Why was Chips canceled? Wasn't the show still popular at the time?
By the time of the show's sixth season in 1982-1983 the ratings were declining steadily and so NBC decided to pull the plug at the end of the season. Erik Estrada had expressed interest in leaving for other projects and former costar Larry Wilcox had left after the previous season. At this time Chips was the one of the very few prime time shows held over from the 70's and increased competition from other shows along with the growing popularity of HBO and other pay cable options had signaled the end of the show. Though Erik Estrada and Larry Wilcox reunited for Chips '99, an official reunion movie aired on TNT in late 1998.
Did Erik Estrada quit the series due to a contract dispute with the producers?
Yes he did so in the fifth season due to his high demand for salary increase since he and not Larry Wilcox was the real star of the show. Estrada refused to show up for work on the Chips set therefore he was written out of six episodes. During this time his replacement was Olympic decathlon gold medalist Bruce Jenner who played the role of Officer Steve McLeish. After coming to terms with a new contract along with a hefty salary increase then Erik Estrada gladly went back to work to film the rest of the fifth season. And during the time that he was out of the show, the weekly ratings for Chips had decreased dramatically.
Did Erik Estrada really injure himself on the Chips set?
Yes, he did while filming an episode for season three in 1979. In the scene Ponch was pursuing a criminal on his motorcycle and while filming the chase scene, Estrada lost control of his bike and crashed. Resulting in severe injuries which required him to be hospitalized and his injuries had to be written into the episode's script for continuity sake. Of course the show went on without him and he was out of traction temporarily. However I have
not seen those third season episodes so I really do not remember just how he was replaced on camera.