Adam Taylor/FOX
Lynette Rice
June 03, 2011 AT 03:05 PM EDT

The character of Lisa Cuddy wasn’t expected to disappear after House’s seventh season. In fact, executive producer David Shore told EW that he was planning on Cuddy’s alter-ego, Lisa Edelstein, to be back for more after they shot the drama’s finale.

Shore says he would have crafted a different season-ender had he known her plans. (The actress, whose contract expired at the end of season 7, declined to renew her deal.) “I don’t know how exactly [I would have changed the finale],” Shore told EW during a special charity event for House Thursday that benefitted the Writers Guild Foundation. “I don’t what it would have been. It probably would have involved more closure on the character. I was really disappointed. I am still reeling from it but we just started meeting a few days ago, like we always do this time of year, to try to map out the first half of the next season, and we are having some very frank discussions about what we are going to do.”

House scribe Peter Blake, who co-wrote the finale with Shore, said explaining Edelstein’s departure will end up being the easy part. “Weirdly for me, I think the harder question to answer is, what would we have done with Huddy if she was still on the show? I think both would have been hard, although we all wish Lisa was still here,” Blake said. “The hardest part about her being gone is we lost an important character to write stories about. I think everyone knows that the writers have nothing to do with her departure. It is a big deal because the Cuddy-House dynamic is one the reasons people watch the show. It was one of the driving forces of the show and one of the reasons it kept bubbling up.”

Shore can’t even say if Edelstein will be back for an episode or two to properly finish her storyline. “We have to plan for her not coming back. It might be interesting to get her in for an episode or two somewhere to wrap up Cuddy, probably would make fans happy, but we have to plan, unfortunately, on her not coming back, because there’s no indication that she would at this point.”

Loath to give anything away, Shore did reveal that it’s likely a new character will take over her job. “It depends on how things unfold but there definitely may well be more than one.” Most importantly, he hopes fans don’t lose interest in the Fox drama. “House is not going to be totally changed or different. The show is what it is. I am who I am. I write what I find interesting and always have. We have a veteran team of writers and we are not going to let the show take a nosedive eight years in. We just won’t. Bear with us fans. We will turn this into an opportunity I promise. We will find a way to bring something new to the show that will get them excited again. It’s all about turning obstacles into opportunities. That’s what life is all about. I loved Cuddy and Lisa, but it’s done and now we move forward. We have just gotten started talking season 8 arcs and trying to plan it and figure out what to do. We will devote ourselves to making season eight a great, great season.”

Speaking of high-profile departures, what does this mean for star Hugh Laurie? The big guy’s hinted that he may want to leave after next season. Will he? “I don’t know yet,” Shore said. “I’d have to discuss that with Hugh, and he’d have to decide, and then I’d have to discuss it with the writers ,and we’d have to figure it out. If it is the last season we want to do it right and go big. If it is not the last season, that doesn’t change my standards of quality much. We will still try to make it a great season.”

Finally, Shore acknowledged that Olivia Wilde’s got a thriving movie career now but “she will be back for at least some of the season. We want her for as many of them as we can get her for.” — With reporting from Carrie Bell

Read more:

Lisa Edelstein leaves House

‘House’ confirmed for eighth season

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