The show's premise and title were derived from the book 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter: And Other Tips from a Beleaguered Father (Not That Any of Them Work) by W. The third season (after Ritter's death) took a creative turn, revolving more around cousin C. (David Spade) and grandfather Jim (James Garner), than the immediate Hennessy family, more specifically not revolving around the raising of the Hennessy girls.
After the novelty of newly added ensemble characters wore off, the series returned to its original format.
The series' creator and showrunner, Tracy Gamble, left the series for a time over creative differences prior to the third season, but he later returned as a consulting producer midway through the third season. Even before the third-season finale's airing, rumors began circulating that 8 Simple Rules was facing cancellation due to Ritter's death and poor ratings.
The series was aired uncut on subsequent channels following its cancellation by Disney Channel.
The third-season finale was not aired for May sweeps.
The finale received a 3.9/8 rating share which gave ABC a third-place finish behind NBC's Dateline (5.8/11) and CBS's Joan of Arcadia (4.9/10), which starred Ritter's son, Jason.
The first three episodes of the show's second season had been completed when Ritter reportedly suffered an undiagnosed aortic dissection.
After Ritter had experienced discomfort during his rehearsal of the show in the afternoon of September 11, 2003, crew members took him to a nearby hospital, where he suddenly died that night following a misdiagnosis of a heart attack.
In 2003, the show began airing in the UK on the Disney Channel, which was edited for children's viewing.