Why did Lauren Conrad leave The Hills? (LC’s departure explained)

SANTA MONICA, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 06: Lauren Conrad attends Nonprofit The Little Market Hosts Third Annual International Women's Day Event at The Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows on March 06, 2020 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Rachel Murray/Getty Images for The Little Market)
SANTA MONICA, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 06: Lauren Conrad attends Nonprofit The Little Market Hosts Third Annual International Women's Day Event at The Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows on March 06, 2020 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Rachel Murray/Getty Images for The Little Market) /

When Lauren Conrad starred in the MTV reality series Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County as a teenager back in 2004, she quickly became one of the keys faces in the reality television movement. In 2006, she went on to star in her own spin-off, The Hills, which tracked her post-high school adventures in Los Angeles. But Conrad didn’t remain on the docu-soap for its entire run.

Along with Heidi Montag, Audrina Patridge, and Whitney Port, the then-aspiring fashion designer was one of the four founding members of The Hills cast. The up-and-coming young women became fast friends (or frenemies, in some cases) as they looked to make their dreams come true in the hills of Hollywood, facing all kinds of personal and romantic dramas along the way.

Following the end of the fourth season at the end of 2008, Conrad first made her intentions of stepping away from the hit series known, telling Extra, “It’s coming to a point where I love this show so much, but I’m ready to kind of walk away. I’ve been doing it for five years now. Five years on TV is a really, really long time.” However, she ended up returning for half of season 5.

Lauren Conrad - The Hills
BEVERLY HILLS, CA – JUNE 10: Tv Personality Lauren Conrad arrives at the Vogue Eyewear & Sunglass Hut host the launch of her book “L.A. Candy” at Thompson Hotel on June 10, 2009 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images) /

Lauren Conrad left The Hills in season 5

The fifth season, which begin airing on MTV in April 2009, consisted of 20 episodes that were split into 10 episodes each. Lauren only appeared in the first 10 and completed her obligations to the series before passing the torch to her former so-called Laguna Beach rival Kristin Cavallari. Again, Cavallari’s cameo in the season 5 midseason finale persisted the narrative that she and Conrad disliked each other. They both later squashed this once and for all.

Conrad’s final episode (season 5 episode 10, “Something Old, Something New”) aired on May 31, 2009. In the episode, Lauren and Lo Bosworth move out of their house, while Lauren also leaves Kelly Cutrone’s company. After attending Heidi and Spencer Pratt’s wedding and having a face-to-face reunion with her former best friend, she leaves the church in a limo. Within the narrative of the episode, Lauren’s future plans aren’t necessarily addressed in a real way.

News of Conrad’s departure from the series was made official on April 28, 2009, per Variety. She allegedly spoke openly about the fact the producers essentially forced her to reconcile with Heidi before she left. Clearly, they wanted a quick watercooler moment to lift ratings. What else would make headlines other than LC and Heidi chatting right before Kristin waltzes back onto MTV? (The episode was watched by 2.7 million viewers, while the first episode without Conrad had 2.1 million viewers.)

From the work Conrad was beginning to do at the time behind-the-scenes, it was clear that she had aspirations that far extended reality television. She became a fashion designer, with her first line The Lauren Conrad Collection released in March 2008. By October 2009, she launched her Kohl’s line LC Lauren Conrad, and the business is still thriving.

In June 2009, Conrad began publishing two series of six novels — L.A. Candy and The Fame Game — which are loosely based on her experiences in the reality television industry. She also released three lifestyle guide books: Style (2010), Beauty (2012), and Celebrate (2016).

Lauren Conrad
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – SEPTEMBER 20: (L-R) Lauren Conrad, Co-Founder of The Little Market, and Hannah Skvarla, Co-Founder of The Little Market, attend Maie Wines Launch Dinner in partnership with The Little Market & HiNote at Little City Farm on September 20, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images for Maie Wines) /

Why LC wasn’t on The Hills anymore

In April 2020, Conrad appeared on Whitney Port’s podcast With Whit to catch up with her Teen Vogue bestie about their past experiences and commiserate on their lives now as businesswomen and mothers. The chat with Port was one of the most recent times that Conrad has spoken about her departure from the series and the toll the show took on her. As she told Port:

"“I stopped filming and then I just kinda needed a clean break for a minute to kind of emotionally recover, and I took some time off and then obviously moved out of LA.”"

She elaborated that being in front of the camera and in Los Angeles wasn’t “a healthy space for me anymore,” noting that there were “toxic elements” within her life she needed to heal from and “figure out who I want to be.” It’s no surprise that she would feel a little lost within the whirlwind she had been caught up in since she was a teenager. She had been on television since her senior year of high school. Finding your way in the world as entertainment for the masses must be weird.

Conrad also chatted to Port about her conscious decision to separate herself from her fellow cast mates, though they both explained that they will always love each other and share a special bond even if they aren’t as close as they once were at their Teen Vogue desks. It’s just part of the natural evolution of life, and the pair described the dynamic as “old college friends.” You go your separate ways, and maybe keep up via Instagram.

During her beginnings as a fashion designer, she even mulled over a return to reality TV on MTV in 2010 for a series that would focus on her career. The series would have tracked the foundation and inception of her brand, but when Conrad rejected including her personal life in the series, MTV passed on the project. Honestly, it’s probably for the best. She then had the opportunity to stay out of the spotlight, mind her business (literally), and foster a family life by the end of that decade.

These days, Conrad has moved back to her hometown Laguna Beach and continues to run her Kohl’s line, as well as the nonprofit The Little Market and the children’s clothing line Little Co. She also launched her first fragrance LOVED, and in 2020, launched her own short-lived beauty and makeup brand. Hopefully, she’s working to relaunch the Lauren Conrad Beauty brand because if there’s one thing she’s known for best besides her signature golden beachy waves, it’s her iconic winged liner.

Earlier in 2023, Conrad announced that her eponymous blog, which helped establish her as a lifestyle and fashion destination, was closing. She cited her work as a designer as being her “first love” and that she wanted to spend as much time with her husband William Tell (married 2014) and two sons, Liam (born 2017) and Charlie (born 2019), as possible. We can’t wait to see what she could do next beyond her flourishing fashion lines and other incredible endeavors!

The Hills seasons 3 and 4 begin streaming on Netflix on Dec. 15.

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