Richard Burgi ashland "The Young and the Restless" Set CBS television CityLos Angeles07/08/21© Howard Wise/jpistudios.com310-657-9661
Credit: Howard Wise/JPI

In a twist nobody saw coming, Richard Burgi has apparently wrapped up his run as The Young and the Restless‘ Ashland Locke.

In an Instagram story posted Saturday, the handsome actor — with an equally handsome puppy perched in his lap — thanked “all you wonderful folks who have been so kind and generous and supportive with your words. I have such gratitude for the support.”

Then, he said the words that his opening left us fearing he might: “I’m moving on from the show. I’ve had a great year on [Young & Restless]. I’ve just thoroughly enjoyed the great cast and crew. Such wonderful people.”

Given that Ashland and Victoria’s romance and wedding has been one of the most popular storylines during a time when many other tales are not connecting with viewers, the news could not have come at a worse time. The actor gave no indication of when his last episode might air or how Ashland would be written off. There is, of course, always the possibility that the fatal disease which we’d all assumed Locke had licked might come roaring back to steal him away from Victoria. It’s also possible, although unlikely, that a recast could be in the works.

Burgi joined the cast in March of last year to great fanfare. Long before his alter ego arrived in Genoa City, we were warned that Ashland was a fierce businessman who devoured enemies as casually as we do M&M’s. We then learned that Ashland’s young wife, Tara, had been involved with Kyle Abbott and, in fact, had given birth to his son.

heinle burgi ashland victoria wedding "The Young and the Restless" Set Wedding

Above: Do we really have to contemplate this marriage ending so soon after it began?

Credit: Howard Wise/JPI

While the show clearly hoped to create sparks with a Tara/Kyle/Summer triangle, it was the unexpected pairing of Ashland and Victoria which almost immediately caught fire. Before long, “Ashtoria” were mixing business and pleasure to the delight of fans. The romance culminated with a splashy (at least by the standards of today’s soaps) wedding in Italy.

Before joining the cast of Young & Restless, Burgi was well known to fans of both daytime and primetime dramas thanks to gigs on shows like Desperate Housewives, General Hospital and Days of Our Lives. During a recent chat, we asked the actor why it was that he so often was cast as bad guys. “Apparently, the casting directors see something in me that doesn’t come to light in the real world,” he said, adding with a laugh, “at least not often.”

In saying farewell to fans, Burgi wished them all a “good start to 2022” filled with “luck, health, love and joy. God bless.”

As we attempt to wrap our minds around this unexpected development, it’s worth taking a moment to remember some of the other exits that have rocked the soap in recent months.