"Say what you want about Paula Abdul," said Erin Carlson in the Associated Press, but "she makes for great television." That's why her announcement Tuesday that she's leaving American Idol after eight seasons is so "shocking." Abdul "may be the show's craziest judge, but millions of viewers hung on every garbled sentence just to see what she'll do next"—her departure "raises questions about the future of the Fox franchise."

American Idol "will certainly, in some small way, be diminished" by Paula Abdul's exit, said Mike Hale in The New York Times. But will it "actually hurt the Idol franchise?" Probably not. "The show's ratings have already declined for two consecutive seasons," so it was already in trouble. And any one of the show's judges is "replaceable." American Idol "doesn't need another Paula Abdul—it needs another Kelly Clarkson."

But the judges are a big part of American Idol's appeal, said Marc Hirsh in MSNBC.com, and with Abdul gone, "things are suddenly up in the air. With the chemistry of the judges' table dramatically altered, now is as good a time as any for the show's remaining stars to reflect and make some much-needed changes."