Vaughan stated he first began contemplating his departure in 2017, when Eric was sent to prison. He was off the canvas for 13 weeks, recalling:
And then after, people were disappointed, they weren’t happy. I think because the scenes that they never really delivered on, which was they brought Eric back on the canvas, was for a reunion of Eric and Nicole (Arianne Zucker). I mean, that has been a really long thread of history, a supercouple that never really blossomed.
I felt like a glorified extra in everybody else’s storyline, and I never felt like Ari and I were given a, 'Hey, you’re going to be our couple.' So, it was time. My deal was over and that’s it.They kept trying, right to my very last day, to keep me. [Co-executive producer] Albert [Alarr] pulled me aside and said, ‘Six more months. Give six more months.’ But the shape of the show, the direction of the show, was kind of a little bit everywhere. The more and more I started to pull away, the more and more I felt that I wasn’t connected anymore. I didn’t feel that they had their eye on me in any way to grow with me.
Read the rest of the interview in SOD, on sale now.