Paul begins writing a column from home about his struggles with his children and offers advice to people who are in his same position.

Paul's teenage daughters are dating, which sparks the use of the "8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter".

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The father, Paul Hennessy (John Ritter), was a sportswriter who is prompted by his wife Cate's (Katey Sagal) return to nursing to take a more active role in raising their two teenage daughters, Bridget (Kaley Cuoco), and Kerry (Amy Davidson), and son Rory (Martin Spanjers).

He is soon overwhelmed by the responsibility of being the father of teenage daughters and misses being a sports writer.

The show returned two months after Ritter's death, with a one-hour episode, "Goodbye", which was turned into a tribute to Ritter's character.

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 as Ritter's replacement for the rest of the show's broadcast.

The series' creator and showrunner, Tracy Gamble, left the series for a time over creative differences prior to the third season, but he later returned as a consulting producer midway through the third season. Even before the third-season finale's airing, rumors began circulating that 8 Simple Rules was facing cancellation due to Ritter's death and poor ratings.

Gamble was replaced by Judd Pillot and John Peaslee, who had performed the same role in the final season of Spade's sitcom, Just Shoot Me! The Friday night "death slot" ratings took their toll on 8 Simple Rules.

James Garner and David Spade joined the cast afterward.

ABC cancelled the series on May 17, 2005 after three seasons because of low ratings.

The third-season finale was not aired for May sweeps.