let’s get into it.

How the Show Got Its Name

When the cameras started rolling, producers had the cast, the storyline, the jokes, the punches, the drama, and the clothes all laid out for them. But there was just one little problem – they didn’t have a name for the show. They suggested all sorts of things, but nothing seemed to click.

The cast from That ‘70s Show in a publicity portrait.
Photo by FOX Image Collection/Getty Images

What did click, however, was a joke that kept coming up in their conversations. “People will probably call it ‘that 70s show’,” the show’s creators laughed. Eventually, the name stuck, and running out of ideas, they decided to go with the name that was under their noses the whole time.

They Were All Relatively Anonymous

When That ’70s Show first premiered, the leading characters were all young, the oldest being Danny Masterson, who was 22 in real life. The gang of actors was also relatively unknown, and with no big name in the show’s lineup, some people found it hard to believe it would do well.

The teenage cast of the television series attends an event.
Photo by Mitchell Gerber/Corbis/VCG/Getty Images

But not only did the show do well, but it also boosted the careers of all the young newcomers. Its success allowed them to break into the industry and snatch additional roles.

Still, not everyone was that lucky. Let’s see what happened to the cast.

Mila and Ashton “Despised Each Other”

Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher, who played on-again-off-again couple Michael Kelso and Jackie Burkhart, are now an actual couple. But sparks didn’t fly on the show. On the contrary! Fans will be surprised to find out that the two hated each other slightly.

Mila Kunis puts makeup on Ashton Kutcher in a scene from the show.
Source: Copyright: Carsey-Werner Distribution

What ultimately brought them together? After Ashton Kutcher’s split from Demi Moore, he contacted Kunis. They became “bedroom buddies,” but it gradually turned into a full-blown romance. “There’s nothing we don’t know about each other because we’ve known each other for so long: the ugly, the bad, the good,” Kunis told Glamour in 2016.

Why Midge Ran Off

Fans were stunned when Donna’s mom, Midge (Tanya Roberts), parted ways with the show during its fourth season. Yes, Bob and Midge had their differences, but no one imagined she would walk out on her family like that. Even though Tanya’s character abandoned her loved ones, there’s a valid reason for that.

A portrait of Tanya Roberts as Midge.
Source: Copyright: Carsey-Werner Distribution

As it turns out, Tanya’s husband, Barry Roberts, was diagnosed with a terminal illness. The actress then decided it was way more important to be by his side than on the set of That ‘70s Show. She wanted to spend as much time with him as possible.

What Happened to Laurie Forman?

Lisa Robin Kelly, the actress who played Eric Forman’s sister Laurie for the first five seasons, left the show at one point and was replaced by actress Christina Moore in Season Six. It was a gradual fallout, with Lisa appearing less and less as the seasons went by.

A mugshot of Lisa Robin Kelly / A portrait of Lisa Robin Kelly as Laurie.
Photo by Kypros, Getty Images / Munawar Hosain, Fotos International, Getty Images

She went from being a series regular to being written out of the show entirely and replaced by another actress. What happened? According to Lisa, a traumatic incident left her incapable of coping with life. So, she turned to the bottle.

She Ran Away From Her Problems

Lisa later explained her leave, telling ABC News, “I had lost a baby. As a result of that, I lost it. I lost everything, and I was abusing alcohol,” she said. “With That ’70s Show, I was guilty of a drinking problem, and I ran. But I’m not running anymore.”

Lisa Robin Kelly’s police booking photo.
Photo by Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department/WireImage/Getty Images

Since she left the show, Lisa Robin Kelly made headlines for all the wrong reasons. She was arrested for driving under the influence and, later on, for felony spousal abuse (which led to the infamous crazy-looking mugshot). She told reporters that the alleged abuse was all a bunch of “made-up stuff.”

She Died of Intoxication

Unfortunately, there’s no happy ending to Lisa Robin Kelly’s story. The beloved actress died from a drug overdose in 2013. She was 43 years old. It happened a little after she checked into rehab in California on August 15, 2013. Needless to say, rehab didn’t work out that well.

A portrait of Lisa Robin Kelly as Laurie Forman.
Source: Copyright: Carsey-Werner Distribution

Her former husband, Gilliam, blamed her devastating relapse on her boyfriend at the time. He told news reporters that in the two weeks prior to her death, she had called him 22 times, pleading for help getting away from him. Lisa’s fall from grace, both career-wise and in her personal life, led to her unfortunate demise at such a young age.

Leo’s Bizarre Disappearance

Tommy Chong’s Leo Chingkwake was a memorable persona on the show. He quickly became a fan favorite, and his absence in Seasons Five and Six was widely felt. Like Kelly, Chong’s real-life trouble disturbed his workflow, and he wasn’t able to show up anymore.

Leo and Kitty Forman are sitting in Church.
Source: Copyright: Carsey-Werner Distribution

Chong was sentenced to jail time for selling illegal stuff through his company, Nice Dreams. The actor agreed to serve time behind bars as part of a plea deal so his wife and son could avoid prosecution. After serving time, he returned as Leo, and things went back to normal in a jiffy.

Eric’s Buddy Was Happy to Kiss Him

Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s role in the show was minor yet revolutionary. He appeared in the episode titled “Eric’s Buddy.” It made a major splash when it first debuted in 1998. Their on-screen kiss is considered to be the first gay smooch ever on prime-time TV.

Eric and his buddy are sitting inside the car.
Source: YouTube

His role as Eric’s buddy was supposed to be a recurring one, but unfortunately, fans weren’t too eager to see their romance develop. Producers scrapped Joseph’s character and the plans relating to him. Years later, the actor admitted that he was proud to be part of that groundbreaking moment.

Topher Grace Hated the Cast

The biggest story behind the scenes of this show has to do with Topher Grace, who played the timid and at times weird Eric Forman. According to E! News, Topher Grace was supposed to be the star of the show, and, really, his character has a substantial amount of screen time, as many parts in the storyline surround the Forman family.

A publicity portrait of Topher Grace as Eric Forman.
Source: Copyright: Carsey-Werner Distribution

But the other characters proved to be no less amusing. If anything, some characters were even more entertaining than plain old Eric. This reportedly didn’t sit so well with Topher, and he may have found it hard to conceal his jealousy.

Ashton Kutcher Never Punk’d Topher Grace

At the height of the show, Ashton Kutcher collaborated with MTV to work on his own TV show, Punk’d. In it, Kutcher played the jokester and played pranks on celebrities, including his close friends from That ‘70s Show. He played jokes on castmates such as Mila Kunis, Danny Masterson, and Laura Prepon.

Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher are having a laugh at a basketball game.
Photo by Noel Vasquez/GC Images/Getty Images

But the one guy who didn’t make it on to his list of prank victims was Topher Grace. Tensions ran high on set between the costars. Evidence of it can be seen in how Grace left the show. Thankfully, none of it showed when the cameras were on.

Topher Grace and Ashton Kutcher Left

As their careers grew, both Ashton Kutcher and Topher Grace said goodbye to the beloved show that helped boost their profiles in the first place. It was time to part ways and move on to bigger things, like Hollywood’s luring silver screen. Ashton left during Season Eight, dedicating four episodes to give his character a proper closure.

The teenage cast poses in a publicity still.
Source: Copyright: Carsey-Werner Distribution

Topher Grace, on the other hand, couldn’t wait to leave. He made a quick exit, ditching the show at the end of Season Seven without saying goodbye to his castmates. Clearly, Grace had had enough of That ‘70s Show. He was eager to start a new chapter in his life.

The Final Episode Was Awkward to Shoot

The final episode of That ’70s Show was a bit strange, partly because Topher Grace looked like he really didn’t want to be there. Ashton Kutcher, however, happily returned and participated in the story. According to E! News, when the cameras stopped rolling for good, the castmates hugged and cried and enjoyed some final, intimate moments with each other.

Ashton Kutcher comeback to the Forman home for the last episode.
Source: Copyright: Carsey-Werner Distribution

Everyone except Topher Grace (no surprise there). As he bolted off after Season Seven, Grace didn’t remain to say his final goodbyes when the show ended completely. He ran straight to his car. Maybe he was in a rush to work on his role in Spider-Man 3.

They All Love Each Other

Nearly a decade after the show ended, Danny Masterson posted a picture on Instagram showing his former castmates singing tunes around a piano. And lo and behold, Topher Grace was included in the photo. He even had his arm around Ashton Kutcher!

Danny Masterson’s posted picture.
Source: Instagram/@dannymasterson

Members of the show have spoken up about the alleged feud between Grace and the rest, saying that the media definitely blew it out of proportion. Masterson captioned his photo, writing: “A year and a half ago, we all got together and had a blast… We all love each other.”

Danny Masterson Was Accused of Sexual Assault

The last decade has been full of sexual assault allegations against many powerful men in Hollywood. Among them was yours truly: Danny Masterson (Steven Hyde). Masterson was accused of raping four women sometime in the early ‘00s, when the show was still running.

Danny Masterson stands in court with his lawyer.
Danny Masterson, Thomas Mesereau. Photo by Lucy Nicholson – Pool/Getty Images

Following the allegations, Masterson’s acting projects were canceled. He was reportedly very disappointed in Netflix’s decision to terminate their contract with him, saying in a statement that “Law enforcement investigated these claims more than 15 years ago and determined them to be without merit. I have never been charged with a crime, let alone convicted of one.”

Scientology Tried to Shush Things Down

Masterson was part of The Church of Scientology for nearly 20 years, and they came to his rescue once the allegations surfaced. One woman recounted how Masterson violated her private parts and how he told her to keep quiet about it.

Danny Masterson poses backstage at the Church of Scientology’s event.
Photo by COS/Getty Images

A spokesperson for The Church of Scientology said that it was absolute babble, and that Masterson was in the clear. But the allegations against him were so harsh and detailed that it’s hard to believe someone would make that up for the sake of messing up his life.

He Pointed a Gun at Her

The woman who complained about Masterson said that the evening went something like this. She met him at a party in his Hollywood villa in April 2003. He served her a drink, and a short while later, she struggled to stand straight.

A portrait of Danny Masterson as Steven Hyde.
Source: Copyright: Carsey-Werner Distribution

Masterson carried her from the poolside area to one of his bathrooms upstairs to help her vomit. Then, he showered her, guided her to his bedroom, and violently attacked her. She also said that he pointed a gun at her and threatened to shoot after she resisted his touch.

He Must Stand Trial

After listening to the woman’s account, L.A.’s County Superior Court Judge Charlaine F. Olmedo ordered the actor to trial. The charges against him could land him 45 years behind bars. The judge told reporters that she found the testimony credible and believes Masterson should be put on trial for his wrongdoings, even if they were done 20 years ago.

Danny Masterson stands with his lawyers at court.
Sharon Appelbaum, Danny Masterson, Thomas Mesereau. Photo by Lucy Nicholson – Pool/Getty Images

In the summer of 2021, he pleaded not guilty in front of the courtroom. His actual trial is set to begin in early November. He’s currently out on a $3.3 million bail. Still, no money in the world will likely be enough to clean his reputation.

Mila Kunis Lied About Her Age

Mila Kunis first appeared on screen at the young age of 13, starring in guest gigs on shows like Baywatch and Days of Our Lives. She then landed a minor recurring role on 7th Heaven. Those shows were comfortable working with her at such a tender age, but the people working on That ‘70s Show weren’t as accepting.

Mila Kunis arrives at an event.
Photo by Frank Micelotta/ImageDirect/Getty Images

She had to lie about her age if she wanted to get in on it. So, to snatch the role of Jackie Burkhart, 14-year-old Mila Kunia lied about her age, telling them she was going to turn 18. “But I didn’t tell them when!” Kunis told People magazine.

Kunis’s First Kiss Was on the Show

Mila Kunis’s first real kiss took place in front of a group of people holding cameras and instructing her how to do it. A pretty unforgettable first kiss, I must say. She planted one on Ashton Kutcher, her on-screen boyfriend and the man who would later become the father of her kids.

Kunis and Kutcher are sitting in a car in a still from the show.
Source: Copyright: Carsey-Werner Distribution

Kutcher was 23, and Kunis was only 14. The age gap might seem disturbing, but at the time, Kutcher believed she was about to turn 18, so he didn’t feel like it was that weird.

If not for that little white lie, Mila might have never ended up marrying him. Good for her!

Topher Grace Was a Horrible Kisser

A little before Joseph Gordon-Levitt became a huge name in Hollywood, he was on the set of That ‘70s Show, planting kisses on his costar, Topher Grace. He appeared as Eric’s friend, Buddy Morgan, who had a secret crush on him and was struggling to contain it.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Eric’s friend in a still.
Source: YouTube

Gordon-Levitt later admitted that Topher was “probably one of the worst kissers [he had] ever kissed.” Laura Prepon, who played Eric’s girlfriend on the show, agreed with Gordon Levitt, saying that her co-star in Orange Is the New Black, Taylor Schilling, gave better smooches than Grace.

Ashton Cheated on Demi

Before Ashton Kutcher married Mila Kunis, he was deeply in love with another woman – Demi Moore. He met the start back in 2003 through mutual friends. Immediately, their eyes locked, and they struggled to keep their hands off each other, despite their 5-year age difference.

Ashton and Demi attend an event.
Photo by George Pimentel/WireImage for Bragman Nyman Cafarelli/Getty Images

They married in 2005, but by 2011, Ashton was accused of having an affair. According to several sources, Ashton went to the San Diego Hard Rock Hotel, where he spent the weekend in a hot tub with several young women. They split shortly thereafter and finalized their divorce in 2013.

Mila Kunis Was Sued for Stealing a Chicken

Mila Kunis grew up in the Ukraine, where she was good friends with a girl named Kristina Karo. As it turns out, Kunis once stole Karo’s chicken. Sounds weird? That’s because it is. Let us explain. Like Kunis, Karo moved to the States at some point in her life and told the media that her childhood friend put her through some serious stress after stealing her pet chicken, Doggie, in the Ukraine.

Kristina Karo / Mila Kunis.
Photo by Keipher McKennie, WireImage, Getty Images / Neilson Barnard, Getty Images

Kristina sued Mila for $5,000 to cover therapy bills that racked up after going to multiple psychology sessions to deal with the heartbreak of losing Doggie. Karo ended up dropping the suit, telling the media that she’s “learned to forgive [in her] heart the people who have wronged [her], like Mila.”

Wilmer Valderrama Slept With Everyone

For a while, Wilmer Valderrama didn’t find as much success as his costars after the show ended. He voiced some characters and landed some guest roles, but things weren’t looking too good for him. Eventually, he landed a great part in the popular series NCIS.

A portrait of Wilmer Valderrama.
Photo by Jean Baptiste Lacroix/WireImage/Getty Images

The reason it took a while for Valderrama to kick off his career might have to do with the fact that he was busy dating nearly every woman in Hollywood. In 2006, he told Howard Stern all about his love affairs. He claimed that on a scale of 1-10, Jennifer Love Hewitt was an “8”, Ashley Simpson was a screamer, and Lindsay Lohan’s breasts were real.

Topher Grace Had No Real Acting Experience

Topher Grace was the first actor to play Venom in the film Spider-Man 3. He came to the film ready, having already established himself as a respectable actor in Hollywood. But before that, when he just landed the part of Eric Forman, he was totally anonymous.

Topher Grace next to Alice Cooper and Laura Prepon in a still from the show.
Source: Copyright: Carsey-Werner Distribution

Grace had little to no acting experience when he was cast as one of the show’s leading stars. He admitted that when he was asked to bring a picture, he handed producers one of himself hanging out with a group of friends. His lack of experience meant that he had no professional face shot. As for his resume, his previous job read “Dunkin Donuts.”

The Cast Had a Ritual Before Each Episode

Wilmer Valderrama, who played Latin legend, Fez, told the media that the cast had some interesting rituals before each filming session. The show’s members would huddle around in a circle, just like a professional sports team.

A publicity still from the show.
Source: Copyright: Carsey-Werner Distribution

They would then stare into each other’s eyes and motivate each other to do their best and be as professional as they possibly could. Oh, and they also reminded each other to have fun! In addition, they would choose a silly word to represent each episode. As the season went by, the words became sillier and sillier.

The Inspiration Behind Kurtwood’s Unforgettable Portrayal of Red Forman

After going over the script, Kurtwood Smith, who played Red, reached the conclusion that the man best fit to serve as his inspiration for the part was his stepdad. Unfortunately, his stepdad died before the show’s pilot was filmed.

Kurtwood Smith, Debra Jo Rupp, and Topher Grace in a family scene from the show.
Source: Copyright: Carsey-Werner Distribution

Kurtwood, however, still used his stepdad as an inspiration for all the jokes and faces and gestures he acted out in all of the seasons. Despite doing many more acting gigs, Kurtwood said that role as Red was the part that he loved and enjoyed the most.

Topher Grace Wanted to Be a Tennis Star

Topher Grace has more than 50 acting credits to his name. But he really didn’t want to go in that direction as a kid. Growing up, Grace’s passion was tennis, and he would spend most of his afternoons practicing on the court. He believed he would go on to become a professional athlete.

Topher Grace attends an event.
Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc/Getty Images

Sadly, a sprained ankle left him incapable of returning to the sport. Doctors told him the injury was so bad that he wouldn’t be able to play tennis ever again (or at least not in the professional format he desired). That’s when he decided to try his hand at acting and fell in love with it.

The Producers Wanted a New Eric Forman

When Topher Grace announced his leave after Season Seven, the show’s producers wanted to bring in another Eric to keep the character going. They thought of casting Josh Meyers, but quickly (and thankfully!) changed their minds, agreeing to write him off the show for good instead.

Topher Grace as Eric Forman in a still from the show.
Source: Copyright: Carsey-Werner Distribution

They came up with the idea of having Eric go off to study in a foreign university. They ended up casting Josh Meyers anyhow, but he was hired as Randy, a friend of the gang. The next time viewers saw Eric Forman was in the final episode.

Tanya Roberts Passed Away Recently

Before her role on That ’70s Show, Tanya Roberts was known for other major roles, like playing on the fifth and final season of the TV series Charlie’s Angels as well as starring in the ‘80s fantasy classic, The Beastmaster, and for being the final Bond chick in A View to Kill.

Tanya Roberts attending an event.
Photo by Gregg DeGuire/WireImage/Getty Images

In the winter of 2020, Tanya Roberts contracted an infection that spread to her bloodstream and ended up taking her life. She was only 65 years old.

Tanya hadn’t appeared much on TV for at least a decade before her death, but her passing still broke the hearts of many fans who never forgot how great and funny she was playing Midge.

Mary Tyler Moore’s Comic Flair

Mary Tyler Moore brought her comic wit to the show as Christine St. George, the host of a local TV show. She appeared for three episodes, working mainly with Jackie (Mila Kunis), who drops by to her office to work as an assistant.

Mary Tyler Moore and Mila Kunis in a still.
Source: YouTube

Moore had a blast working with the cast. But a brief stint in That ‘70s Show was far from her biggest achievement. Moore won Oscar nominations for her part in 1980’s Ordinary People.

Sadly, Moore passed away at the start of 2017, at the age of 80, from pneumonia.

Tom Poston, a Sitcom Legend

During the show’s fifth season, viewers were introduced to Kitty’s parents, Bea Sigurdson (played by the legendary Betty White) and her husband Burt (played by Tom Poston). Her parents were reported to be very complicated people, but Eric summarized them in one sentence: “Grandma yells, Grandpa drinks.”

Tom Poston is Kitty Forman’s father in a scene from the show.
Source: Copyright: Carsey-Werner Distribution

When Tom Poston arrived on set, the cast was completely star-struck. He was a sitcom legend. According to USA Today, Tom has appeared in more sitcoms than any other star in the business. His small screen run spans all the way back to the ‘50s.

Tom Poston After the Show

As Burt, Poston gave off a warm and loving contrast to Bett White’s distant demeanor as Bea. After his appearance on the show, he went on to star in a few more projects, including a recurring role on another sitcom called Committed.

A portrait of Tom Poston.
Photo by Jim Spellman/WireImage/Getty Images

He also made a few guest appearances on several shows, including on Disney Channel’s The Suite Life of Zack & Cody in 2006. That would be his last gig, because in the spring of 2007, he passed away after a short illness. He was 85 years old.

That ’70s Show Was Moved Around a Lot

By the time the last season of the show aired, Fox was busy with another TV show that was bringing in a hell of a lot of ratings. According to MediaNet, American Idol raked in over 30 million viewers every Tuesday and Wednesday when it aired.

The cast of the show in a promo for the first season.
Source: Copyright: Carsey-Werner Distribution

Fox was also earning good money following the second season of the medical drama, House. This meant that the show’s last season was moved to a different, strategical time slot – 8 p.m. on Thursday. Thursday evenings were when competing shows like Survivor and Dancing with the Stars aired. In truth, That ‘70s Show didn’t stand a chance.

Eric Forman’s Replacement

After Eric Forman left Point Place, the show’s friendly gang became a bit less friendly. Producers contemplated bringing another Eric but scrapped the idea (and good thing they did). Instead, they brought in a different guy – Randy Pearson (played by Josh Meyers).

Josh Meyers as Randy Pearson in a scene from the show.
Source: YouTube

Randy, who was hired to work at the record shop, wasn’t nearly as interesting, funny and entertaining as Eric. Viewers knew he was supposed to be Eric’s replacement and couldn’t help but compare the two. Randy could have done well if he had joined in the first seasons but trying to step in Eric’s big shoes proved to be a massive failure.

It Dipped in Ratings

The first season of the show did incredibly well, drawing over 11 million houses across the States. The second season was also well-received. The network was thrilled to see America so engaged and invested in the shenanigans of the colorful cast.

The teenage cast stands together in a scene from the finale.
Source: Copyright: Carsey-Werner Distribution

“The show was a secret pleasure for Fox’s core audience,” executive Jim Kraus told The New York Times: “No matter what night it aired – and it constantly moved – viewers found it and followed it.” But all good things must come to an end. And in the last season, the show barely reached seven million households.

They Grew Up Together

The cast was young, inexperienced and a bit naïve when they started working on the show. The series became a massive hit and took them all on a wild ride. “[We] had no idea what was ahead of us, or if it would even last,” Valderrama (Fez) wrote on his Instagram account, “but we knew it was going to be fun.”

The cast cuts a cake as they celebrate the show.
Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

During the show’s 20-year anniversary, the actor reflected on their time together, writing, “We spent 8 years and 200 episodes together, we traveled the world … [and] we grew up together. We were a family and will always be.”

What Happened to Donna Pinciotti?

Even though Laura Prepon appeared in several films after her run as Donna, most of her fame is accredited to her TV stunts. After the series ended, she landed a role on Are You There, Chelsea? and on the drama series October Road.

Laura Prepon as Alex Vause in ‘Orange is the New Black.’
Source: Copyright: Netflix

But her most well-known gig post That ‘70s Show is likely her role as prisoner and drug dealer Alex Vause on Netflix’s Orange Is the New Black.

Apart from her thriving acting career, Prepon is a proud mom of a daughter named Ella and a son whom she and her husband Ben Foster welcomed at the start of 2020.

What Happened to Kitty and Kurt?

Debra Jo Rupp played Kitty Forman, Eric and Laurie’s loving mom. After the show wrapped up, she lent her voice to several characters in Disney films and landed small roles in films such as Mrs. Baker and Lucky 13. Debra gained steady work after That ‘70s Show, including recurring parts on series like The Ranch and This Is Us.

Kurtwood Smith and Debra Jo Rupp in a scene from the show.
Source: Copyright: Carsey-Werner Distribution

Kurtwood Smith played Debra’s on-screen husband, stern and cynical Kurt. Most of his post-That ‘70s Show work happened on the small screen. He also had several guest-starring roles, recurring ones on 24, Resurrection, and Agent Carter. In addition, he’s become a successful voice actor.