After nearly a decade off the air, iCarly officially returned on Thursday, June 17 for the iCarly reboot premiere on Paramount+, though one face was notably absent. As original series stars Miranda Cosgrove, Jerry Trainor, and Nathan Kress all returned to reprise their roles, Jenette McCurdy's Sam Puckett was nowhere to be seen, but how did the premiere address her absence? Warning: This post contains spoilers for Paramount's iCarly reboot premiere, "iStart Over."
It turns out that Sam getting a motorcycle in the original series 2012 finale was the launching point for her absence. In a conversation between Carly and Freddie held in the series revival's premiere, it is revealed that Sam is "off following her bliss with that biker gang," The Obliterators. The conversation comes about as Cosgrove's Carly says she just wants "to make things again," and while Kress' Freddie notes that she doesn't "need a partner to do that," Carly says she doesn't "need a partner, I need Sam."
While McCurdy's absence may make her the only one of the show's original core four cast members not to return for the revival, her absence wasn't much of a surprise to fans. McCurdy herself had made it clear in March of this year that she would not be reprising her role, sharing on a March 2021 episode of her Empty Inside podcast that she had walked away from acting altogether.
"My experience with acting is, I'm so ashamed of the parts I've done in the past," she said. "I resent my career in a lot of ways. I feel so unfulfilled by the roles that I played and felt like it was the most cheesy, embarrassing. I did the shows that I was on from like 13 to 21, and by 15, I was already embarrassed. My friends at 15, they're not like, 'Oh, cool, you're on this Nickelodeon show.' It was embarrassing. And I imagine there's a very different experience to be had with acting if you're proud of your roles, and if you feel fulfilled by them."
McCurdy said that "always, always, always, acting was difficult for me," and revealed that acting was something she "quit a few years ago to try [her] hand and writing and directing," something that she said is "going great." Her decision not to return for the iCarly reboot received the support of her former castmates. Speaking to Entertainment Tonight ahead of the premiere, Cosgrove said she and her co-stars are "really happy for her," and the door was being left open "anytime" should McCurdy decide she wants to step back into her character's shoes.
iCarly ran on Nickelodeon for six seasons from 2007 until 2012. The series dropped its first three episodes on Paramount+ on Thursday. You can watch the series with a Paramount+ subscription, which can be subscribed to with a free trial here. Subsequent episodes of the series will drop weekly on the streamer.