Two and a Half Men, featuring stars including Jon Cryer (left) and Charlie Sheen, has been running since 2003

Two and a Half Men, featuring stars including Jon Cryer (left) and Charlie Sheen, has been running since 2003

Two and a Half Men has survived 12 seasons, a very public meltdown by its former leading man and an enduring popularity despite often veering into tired, sexist cliches - but now it’s game over.

The sitcom, once the highest rated TV comedy in the United States, is to end next year as part of a CBS network shake-up aimed at drawing in younger viewers. 

CBS chairman Nina Tassler said the last outing of the long-standing show would be ‘‘a season-long event’’, adding that the show’s creator Chuck Lorre had ‘‘some great ideas and very big surprises’’. 

Ashton Kutcher says American audiences are "missing out on an amazing talent".

Ashton Kutcher replaced Charlie Sheen in 2011. Photo: AFP

A return of Charlie Sheen, who played Charlie Harper but was sacked in 2011 after drug problems and trashing Lorre as a ‘‘stupid, stupid little man’’, is unlikely, Tassler said. ‘‘Chuck Lorre has a lot of surprises in store, I’m not sure this is one of them,’’ she said.

With behind-the-scenes developments as lively as the show’s own plotline, Sheen’s character was killed off and a new lead introduced in the shape of Ashton Kutcher, who played Walden Schmidt the new room-mate to co-star Jon Cryer’s character, Alan Harper. 

Angus T. Jones who played the Jon Cryer’s son, Jake, also saw his run on the show come to an abrupt end in 2012 after he declared he was a ‘‘paid hypocrite’’ and called the show ‘‘filth’’ as he became increasing embroiled in the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

Kutcher is currently the highest paid sitcom actor at $US700,000 ($747,000) a show, with Cryer on $US620,000, but ratings have been in steady decline since Sheen’s departure.

The season 11 finale aired in the US last week with 8.8 million viewers, down 40 per cent on the previous season’s numbers. Its highest-ever ratings hit was 28.7 million viewers for Kutcher’s debut in the season nine premiere in September, 2011.  

Also on the network’s chopping block is the proposed How I Met Your Mother spin-off, How I Met Your Dad, which has fallen by the wayside after the show’s creators and the network failed to agree on the pilot.

How I Met Your Dad was due to star indie favourite Greta Gerwig as a New Yorker facing divorce, with Meg Ryan as the narrator. HIMYM creators Craig Thomas and Carter Bays are on board on the project, which still could be picked up by another network.